Monday, 31 December 2012

Day 7 (Rides 6 and &) - Tod CX

I didn't fancy Tod Cross this year, it was going to be a muddy one. But I had lots of friends heading over so I still decided to head over. I was hoping to catch up with Rich and minipips on the Rochdale canal but I was a bit late leaving so caught up with them at the race.

Ride over = 36km meaning only 37km left

After lots of chatting and food afterwards I set off back, weather was its usual wet and windy self. I was tempted to accept Ali's offer of a lift but I knew that if I rode back I could finish the challenge off. I didn't go the shortest way and there was one loop at the end to make sure but 38km on my Garmin and I had finished!

The challenge was harder than expected but it was great at getting me out on my bike, now for 2013!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Rapha #festive500 Day 6 (Ride 5) - Riding with Minipips

Today I was hoping for another big day as I was riding home from my sisters. I have to admit I wasn't feeling enthusiastic about the challenge anymore but I had made plans to meet Rich and minipips for lunch in Ashbourne at 12noon. Waking up at 8am I wanted to continue hiding in bed, it sounded wet and windy. But I knew I had to get out seeing as there was no way minipips would bail. The first part of the journey was pleasant if I ignored the wind, nice country lanes and not too hilly (I'm always surprised how hilly round Coalville is). Then I got to Derby, somehow I ended up on the ring road on a flyover just as the rain became a deluge, nowhere to pull over I was glad I had my lights on. Once I negotiated Derby I found myself on lanes again and it even stopped raining! With perfect timing I arrived at the Ashbourne end of the tunnels for 12noon and my lunch date.

Ashbourne didn't seem to have any cyclist cafes so we ended up in Costa, which meant huge hot chocolates, before heading back up the Tissington Trail. Minipips showed us how its done, out-sprinting me to a bridge and having regular haribo stops! For most of the trail we were sheltered from the rain but once in a while we came out in the open and it hit us, still I was able to shelter behind minipips!

At the end of the Tissington Trail as back to loving cycling so I headed off to Buxton, then Whaley Bridge, then Disley, the Stockport, then home. I kept thinking about getting the train but I was having too much fun! Meant I got a big chunk of the festive500 done though.

155km rode today, thanks minipips for the company.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Day 5 (Ride 4) Rapha #festive500 Searching for brake pads

Arriving last night I noticed that my brake pads were more or less non-exsistant so today's plan was to head out and get some. I had promised my sisters dog I would take him running so it was only going to be a short ride. I looked up local bike shops and found one about 14km away which looked perfect. I detoured on the way there to get to 16km but on arrival it was shut. Nothing else was turning up on a search, unless I went to Loughborough itself, so I decided to try Halfords. They had the right pads so I'm all ready to ride home tomorrow.

30km today means I am 53% through the challenge.

Day 4 (ride 3) of the #festive500 was to my sisters

I was out of the house just after 9am with 125k to ride to get to my sisters, I was hoping to stretch it a bit further as I was behind on the challenge. I got 5mins down the road before I stopped and put full waterproofs on, safe to say I wasn't expecting to enjoy this ride. But my sister was expecting me so on I went. After 30k I spotted some services so I nipped in the back way, a hot chocolate and a bacon roll helped me feel better. It was nice and quiet, just me and a handful of truckers.

On I continued making my way along country lanes, feeling very slow but watching the miles count down. I detoured a bit from the planned route to add a few miles but still had the fun of riding through a busy Leicester. Just as I was arriving at Helen's I realised I had nearly no brake pads left, not good as you are coming downhill!

Just over 130k covered took me to 47% complete, still a lot of riding to do then!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Muddy, muddy, muddy

No riding today which means I still have a lot of miles to do for the Rapha #festive500. I did go for a run though, this off-road half-marathon is getting a little close. The training plan said 7.5miles so I headed out to the woods again, only I did a bit of exploring. Found some dead ends, did some loops and got my 7.5miles. The mud seemed even slipper than last time and it was slow slow slow. But time on my feet and all that.

