Friday, 30 July 2010

Climbing in the middle ring

Although I was night riding since my trek was at work I was able to ride in on kiwi and not have to struggle on a mountain bike. Amazingly enough I flew in breaking 16mph for my commute for the first time ever. I didn't even think I was working that hard, I think the lack of traffic helped a lot!

Anyway its been a couple of weeks since I last rode with Chris and I think I had forgotten quite how fast he is uphill. Well last night gave me a reminder. This time I took the geared bike and we met up at Cookson Cycles just as it shut. Initially he tried to get me lost as we round our way round Bury and out onto Owl Betts Road. It didn't work as most of the time I could see the Windmills on Scout Road and Winter Hill so I was sure I could get home. Every hill involved me going backwards while Chris flew up them, not before reminding me not to use granny ring - I thought that is what it is there for? Up onto Scout Moor and down a descent that was new to me, but great fun. Still only climbing in middle ring, but it was really hurting. A look through my bag and I found a cereal bar. Up over onto Holcombe Moor and I gave in, granny ring was needed, by me anyway! Up here we saw loads of other riders. Over towards the Strawbury Duck and some exploring of trails gave me some more stuff to add into rides. As we were heading over Turton Golf Course Chris asked what hill we could see, when I said Winter Hill he jokingly asked if we were heading up there. It started me thinking, by this point I was already really struggling....but it would be a good challenge, we could climb up the Belmont Descent maybe.... Well next thing I know and that is where I have us, Chris disappeared like the mountain goat he is while I plodded up in granny. By this point I was struggling to hold a line and realised I should have eaten a lot more! But keep going I did. At the top we still could only see one red light as the mast was completely in the cloud. Chris fed me some Shot Bloks which I think got me home! We went home the way I normally climb as I didn't want to have to think and I certainly didn't want to have to lift my bike over another gate.

Once again he killed me and once again it was a great ride. Bringing lights meant we could stay out longer as well. No photos as I forgot the camera.

73.85km 1247m ascent

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Okay what have I done wrong?

Tonight was my longest commute home ever, or at least that is what it felt like. I was late leaving but the sun was out and I was enjoying my ride home when I got that feeling of a rear wheel punture. No worries I thought and fixed it, on my way again. Another 4 miles and another puncture, hmmm. But once again fixed no issues. Then another 4 miles and a third puncture, this time I had to patch a tube and use a handpump (C02 before) which decided not to work. After numerous attempts, trying to phone the broom wagon (who didn't answer) I got enough in the tyre to limp home. I think it was a broken mudguard causing it so I ducktaped the sharp bits after the third puncture. But I must have annoyed someone to manage three in a short commute!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Another trip to Kielder

After our last trip to Kielder we were both keen to return so we used some YHA vouchers we had to take advantage of a weekend that I had nothing else planned for. We headed up straight after work on friday after the boys at Cooksons had got Ali's bike rideable again, turns out Hit the North had eaten some of the components. Getting there at nearly 10pm it was straight to bed as I had a big ride planned for us.

Saturday morning and we had a hostel breakfast, I was reminded of how generous the portion sizes were and we both ended up very full. After faffing by both of us and Ali chatting away (I was too busy getting the bikes ready) we set out at 10.30am. I had told anyone who asked that we were going to ride every trail, but since we had dinner booked for 7pm that was unlikely!

So off we set along the lakeside way to pick up the Lonesome Pine trail. As we were spinning along a red squirrel ran out in front of us, Ali was so excited I thought she would burst! (It was her first red squirrel sighting) So we had to stop while she calmed down. Then the trail started going up, at this point I was really struggling to stay with Ali and she seemed to have loads of energy, I was feeling slow! Up to the Bloody Bush trail and we headed over the old toll road. At the top we bumped into a group touring, cyclo-cross or road bikes, full panniers and still riding - I was impressed!

On the way down I thought I was flying, until Ali came past me, she is getting a little too brave on descents for my liking! She was even tucking like the pros on the Tour de France! We had our first sandwich stop and then headed round the red at Newcastleton. On the second lap Ali started to tire so I was feeding her lots of sugar to keep her going. Back up to the border stone and it was time to head back over to Kielder. This trail didn't feel as long as last time, the company really helped. Back over at Kielder and we picked up the Bloody Bush trail again. When we got to an option to cut back onto the Lonesome Pine trail Ali suprised me by wanting to do the whole trail, she was obviously struggling. So back up the switchbacks (which I cleared) along the boardwalk and then down, down, down. The descents are a lot nicer with suspension and I have to wonder how I managed them rigid? Back to the Castle and I suggested a loop to up our mileage, but once through the bike park was enough for Ali and we had to be happy with our 47miles.

Back to the hostel and there was enough time for showers and then we shared some wine over vegetable chilli at the hostel. One drink at the pub and exploring the maze and we were both ready for bed.

Sunday morning and after another huge breakfast we decided to have a relaxing morning before heading home. So we drove* to leaplish. Here after an explore round the paths we went in the hide. Just as I was getting bored a red squirrel came to get a drink of water, followed by another and shortly after two more came to find some nuts. Ali was so excited again I thought we were going to have to stay in the hide forever! But eventually even she was hungry so it was back to Kielder Castle for some food before heading home.

we both can't wait to return.

*I know in a car!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Back on the bike

So after six days of being sensible and not riding, ok there was some riding as I had to work on my bike on sunday and monday but that was probably a sum total of 15miles so hardly counts. Today I got back on my bike and rode to work. I made sure I remembered to put my heart rate strap on and took it easy. The legs felt they had loads to give but even when a guy flew past me I resisted the urge to try and keep up. Although I am feeling well again I know I'm not 100% as I still can't open my mouth enough to get cake in there without breaking it up into little pieces. It did mean I got to work with a smile on my face and was really productive today.

