Friday, 30 December 2011

Soggy Geocaching

I didn't wake up till late today and had no motivation to go out on my bike in the rain. I also had no motivation to do any of the things on my huge to do list. Eventually I knew I had to get outside so Ali and I went geocaching. There are a number of new geocaches since we last went geocaching in our local area, also our first geocaching experience.

The first one we attempted to find didn't happen, not sure if we were looking round the right tree or not. It wasn't ideal conditions with the constant rain. Never mind we headed on to the next one which Ali found quickly. Next one was a muddy sliddy walk across the golf course. The next one should have been close but we couldn't even see a stump, which was the hint, suspect all the leaves were hiding any that were there. One last one and then we headed home via the shops to get a few bits to add to Ali's sisters Christmas presents.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Riding Home

So after Christmas Day and Boxing day being spent with Ali's mum I left on the 27th to ride home. As I was unsure of the weather I had planned to take two days, staying at my sisters on the tuesday evening. I left a little later than planned but made reasonable time riding lots of country lanes made me glad of my exposure 6pack, otherwise I would probably ended up on main roads and the tiny bit of the A6 and A50 I did wasn't that enjoyable. I had one stop to pick up more water and once again the last 10miles was uphill. Turns out Coalville is on a hill. I had also worn summer gloves as it was lovely and warm.

The evening was spent drinking wine and eating pizza. Helen had to be in work for 7am so it was to be an early start. Unfortunately I didn't sleep well, think I was scared I would sleep through the alarm.

I was on the road at about quarter to seven and Coalville being on a hill played in  my favour as I set off downhill. I was making steady progress to Derby then I started climbing towards Ashbourne and it got slower and slower. The hills didn't help but neither did the fact that the wind was trying to blow me back where I came from. It felt a long way to Ashbourne and any downhills had to be pedalled so that I kept going forward! I stopped in Ashbourne to grab a sandwich and change into winter gloves, it was a little colder today!

Then it was time to Climb again to Buxton and then over to Whaley Bridge. Here I spent some time looking for a cafe as I was cold, even after adding a waterproof for the descent, and hungry. But they were all closed. I headed off towards Disley on a back road which was another huge hill and was very glad to see Disley. At Bramhall I was so happy to see Sainsburys had a cafe but I wandered around in a daze for a while and only bought cake, could have done with some 'real' food as well.

By this point the wind was a constant battle, the only respite from the headwind came when it started gusting from the side, which meant wrestling my bike to not end up under a bus on the A6. Through Manchester and still not making any time as the wind was against me. I was glad to get home, two hours later than expected, and find that my mum had been round and left me a Pizza and ice-cream.

Day 1: 80miles 1770m ascent / 1400m descent
Say 2: 92miles 2980m ascent / 2640m descent

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Hope everyone has a Happy Christmas. Last few days at my sisters have been fun. Ali arrived just in time to help with tree decorating. We had a Christmas brunch before heading down to Cambridge for Christmas part 2.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Across the Peak District

Today I rode from home to Leicestershire where my sister lives. I was hoping Ali's present would arrive so I didn't leave till after 1pm which meant most of the journey would be in the dark. Heading through Manchester and Stockport wasn't fun especially with rubbish brakes but once I got to the Peak District it improved. It also got hillier, I felt the weight of the panniers going up the hills and since I was cautious down them my overall speed was low.

I passed through some lovely villages and even in the dark some of the views were great. I had forgotten that it was so hilly to get to Helen's (probably as I am usually in a car) and they last ten miles all seemed uphill.

My Garmin turned itself off a number of times and definitely missed 5miles between Whitefield and Manchester but it recorded 133km and 1600m of climbing. Good ride overall although I was overdressed as it was warm.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Audax Cyclo-Cross


Sunday morning and at 7am I was outside in my PJ's checking for ice, if any of my neighbours had been awake they probably would have thought I had lost it. Both the main road and the side street were completely clear and with a weather forcast of above freezing for Cheshire I was all ready to ride the Winter Solstice Audax. I had spent saturday sorting out my bike and Ali was giving me a lift to the start in Bredbury. Although I was still coughing I felt fine.

