Saturday, 30 May 2009

The sun has come out to play!

After such a wet bivvy trip friday dawned completely clear and sunny. I was working out at Linnett Clough so it was an early start to ride into Manchester. I always feel so slow riding in on my mountain bike compared to the road bike. By the time I got there the arm and knee warmers came off. The first time this year I've not had my knees covered. The sun stayed out all day which was great for the Children we were working with. By the time I got home I was exhaushed and probably dehydrated so an evening of drinking water and pizza was in order.

Today was just as sunny but the plans were all for inside. I was at the manchester velodrome with a load of lads from cyclechat. It was great fun, great to do something organised. I don't think I was the slowest, but some of them were really fast. Ali was pleased to find even though this year has mainly been running she hasn't lost too much power in her legs. Posting a quick enough time in the 250m TT to put her in the fast group for the race laps.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Rain in Lancashire

So I had planned out an epic, the idea being that we would ride about 100km before finding somewhere to sleep for the night. We had gone for different methods of carrying our load, mine was the same as last time only I had lost some weight from my back - which was nice. Jon had decided on paniers, after a few goes at towing a trailer before.

We set off in the drizzle with full waterproofs on. The first bit of off-road was a nice muddy walk up a fell and back down again.
Slow progress but smiles all round till we got to the vertical muddy slope! At this point my method looked best as I picked my bike up on my back and feeling a little smug I had hiking boots on I carried my bike down. Jon on the other hand had fun with his fully loaded bike getting down! Then it was the next fell, Dunsop Fell. We walked and walked and I carried my bike for the last bit, everytime I looked back Jon was having fun with his heavy bike! At the top I was looking forward to riding, but no now the terrain was a complete bog. At some point I mis-judged how wet it was going to be and ended up completely in the bog!

Originally my bike was on top of me and I couldn't shift it, Jon had to move it, it took a lot of effort to get out - almost like a swimming motion! I was most impressed not to lose a boot! That would have been terrible!

Fortunately the downhill was nice off the top, think Jon enjoyed it once he got used to the changed handling of his bike! At this point I was beginning to think the whole thing was a bad idea, the map had got wet! I realised how silly I had been not bringing the waterproof maps of the area that I had used when plotting the route (for some reason since I didn't have maps of the whole route I didn't bring the two I had!!!) I had a copy of the route we were doing but the map holder was less than waterproof so it became a bit soggy. So instead of heading up over Salter Fell I had us drop down into Slaidburn. At this point I thought it was time for a new plan so Gisburn Forest was the new destination. We headed to another cafe near the forest and wasted a few hours in there watching the rain getting heavier and the wind stronger. After chip butties it was time to head out. As we got into the forest something amazing happened and the sun came out and it stopped raining. I insisted we rode around for a while, whereas Jon wanted to stop and get his tent out asap! In the end we found the wet weather shelter then back-tracked to find a nice spot.
This was the moment of truth, would any of my stuff be dry, I had a text from Ali offering lifts, so although there was no mobile reception I knew there was a payphone only a few miles away. Always nice to know if everything goes wrong!! As it turns out all my dry-bags worked! Even the one on my bike and most exposed kept everything dry. The only bit of damp was a bit of my down jacket - its dry bag is a little too small so I hadn't rolled the top shut as well, going to buy a bigger one and that will be sorted! I got comfy while Jon spent his time pitching his tent!

As you can see Jon made sure he had room for his tent and I was left outside!
At this point I wasn't sure what to do, I had thought I would be riding/in a pub till dark. So I cooked my not very nice tinned spaghetti. I think I should of had the other tin I bought but at that point I thought I would have both!

The insects came out to bite not long after and Jon decided to hide in his tent. Ar this point I decided to get in my bag, first I removed a slug off my mat. I was beginning to wonder if I would like being outside afterall, especially when it started raining! I got all curled up and on my side, sleeping bag closed, bivvy too with my face covered. I kept checking to see how heavy the rain was and it seemed a steady drizzle. Eventually I fell asleep and slept till just after 4:30am, when it was light. I woke up felt a little cold, but fine, my shoulders were a little damp. So I put an extra jacket on - I had kept some extra clothes in my sleeping bag! But still had to get up as I needed the toilet. As I got back in a Jon surfaced and sounded like he was about to cook breakfast and take his tent down, something about it leaking, I went back to sleep though. He then took his tent down and cooked breakfast, still not sure why he took the tent down, even a leaking tent is better than nothing.

