Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Hit the North Preview ride

A chance to preride the course for next months Hit the North race meant I was riding again tonight. A slower commute on the way in due to a silly low gear meant I could ride my singlespeed round the course. The start time meant I could ride there straight from work with no stress.

After the ride I spun back to radcliffe with Chris before heading home.

27miles in total. Hopefully I will start to get fit again.

Chasing Chris

An early finish due to working at a school in Bolton made me organise a ride. I just had time to nip home, check my email, switch bikes, fill a camelbak up and head over to Cookson Cycles. The plan was to head up onto Scout Moor, over Holcombe Moor and then loop back via the outskirts of Bolton. On the way over I was thinking that I really should have changed the gear on my bike (Still 32x20 from 24solo) as I spun out at a silly low speed on any tarmac sections. Leaving the shop I still wasn't sure, Chris was taking it easy and I was spinning like a loon. Once we were off-road it wasn't as bad and I appreciated being able to turn the gear over. Before I knew it we were on Rooley Moor Road and I was doing my best to keep up with Chris, he is one of these people who stay just the right distance ahead of you that you can't give up! I found myself working harder than I had in a long time, but its good for me isn't it?

At the top of Scout Moor we headed onto the Cragg Quarry trails. They are great but you do really have to work on them. Lots of times I just made the short sharp uphills. But they reward you with lots of fun berms and track to pump.

Cutting off we headed down to Edenfield. Chris told me stories of 50mph speeds being reached on this section. No chance of that happening with me! Then we started climbing again, up and up and more up. Onto Holcombe Moor and to the trig point at Bull Hill. I can't believe I haven't been up there before, the views are stunning! I put an extra layer on here as it was windy, next climb and it had to come straight off!

Across the firing range and I showed Chris some of the trails around Entwistle before a cheeky ride through Jumbles. Through Longsight Park and down to the Bury Road. It was starting to get dark at this point. So Chris headed off to Whitefield and I spun back to my house.

43.7 miles with 1290m of ascent. Not bad for an evenings ride after work. Hopefully to be repeated if Chris can cope with waiting for me.

Monday, 28 June 2010

A weekend of bikes and beer

Saturday I was working at a fashion show in the arndale. I wasn't modelling but signing people up for free cycle training. Which was harder than I anticipated, everyone just tells you they can ride a bike, men especially look at you as if they are insulted. I was told that I had to dress smart or fashionable.....I needed some ideas. In came minx to the rescue! Saturday morning I was waiting for the postie, who arrived with loads of time. A fab outfit was contained inside and I had instructions to wear it over 3/4-length bike tights.

The day was fun, a bicycle powered sound-system and smoothie making being my favourite. The fashion show was interesting. A couple of the outfits I could imagine riding in - skinny jeans being a good look - but some just weren't practical. I did however get some compliments and equires to where I got my little biking skirt. I have to say I would have never worn one before but it was so comfy and I really liked it!

Since Ali was off playing in the peaks on her bike I met up with Odile for a couple of drinks and then dinner. We ended up dancing to 80's music in New York, New York before heading home at 11pm. My outfit worked perfectly for heading out in Manchester.

Sunday was another lovely sunny day. I was an assistant leader on a ride in South Manchester and leaving later than planned, meant when Ali realised she had forgotten her phone I had to let her go home on her own. Pushing hard I think I got a really good average for me. Just before the ride started Ali turned up, she had decided to still do the ride. Afterwards we headed off to a local pub with Patrick, it had a tv outside and I managed to grab some seats. Turned out it was a really friendly pub and although the football didn't deliever we had a great afternoon. Then it was out for an early anniversary dinner for me and Ali. I should have thought about what I was wearing though as all my spare layers were clashing!

A fantastic weekend, lots of bikes, smiles and fun.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Bike Fabulous

Today was Bike Friday, as it is bike week there was cake and coffee on offer when you arrived at Exchange Square. Obviously not one to turn down free food I had to join in. They asked you to dress smart, fashionable or different so I made an effort and put a skirt on! Leaving later than I needed to I missed them at the start in Prestwich but caught up near the end. Somehow I ended up in charge of giving out the vouchers, dangerous. Loads left over so they came back to work. Problem is I ate way to many!

