Thursday, 26 January 2012

Music in my ears

I've always been in the not listening to music while riding camp. The way I've seen it is that I want to hear the traffic etc. But I am very nervous of getting through the night at 24solo as I am expecting the course to be really quiet. So I've tried riding with my mp3 player, first off-road which I like in the dark but during the day I just enjoy the riding. But recently the odd time on the road, i've found that I can still hear traffic and my views are slowly changing.

So do you listen to music whilst riding?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Muddy, Misty Moors

I met Colin again this morning for an off-road ride into work but this time I went on Rigger. It did make the road section through Manchester harder but the off-road sections easier. The trails were very muddy and I was very wet when I got to work.

Onto the evening and I left work and headed back towards Bolton via the Prestwich trails but instead of heading home I climbed up Winter Hill. It was very foggy out and I couldn't really make out the side of the road on the short road sections. At the top and there was no sign of the mast. I made a poor job of descending, a combination of the lack of visability and my lack of skills meant I really minced down the Belmont descent. I even ended up walking one drop as I couldn't see how big it was, I was probably just being a big wimp!

Back home and through the magic of endomondo Ali had a bucket of water ready for me so I could give Rigger a qucik wash.

It has shown me I need more time on my mountain bike.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

A trail half-marathon

Today was Ali's birthday, thanks to Pauline and Greg she had decided to run a trail half maarathon, actually 15.5miles. She had actually thought about the marathon but took the 'sensible' option.

So today I was battling headwinds to get to various points in the course and cheer. It was great fun but I wished I was time.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ice skating Goose

Another morning and another off-road commute. Had to leave earlier as I had to be in for 8:30am, so I was in the wrong place for the sunrise. Instead I got to see this little fellow ice-skating on the canal. Once again I arrived at work in a fantastic mood.

 I was a little late leaving but still took the off-road route, it is worth the extra time it takes. I had planned to do hill reps and spent most of the ride talking myself out of them but in Phillips Park I made myself do them. They were short but I was glad I had done them.

Back on the road tomorrow, will miss my off-road commute.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Best start to the day

Last night I put mudguards on the cross bike, thanks to twitter I now had a set that fit over the cross tyres, and the rack and set my alarm for early. Colin was being 'sensible' and not riding as he has a cold. As always I set off later than planned and was happy that the back street wasn't too icy, I would probably still have gone round on the main road on my road bike though. Down through Moses Gate the frozen ruts causing me a few problems but then the sun started to rise. Cue lots of smiles and stopping to try and get a picture. I felt so happy to be alive.

Day at work went fine, I was so bouncy and happy after my fabulous start to the morning. So I decided I had to ride home off-road. Semi-frozen trails this time and at points I really was glad of the mudguards!

Not sure it was the ideal bike for mountain bike trails?

Same again tomorrow? Yes please.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Ice spoils the plan

After last Thursday I was determined to get out on the bike this weekend. At first I thought about a bivvy trip but I realised I needed a rest day, I've been riding a fair bit and the legs are tired. So last night I got the maps out and had a look. Coming across Salter Fell it looked ideal, I had never been there and it was a lovely long track. Any loop though involved a lot of road so cross bike would be the prefered bike.

Getting up in the morning I had to fix a puncture on the cross bike, I made hard work of this. First tube I put in had a faulty valve, next one exploded (don't think I had got the tyre to seat correctly). Eventually that and new brake pads were done so I could leave. I decided to ride to Clitheroe as it was such a nice day but at Blackburn I was debating heading home, I was finding it hard the roads looked like they would ice later, but these were all just excuses so I continued, planning to get the train home from Clitheroe later. Once I was past Clitheroe everything changed, I think I forget how amazing and how quiet the Forest of Bowland is. I'm so lucky as I can ride there from home.

Now I was having fun and on the route I had plotted. First bit off off-road involved me carrying the bike, so it definitely counted as an adventure. The roads had on the whole been fine, the odd little bit of ice at the very edge but nothing too bad, I was taking it easy descending to be on the safe side. After Gisburn Forest the roads changed a bit. Now descending was at walking pace and I was off and walking some huge stretches of ice. I was also aware that time was ticking and it still gets dark early. Stopping on a very icy bridge I ate a sandwich and made a decision, back to Clitheroe it was. I could have carried on and if the rest was rideable I should have been back to Slaidburn as it got dark, but then I had to get to at least Clitheroe to get the train. By then I could expect more ice and it to be a lot more difficult to pick it out.
I got my garmin to navigate me back and on the outskirts of Clitheroe decided just to ride home. The roads here were fine and I was going to be on relatively major roads so they were gritted. I timed it perfectly getting to Ewood Park just as all the football fans left. My usally squeaky cross brakes were worse than usual on the frozen rims though and worked very effectively to clear me a way through.