Coming home I had thought about getting the train, but I felt great so decided to ride. The sun was out and the roads were quiet (it was nearly 8pm when I left). That was till I got to Whitefield, here the heavens opened and thunder and lightening started. I found a tree to hide under and got my waterproof on. Once I could see the road again I got back on the bike. I was riding rivers instead of roads but the joy of being on the bike meant I didn't care!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Hit the North

Glands up since Wednesday meant that despite my best efforts at resting I wasn't able to race. I was really tempted but when you can't really swallow racing is going to be difficult. Imagine my suprise though when Ali sugested that she took my place! So saturday morning we headed down, changed the name on the start sheet and she was lining up for the run instead of me. I have to say that my Cookson Cycles kit looked good on her. She was first through of all the female soloists and continued to hold that lead all day. There were moments though, she won crash of the day for her fall off a cliff into a stream, luckily for her Shaun was there to fish her out! After four laps she decided that she had stopped having fun so she was going to stop, a bit of encouragement and she was back out. After that the motivation of winning kept her going. Although unlike me she lurked on the last lap so as not to have to go out again!

As for me, I discovered how stressful being Pit Crew is. I should have brought the white board, remembering when she was due in and what she wanted was hard! But hopefully I didn't do too bad a job and I was there everytime she came in, even in the torrential rain!

I was so impressed with her, 9 laps of about 7miles, at least two set of steps she had to carry up and a constant smile. I think I might need to get worried now though, she enjoyed it!

I also wrote some blurb about the race here

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Commuting, wildlife, smiles

I woke up silly early after not really sleeping well, there was only one thing for it. Leave early and ride off-road to work. I took the cross bike and loaded up with a sleeping bag (I'm lending it to someone at work, I wasn't planning on sleeping on the way there!) I headed off. Through Moses Gate, over to Route 6 near Radcliffe. I missed the diversion for the closed trail and ended up doing a bit of scrambling with my bike - probably good training for saturday! Down the berms at Prestwich I then knew that I had made the right choice, a big smile on my face. I saw lots of wildlife, a fox, a bunny some cute ducklings. Onto the road through Salford then on the canal out to work. It only took a bit longer, but I am now bouncing round.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Beer and Darts

After 50 + miles of commuting I went night riding with Odile and Ali. We set off up Winter hill, with a stop for dougnuts on the way. At the top I suggested some options and they both decided that down the Belmont descent to the pub was the way to go. It is really nice to ride at the moment and I felt fast down it. At the pub with beers we noticed a dart board. As the evening wore on we got better at hitting the board (although Ali had obviously played before!) The bar man said we sounded like we were having fun and fortunately none of the darts hit anyone!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Downhill Diva

Last night I went riding with speedy Chris again, as a warm up I had rode 40miles commuting so I was wondering how the legs would be. We met out near mine and I led the way this time. I thought this might be a sneaky way of slowing him down since he didn't know where he was going, but no it didn't work he was still flying up and down the hills.

We headed up onto Winter Hill and I cleared a few climbs I had always stopped on when riding singlespeed. Then down the shoulder, which I rode. We didn't do the Gully though so that is the next thing to do! Down the ice-cream run, no dabs! Over to the nab where we rode round the red. Then the black. I kept waiting for something to get me off my bike but it all seemed fine. Either it wasn't particularly harder than the red or I was just riding really well, I'll go for the later ;-)

I then realised the time, 9pm. No lights meant we had to get going. So it was work, work, work, with some nice downhills thrown in to get back to Bolton. Including a couple of singletrack sections I couldn't see anything. We split on Crompton Way and I got home with 34miles on my Garmin. I was tired and sore but happy after a great ride.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Manchester to Blackpool ride - A rant

Today I was leading a ride from Trafford Waterpark. My commute there took me along a couple of miles of the Manchester to Blackpool ride, only going in the opposite direction. Now I know people doing this ride and know people who have done it before and enjoyed it. But today I experienced all the things that I've heard people say about this ride. In that two miles I had more near misses than I ever do commuting that way at rush hour. I approached lights and had people coming straight towards me on the wrong side of the road. People were riding five abreast. In fact it was chaos, I actually felt sorry for the drivers stuck in it!

The thing is to me it looked like someone was going to get killed. I've done a few sportives in my time but I've never seen anything like it before. It was a good way to give cyclists a bad name. I have no idea how the organisers can get away with it!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Start as I mean to go on

So many races start with a short run or involve sections I have to push my bike that it makes sense for me to do a bit of running. Once I get into it I really enjoy it as well. I meant to run once a week this year but have failed on that one. Still there is still time to enjoy the fitness benefits so today I started July as I mean to continue and went running. It wasn't far (I only did 20minutes as I know I will hurt myself otherwise) it certainly wasn't fast. But I got out there and did it!

June Roundup

Another month and one that I felt I spent recovering from 24solo and the Welsh Ride Thing.  I still managed to sneak a 12hour race in at Gisburn, which was great fun and I felt like I rode well. In fact I enjoyed is so much I've entered another 24hour race in August. I spent two weeks commuting on the train and although it has made a dent on my mileage I think it only feels like I have been lazy as I did so much in April and May.

The only thing that I didn't do that I should have done was go running. No miles at all in June, so much for my run every week. I know it really helps my fitness so that is the aim for July get some running miles in!

The Stats:

Cycled 718 miles
292 miles of it off-road, 426miles on the road