Bike Fabulous have a fashion show on tomorrow and the arndale centre which should be interesting. Although I am working and not modelling I think my outfit might be sorted thanks to minx!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Does it count as hill reps?

Since I worked on sunday I had to take a day off this week. It turns out Jenn was out riding on Wednesday so I checked and yes it was fine to go out and play! I did think of cycling to where we were meeting but then commonsense took over. Not only was I riding with someone faster than me I was tired after a late night. The ride was to get photos for a route guide in a magazine (yes I will sign autographs!)

We met at 9am at the base of Rooley Moor Road and set on up the climb. Part way up and Russell (the photographer) spotted a photo opportunity. So me and Jenn got to ride up and down numerous times. This was repeated on various parts of the climb. Back to the cars without even reaching the top of the climb but with a fair few miles in my legs the decision was made to get some food.

Over to Todmorden for a lovely hot chocolate and cheese on toast, before heading up more hills. Then it was time for more hill reps. Oh and more hill reps and more hill reps. But you can't complain when the weather is perfect and the trails lovely! Well there were some complaints from Russell when the sun went behind the clouds! Oh and a few shouts of "quickly go now, faster faster".

The last shoot of the day was a tiny stream crossing, my first attempt I screamed, second I pulled a face, third I just rode it. Go me! All that was left was to roll back to the cars, my garmin claimed 32miles with 1075m of climbing.

So does it count as hill reps even though they were short?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

What sized wheels?

Last night Ali and I went riding over Oldham way with Rich and Shona*. I rode straight from work, Ali drove over and we were all ready to go at about the same time. Rich kindly provided bikes for us to both ride. I started off on a Gary Fisher Superfly (I am in love), Ali on a Trek 69er and Rich on a Surly Pugsley. During the course of the ride we swapped bikes a couple of times. I couldn't believe how well the Pugsley climbed for such a heavy bike. Going downhill it rolled over everything!

Back for pizza and lots of chat, before we knew it time had flown away and we had to leave. Home, shower, bed. I was tired and happy.

*Shona was on a 650c bike just to add to the different sized wheels

Monday, 21 June 2010

Bikes the language of everyone

Yesterday was the start of bike week which meant a busy day for my work. I was at Trafford doing skills at their bike festival, which went really well and once I saw a five-year old riding over the seesaw I had to do it without screaming! Ali even "worked" for us, helping us set up in Trafford and then riding a Brompton in a parade in Manchester. It was a tiring day but we decided to head out for a curry. Joined by Phil, Odile and Pauline we had a great time. Heading home we got to the train station and there was a 25minute wait. Ali decided we should ride home. Heading through Cheetham Hill and I punctured. Stopping at a bus stop we set about fixing it. I was trying to get the tyre back on and picked up a tyre lever for the last bit when a guy waiting for a bus took over. He obviously knew what he was doing and had that extra strength I was missing. He even offered to pump it up. He didn't speak a word of English and I did wonder what was happening when he started but it shows bikes are the language of everyone!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

A perfect evenings ride

I remembered yesterday morning on the way to work that I was leading a ride that evening. So I quickly organised with Ali to have tea ready when I got home. Getting home later than I used to it felt like a rush and I had to drive out to Belmont, Ali joined me and I brought trekster to confuse everyone who is used to see me singlespeeding! Only two others joined us but the dry dusty trails and the amazing views made for a fantastic ride. Ali managed to take a tumble on the ice-cream run and battered her right arm. A quick drink in the pub and heading home before it was completely dar, how summer evenings should be spent!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Gisburn Dirty Dozen

This race was on my list to do this year but I never got round to entering. As it got closer it seemed a good idea not to enter. I started a new job, completed 24solo and then the Welsh Ride Thing. I was tired and my body was not happy. A complete rest was needed. I kept having two days off commuting but it wasn't enough. So last week I bought a weekly train ticket, borrowed a brompton from work and had a rest week. Well nearly, there were two track sessions organised through work had to be ridden, but two hours of track riding, a couple of miles (mainly downhill) on a brompton and one 10mile mtb ride to reece a route was a rest. Thursday I felt great, the aches and pains gone so Ali agreed that if I felt that good in the morning I could enter. The organisers were great letting me enter the day before so I was all set.