Home and 77miles with 1715m of climbing.

Friday, 13 January 2012

The joy of the commute

Quick look behind, pull out sail down the side of the traffic, pause for the car pulling out, back on the pedals. Stop red light, go go go green. Cut down a back street, cheeky bit of cycle path. Work.

I had forgotten how great cycle commuting is, this week has reminded me.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Blue Skies

Being awake before 5am is no fun but it really meant I had no excuse but to ride to Merseyside, getting the train seemed lazy even with the wind howling outside. Looking at BBC weather it kindly told me that it would be a headwind, still I was sure it would be fine. Setting out, a little later than I meant to as always, I was working hard to pedal down my road, still it was bound to drop. Then it was uphill, well until a gust blew me to a standstill. I did have a sensible thought of going and getting a train at this point but obviously I carried on. It was the right decision as although I wasn't going anywhere fast it wasn't gusting either so I was fine. Timing is everything and I arrived at Liverpool Southparkway Station just minutes before Jenn.

Part two of the way and the wind seemed to be dropping, the sun came out and we were on the loopline. Back down to the transpennine trail using some quiet roads and the steps to bring us up a sheer cliff. we were soon in the shadows of the Runcorn bridge finding a geocache that had alluded us last time, this time in the new location we were sucessful. All that was left was a quick ride over the bridge, it was nosiy and you could feel the bride moving. A stop at Weatherspoons for some food and then it was back to Liverpool Southparkway.

Part three and we on the underground Wirral line heading for a geocache that a coin I had needed to visit. Unfortunately it was at the top of a hill, sorry Jen. Then we couldn't find it. So next nearest was located and coin left there for someone more skilled in searching to find. A few more caches, some successful, some not as it got darker and darker we decided to call it a day and got the train back to Liverpool.
The last stage was to ride back from Irlam, as usual the moss was lovely. But this time I had both a joystick on the bars and one on my helmet making it much easier to pick a route round the huge holes. Timed it perfectly at the level crossing as a driver had just opened the gates.
Home at 9pm, tired but ready to plan another adventure.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Resting and Running

After an amazing thursday I had a rest day. I am rubbish at rest days. I rested really well but just beat myself up about being lazy, especially for not doing anything around the house. I suspect though that I should get better at resting and that I probably do myself no favours not having a rest day.

Saturday and sunday I was working so there was some commuting miles, 30miles on sunday morning (I got a lift home) and some Ride Leadering miles.

One of the things I really want to be is more consistent with running. I have no ambitions to run far or fast but it gets me fit and is certainly useful for races with any pushing, I could feel my calves pushing/carrying up the hills on thursday. Last week I got out on monday night for a trail run with Ali, it was lovely but I had to remind myself of that tonight. Ali was happy to come out again so it was another lovely trail run round the golf course. We even went a little quicker. So that is two weeks and two runs, feeeling happpy with that, now to keep it up.

Friday, 6 January 2012

A day out in the lakes

Due to working at the weekend I had yesterday and today off. A quick email to Jenn and I was headed up to the Lakes/Yorkshire Dales yesterday. Jenn needed to get pictures and on the way up it looked like there would be no chance, wind and rain were the order of the day. Parking in Ravenstonedale the rain had stopped but it was still very wind so lot so layers were worn. We headed off along the road and I was already having fun, I was riding my superfly and remembering how amazing a bike it was, felt a little naughty to be riding it in such horrid weather but good that the bike was at last having an adventure since I had only ridden it once out of racing on the Winter Hill Loop. Spinning along the road it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere with the hills towering above us, I was already glad of the gears before we even turned off the road. Heading up it wasn't long before we were pushing, trying to ride involved peddaling and getting nowhere due to the sodden grass. By this point the sun was out and Jenn was grabbing pictures, I used the time to eat lots of food.