I surfaced again at about 7:30am, packed up and headed to the dry shelter, since it was still raining. I was impressed I was dry as I was sleeping in a puddle when I woke up. I can definitely recommend the alpkit bivvy! Once at the dry shelter I got to work on my breakfast. At the last bivvy Kate had pointed out how much my milk weighed. She suggested powdered milk as the alternative. So that is what I did, I mixed it up in a little bag and poured it on, it worked fine! A great weight saving tip!
Thenit was off on todays ride, we got back on the route I had planned and a mixture of road and walking through boggy fields brought us out on Waddington Fell where we dropped down to the cyclists a cafe. A nice feed and then country lanes all the way back to the car.
A great trip and I'm impressed with how well my kit stood up, just a couple of bits I want to change.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Packing for adventure

Last time I didn't think to weigh my bags, but this time I have tried to pack a bit lighter, I am limited to what I already have. But there have been a few changes - namely no champagne, pasta sauce etc to get rid of glass bottles! It all comes out at 12kg, that includes 3 litres of water so not too bad!

Monday, 25 May 2009

A bank holiday adventure

So today was time to have an adventure with Ali, apparently I have been having too many without her! So we set out into the hills for lunch.I got to carry the food, beer, blanket etc. I was on my cross bike and Ali on her commuter - which really is dead - since the brakes on her spesh were not letting us fix them last night. Everything went to plan and we got to our lunch stop. Got out the bbq and then couldn't light it.

Ali, as you can see did not look impressed! So plan number two came into action and we rode back home and had the bbq in the back yard!
Nice burgers and sausages!

Oh and of course some beer!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

The sun came out as I was inside.

I was doing two more courses this weekend. Circuit training and core and torso, so now I can lead sessions in these. Of course since I was inside all day it meant the sun came out! I did ride there and back though so I saw some of the real world - only 13 mile round trip but nicer than the car.

Saturday was great, teaching and participating in circuits classes, today was a lot more theory and stuff I know and really should apply more. But still enjoyable.

Now I just need to get some work!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Still deciding...

Today I went running before lunch and then fell asleep in the afternoon, no idea why I didn't think I was tired. I was pleased with my running it was really muddy out yet my pace was up. Obviously my body is beginning to remember how to run! It was only 30minutes so maybe next week I'll try something a little longer.

The plan for later was to ride over and meet Ali after her run, but she rang to point out the bike racks weren't on the car. We had both forgotten!!! So I just went out locally. I set off with no idea where to go but actually managed quite a nice loop! I ended up climbing the way I used to always go to Rivington and realised I hadn't been that way in ages and then home via barrow bridge. The forks seem great, they absorb loads - the cobbles hurt way less than expected but there is still that odd feeling I can't explain. Still more time to decide I think!

12.21 miles
358m ascent

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

My picture is on singletrack world

Click on the picture to read the report about the race at the weekend. Pic copyright Jenn Hopkins

Wanted: Female for mountain mayhem

We are three girlies who have got together to race mountain mayhem this year, there was four but now as three we need another. We have raced mayhem before but not all together. Our aim is to podium, so we want someone who fits in with our aim. Basically if you have no intention of stopping however muddy the course gets. You think that going out for a lap at 3 in the morning is fine and you think you can cope with spending the weekend with me, we want to hear from you!

Prizes from MAXGEAR

MAXGEAR have kindly provided the prize list for the women's racing up at lee quarry. This meant I had a couple of vouchers to spend there. So I've been on and choosen a few bits. I really like their tiny pumps and a saddlepack in pink was a must buy for me! I also got a new pair of compression tights which should be good for recovery. Wander over and have a look, remember you discount code (MAXIT10) if you are a first-time customer.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Rain, rainbows and carbon forks

After a day spent putting carbon forks on rigger, no-one told me removing a crown race could take so long. In fact before today I didn't even realise you had to remove it from the old forks to put on the new ones! But after about an hour I got it off - thanks to everyone on twitter for the helpful comments and advice!