Friday evening was spent packing - Ali kindly went shopping for me - and making up energy drinks. I was going to this race on my own as Ali was off to a BBQ. A lot of faffing and I realised Rigger still had a puncture from 24solo (he needed a wash as well). That fixed it was off to bed, the race started at 7:30am so I had an early start.

Saturday dawned and Ali was up before me, making me porridge and putting the bikes on the car. I set off before 5:30am and it already looked like an amazing day. Getting there I unpacked my kit and trekster, leaving it all at the Cookson Cycles Gazebo just as Chris(from Cooksons) arrived to cook his bacon. Off to the Car Park I rode back up via registration. All too soon it was race time, I put my food and drinks in the Gazebo set up for soloists, racked my bike and headed down.

The race started with a run, not my forte. But I managed to keep Chris in sight and there were still plenty of bikes when I got up there so I wasn't last! Out on the course and I decided I had made the wrong decision on bikes and singlespeed (especially as I hadn't changed the gear since 24solo) was not the way to go. Everyone was pedalling off down the fireroads and I was spun out. But once I hit the singletrack I was loving it. In fact it probably helped my legs by stopping me using too much energy too early. Back through the pits, one bottle off, one on and out again. I really liked the course. Well except for the raised wooden bit, but that was a mental block. The techy descent we had been warned about was lovely.

After four laps I was told I was the only female soloist so had won. It would have been easy to stop so I set myself a target of 100miles. I worked out this would either be 13 or 14 laps (maths not being my strong point). Chris passed me at the start of my 5th lap, he was in 3rd and flying up the hills. At 7 laps I was going well so thought I would probably manage 14. So I kept pushing, by this point I was having to walk some of the last hill as well as one little rocky bit in the middle of the course. But even with the tiredness and aches and pains I felt good and was having fun. Every picture I have found of me so far I am smiling, I am sure there will be some of me grimacing somewhere as I remember a photographer on the climb.

Lap 13 was finished after 11hours, time for one more shouted the timer so I was back out. A few fast boys passed me but then I seemed to be on my own and getting slower and slower. That was in fact my slowest lap at an hour.

All that was left was to get everything back to the car, bikes on the roof - not fun as my back was hurting - and go to the presentation at the pub. I missed the free food (must pack up quicker next time) but I did win some prizes.

According to my garmin I completed 108miles which I was pleased with. 11th overall in the solo's which I am very pleased with.

Definetly one to do next year, thanks to all the organisers, marhalls and other competitors.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Borrowing a bike for my commute

I'm getting the train to work this week as I'm being "sensible" and resting my legs. But it can be a bit annoying if I get an early train to Bolton and have to wait ages for the train up to my house. Today there was also a track session with work, it would be a bit of a walk from the velodrome to the station. So I borrowed a bike from work. It's ideal for the job and pink, I was a very happy trio. I rode over to Victoria from the velodrome and got the direct train home, I would have been a lot later without the brompton!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A weekend of food

My plan this weekend was for an easy weekend, laze around, read a bit, watch some tv, you get the idea. Oh and maybe a ride on sunday, well it seemed a shame not to.

Saturday I did manage this, a trip to the Garden Centre and then it was a BBQ in the back garden.

Sunday I went on a short ride, or maybe not so short as I suggested Southport. Odile joined us and we headed off after a stop for sweeties for Ali.

The rain kept threatening on the way out but apart from being a headwind the whole way there it wasn't too bad. There was of course the now traditional photo stop at toogood lane. For the first time ever I was stopped at two of the swing bridges over the canal for boats to go over, it was quite exciting.

