Saturday, 27 October 2012


A spare weekend and Ali heading down south meaning she could give me a lift gave me a chance to come and see my sister and her puppy. Today we went geocaching, typical trio still we scrambled up a hill only to have to scramble back down when the way was blocked by a fence. Both my sister and her puppy were tired by the time we got home.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Looking Back

This is a lovely time of year to commute, unfortunately I'm mainly commuting towards Merseyside so the sun rises behind me and I miss the lovely skies. So yesterday I made sure I stopped and looked.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Autumn Commuting

It's half-term in lots of places which means work is pretty different, in a good way, for the week. I'm working in Merseyside all week but on Tuesday we were travelling over with the van and trailer from the Manchester office. With a slightly later start I took the opportunity to ride in off-road after quickly re-fitting the mudguards to the cross bike. It's certainly Autumn and it was lovely riding through the leaves.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Rapha Super Crosss

Yesterday the Rapha Super Cross came to Broughton Hall, Skipton. Since it was only an hour away and most of my twitter friends seemed be going I entered, originally I was on the reserves list but I got a place. I can't say I was in the mood for racing but the atmosphere helped with that. They lined the women up on a separate start line (we still started at the same time as the vets) which was cool. The pace was high off the line with lots of fast girls there. The first two laps I held my position, on the third I switched off a little but the last two I was racing as others started to tire and my endurance kicked in. I managed to catch and pass two women in these laps and finished in 9th place (19 finishers/20 starters) int he women's which I was really pleased with.

After my race we stayed to cheer our friends racing in the seniors and the fun race, special mention to Budge who came third dressed as a giraffe!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Dusk til Dawn

Back in 2010 I raced D2D as a mixed pair. I always meant to go out and ride it solo but when Ali suggested we ride it as a pair this year I jumped at the chance. We headed down on the Friday night to stay at her mum's, unfortunately I didn't do a great job of sleeping but lots of rest lying round in bed reading was had. We headed over to Thetford and managed to find a spot not too far from the arena and went to register. It turned out we were the only female pair so we decided to see how close we could stay to the female teams.

I lined up for the start in the dark and we were soon off, it was a lot less scary than I was expecting, starts at cross races have probably helped with that and I spent the first lap trying not to lose any places and pass people on the fireroad. Coming in I was calling Ali's name, only for there to be no Ali there (I had said the only thing she had to do was not miss changeover) she was only a couple of minutes late and amazingly I wasn't mad at her! She stormed round her lap and it was my turn again, it was turning out to be a cold night and I had a lot of layers on while I was waiting. She asked if I would double lap next time so I went and shoved loads of food down me and got ready to head out. The double lap worked well as I was only really getting warm halfway round. Ali headed out saying she was struggling to eat so I got ready to head out again, but as she came into changeover she shouted she would go round again.

We carried on with double laps and the lead in the unofficial women's race changing between us and the leading women's team. They changed there order but Ali came in from her last lap in the lead so I just pushed as hard as I could to keep our lead. It had been exciting through the night and really made us push ourselves which was good as it can be hard when there is no-one else racing in your catagory.

I really enjoyed the race and hope to do it again. We didn't argue and were well matched so we may even race as a pair again!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Mills Hills CX

(c) Dave Haygarth
A change of plans meant we were around this weekend and I was offered a place on the CX route of the Mills Hills Sportive if I wrote it up for a website. The weather forecast was good and Ali was up for riding one of the road routes so we were out of the house early and driving through the fog to get to Calderdale. When the road riders set off it was cold and I wasn't looking forward to taking my new snugly warm montane jacket off but luckily as the CX riders set off later the sun was already warming us up.

As expected the route headed upwards from the start and with less that 30 riders on the CX route I was soon on my own, the fast boys up ahead and people walking behind me. But it wasn't long before I caught the fast boys, a group containing lots of twitter buddies. They had gone about 200m the wrong way following a sign pointing the wrong way. I rode with them for most of the first ten miles after this as my Garmin was useful with the route loaded onto it, flagging a missed turn and reassuring us when we were unsure. After a push up a cobbled climb out of Hebden Bridge they all pulled away on the climb Heptonstall and that was the last I was to see of them. Coming along the MTL I was having fun following a mountain biker down, too much fun as I punctured. My own fault I was going too fast as it was rocky. Fixing it I managed to not use my CO2 correctly so it was a case of pumping it up as hard as I could, I didn't want to puncture again! While I punctured it I was passed by two riders looking less than happy as they tried to ride the descent. Rocky descents are a world away from most cross races (The Three Peaks being the exception).