I rode over to fairfield to meet Odile for a similar ride to last time, only I had planned something slightly different. On the way over I wasn't sure of them yet, they felt different. I'm wondering now if its the weight of the wheel, when I was stood up climbing it was an odd feeling, almost as if they were pulling back when I was pulling the bars. Not sure how to explain it? Once I got there I dropped the bars even more, the bike felt different to before, which means I now have a huge amount of steerer above the stem!

I arrive a little late after forgetting that we were meeting the far side of Bury but we were soon on our way. The ride was going well on the first bit of downhill I flew off and then got scared - my bike is going to be different. The mind is so powerful! I must stop using mine to talk myself out of things! We then headed down the downhill that last time we had to carry up! The top part was ok, but I stopped when I reached the complete boulder field. A bit further down I got on and after repeating "its flat, its flat, its flat" to myself made myself ride down!

After this the route got a bit sketchy, we dropped near to ramsbottom and then somehow ended up wandering across a boggy field.

This was followed by waist high grass and then a muddy cliff to clamber up. Once out of that trying to get back on the route failed as I led us in circles. Eventually a bit of cycle path and some road brought us back to the start.

The weather went from fine when we started to torrential rain, at one point I was ready to head for home. It had gone from fun to can I endure this any longer. I was also beginning to feel cold and unusually for me had no more clothes to put on! But things felt better once the rainbow came out. The picture is rubbish but it really was a perfect rainbow!

Once back at Fairfield we split and I headed home. Still wondering about the forks. Its hard to explain the feeling and I am not sure if that is just because they are light carbon forks or if it wouldn't be there with longer ones! Need to try them out a bit more! I did notice that the turning circle was reduced when I got up some tight switchbacks easily though. Think only time will tell so for now the steerer is not being chopped and I will just look silly!

28.76 miles @ 9.2 mph
610m climbed

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Brownbacks Series 1 Race 3

Once again I was carless again so I had to ride over to the race. Rigger was all happy with his new bottom bracket, cranks and chainring. But I seemed to be making hard work of the ride over, I think the running the day before had killed my legs! Still there were nice views over the hills and the promised rain hadn't appeared yet! I arrived with plenty of time to register and dump my bag in someones van. I had no idea what the racing was to be like today but I knew Molly wasn't riding as she had a broken wrist. We'd had a good race last time so it was a shame. Soon it was time to start and the first hill killed me, I was walking within minutes my legs said no! But I knew I had to at least finish the race, the idea of giving up was very tempting! The course was very different to last time and led to me doing a lot of pushing, I wasn't much better on the downhill sections I knew and was not riding well. Still I told myself if I finished I would be in a good position for the series win. The course never let up, I found it hard to find anywhere I could let go of the bars and drink! Somehow I ended up completing 5 laps, I felt like I was right at the back but who knows!
Prize giving came and I was the 1st female in my category, I got another nice trophy - realised I hadn't put a picture oup of it last time. This time the rock was even bigger so I was glad I had brought a bigger rucksac! After eating all the food in my bag it was time to head home. It's a lot easier that way - less climbing - which I was glad of.
Now its time to sleep I think, it'll be takeaway for dinner!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Rigger is home!

After being to lazy to do it yesterday I had to go and collect rigger today from cooksons. Since Ali is down south for a very important football match I had to run there. Wow am I unfit, one mile in and I wanted to walk, it felt hard I had a stitch and I was going so slow. I know that it is just I have only started running again after a little break this week so I slowed down but kept plodding away. It took me over an hour to get there but I ran the whole way - apart from if I had to stop to cross juntions! I was pleased that I had ran the 7 miles, now just need to get some running fitness back!

Rigger is now sporting a lovely new square taper bottom bracket and crankset all for what it would have cost me just for a bottom bracket. Cooksons also bought the chainrings off me which saves me a job! Hopefully square taper will last a lot longer than what I had on there!