Then in the afternoon I went for a walk followed by cream tea with Ali's mum. Feeling very full now!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Day 2 of the Rapha #festive500

I wasn't sure I'd get the chance to ride on Christmas Day, my Mother-in-law certainly didn't get it. But there was a gap while the others were cooking so I headed out, only had time for a quick 30k so I rode 15k turned round and came back. Turns out I rode 33k as my Garmin had frozen for a while on the way out. I was back in time to have a shower and make myself presentable for Christmas Dinner.

.....only (?) 397km to go.....

Monday, 24 December 2012

Ride 1 of the Rapha Festive500

Heading out from the Mother-in-Laws I just took the smaller looking roads. It wasn't long before before I came across road closed signs, making my way carefully I was followed by a car. As I splashed through water up to my knees I was glad to see, eventually, the car turned round. This was the first of many flooded roads, one that normally had a ford to cross had a nearly completely submerged car! Fortunately there was a pedestrian bridge for me!

So 71km done only 429km to go....

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Muddy Run

After a few days of feeling ill, sore throat, temperature etc I was feeling better today so I took myself out for a run. I'm down in Cambridge so the running was flatter than at home but once I got off-road it was muddy. The mud here is clay based and likes to try and grab your shoes. It was great fun though and gets me running again.

5.5miles, my training programme for the half-marathon said 7.5miles so I'm a little behind.

CSP Cyclo-Cross Waddow Hall

I had been looking forward to this race, for the first time I would be lining up on a start line for a women's only race. Not only had the organiser put on a race for us, despite being told by the league that there was no call for it, he had also ran a number of training sessions. Unfortunately I had only been able to make one of these. On the day I had talked Ali into entering as well, although she wasn't happy with me when I signed her up as apparently she hadn't quite decided. We did a quick lap of the course and hilly and slow going was my impression. It wasn't long before it was time to start, 21 of us lined up, then go. A sprint off the line and I was second heading onto the hill where we were all walking/running. But is wasn't long before Ali came past me.

I was then swapping position with another girl, being caught on the first part of the course, huge hill, but making time up on the downhill, while keeping the same distance behind Ali. Having practised my getting on and off my bike skills I was hopefully of not losing as much time as normal. It turns out I need a lot more practice, what is fine in a field near home is near impossible with my heart rate above 180bpm.
The second half of the course had one muddy techy descent and then lots of corners, I was pleased with my cornering and on the whole avoided braking. At some point Pauline came past me on the hill, running as \I stumbled my way up. My corner confidence led to me sliding off my bike trying to go past Emma still it was only mud.

The race finished after 40minutes, how can 40minutes of riding be so hard, with Ali finishing 3rd. I was in 6th and it certainly showed me I have lots to work on.
It was a fantastic race, Ali said if there was one every week she would race every week, praise indeed frrom someone who doesn't really enjoy racing.

So here's to next years race, or any other organisers who fancy putting on a women's only race.

All pictures are from @sportsunday

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Winter Solstice

I had entered this Audax last year but had woken up to snow and an email from the Organiser suggesting that it would be better not to ride. As Ali didn't think driving over was a good idea I went back to bed. Obviously I had to enter again this year even though it would make the weekend very very busy.

After ice earlier in the week it had warmed up and looked like it was going to be a nice, if wet day for the ride. Ali gave me a lift to the start and Mike was letting us start whenever so at about 8:55am I headed out. After riding on my own for a while I joined two lads who were chatting. Turns out one of them was one of the guys I had led back to the headquarters in the North-West Passage after coming across them lost in Rochdale. We were making good time when we were flagged down to be warned of ice. Making the decision that this must just be a freak road we headed round on the dual-carriageway and re-joined the route. Fortunately this was it for ice. It was here another guy joined us, unfortunately his friend had come off on the ice and smashed his helmet so was abandoning. We were making good time as a group and arrived at Old Ma's to not too long a queue, this was good as service wasn't exactly rushed. The wait was worth it though as the beans on toast was lovely.