It started raining just as we arrived at Southport so it we quickly locked the bikes up and got inside, there would have been a picture of the food but we were all so hungry we just ate. Ali was so hungry she got a seaside special in which they gave her two pieces of fish. The rain stopped just before we left so it was along the coast road. I was beginning to hurt now and my leg that had woke me up the night before the Welsh Ride Thing was really being a pain. Still I knew it wasn't far till Ice-Cream.

A stop at Freddies and Odile was converted, after saying she wasn't an ice-cream person! Then it was the last 10miles home. Tired, sore legs but happy we were all glad to be back

75miles in total and for some reason it felt hilly today although only about 750m of climbing.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

May Roundup

Another month gone and what a month! I started a full-time job, rode in my first 24 solo event and did my first multi-day bivvy! Mileage was down this month at 792miles (still loads though) but the split between off and on road and swung completely towards off-road miles. In fact I only did 332miles on the road. That is less miles than my diastorous January, the diffeence being in May I rode 439miles off-road. A lot of that was the last two weekends, but still I was impressed. No wonder I am tired now.

Running happened, as in I ran once back from cooksons, which put 7miles in the bank. But I do need to try and build a weekly run into my schedule. Nothing long but something.

Away from looking at miles, I wasn't actually thinking about them this week. I am just so pleased to do a couple of things I really want to try. The 24solo was hard but I learnt a lot and want to do another one, maybe even this summer! The Welsh Ride Thing was better than I could have imagined and I am definetly going to try and get at least one more bivvy adventure in this summer.

So what is everyone planning for June?

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Welsh Ride Thing - Day 3

We were both awake just after four and Ali did suggest getting up but neither of us were very keen on the idea and snuggled back down in our bags for some more sleep. We had choosen a comfy spot, so comfy in fact I didn't notice that I had rolled off my mat!

At around 6:30am we did surface and I felt terrible. Ali tucked into her breakfast - with her second pint of real milk, which had managed to stay nice and cold - while I made myself eat m&m's as I couldn't face anything else. The midges were out a bit, although nothing compared to previous trips with Ali. Still she was glad to have her midge net to put on.

We got our stuff packed out, got back out of the trees and onto the road. Suprisingly we were both going well and made good time to our last off-road section of the route. As we pushed up this I felt it was similar to a bit of transwales, but not the same as I had rode the section at transwales. Once we started descending Ali recognised it as she had ridden up to take pictures. Riding it in the opposite direction had confused me! We enjoyed a great descent before we hit traffic, a load of bulls being hearded down the road. We sensibly kept our distance until they went a different way.

Back onto road and the question was now could we make 2pm, it would be close but not impossible. At Llanwrthwl we joined NCN 8 which was to be our friend for the rest of the route. Some of it was on dedicated cycle path, all tarmac though. Some on quiet roads, including one with numerous gates which felt more like a bridleway. We pushed on through Rhayader deciding against stopping for extra supplies as we were feeling good. At this point I told Ali we were 30miles from the finish and 10miles from the last checkpoint. That put a spring in Ali's pedalling but it did feel like a long ten miles before we got to Llangurig our final checkpoint.

Here there were loads of cyclists on the Welsh Ride Thing outside the post office, we were soon inside and stocking up on savoury foods - pork pies, sandwich, crisps and a banana for me. Then we settled down in the sun to eat. Next thing we know there is a cheery hello and two people from the last two transwales appear. They were out on their own wild camping adventure. A nice chat and it was time to head on back. Just over two hours and twenty miles to go.

We set off up the first steep hill and then it felt like it was climb, a bit of flat to recover, climb for the next hour or so. But with just over 3 miles to go we hit a downhill which went on and on and on. In fact all the way to Pennant. All that was left was the final climb to the farm, I think they had moved the house since saturday it seemed a long way. Back, just before 2pm, to a welcome of tea and welsh cakes and the news we had won two raffle prizes.

Another great day on the bikes and we were both glad for the easy tarmac miles.

42.7 miles ridden, 1495m climbed

An excellent weekend and one to repeat, in fact I am now thinking about our next adventure!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Welsh Ride Thing - Day 2

The one thing about sleeping in a bothy is once one person gets up everyone else is awake. So it was quite early that we were packing up and eating our breakfast on Sunday morning.  Not that I knew the time, as my phone had died overnight!  Ali enjoyed her breakfast with her fresh pint of milk - not the most light-weight of travellers!!  I had my mashed up weetabix with powdered milk...

