Sunday, 29 April 2012

You think riding for 24hours is about Climbing?

Having rode four 24hour races now I know how hard it is to keep going for 24hours. So many things to battle against both physical and mental. But how about climbing for 24hours, outside? I have a lot of friends who climb but most of them stick to indoor walls when the weather is bad and none of them go climbing in the dark.

But that is exactly what Andrew is planning on doing on Friday 11th May 2012 at a Crag in West Yorkshire. Starting in the evening and climbing through the night and then on through Saturday.

He has the motivation to keep going as he is raising money for his friend Katy who was recently diagnosed with with terminal Cancer.

Visit the website to read more about this amazing challenge and to sponsor Andrew.

Climb For Kathy

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Peace and Quiet on Salter Fell

Ali was keen to get me out of the house today, neither of us want a repeat of last weekend, so I suggested that we go and ride Salter Fell. It was only a month ago I rode up there with Jenn on cross bikes. This time it would be on mountain bikes, Ali doesn't have a cross bike, so we took the easy option and drove to Slaidburn. We stopped on the way to grab some sandwiches for lunch and then set off at about 1pm.

Heading north of Slaidburn was all road, but its a lovely road. It does feel slow on the mountain bike and I would love to try the descent on my road bike as I had to be careful cornering on knobblies. We were passed by a couple of roadies and more cars than I expected on a designated Quiet Lane.

After a left turn we headed to Wray, it was a lot busier than last time I was here. There seemed to be a 10k running event on and a Scarecrow festival. I think Ali would have loved to have a closer look at them but I wanted to get away from the place, too busy for me at the moment.
At the top there were more scarecrows, the Pendal Witch burning. Not so many people climbed the two miles up the hill to see these ones. Then it was onto Salter Fell itself, we saw one couple walking their dog at the start and then no-one. Perfect for me.
It started off easy and then the stones got bigger and bigger, descending I was really glad of my mountain bike. No wonder I stopped on my cross bike. The views were stunning but it was very very windy up there. We seemed to have had a headwind on the way out and the way back.
Back to Slaidburn and a quick stop at the cafe for a cream tea.

Lovely day, 30miles with 1100m of climbing.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Riding rivers and streams

Looking out of the window I didn't feel much like riding and I hadn't slept much the night before so I went back to bed with a book. Waking up to a text asking if it was still raining with me from the friend I was riding with later in the day I looked out the window and saw sun and no rain. Fortunately she was running a little late so the fact I was in bed wasn't too much of an issue. I got up and got some kit ready, half got dressed and realised I should eat some lunch. Just finished lunch when she arrived, along with the rain.

We headed out onto the Darwin Moors, trails were now under a couple of inches of water with some of the puddles now being more like ponds. At some points it felt more like paddling that riding. But it was so much fun, splashing through the water, trying to see where I was going, I was smiling. Back past the Strawbury Duck, through Jumbles and back home. Couple of kids told us they would never do it as we were so muddy. Ali had headed out but we managed to miss each other, she was back half an hour later, also muddy and also had a big smile. Riding bikes is fun!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Running hard

I've neglected running since January, one mile long run hardly counts. I keep saying I'll get back into it and I am going to start slow and short and build it up. That kind of sensible thinking disappeared yesterday afternoon when I decided a run may help clear my mind of thoughts I wished weren't there. I set of hard and it worked, eased off without realising not so good. So pushed hard again. Even up the hill coming home.

Back 25mins later, average heart rate 186bpm, pacee 8:40 min/miles. That may be my fastest ever run. Unsuprisingly my legs were sore today. But it helped.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Amazing skies

Ali and I headed over to Hebden Bridge to ride with Jenn. As always over there it was straight up. Then lots of across and round. Some muddy stuff where my tyres were sliding all over the place. Lots of baby sheep leading to lots of squeaking from Ali.

Joining the Mary Townley Loop I realised I knew where I was, after watching a cute little mouse running along the path. I set up off the track, pushing hard to escape feelings I didn't want to have. Stopping I realised that the others weren't there. Turns out they stopped to play with the mouse, which ran into Jenn's wheel. Poor little thing must have been blind. Think they wanted to bring him home.

A stop to admire the amazing skies, I love being in the hills.

Then it was time for lights on and down down down. Ali had her new light, the on I won at 24solo and was flying. I was really liking the singletrack in the dark, no space for other thoughts just thinking about the bike.
Once back in Hebden Bridge we had pizza and chocolate cake. A lovely evening with smiles and laughter helped me feel loads better.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Good and the not so Good

I orginally wrote this in the week after the race but never got round to re-reading it and deciding if I should publish it. The one thing that I must remembered is that although the race was hard I enjoyed it. Sat 21st was a real low but I can use the experience to move on. The important thing is I love riding bikes.

So this was the first race med free, it was something I really wanted to do but I'm not sure the positives out-weighed the negatives. The couple of months leading up to the race were hard and that effected training a bit. The main things I knew I needed to do was ride my mountain bike and ride hills as most of my miles had been flat and on the road through commuting. The mountain bike miles happened mainly thanks to Ali's refound enthusiasm for getting out on bikes. The weekend in Kielder was good as it meant I had ridden the Newcastleton trails again.

The race itself was hard with various highs and lows and I certainly learnt some things from the race.