Leaving here we were making good time and although I went backwards on the hills by this point I had been adopted as a human sat nav so the two stronger ones waited for me. We arrived in Market Drayton for the second cafe stop at the Morrisons and they laughed at me for being organised enough to have a lock! The fourth member of our little gang turned up just after us and we left together. having made good time meant that we rode the roughest road in the light which I think we were all glad about! The last stop was Mike and his wife and their horse box which had some very welcome mince pies.

Unfortunately about a mile from here we had our only real incident. A huge sunken drain got one of the riders in our group, he went down behind me and flew over the bars. Fortunately the car behind was able to stop. We got him out of the road and assessed the damage, lots of blood due to a split lip and a cut on his nose. We got him patched up, Chris went and got plasters, and then sorted out his bike. Amazingly the only problem with that was a punctured front tyre. We headed on our way again once he was feeling better. I made sure to report the hole this morning.

We rolled into the finish just after 7pm and Ali was waiting for me. It was perfect timing as 5minutes later it started to rain! I had a brilliant ride, thanks to the lads for letting me wheelsuck so much you were stronger than me! Now time to get entering some more Audax rides.

Moving Average 15.5mph
1600m of climbing
Total Time 10:10:55

Friday, 14 December 2012

Frost Riding

Another day when me and Sarah both had some free time so she came over here and we rode out to the Strawbury Duck. It was a perfect winter day, cold crisp and sunny. No real ice till we were nearly at the pub and Sarah rode down her first ever set of steps on her way out there. The Strawbury Duck itself was a little disappointing, chips were great but burger and fish fingers not so much. More ice on the way back but mainly avoidable. Great way to spend a day off.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Christmas Ride

Hannah came over for a Christmas Ride and Pizza, she said 50miles was too long, I did suggest 49 and she didn't seem to bothered. But with Pizza to be eaten I led us on a slightly shorter ride. We even found a Christmas Tree to complete the ride.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Zoom Zoom

Ali wanted to have a go on the Phillips Park trails so after collecting her bike from Cooksons we had a quick blast. 7.5miles my shortest ride in a long time but lots and lots of fun.

Cake and Berms

When I found out my friend wasn't working on Thursday I invited her over for some fun. The day started with lunch at Slattery's, lots of chocolately goodness (we did have 'good' food as well.

After that it was over to Phillips Park to try out the new trails in Hit the North land. Wow they are lots of bermy fun, I had a huge smile on my face, one section was so much fun we rode it three times.

Lovely way to spend a Thursday.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A long run

Running is something you should build up slowly, injuries being much more likely than biking. I obviously am rubbish at taking my own advice! After my couple of morning runs and then two Monday night runs (which were a big step up on their own) I agreed to meet Ros on Sunday for a 13mile run in the hills. Ali shaking her head at my stupidity offered me a lift over so that I didn't completely kill my legs.

It was a perfect frosty moment and most of the boggy bits were pretty solid. There was a little bit of ice dodging on the way over Winter Hill and Great Hill but on the whole nothing too slippy.

I was flagging near the end but had a great time. We got back to the smell of bacon and two little boys who wanted to get all their toys out.

Now to keep this running up.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A muddy Morley Ride

After a bit of comparing diaries we came up with a date to go and ride over with our friends in Leeds, they warned us that it would be muddy so I knew it would be a little different to our local riding. We were there before ten but had the all important second breakfast before heading out.
The route was fantastic and yes very mudy, I failed at some hills and blamed my lack of singlespeed legs but actually I think the mud monsters grabbed my wheels and stopped me moving!
There was even a teeny-tiny stream crossing, the others sailed through it, I took three (maybe four) attempts and eventually did it. Not sure why I kept stopping I didn't want to walk it and get wet feet!
The turn-around point was an ice-cream farm. They had lovely waffle baskets where you chose three flavours of ice-cream! After that it was the best descent of the day, a little chilly due to the water flowing down it.