Over breakfast we were chatting to the lads who had also slept there, none of them were doing Monk's Trod, there were horror stories about waist deep bogs, we were wondering if we should change our route. But there didn't seem an obvious alternative without changing our whole route so we decided to give it a go. There was one minor alteration to our plan though, instead of going round a very lumpy road with an evil climb we decided to just push over the mountain on the bridleway as it was direct.

Once packed, it was ready to set off on the forest road - the visibility had improved and we could even see the wind turbines in the distance that we had ridden past the previous evening.
Coming out of the forest it was back to river crossings, some of them involved a little thought of how to get across.

Once we got over the hill, which we basically pushed up and down it was along the road to find the checkpoint, one false start at the wrong bridleway sign and we found the correct one and checked which direction it was pointing.

After coasting down the road it was time for Monks Trod. We set off, riding some pushing some. In fact it reminded me a bit of Great Hill. But only once did I go into a bog and only up to my ankle. There were some amazing views and once again Ali's amazing route planning meant we took the good line down.

Once we hit the main track again we had to make a decision, it was a 2km there and 2km back on an easy track to get the next checkpoint but it was an easy one to miss out. We were behind on our schedule and wanted to ensure we were back in time on monday. So the decision was made and Ali eventually agreed it was sensible even though she wanted to get all the points.

Then onto what should have been a familiar bit of track seeing as transwales had gone there both years! But somehow I failed to recognise the view.

However once I got stuck in the puddle it all came flooding back.

We carried on down the track to Strata Florida with an excited Ali recognising the lovely trail that she had walked along to take pictures at transwales. At Strata Floria we got our picture of the arch and headed on up the road to a trail I did remember! It has lots of lovely puddles to ride through, some deeper than others.

This is also where we encounted the most traffic on the route! It felt like hundreds of 4x4's (or trucks as Ali calls them) were coming along the trail in the opposite direction! To be fair to them they were all really courteous with some of them cheering us through the big puddles. Then onto the only cheeky part of the route as we ended up just above the next checkpoint with the only options to get down scrambling down a cliff or following a footpath. The cliff was vetoed and we went down the footpath. Finding a lovely cute bothy at the bottom.

Joining the seven splashes we headed off to the next checkpoint, a chapel at Soar Y Mynydd. Here we decided to miss our second checkpoint as it was another out and back, it was fine though as we would still get the eleven needed. I didn't remember this climb, apparently I had rode it in transwales 2008, or the amazing view that opened out in front of us.

Then we rode down some amazing singletrack through the Doethie Valley in what was now a gloriously sunny day.

This brought us to the most southerly checkpoint where we had to take a picture of a stunning view.

Then the climbing started again, our plan now was just to get as far as we could by 9pm and then find somewhere to sleep. If we came across a pub we would eat some hot food, otherwise it was a dinner of hot cross buns and chocolate cookies.

Into the forest and what should have been a fast and easy downhill on a forest road became an obstacle course with fallen trees to climb under, over or round.

Out of this and onto a technical downhill, I was impressed with us both riding it with all our kit, I must admit to some singing! Back onto the road and now it was time to try and make up some distance. A stop at some toilets in Abergwesyn to fill up the camelbaks and it was back on the road. Just before 9pm we both spotted a gravel track heading into some trees, in we went and found a nice clearing behind a fallen tree. This was to be our bedroom for the night. Soon in our bivvy bags, Ali was fast asleep before I had even finished eating, seems like the day had tired her out.

No tadpole incidents today.

56miles ridden 2399m climbed

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Welsh Ride Thing - Day 1

This came around a lot quicker than expected so it was lucky for me that Ali had been working hard at plotting our route. I would love to take some credit but the fact that the route worked out so well was due to her careful planning and research, my mumbles of "yes that looks fine" when she showed me the map didn't help. So friday evening I did some last minute shopping and we both packed - well I got my stuff ready to pack and finished in the morning, I was that organised!