Then it all changed, it started snowing, my friends were tweeting that they weren't going, the organiser had suggested not riding. Ali sensibly pointed out that driving in the now snow covered road was not a good idea and I reluctantly went back to bed. Getting up an hour earlier and reading on the forum it sounded like I had made the right decision the roads over in Cheshire were a mixture of slush and ice. Only one thing for it cyclo-cross. It was the day of the Horwich CC 4 Season Cycles Humdinger Cross which is held less than two miles from my house, it would be rude not to go and race.

I had to change my bike back from its off-road commuting duties by removing the rack and I also put my new cross tyres on, should be less likely to clog in the mud and hopefully grippier. Then I headed off making my first mistake by trying to ride down the back street which was now an ice-rink. Ali followed on foot wanting to get some running miles in. Signing on I went for a ride round the course. I was already out of gears but I was also nice and warm. The course was covered in snow but this was causing it to be very very muddy. Ali arrived and I gave her all my spare clothes so she was warm and lined up at the start.

My head was still in long and steady mode and I pootled off the startline and round the first lap. The odd time I really tried pushing I got nowhere, seems like I can't ride on mud! Still my heart rate was up so I was getting a good workout. I was trying to be careful as I didn't want to end up coughing and coughing but it seemed fine racing. After three laps I started to warm up and was able to reel in and pass a few people ahead of me. I still felt like I was descending badly, especially on the big muddy descent where I was shouting at myself, I knew I had to get my weight over my forks or my front wheel just washed out, but I am a wimp! The race finished a little early for me as I had halved the gap to the girl in front in one lap, but I had enjoyed it which was the important thing.

Then I rode home, I walked through the park as I was too scared of the ice. No pictures as the camera decided to stop working and all the pictures are just black!

I finished third female and 67th overall. Shame the season has nearly finished I was just beginning to enjoy it!

Here is a video from the race:

Friday, 16 December 2011

Another muddy commute

Repeating yesterday I met up with Colin, although a little earlier so we weren't late to work. It was snowing most of the way in but luckily the only ice I encountered was the paths in Leverhulme park. Once again I dragged col round the singletrack although he gave the berms a miss.

Coming home I had company as Col got to finish a little earlier. His light is impressive for the money but unfortunately for him I had my six pack with me. Which made his look a little weedy. It was great to have company on the way home.

Once home it was wash the bike, again - a twitter friend is sending me mudguards which will help. Then a lazy evening as Ali was out on her Christmas Do.

33miles ridden, still coughing but hopeful for Sunday.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Off roading with panniers

Most of this week I'm working in the office as there is very little cycle training taking place at the moment. So this morning I arranged to meet Colin and we rode in together. I dragged him round the berms at Prestwich and was impressed at how well the bike coped seeing as it had a rack and panniers. I struggled with uphills, running out of gears and this cold still lingering. Getting to work I was covered in mud, Colin was clean. Mudguards were needed.

On the way home I decided it would be a waste not to ride so it was another 16.5miles and I got home covered in mud.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Cargo Bike

My friends from Keep Pedalling had been kind enough to lend me, well I suppose Ali as I was busy riding, their Dirtworker during SITS. It's been in the back of my mind that I should return it but getting round to it was a different matter. They need it back for over Christmas so today I got the train into Manchester and then pedalled across town with the Dirtworker on the rack on the back. It actually worked really well. Then I pedalled off to work.

If you are in Manchester make sure you pay Keep Pedalling a visit they are on Hilton Street, just off Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The ultimate bike?