At the top we went through a gate and almost got blown off the hill, ahh it was still windy and it was a headwind which we would now be riding into for most of the day. Descending was fun and made me realise how far we had climbed, the views were also stunning. back past the car and off up another big hill (Great Asby Scar). Up here was amazing, mainly rideable to the top and lots of limestone. If it had been less windy I could have sat up there for hours, in the distance it looked like mini-villages, up close like a lunar landscape, one of the most unique places I had ever been. But we had more hills to climb so we headed back down towards Orton after a ribena stop looking out over the M6. Here we made our only navigation error of the day climbing up a road climb before having to backtrack. By this point it was pitch black and we were night riding in new terrain, the moon wasn't quite bright enough so we did need lights. The last climb of the day was Breasthigh Road, I had actually ridden this before back in 2008 but I couldn't really remember it. At the bottom there was a road closed sign but on closer inspection that was to motorised vehicles and horses so we set on up. It wasn't long before I was walking and then carrying. At the top we had another food top while hoping the descent was a little less technical as there was no way I would be riding down it! Waving bye bye to the M6 again and lights on bright we headed down. I stopped a couple of times, but after giving myself a talking to I got down to the bottom to find Jenn looking at a stream crossing which I had forgotten all about. getting the map out we realised we could avoid wading and getting very cold and wet by following the trail to the road, along the road a bit then back down to the other side of the stream. Only there was a sign saying the trail was shut due to erosion, we gave it a go and apart from one short section it was fine. At the other end the gate was locked so it was a case of lifting bikes over and climbing over. Heading along the Borrowdale valley with just hares and owls for company was amazing and I was sad our adventure was coming to an end. We finished with a road spin back to the car.

Then all that was left was for Jenn to drive me home oh and a dirty bike and mountain of kit to wash.

49.49miles in total with 1270m of climbing. Can we go again?

Monday, 2 January 2012

Tod CX

Once again Chips was putting on a Cross race in Todmorden just after the new year. Last year I rode over with Chris but the one thing I remembered was being cold. This year I decided I would race. I still rode over and was glad I had as it was a lovely day till I dropped into Todmorden and the weather closed in a bit. Ali followed later in the car, she decided that riding there and back didn't sound fun. I was really looking forward to it as lots of friends were going to be there. I got there just in time for the junior race but it looked so muddy I didn't fancy pre-riding the course so I just chatted to folks instead. On taking layers off I discovered a hole in my shorts, another pair to sew up then it may be time for me to get some new shorts. So the 3/4 I had brought to wear on the way home went over the top.
The course was very muddy, from the start I was struggling, although maybe not completely in race mode. Once we got to the cobbles I had to wait for my chance to walk up them. I was having fun jumping on and off my bike but somehow got a dismount wrong and ended up on the floor.
Going into the last lap the girl who had been just behind me caught and passed me, I had to put a bit of effort in then. We had a little chat and then I pushed a bit to get ahead.

Results are out and I was 7th out of 13 females, good field, and 94th out of 117 in the vets/women's race. It was also my first race of 45minutes as in the north west series we race for an hour with the seniors.

Afterwards we had a twitter meetup where Lisa fed us all, no mean feat when it was a load of hungry cyclists. I then took the lazy way home and got a lift with Ali.

Sunday, 1 January 2012


Wow up to four years of blogging now. Life has changed again workwise. I started being freelance then got a termtime contract before going full-time in September. This has definitely had an effect on my cycling and commuting miles make up most of what I ride meaning less off-road miles. It also gives me an excuse to run less as I have been unmotivated when it comes to either getting up early or going out once I get home. On the other side work has involved trips over to Merseyside which has lead to some nice long commutes. I also rediscovered cyclocross and enjoyed it.

Mileagewise I have covered 8915miles in total, only 90 of that was running. Cycling has seen 6356miles (64% of total time) on the road. In total I have spent 802hours running or biking which is 33days. I am very happy with this milesage as this year has had its fair share of illness and some minor injury. Having my tonsils out in April meant there was very little done that month. I'm hoping 2012 allows me to be consitent.

Some highlights from the year:
So onto 2012 and what are the plans. More of the same really. I want to do some more touring type rides and some more bivvying, 2011 involved the Welsh Ride thing and that was it! Obviously a little bit of racing, I am hoping this year to do SITS as a pair and I am trying to decide about a 24solo, probably the nationals in April although I am a little concerned how quiet that will get when everyone riding the 12hour stops at midnight! Otherwise there are people out there I haven't ridden with enough this year so more effort riding with people.

Hope you have all had a great 2011 and here's to more fun in 2012.