Rolling in the feed it was nice to see Ali and that the feed station had chocolate muffins, this led to an extended stop while I chatted and ate loads of muffins! Heading off thinking that I would have been a lot better on my mountain bike for the first half I was interested to see what the second half would bring. At first it seemed a lot more Cross Bike friendly and I was enjoying the frame tracks and slightly less rocky descents, I could occasionally catch a glance of someone behind me but otherwise I was on my own. Then I ended up carrying something I probably could ride on my mtb before a proper carry that I wouldn't have been riding on any bike. Across the top was boggy and a couple of puddles were deeper than they looked as I found out when I went flying! The descent would have been fun and challenging on a mountain bike, on a cross bike it was scary. At one point I came off to the left to find out the braken had stopped me falling down a cliff. After that I walked a bit of it. But rode down the bottom section where I was cheered on by the Marshalls from the Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon who we were sharing this section of trail with.

A little bit of road took me to the timed climb, once again cobbled and I ended up walking half of it. After that it was more kinks and twists as I could see the Valley Floor and then I was following the start of the route back to the start. I crossed the line only about 35minutes behind the fast boys and found out plenty of people hadn't done the whole course. It was a tough route and I hadn't been racing mainly just enjoying the weather and the views, no point rushing when the weather is so nice. There were a few things that could be improved but it was the first running of the event and most things were fantastic and I had a great day on the bike. I'll be back next year but with a mountain bike!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Introducing Hannah to Winter Hill

Hannah was over this side of the Pennines visiting family so I suggested a ride. She grow up round here so knows Winter Hill but I think this was the first time she rode up it. The Belmont descent seems to be getting harder everytime I ride it and certainly muddier. After a quick wash of the bikes we had pizza. Lovely to get out in the hills again.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Three Peaks Cyclocross 2012 - An epic

Once again I had entered this event but this time I had done some practicing, it amount to about three times carrying my bike up the steepest bit of Winter Hill I have found and coming back down the Belmont descent. Although I wasn't fast at either I could do it. The one thing I didn't do was any running for months, just a couple of runs in Cornwall. But it was soon too late to worry about that and instead I was planning clothing options. The forcast wasn't great, rain and wind, but not uber-cold, 10 degrees. I went for the more cautious option of roubaix 3/4's, merino base layer, jersey and a waterproof, I also wore work shoes with wool socks, they are much easier to walk in than my usual race shoes.

Lining up and I wasn't enjoying taking layers and my waterproof trousers off but I honestly believed it couldn't rain all day. I lined up at the back as I knew how slow I would be on Simon Fell. Off we went and I moved up a bit on the road and was just loving being on my bike. The road section was longer than I remembered but that meant that I could see a decent average speed for at least the first bit of the race! Off-road we went and it was boggy, so off the bike early and pushing. It wasn't long before I was carrying but I knew this wasn't the steepest bit. Onto the vertical slope and this time it wasn't as much of a shock as I was expecting it. I wasn't fast but I didn't stop, it felt like a big improvement. At the top they were lifting our bikes over and then holding onto us as we scrambled over the stile. Then it was onto the top, I remembered riding a fair amount of this section in 2009 but this time there was hardly any riding, the wind was doing its best to blow me off the top. I bumped into a twitter friend and there were three of us making our way up together. The descent was where I was meant to make up time but a combination of the weather and me still being nervous descending meant that I didn't really. Still off at the bottom and Ali was cheering for me.

I worked on the road but also made sure I ate something, getting to the start of Whernside they let us go up even though we had missed cutoff by 5minutes. I was so pleased so I worked as hard as I could up the hill but once again it was a slow slog and a try not to be blown off. I followed Eric from Horwich CC down the hill but lost him as my rear brake was making odd noises, it took me a while to realise I had buckled my rear wheel. That meant the rest of the race was done with only my front brake, another reason why I NEED disc brakes! Coming off Ali was there again looking wet, I was sure I had no chance of making cutoff but made the decision to work hard as I didn't want to miss it thinking I could have made it if I had worked harder.

Officially I had missed it but they waved us on to PyG, I was so so pleased. I was loving it! There was a big puddle to wade through on the way up but it was nice to be riding up hill and I actually passed quite a few people of the climb. The top was really bleak and apart from people coming down I couldn't really see anyone! Eventually I saw the marshalls at the top and turned to head down, it was a great descent once I got on my bike! Throught the puddle at the bottom, which was more like a swim now and out onto the road. Ali was here cheering again which was a lovely suprise as she had said she was heading to the finish when I last saw here. Head down to the finish and I crossed the line in 6hrs 20mins. A lot slower than in 2009 but in the conditions I was so pleased.

I finished 31st (and last) female and 494th out of 504 finishers.

So next year???