Monday, 26 March 2012

Tapering in this weather

I had today off work as another lieu day, unlike last week I didn't plan an adventure as I know I have had a couple of big weekends riding and it's now two weeks to 24solo I need to be tapering. As it turns out I have been really anxious and didn't really get anything done all day. Not great with the size of my to-do list. I did drag myself out to meet Ali for lunch in the park (which was harder than it should have been).

After an afternoon spent reading in the back yard (Ali's instructions) I rode to her work to meet her for a ride. She had requested a ride to Cragg Quarry for one last play on the demo bike (unfortunately it has to go back but if you want to try a Superfly100 - and why wouldn't you its an ace bike - contact Cooksons Cycles). We rode over to Bury on the road and then joined the route I normally take with the boys when night riding with them. An excited Ali kept asking if we on Rooley Moor Road yet. It was still light when we got there, in fact the light was amazing. With no one else round I found myself relaxing.
At the top we rode a lap of Cragg Quarry, it is very pedally but I thought Ali would like it. It was actually longer than I had remembered but we both enjoyed it.
All that was left was to drop down to Ramsbottom and pedal home.

Not sure 33.7miles with 892m of climbing is how you really taper but you can't stay in when the weather is this good.

Chirk 200

I entered this as my last long ride before 24solo, that was before I rode 200k on Monday and played in the Howgills on Saturday. The clocks going forward did not help at all, I think I spent most of the night awake worried that I would oversleep. Ali had said she would get up and drop me at Poynton but as I was awake I left her asleep and drove over. There were a lot of people still around in Manchester from the night before. Arriving at the car park that marks the start there seemed lots of people there, after my mistakes on the North West Passage I ate a couple of hot cross buns that I had taken for second breakfast. Just before 8am I took my waterproof off and we headed off.

The start was a little chaotic with me going straight-on, as per the route sheet and someone nearly turning into me turning right, lots of riders thought that was the route. No damage done and my warm legs meant I was near the front for the first bit. Until changing down to the small chainring ended up with my chain between two chain rings. Not had that happen before. Had to get my hands a little mucky sorting that out. Next thing that happened was my Garmin turning itself off, was beginning to think it wasn't going to be my day. I text Ali at the first cafe so she could google how to reset the Garmin and then had a Bacon Roll before heading off.

I rode the section to Chirk mainly on my own but within sight of a couple of lads. For a while I rode along with a guy who also works as a cycling instructor. At Chirk they had ran out of beans so I went for a toasted teacake. I also got my Garmin to turn back on! Here I took my knee-warmers off meaning I was wearing just shorts and a jersey, looks like summer is in March this year. Heading out of Chirk I was ready for the hill that I had been warned about. Turns out it wasn't too bad at all, obviously the hills of the last couple of weeks have had an effect, and I was soon back in the Cheshire Plains. On the way to the last cafe stop we passed lots of Cheshire Cat riders going the opposite way. This was my first 100mile ride four years ago.

At the Ice Cream Farm the queue for ice-cream was massive, not a surprise with how many cars were parked there, so I went for a cream tea. I was sat with the Saddleworth Clarion boys who bought a huge tub of Sherry Trifle Ice-cream between them to avoid the queues. From here it was quite a direct route back, with 10k to go I hooked up with a couple of lads from VC167 and we took turns on the front getting to Poynton for 6pm.

Just as I finished Ali arrived to collect me, saving me a boring ride back through Manchester and meaning we got home in time to go out for dinner.