Then all that was left was more mud and more smiles before the best part of the day. Sarah had made an amazing chocolate cake! She even sent me home with extra. So now I need to ride with her every week for cake.......

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Running off-road in the dark

Ros and Vikki keep inviting me running so after doing a few morning runs I decided to give it a go this Monday. Turned out it was just me and Ros as Vikki is injured. We ran from Ros's so it was straight up the hill. Along a bit down a bit, more along, more up. It was muddy in parts, slippy leaves over rocks in park. But most of all it was lots of fun. Going to try and make the effort to meet up more often.

Taking a moment to enjoy the view

Working in Liverpool today, its ages since I've been over so I was looking forward to the commute. Used my muddy shortcut past Carr Mill in both directions. On the way it was misty over the water so I stopped for a while. On the way home I sat on the wall and watched the red sky sinking. Sometimes its important to stop and appreciate the world.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

CX Training

After being inspired by last weekends cross training I was determined to practise my skills. So today I headed out to a local park with Ali for support. I started off with practising dismounting, over an obstacle and remounting. I'm still having to think about it but it is feeling easier. After that it was time for dismounting, shouldering the bike and carrying it up the hill, I would say running but it was more like shuffling. But I was managing the getting off my bike and getting it on my shoulder without stopping moving.
I finished off with practising starts. Ali counted down and we raced to the other end of the football pitch, obviously she beat me everytime but hopefully not everyone can sprint as well as she can!

The next women's session is next saturday at Townley Park in Burnley, I can't wait and hope there will be lots of people there.

Monday, 12 November 2012

A Saturday spent Geocaching

Originally when I got up on Saturday it was foggy and not looking promising out but once Ali got up the sun came out and we decided to go and tick off some more local geocaches. It was a perfect Autumn day and reminded us how pretty it is near us and how we can have mini-adventures from home.
I managed to find a rope swing and couldn't resist.
We discovered some local history.
Enjoyed our cake with a view.
Watched Ali try and dive into a muddy puddle.

It was a lovely day, we finished it off by going out for dinner in the evening.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Today I went Cross Training

I've done a few cross races over the years, sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it but the one thing I don't have is any cross skills. I'm not too bad at descending due to mountain biking but anything that involves you getting off your bike and everyone streams past me. When I saw that there was a women's cross training session being organised in Burnley I realised this was the perfect time to learn some skills. So this morning I headed out into the fog. By the time I got to Burnley they weather was lovely. About eight of us gathered ready to start our training.
First I had a slight mechanical, trying to let some air out of tyres I let too much out, oops. But then pumping it back up the valve broke in the pump, it took a lot of pulling to get it off, but once that was done and a new tube in and I was on my way.
I'd just missed remounting but we were on to dismounting. It was explained well and then we had to practice. I surprised myself and after a bit of practice I was confidently doing it without having to unclip the left foot before I even thought about it. Then it was time to put it together with a little hurdle. The first time I forgot to pick my bike up I was so concentrating on getting off my bike, oops. It's great what a bit of practice can do and I was almost feeling smooth at the end. Definetly something that is worth me practising as I lose lots of time at any hurdles.
Then we looked at how to carry our bikes, my water bottle was in the way and it was nice to hear I had come up with the right method for the three peaks. We also practised picking up and putting the bike down, another skill to practice that will definetly save time.
After all this we went for a ride, got ourselves muddy and finished with some descending.
It was a really useful and enjoyable session so thanks to Mark and Alan. There will be another session at 10am in Townley Park Burnley on Saturday 24th November, any women welcome you don't need a cross bike just something you can ride off-road.
Mark is also organising the only round of the NWCA CX league to have a women's only race. That is on the 15th December in Waddington, it'll be great to get some good numbers and show that there is demand for women's races.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Sub-Zero commute