Friday, 15 May 2009

A planning and a printing

Jon wanted another adventure, I had some days definetly not working, he booked some off and I plotted. Map has been printed so now I just need to pack!

News From Brownbacks


Ladies, great news for the next two races.
Max Gear ( have stepped up with additional sponsorship building on their support for professional women’s racing and are generously providing a proper prize list with vouchers to the value of £75, £50 and £25 for the top 3 racers and £50, £25 and £10 for the top three Weekend Warriors and Have-a-go Heroes. These are being supplemented with hydration packs provided by Max Gear ( and Ride-On (
Our sponsors have been generously providing ad-hoc sponsorship to date and we would like to thank them for their efforts. With Max Gear ( have now made the decision to beef this up with proper sponsorship for the women’s categories. This has got to be great news for women's grass roots racing, so get your bike ready for the 17th and the 31st May.
Support the racing, support the sponsors!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Singletrackworld has a write-up of the brownbacks race here - I get a couple of mentions!

Today I was off out this afternoon to reece an area for a skills session with some primary school children. I decided to bring the cross bike which was ideal for the mix of road and off-road I did in the end.

First of all I dropped a little present for rigger off at cooksons. No point using the chainring that came with the new crank, the last one was like cheese I'll just try and sell them on to someone who uses gears! I'm sure he will be feeling great when I pick him up with all the shiny new bits!
Then it was onto Bikeright to meet up with Al and Pat before following the fallowfield loop round to Chorlton. Some fun playing in the woods where I showed how not to go downhill and also found a lovely track that was covered in nettles. On the road to show me where the school was and at a junction I managed to slide off. Didn't really hurt, just felt a little silly especially as a runner seemed ready to pick me up!
Then we split as I headed over to Salford to pick up route 6 home. Nearly all off-road on the way home and I seemed to have remembered how to ride. The part out to the M60 is horrible garvel now so I explored some tracks that seemed to go the same way, this led to a mouthful of flies though!
47.9 miles @ 12mph
574m ascent

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Windy out there

Well got some miles in yesterday as I had training in manchester in the afternoon so it was a nice ride in and out, I timed it well to avoid most of the traffic and broke the 15mph barrier which means I was uber-fast.

Today Rigger went over to Cooksons to get a new bottom bracket, seeing as it probably wasn't a good idea to ride him I took the car which I then dropped off with Ali. I ran back from her work, a slightly longer way than the direct way as that would only be 2 miles. I took it easy but it felt fine, ages since I have ran on road!

4.38 miles @ 9:15 min/miles
65m ascent

Monday, 11 May 2009

Some pics from the bivvy

After my inability to really take any good pics I was glad to find that Kate had some good ones.


This was me fully loaded up.

climbing the wheel stones

Me fast asleep still in my lovely and warm bivvy bag.

And another from Chris

Amy fully loaded!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

A bivvy Adventure

On my to do list has been to go bivvying, I have a bivvy bag but I had yet to use it. So when Kate mentioned that her Chris and Simon were going to ride out to the peaks for a bivvy and did I fancy joining them I jumped at the chance! I was working over in Whalley Range till about 1:30pm so I got everything packed on thursday and then took half of it out! Still my bag weighed a ton! Then I rode over to the school with all my kit. I was back on my way and hitting Didsbury where I went off-road onto the trans-pennine trail for 2pm. From there is was mainly transpennine trails, with a few detours, steps fully-loaded were interesting! Before coming out near Glossop and dropping down to Tesco for some last minute supplies. My ride over had been punctuated with stops for the rain - heavy enough to mean my jacket was on and off! Just as I reached Glossop the hailstones started, I began to wonder how good an idea this sleeping outside was! After picking up my milk for breakfast and Alcohol for the evening I set off over snake pass, I had decided that it made more sense to stick to the road from Glossop as the alternative looked like Hayfield->Jacobs Ladder -> Edale -> Jaggers Clough -> The Beast which would have taken me all night. At this point I realised that my bottom bracket had given up working as well, which was no good. But at this point I was so close so I wasn't stopping.
Snake pass was hard, ideal for my first attempt at the hill use a singlespeed and wear a big rucksac!!!! I got to the ladybower inn about 7:10pm, the others had hoped to be there at 6pm, a quick phonecall and it turned out they were still 90minutes away. At this point the rainbow got me all excited about the adventure again! In the pub and it seemed rude not to eat, so a nice burger and chips and a couple of drinks, by the time they arrived I was wobbling up the hill to the bivvy spot! Due to my indecision about alcohol, the suggestion of whiskey didn't suit I amused everyone with my choice of a mini bottle of champagne! Which I enjoyed as they cooked, due to my giant meal in the pub even though I had carried food and cooking stuff I was way too full to eat anything!
It wasn't long before we were getting in our bivvy bags, all four of us had the same bag! They suggested I tried my mat inside my bag but then I couldn't get in! I definetly need a smaller mat, something like this would be perfect! So the mat went outside and I got nice and snug, I was impressed I wasn't cold at all!