A lovely day 153miles in total with 1870m of climbing

Saturday, 24 March 2012

A Howgills adventure

Ali is uber-keen for biking adventures at the moment and on the way back from Kielder had pointed at the Howgills and announced that she wanted to ride there. As neither of us had plans for today we spent Thursday night looking at maps and then Ali plotted a route during her lunch break on friday of 46miles with lots and lots of climbing. I pointed out that although we wanted an adventure I would rather not ride in the dark (I did take lights just in case) and the 'hill' she had plotted us over was huge!
Saturday morning and Ali was up early and we only left half an hour after we had planned, good going. I was stressed that I had forgot something as I seemed to have ended up in charge of packing. I had at least remembered to put suncream on as the forcast was hot hot hot. After stopping for petrol it was up the M6 to Sedbergh. Leaving here it was climbing straight away, the first half a mile being a gentle introduction on tarmac.
Then onto the fells themselves. Winder at 473m was ticked off, lots of riding and a bit of walking, I found it a little busy up there with another couple of people. A short descent and then up again, I am sure it looked vertical as I rode up to it.
Up Arant Haw we had a sandwich stop overlooking the M6. I felt very small up here.Eventually I ended up carrying up the last bit of The Calf, I'm sure stronger riders than me can ride the whole way.
Now it was time to descend to Bowerdale. I'm not even going to try and describe this amazing section of singletrack it just went on and on.
A tiny bit of road and more bridlewaytook us to Ravenstonedale (where me and Jenn had parked for our January adventure). Here we stopped for ice-creams.
We had plotted an extra loop from here but decided it would be better to finish the day happy than tired and in the dark we started heading back. A little bit of climbing and we were off-road again. A friendly farmer directed us round the back of his house so we had less gates to open (and so all his sheep didn't run away) and then once again we were on singletrack which went on and on again.
Only a few baby sheep, apparently it is a little later they tend to start lambing up here, due to the grass according to the friendly farmer.

A great day out, we rode 25miles and climbed 1290m

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Rush hour at Rivington

The girls came over for a night ride from Belmont after Anna had requested one. As Ali wasn't away with work she decided to join us. As she is very keen at the moment she even rode to the start at Belmont with me. 6 of us in total headed up the Belmont road and it wasn't long before we were bumping along the Belmont Old Road. We'd seen some lights about but it was a shock to start descending the Ice Cream Run and find ourselves in amongst a load of 4x4's. At the bottom a group of other cyclists went past.

Back up to the pike we could see another group descending. Then up Winter Hill and back down to Belmont.

A good ride and Ali and I had a cheeky pint before riding home.

Starting to remember how to ride off-road which is good.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Post Offices, baby sheep and a helicopter

Sometimes I just need a little push to have an adventure and this time the push came from Jenn asking if I had any time off this week as she had some holiday from work and fancied riding Salter Fell after my abandoned adventure in January. I followed it up by emailing work to see if I could take a lieu day. On Thursday I found out I had Monday off so I checked with Jenn this would work and promised to be in touch on Sunday evening to sort out a plan. After getting back from Kielder I quickly plotted out the route and sent a text. It was a 46mile loop, starting and finishing in Waddington but obviously we had to get there first. I met Jenn in Todmorden and we headed over via Burnley, Whalley and Clitheroe. Jenn sensibly ignoring my Pendle Hill suggestion. After grabbing some food from the post office in Waddington we headed to our first bit of off-road.
I was walking first on the first section, but made it to the gate on the second section before we both pushed up the hill. I was no longer looking at average speeds as it was tumbling down. Reminding myself I was on a cross bike and not a mountain bike we started descending, I was really wishing for better brakes at this point. Then it was back onto the roads before the next bit of off-road. I have rode/pushed this bridleway a couple of times but this is the first time that I've been charged at by sheep. Did no-one tell them they are meant to run away? We then dropped to Slaidburn where the post office there provided us with warm pies. According to the information sign Slaidburn means 'Field of Sheep by a river'. Since we had seen loads of sheep it seemed appropriate.

Leaving here we were following the Lancashire cycleway and the road was once of the most amazing I have ridden on. I watched the dot that was Jenn disappearing into the distance as I concentrated on spinning my gear and not getting completely distracted by the stunning hills surrounding me. On this road we kept passing and re passing a couple of roadies who were probably climbing faster than me but then stopping at the top for longer. It was a surprise every time a car appeared, not that there were many. The weather was lovely, if colder than expected, but we had been cycling into a headwind for most of the ride. Turning towards Wray and we felt the wind changing direction. We struggled not to get distracted by all the cute baby sheep in the fields.