This morning it never went above freezing on my commute, I had decided to chance the off-road cut-through and it wasn't too muddy. Most of the puddles had ice on them and I even managed a spot of geocaching on the way. The light was amazing and reminded me once again how much I love this time of year.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

A Delamere Reece

I'm leading a ride out in Delamere later in the month, the last time I had been out there was last year when I was leading a ride for the same group. On that ride some of the singletrack had been shut off just days after I had checked it out. This meant I might have to find a completely new route. Ali had come up with the fantastic suggestion that I did it on Saturday instead of Friday and then she could join me. After checking with work that was fine I had a lovely Friday and got my Garmin and maps ready. This morning I had Ali out early and we were riding just after 9am.

We parked up just past where I would be leading the ride from and after a false start that involved some skinny bridges and lots of mud we found a rideable start. It was still very muddy and this would be the theme of the day. The first bit worked well and I found a couple of areas for skills practice. But it wasn't long before were trying to follow singletrack that didn't exist. There was lots of back and forth, exploring and carrying but eventually we had linked some nice bits of singletrack up with the fireroads. Poor Ali was full of a cold and getting hungry so we nipped to the station cafe for some lunch.

Bacon Rolls and Cake were the order of the day and certainly perked Ali up. The forest was getting busy by this point and we started passing lots of runners. Turns out Hell Runner was on. So we did our best to stay out of their way. Most of them looked a lot muddier than us!

Ali was taking the risk assessment part seriously and decided to see what happened if she fell off, turns out she ended up lay in a bog with her bike on top of her while I took pictures! No harm done she was just a little muddier than before.

Getting back to the start we headed round again, could I make our wanderings into a flowing loop. On the whole it went well. Only a couple of wrong turns which were quickly spotted. The forest was getting even busier and we even passed loads of huskies (so cute) getting ready to race. Unfotunately as we were using part of the track which was about to be closed for the race we didn't get to go round again so I will probably nip out once again before the ride to ensure I know where I am going.

The leaves were a lovely colour and it was a lovely place to ride, if very muddy! Now we're home I have to write up the risk assessment, oddly Ali says I can do that bit on my own!

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???

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Very wet

It's been a week of working indoors due to the weather. I still got nice and wet commuting though. Tuesday I did my last three peaks training session, very wet and I ended up with one leg thigh deep in a bog. I was still a wimp descending, lots of getting off but I managed two carries without finding it too too hard.

Wednesday my way to work involved a bit of a paddle, I decided on the way home to avoid the shortcut and just ride along the East Lancs.

So Sunday is the three peaks, I don't think its an event I'll ever feel ready for but hoping I will have fun.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Back Cyclo-Cross racing

There was a race two miles from my house, Ali had washed my bike and I had nothing on. It seemed rude not to race. It was hard, I felt slow but I had a good race with Larry (he had fans all round the course) which kept me pushing and eventually I got away from him. Certainly was a good workout heartrate was above 180bpm most of the race.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Kielder100....take 4!

After finishing this race three times and a promise of a special prize for those who had completed it all four times if they finished this year I really had to enter. I really wasn't sure about my ability to either do the distance or manage it fast enough to make the cut-offs. Ali had targeted it as her main event of the year and had done some good training towards it, although the Olympics had kind of brought a halt to it. I on the other hand had a background of a stay in a Psychiatric ward followed by breaking my collarbone and being off the bike for two months. I had been riding again for nearly two months and back at work which led to lots of commuting miles but there had been very little off-road miles. Riding the MTL with Ali a week before had given me some confidence as I had finished the ride feeling strong and rode most of the descents, it had hurt though.

I spent the week before being my usual annoying and anxious self. But I did get organised and have most of my stuff packed by Wednesday night, still meant I had lots of Ali's to do. Work fantastically let me finish early on the Friday as numbers were down at the school I was at so I was home before Ali, meaning that once she got home (she had finished early as well) I was able to pack the car and we were on our way. We were staying at the Youth Hostel this year so arrived and made our dinner while catching up with Norn and Hannah. At registration we found out my number plate had not arrive, I was meant to have one with my name on due to having finished the event three times, so I had a temporary one in case they didn't arrive.