The next morning I woke up suprised that I seem to have slept well, we really did have a comfy spot. After breakfast and all the faff of me packing we were off again! We dropped down to the pub again and enjoyed some coffee, tea, hot chocolate before heading our seperate ways.
I headed off to hope, got some new batteries for the camera and then it was off to castleton and up the broken road. Somewhere from here I lost my pump :-( Then Rushups Edge and Roych Clough. By this point I was more and more concerned about the bottom bracket, it made riding hard and the noises were scary. So I got on the Sett Valley Trail at Hayfield and arranged to meet Ali at Disley for a lift home. She got stuck in traffic so I had a sandwich and smoothie while waiting.
It was a shame not to ride home, but my bottom bracket is in such a bad way, the nice boys at cooksons will be getting a visit on monday so my bike is race ready on sunday.

Total for the two days:
81.42 miles
2400m ascent
Thanks to Ali, the present she got me last year came in useful, all my stuff fitted it!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Busy working

Been a good week this week as I have had work every day, in fact on wednesday I had to work in the morning in preston and the afternoon in Rochdale. Although this meant no commuting by bike it was great to be working. Today I managed to commute by bike to Preston since my afternoon was free, back via Blackburn and Ramsbottom to drop my form off for the next brownbacks race! Then tonight was spent packing and panicking for tomorrows adventure!

51.7 miles @ 14 mph
1066m ascent

Monday, 4 May 2009

My first Cross-country race

Today was the second event in the Hope Race Series up at lee quarry and organised by brownbacks. I couldn't make the last one but definetly wanted to be at this one. The decision had been made to take rigger and it was an early start as I needed to ride over since Ali is away with the car - my mum actually offered me a lift last night but it is a long way for her to come to take me to a bike race! I was very cold waiting for the race to start and was beginning to wonder if I hadn't worn enough clothes, but once I was racing it was fine. We set off and it took me a while to get going, all the people round made it hard on a singlespeed, I was passed by the other two singlespeeders on the first climb and I knew there were at least two girls ahead of me. One of them was my friend Molly who had won the category last time. On the first two laps I could see her in the distance which had me pushing, the third lap though she got away from me and I couldn't see her. I think this is the lap I slipped off on a rock, fortunately to the side that wasn't a cliff! Turns out Molly had fallen the lap before hence me getting closer to her. The next two laps I started making inroads on her again, but I was thinking I was running out of race. I think Enduro stuff suits me more than flat out for 1.5 hours. On the last lap I hit the last hill with her only 10m or so ahead so it was a hard effort, then on the flat where she had been gaining I just sprinted. I caught her on the next hill where we were both pushing, I think she had the edge there with all her running! Followed her down the next singletrack section and then went for it on the next flat section, she was there for a while but the next glance I had 5m, I pushed hard up the hill, 10m, then I heard "my seat post is broke" - shame as it was really close. But it meant I was less worried through the last singletrack section. I finished just a few minutes ahead as molly crossed the line with her saddle in her mouth!
Turns out I was the second singlespeeder back and 1st in the women's weekend warrior category for which I got a fab trophy. I'll be back for the next one an I recommend everyone has a go, if you are a racer already there is a category for you and if you are a little more nervous enter the have-a-go heros - a slightly shorter course and the marshalls were being really helpful on the downhills those guys were doing.