At Wray we visited our third post office where I was pleased to get a sandwich. Unfortunately leaving here it was straight up, chevrons on the the OS map, proper yanking on your bars to get up the hill. A brief downhill meant we had to climb again but soon we were passing through a gate with a no motor vehicles sign and onto Salter Fell itself. Although still climbing it is such a well made track it was easy to climb, shame about the headwind though. The higher we got the harder it got as it became very gravelly and it was a case of pushing hard on the pedals and holding on. We spotted what looked like a road, a steep road, off to our left and both agreed it was one to explore. I think it may be a gravel track which might make it a little harder to climb, but maps have been looked at to plan another adventure. Then we saw a digger, a truck, some men and a helicopter. Totally unexpected.

 This marked the start of the descent and also the most rocky bit, I made the mistake of stopping (not easy with my brakes) and then it was hard to get going. In fact it was over all too soon and we were back on tarmac.

All that was left to do was get back to Waddington, a minor matter of Waddington Fell, and then return to Burnley. My legs were beginning to tire as we took a hillier way back. Out of Burnley we climbed into the hills where we split near the singing tree with Jenn dropping to Bacup for one last climb home and me to Rawtenstall.

Home with 200km and 3574m of climbing and I wondered why I was tired!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Playing at Newcastleton

Today we drove round to Newcastleton, I had suggested me riding but that idea wasn't very popular! We set off up the climb with me riding the Superfly100 and Ali riding my superfly, so she could ride a hardtail to compare with the full-suss. First red section done and Ali was feeling more comfortable on my bike as she had found the front end a little vague on the Superfly100 yesterday. She wanted to try them back to back so we climbed back up and repeated the red section on the oppposite bike. I was enjoying being back on mine as it fits me better. This time down Ali had a bit more confidence and was enjoying the Superfly100 learning how to ride it so as not to use the front end. She decided she wanted to keep riding the Superfly100. We continued on the red and slowly I started to remember how to ride a mountain bike. Coming back to the start of the red Ali was shouting again again, so off we went again.

This time I put a bit more effort in the push myself up to race pace, Ali was right on my wheel though, she is fast! Part way round and she noticed her bars weren't quite straight, fortunately I was once again ready with the multi-tool to sort it out. Down we went flying round the corners with smiles on our faces, we just had to climb up to do the last section of singletrack again.

All that was left was the blue section so one long climb and we were back into singletrack, once again it had to be repeated before returning to the car.

We'd rode 21miles and Ali was very tired, so tired in fact I ended up driving home!

An eventful Kielder ride

Friday and after me nearly forgetting to put the bikes on the roof of the car we were heading up the motorway towards Kielder for Ali to demo the Superfly100. We got there and managed to get into the hostel to find we had an en-suite room.

Morning came a little soon and I felt like I could do with more sleep but it was up and time for a huge breakfast before heading out on the bikes. We adjusted the saddle height for Ali got the camelbak's out and noticed that Ali's water pouch appeared to be leaking. Assuming we hadn't screwed the top in right she went to sort it out and refill it. Only she found a number of holes. So my water pouch into her bag and a bottle on my bike.

We headed out along the Lakeland Way. It wasn't long before we were climbing up the singletrack on the Lonesome Pine trail, after a little diversion round one of the pieces of art that I had mistook for the trail. We stopped to feed Ali and I asked her what distance her Garmin said, no Garmin. We assumed she had dropped it when removing her waterproof at the bottom on the hill (it was attached to her camelbak). I offered to go and get it but with a few midges in the air Ali didn't fancy sitting and waiting so came with me. A fireroad dropped us back down but there was no sign of the Garmin, until I noticed it still attached to the Rucksac, oops.

We climbed back up the fireroad and headed on up to the Bloody Bush trail. Over some boardwalk and I hear a skid. Shouting back at Ali I asked if she was ok, yes comes the answer so I carry on. After a while I stop, no sign so I get the camera out, still no sign. Just as I was thinking of heading back a bleeding Ali turns up. Turns out she had crashed but since she didn't think she had broken anything had said yes she was fine....