Arriving at Kielder my only real aim was to get round within the cutoffs I had secondary aims of trying to be as close to 12hours as possible and maybe just sneak onto the podium. Due to having finished every running of the race so far I got to start at the front. This meant I spent the whole of the neutral section and the first couple of hours of the race feeling like I was going backwards while all the fast guys came past me. Ali caught me up just after the neutral section and stayed in front of me for a while, I also knew there were two other females ahead of me but that at least one was a vet. At the cross-over point on the course I went past Ali as she removed a layer and that was the last I saw of her.

I reached the first cut-off point with an hour in hand and was feeling confident, I was descending reasonably well and although hurting nothing was too bad. Turning left to head to Newcastleton I spent most of the rest of the race slowly passing people which helps with moral. I made the last cutoff with an hour to go and knew then I was going to finish as I only had 22miles to go and it would take something major to stop me! Like last year I felt reasonably strong on this section. I traded place with a few lads but on the whole I rode on my own. Heading towards the last descent I realised I was not only going to break 12hours but I might just set a new PB (my previous being 11:55 in 2010). I really enjoy the final descent, so much so I don't even mind the bit of climbing joing the sections of singletrack. I crossed the line with a big smile on my face and realisation I would have to return next year!

Turns out I was 3rd female back but 1st senior female as the other two were vets so I made the top step of the podium. Ali had a fantastic race finishing only 20minutes behind me and 2nd in our category. Which made the podium even more exciting. I finished in 11:52:40 so got my PB and was 132nd overall. So next year hopefully I can avoid hospitals for a while!

Thanks to:
  • Cooksons Cycles for the help getting such an amazing bike (Both myself and Ali rode Trek Superflys) and always making sure my bike is in top working order.
  • Mikey at Velocake for the peptalks.
  • Ali for being fab and looking after me as always even though she was racing as well.
  • Work for letting me leave early on Friday and the fact that we are encouraged to travel to where we are working by bike as commuting is where I get all my miles in.
  • Everyone else who has kept me going this year.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Mary Townley Loop

I wanted a last training ride before kielder100 so I persuade Ali to come and ride the MTL. She decided it was more sensible not to ride to/from the start so we drove to Waterfoot and headed clockwise from there. The day was great, the sun shone all day. Some of the trails were very eroded from the flooding they've had in Calderdale this summer. Halfway round we bumped into Andrew from my work, also out on a long ride round the MTL for kielder training, just going the opposite way. A lose cleat bolt was the only mechanical issue of the day.

47miles, total time just under 8 hours and a very tired Ali at the end.

Feeling a bit better about kielder now, although it is over twice as far!

Canal Hopping

First few days this week I rode into work on the road. Thursday I thought I should get off-road again I rode via Rochdale canal. Andrew was riding in from Todmorden so I got on the canal at Rochdal, rode north till I met him and the rode into work. A bit of road and then the Ashton Canal. It was nice and fast, which shows how lazy I am when I ride on my own.

Friday I was back to my usual off-road commute so just the disused canal at Prestwich and a bit of the Ashton canal. But I also rode the Berms to add to the grin factor.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Carrying my bike

I commuted to work on the road today. Then went I got home I headed out on the cross bike over to Belmont then I carried the bike up Winter Hill, slowly. Rode down, slowly and then rode home. Hopefully it will help make the Three Peaks a little easier to complete.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

End of the holiday

Last couple of days were spent commuting in with Mikey (more fun when I didn't have to work after the commute), meeting up with Ali's cousin (a secret tractor fan), riding with Katie, eating cake and finished with an early morning muddy cross ride. We're now home and in some ways the holiday feels like it lasted ages and in other ways it seems really quick.

Now back to reality!