Not been 100% since I got back from my ride on Sunday. Yesterday I wouldn't have ridden to work only I was delivering level 3 training so needed the bike. In the session we rode 18miles so it certainly wasn't a rest. Today I would be riding again as I was doing a reece ride/risk assessment.
I was awake early coughing so instead of just lying there I got up and put a rack on my cross bike. This meant I could ride gears and use panniers. I can't believe I used to think I wouldn't like them I love riding with nothing on my back. I also added a water bottle cage and lights to the cross bike which means its all ready for riding down to my sisters for Christmas.
Jen and I met at Irlam station which meant a nice ride across the moss for me. I was glad of my cross tyres on the off-road section and was moving a lot faster than the car behind me. The route was pretty straight forward and we collected four geocaches on the way to the cafe. I keep expecting to do a route with no new caches along as I'm reusing trails but once again there were some right on the trail. The cafe ar Croxeth Park was really friendly, although I wasn't popular with jen after having the last jacket spud.
As the route is an out and back, its for January so we wanted something easy for bad weather, all that was left to return to the station. Getting off at Irlam I was even across the moss before it got dark. I stopped at the supermarket on the way home for food. Coming out I realised I had no bungy to strap things on the rack. Somehow I managed to get everything in the bags, not easy when you have two bottles of pop, orange juice, milk as well as other bits.
Getting home, helmet off and rear light attached to helmet was flashing away. I realised I had walked round the supermarket like that.

Monday, 12 December 2011

GLOW ride

GLOW is a women's cycling club, it started with an aim of getting 100 women riding the Manchester 100 in September. Although I couldn't make the Manchester 100 due to being at Kielder but since then they have been running regular rides. This Sunday the ride went from Horwich, most are South Manchester, so I decided to make the effort. The weather was wet but six of us turned up and headed over to the lancashire plains. I was on kiwi thinking it would be flat, but Martine (Ride Leader) had managed to choose the hilliest road. Only one moment when I ended up stopped as I pulled my foot out of my pedal.

It never actually stopped raining and the soup at the cafe was appreciated. I got home with a smile and 57miles.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Madison Cross

Today there was a Madison Cross event at Clayton Vale. I wasn't sure what it involved but had planned to race with a friend. I then cancelled as I was meant to be working, this was then cancelled. I didn't set an alarm since I had a late night on my work Christmas Do and decided to see what I felt like when I woke up. Waking up at 9am I fancied the race but it was a bit late to get the bike ready and ride so I drove down. Getting there I signed up and on the start line had to find my matching number.

Soon we started, the course was short and laps were all less than five minutes. It was also very muddy and a little cold. The hail storm in the middle added a bit of interest.

After an hour both me and Phil, the guy I was paired with, had done 7 laps each which meant we won the 'First team with a female rider' prize.

Afterwards there was soup for all the riders at the velodrome cafe. Then Ali and I went and had a look at the BMX track, maybe something to have a go at.

Some riders got into the festive spirit, maybe I should start planning for next year?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Fresh Tracks

I was wide awake at 3:30 this morning, not reallly a time I want to see but the one good thing was I saw the snow. As by the time I got up at 7am it had all gone washed away by rain.

Once again I was working over in Horwich so I jammed everything into a camelbak and went on Rigger. Leaving the school I headed for Winter Hill and as I headed up there was still pockets of snow and at the top everywhere was covered with a dusting. Heading down the Belmont descent the first half was all fresh tracks, okay it was only a dusting of snow but it was still snow.

From here I headed over the Darwen Moors, they were muddy so progress wasn't fast and one uphill had to be walked. Over to the A666 and down to the Strawbury Duck. From here I headed home.
20miles of mainly off-road fun, an ideal commute.

I noticed on Winter Hill 'my' bench had gone. It's a silly thing but I often sat there when I was out riding when I was ill. There are a fair few pictures on this blog of Rigger at the bench. I was suprised how sad I felt about it not being there. Now I'm working I am less likely to have a day where I just ride out to the bench and back and there are always other benches.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

November Roundup


I've had a great month and its been completely unexpected. I've tried to get less stressed with work stuff which hasn't been as sucessful as it should. But the big thing is I've made the effort to always ride to where I am working, to ride off-road and to ride a couple of cross races.

So the numbers:

Mountain Bike: 116.16miles (all singlespeed)
Cyclocross Bike 16.4miles
Road Bike: 875.66miles (662miles fixed)

Total Cycling: 1008miles
Running: 1.2miles - its a start!

So slowly I am adding more off-road miles in. Overall mileage was amazing and I'm building a good base. When I look back on last November I can't help but see the differences. Hoping this is the start to a healthy year!