Saturday morning we headed down, stopping off to meet some lads off singletrackworld for some pub food, not knowing if this would be our last hot meal for three days. Off to forest freeride for the start. Only we chose (or TomTom chose for us) an interesting route there which meant we were first to leave the pub but last to arrive at the start. Still, it meant less time to panic for me as it was a case of unloading the bikes and bags and then straight to the start to pick up our checkpoints sheet.

Heading off up the road, we realised that we hadn't got the classic "before" picture, but as you can see Ali was smiling at this point. As we hit our first bit of off-road we passed a group of lads discussing their route, so far we had not had one argument about navigation so were feeling good. Along an amazing singletrack descent that unfortunately had a drop to the left, Ali's favourite. To a technical rocky drop to a bridge, I started riding and scared myself but I had no option other than to continue as I couldn't get off at that point. At the bridge we were looking at the way back up, obviously a carry which I remembered from transwales, Ali suddenly remembered that this might be the checkpoint. Good job she did as I can guess who would be scrambling back down to get the answer to the question!

At this point Ali's amazing route planning came into its own, turns out there were two choices. One a nice long slog through a bog. The other on clear tracks that was a little longer but that was not actually on the landranger map of the area.

After going through a forest I recognised the track, another transwales favourite that had lots of huge puddles (well they were a little big to be called puddles more like ponds). Ali was charging through them making me feel like a wimp. Until she came unstuck:

She decided to go for a swim after hitting a boulder, I have never seen someone jump up so quickly and rescue their bike. Sensibly she didn't want to test how effective her dry bags were when submerged on the first day of a three day ride!

With no more swimming we made our way to the next checkpoint, this was a river-crossing they had to put a rope across in transwales 2008. The water was a lot lower but we still opted for the footbridge, since this was the checkpoint.

The day had been wet and windy but once in a while the sun tried to come through. But now the weather really started to roll in. Passing through Ponterwyd we decided to stop at the pub for a hot drink and some food. Two jacket potatoes and chilli later we were ready to head out. I popped to the toilets to fill my camelbak up and hear a scream. Ali has found a tadpole from her earlier swim. All the staff gathered round and one of them rescued the tadpole and put it into a watering can.

Fortunately the weather was clearing a bit which made getting back out there a little easier. We set off for the next checkpoint, knowing this was at a bothy. On the first climb after leaving the road we passed a house, the old lady waved at us and we waved back thinking nothing of it, the next thing she is outside offering us cups of tea and water refills if we needed it. A lovely show of kindness. Up a climb and into the forest we arrived at the bothy around 8ish and there were a lot of other riders making it their home for the night. Much to the suprise of the others we decided to push on through the weather to try and get to the next checkpoint, we could always bivvy in the forest if it got dark.

Another fantastic bit of route planning by Ali meant we mainly followed a fireroad that had been used for a rally car event last year, this wasn't on any of our maps and was hard to make out on google earth. Apart from one really hard push up we were able to ride up to the windmills at Cefn Croes Windfarm.

This was very eerie as you couldn't see them till you were right next to them where they loomed out of the mist. I was very glad not to be on my own up there. Once we entered the forest it was a case of one lovely bridleway descent and a couple of fireroads to the next checkpoint, another bothy. On arriving Ali exclaimed "this isn't a bothy its a house", to be fair there was a car and van parked outside. We were met by an odd bloke asking if we were looking for a bed for the night and explaining he ran the place. Fortunately we spotted some other riders and decided to stay, we were contemplating just finding a spot in the forest. There were only five riders in total here and we had a room upstairs, downstairs there was a nice fire to dry our clothes and another room with bunks, here the odd man and his friends seemed to be having a party. From the number of empty beer cans this appears to be a regular occurence and I don't think they wanted us there. Off to bed only to be kept awake by the party animals downstairs.

All in all a fab start to the weekend despite the weather. But we were considering having to change our plans as due to the weather we were a little behind in the distance covered.

31.22 miles ridden, 1429m climbed

Day 2 coming soon....