Continuing I noticed her rear tyre looked a little soft. I put some air in but no it must be a slow puncture time for a new tube. This should have been easy only the bike has a maxle, QR undone but I couldn't work out how to get the wheel off. The front was easy it unscrewed but I couldn't work out the rear. Ali at this point thought we were stuck, but fortunately I carry patches. Tube out we found the tiny hole, patched it, tube back in tyre and pumped up. Sorted.

We crossed the border in sunshine and started descending to Newcastleton. Hitting the blue singletrack we were both smiling although Ali was looking tired. We had been planning a lap of the red and then dropping down to go to the Copshaw Kitchen but with all the mishaps time was a little later so we went straight for afternoon tea.

Feeling very stuffed after all the food we headed back up the hills to the Newcastleton trails. Ali's front mech was rubbing and I was happy to sucessfully fettle and stop that. My attempt at changing the air pressure in her forks to better suit her was less efffective.

We rode the first couple of sections of the red before joining the border trail and then following diversion signs, unfortunately this meant we missed the border stane where we needed to turn and head back over to England. Fortunately the OS maps on my Garmin800 turned out to be very useful at getting us back on track. Ali was struggling now, not only was this her longest mountain bike ride of the year (mine too) it was her longest ride by a long way. So lots of haribo and some pacing to stop her little bits of fast followed by dying got her back to the border.

We waved at the tree she had decided to befriend last time before heading back into Kielder. Here it started hailing??? Waterproofs on and we were descending, not for long though. Back on the red trails we climbed back up before starting the final descents. On the first bit of singletrack I put my sunglasses back on and set out like I was at Newcastleton, once off the trail I managed to save, the second time I met a tree! Sunglasses off it was a little easier to see and I went a bit slower as my skills and the trail demanded.

We got back to the hostel while it was still light, just, having ridden 45miles with over 1500m of climbing.
Nice day and one very tired Ali.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Back chasing the boys

After a great ride last tuesday I knew I wanted to get out again. Ali is demoing a superfly100 this weekend so I decided to be 'helpful' and go and collect it. I should have had plenty of time but I needed to replace the brake pads on Rigger before riding down, maybe I should have gone on another bike, so I ended up sprinting. Rigger isn't the right bike to try sprinting on the road as I tend to spin out.

At the shop it was a quick change of pedals, light mount and garmin mount and I headed out following the boys. The ride was spent working as hard as I could to keep them in sight. I'm sure its good for me. On the road the bike felt fast but I was looking forward to getting off-road. Up Rooley Moor Road and it climbed really well, allowing me to get away with some poor line choices and standing up was fine as well.
At the top we stopped to look for planets, the windmills were still for maybe the first time I can remember.

Descending the boys lights disappeared and I pootled down, slowly getting used to being off-road and trying to relax.

We split in Ramsbottom and I tried to keep the effort up along the road. It felt great to be off-road and chasin the boys will hopefully speed me up a bit.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

10,000 miles

I record my miles on a programme called SportsTracks, it also records equipment use and I can set a replacement mileage. For all my bikes I have put 10,000miles as it seemed a huge number. Well kiwi (my spesh langster) went past that mark this week - although it probably happened earlier as there have been lots of short trips I haven't recorded. I've had this bike just over two years but its my commuter and since most of my miles have been commuting it shouldn't be that much of a suprise.

But wow my little bike has done over 10,000miles.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Route finding

In Liverpool today working out a route for a family ride. I found the perfect cycle path along a canal, took a little bit of exploring to find a sensible way on and off it. Don't think this staircase will be ideal for the kids, maybe they can ride down them?

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, 11 March 2012

A weekend of sunshine

We were off to a wedding reception in leeds this weekend. Obviously I had decided to ride there but my plans changed slightly when I heard that Ruby was all mended (broken shifter). Ali agreed to drop me at Cooksons and I would ride from there. First of all I had to ride down to Leverhulme Park to watch her run the Park Run. My back was really sore and although walking was hard I was wishing I was running. Just at the end it started trying to rain, not what I wanted before a ride....