I did 6 laps in total:

I was pretty happy with the splits - the first being the extra climb we did at the start. They were pretty consistent and unlike normally I managed to work harder on the final lap! I had to I had Molly in my sights!
Dave got some pics of me. (Hope its ok me stealing them!)

Brownbacks series 1 race 2, Lee Quarry

Brownbacks series 1 race 2, Lee Quarry

Brownbacks series 1 race 2, Lee Quarry

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Lee Quarry

Tomorrow I am planning on racing the Brownbacks race at Lee Quarry. I have heard nothing but good things about the last race so I'm looking forward to it. I thought today it would be a good idea to check I could ride the place! So me and Jon headed over. Only a few laps as the legs were tired from yesterday and I can say, its's going to kill me! I can't get up one of the hills but all the downs were fine, at todays pace, race pace might be different. Also wondering if my legs will cope, the car is away so I'll have to ride there. Still all good practice!

Playing at Lee Quarry

Fit Freddie took a video today of me at lee quarry.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Mary Townley Loop

Today was the day planned to ride the mary townley loop. After a few bits of interest only fit freddie could make it. So we left mine at 7am to ride to Rochdale and get on Rooley Moor Road. This meant the biggest climb of the day was first as we were doing the loop in a clockwise direction. It was getting warm at this point so the armwarmers came off, at the top they were back on and that was the theme for the day. It depended if you were in the sun or not.I was quite excited to reach the stone in memory of mary townley and we had our first sandwich stop here! I think the bikes were ready for a rest after all that climbing!

The day continued with amazing views and lots of different sets of windmills on the horizon. We stopped for a pub lunch at 40miles into the ride which meant it was over half-way! It was nice to get a big feed but it made the next hill feel hard, I'm sure there was something wrong with my bike ;o) Soon after this we met someone doing the loop the opposite way, only he was riding in our direction, somehow he had managed to turn back without realising! Still he had only climbed for maybe five minutes extra. He was hoping to get round in 7 hours, which sounds pretty fast to me.
It wasn't long after this I had my first long push of the day - I had pushed one part of one climb earlier but rode the rest. This trail was switchbacks but they still were vertical. You can just see the footballers where we started the climb. After that it wasn't long before we caught a glance of the first set of windmills from the ride. Still a fair amount of climbing but actually it seemed like we suddenly found Rooley Moor Road again.
Then it was just a case of riding home and ordering pizza! I guess next time I'll have to ride it the other way. Although I think it might be harder. There were some descents I wouldn't get up as ascents.

69.88 miles @ 8.7 mph
2473m climbed
4745 kcals burnt!
3 hours of paused time (how? it must be the pub, two picnic stops and the photo stops I guess)

Friday, 1 May 2009

April Roundup

This month I started working again, so that was a real positive. Still only bits here and there but it is building up. I also passed my gym instructor assessment so that was great. Another great Audax with the cyclechat guys and Ali completing the London Marathon also added to the month. The only thing lacking was my own running, so this month is deciding what will motivate me, should I try and join a running club?

The figures:

14.58 miles running
285.57 miles moutain biking (239.76 singlespeed)
17.45 miles cyclo-cross
354.48 mile road

16195m of ascent

Progress on targets:

  1. Run at least once a week Failed :o(
  2. Run 300miles in the year 30% complete
  3. Cycle an imperial century a month Failed :o(
  4. Cycle 8000miles in the year 32% complete

Skills and Guiding

Today was my first full day doing mountain bike skills and guiding. It went really well, we had a lovely group of lads who were all keen and by the end skilled riders. The rain stayed away till the last hour and all of them did something they didn't think they were going to be able to.

I also got 29miles in commuting to and from manchester, hard work on the mountain bike.

Now time to get ready for tomorrows epic. I'm excited!