It was 1pm I left Cooksons with 40miles ahead of me. I'd had a quick look at the route but not actually plotted it and was going to be trusting the Garmin. Chris warned me that it was a little hilly, which was good as I need to ride in the hills more otherwise some events are going to hurt. I arrived in leeds just over 3hours later and 800m of climbing. A quick shower and then it was wait for Ali's mum.

The wedding reception was nice, the Malmassion is really nice, but I'm not in really in my element in crowds of people I don't know.

Sunday and after a huge breakfast, all you can eat means I eat as much as possible which really doesn't help my weight loss, we all headed off to Hebden Bridge. Me on the bike obviously. Met up with Ali and her mum for cream tea.

After that they headed off to explore Hebden and I met Jenn for a ride. Spent the next couple of hours chasing Jenn and Emma up hills. Probably just what I needed although my heead not being completely in the moment mean I just plodded up the hills and even missed following them on one turning, only went a couple of metres past the turn.

The sun was out and I was warm enough in 3/4's and a long sleeve jersey. One of those days when it is amazing to be in the hills.

Jenn provided chocolate brownies and vimto and I made sure her ears were sore before I headed home. Wanting to get as much climbing as possible I headed towards Bacup, up the top the temperature had dropped and it was very misty, leading to a slow descent down.

Over the day I rode 75miles and climbed 2200metres, quite pleased with that.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Taking advantage of the weather

It was cold but sunny this morning while I was teaching so at lunchtime I made the decision to nip home and switch bikes. Due to Rigger needing brake pads and my on-going back issues I took the superfly back to work with me (along with lots of locks). Come half three I headed up into the hills. Over towards the Strawbury Duck everyone I met was smiling. Then over Darwen Moors. 
I think this is one of my favourite places in the whole world, I hardly ever see anyone here it feels miles from anywhere, yet it is just up the road from my house. Slowly I started to feel like I could ride a mountain bike again. I was taking it easy so as not to stress my bike but that meant I had time to enjoy the lovely evening.
Dropping back towards Bolton I saw a new built trail so I had to follow stopped in the middle of nowhere but maybe it is the start of a new trail that will link up some more options.
As I dropped towards Belmont I saw these cute little baby sheep, obviously pictures were taken for Ali. From here I headed up Winter Hill and down to Rivington. Wondering why it felt like I was riding fully rigid I realised that my folks seemed not to be rebounding, worked out what to turn and sorted it out. Just in time to grab a last couple of descents before heading home.

Commute to work was 1.5 miles with 146metres of climbing
Commute home was 25miles with 832metres of climbing

Guess which was the most fun?


Ali my physio has said swimming may help with my bacl. As it turns out I have missed swimming and a new pool has opened in Bolton last week which has lane swimming every morning. Ali agreed to come with me so this morning we got up silly early, especially for Ali who is not a morning person! The pool had plenty of room and 1000m later I got out. Swimming didn't feel too hard, although I have to admit to not pushing too hard. Hopefully it will help in the long run and I can get in the habit of going regularly.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A ride for cake

After realising how long it was since I had ridden off-road something had to be done. I had no plans of changing that today with sore legs wanting a rest. But Ali wanted to play out. After agreeing she could ride my superfly we set out in lovely weather. Half an hour later we were pulling waterproofs on and sheltering from hail.

Still the rain and hail stopped so we dropped down to Chapel Tea Rooms for cake, the whole point of the ride.

I nearly didn't put my waterproof back on but was glad I had as once we started descending it started raining and never stopped.

Good ride and 21miles reminded me how much fun mountain biking is.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Feb round up

Very quick round up. Basically I rode on road a lot, a couple of audaxes and then commuting but I didn't once ride off-road. Something that needs sorting out or I won't remember how to ride off-road!

753miles in total, not bad seeing as I spent the first week on holiday.