The Good

  • I managed to drink consistently at the start of the race. I rarely need to stop to go the toilet but this time I did. Staying hydrated is something I struggle with day to day, mainly as I just don't drink enough so I was really pleased to manage it in the race.
  • I was happy with my lap times for the first part of the race. Even with my lack of climbing in training I felt I was climbing okay.
  • My back held up, apart from the soreness mentioned below, I didn't suffer from the problems I'd had in the lead up. I had tried to be really careful at work the week before not to aggreviate it and riding didn't seem to be a problem.
  • I had fun, as I went into the night I was thinking how I enjoyed these silly things and I should do another one.

The not so Good

  • The lack of climbing in training meant the climbing really hurt. My back hurt from a couple of laps in. I dealt with this by climbing more stood up as actually commuting most of my climbing is stood up.
  • Feeling anxious in the lead up to the race is not ideal. Normal race nerves can be fine but the level anxiety made things hard to deal with.
  • Dying in the morning. I'll probably have no idea exactly what caused that, I assumed it that I wasn't fit enough but a friend asked if it could be head stuff. I suspect it was a combination, the course was tough and very hilly I wasn't really fit enough for that. But the other issues probably paid a part.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

New Bike Ride

Finally I bought Ali her birthday bike. It took her a long time to decide what she wanted and after a couple of hours at Cookson Cycles last night we came away with a bike. A lovely Trek Superfly Al Elite. Unfortunately we had a little pedal problem yesterday, we couldn't get them off her old bike, and it was too late for a ride so today was the first ride. I thought a blast round the Strawberry Duck loop would be ideal so we headed off round the golf course first. Ali managed to get round the corner at the bottom of the steps without dabbing for the first time ever. Heading towards Bromley Cross she flew up a steep slope, I had to walk! Then we nipped through Jumbles and over to Entwistle.

After heading round the reservoir we went up onto the A666 and then round to the Strawberry Duck. Here we did the sensible thing on and stopped for a pint. The food looked lovely that was coming out of the kitchen and only the lack of lights stopped us staying longer! We left, after a minor (major from me) panic that I had lost my Garmin, I had left it on the bar! Slightly chilly descending but we soon warmed up climbing. Then basically downhill all the way home. Ali was having great fun and jumping all over the place.

Home and I washed the bikes while Ali cooked dinner, a practically perfect evening.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Up on the moors

Left work a little late, legs felt good so home in time, drink some water, eat a banana and go. Over to Rawtenstall and the hail started. I was late and about to climb a hill so I continued. Up the road from Bacup, heart rate climbing, average speed dropping but I was enjoying it. Then down the hill starting to get cold, maybe I should have put a jacket on. Arrived in Todmorden only a couple of minutes late ready to get muddy.

We headed off along the canal before climbing, Jenn asks if I had been up that way before then tells me its horrid. It was straight up but being on tarmac rideable. Then onto the moors, the sun was sinking, the wind was blowing, it was amazing. We did a lap round the top before noticing the time and realise we were going to be a little late for Ali (who was meeting us for food and to drive me home). So it was down, down, down before ending with a short spin along the canal. Lots of new trails to me and we got there just before Ali, she is used to me underestimating ride time and had brought a book just in case anyway.
Then it was a lovely evening of fabulous food and chat.

Thanks Jenn for the evening and the picture.

A lovely day

After a weekend of relaxing in Cambridge I had Monday off work. I often annoy myself by wasting days if I don't have anything planned so I had some plans for the weekend. But before that I had the morning, I washed my Superfly and tidied up loads of kit that was downstairs still from 24solo before doing lots of hoovering. After that I met Ali for lunch in the park before riding over to Horwich to meet my friend Ros. We then took her boys out riding in the trailor. Off to Chapel Tea Rooms for cake, then back. Looked hard work dragging them back up the hill. It was a lovely day and nice and relaxing.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Muddy Calderdale Miles

A Friday off work and friends meeting for a mountain bike ride in Calderdale, it seemed rude not to go. We (me, Tom, Ros, Gavin, Kat and Jenn) all met at the singletrack offices in Todmorden before heading up. Well that is the only way to start a ride out there. My legs and wrists felt fine, surprisingly. Once up at the top it tried to start raining so I had to add a waterproof before heading down. Then up the other side of the valley. I wasn't riding too bad but my descending was rubbish, a combination of being a complete wimp and my depth perception being poor, guess that is from being tired (the day before had been very very stressful). We dropped down to Hebden Bridge and nipped to the cafe. Sitting outside enjoying cakes in the rain, it stopped once we started riding again. One last up and then down and while the others went right on the canal I went left to where I was parked.

Lovely day, trails were pretty muddy and once again I was reminded I need to ride my mountain bike more.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The long version of 24 hours of Exposure

The build up was a little less stressful as on Thursday night I had the task of packing my bike clothes and bike stuff and Ali took charge of everything else. In fact she sent me to bed and then proceeded to remove the rear seats from the car so we could fit all the kit in. Then on Friday morning she packed everything, only needing me to help get the Gazebo that Cookson Cycles had kindly lent us up on the roof.

A quick stop at the supermarket turned into a bit of a longer stop as it was packed (how I hate them) and then had no doughnuts so we had to try another supermarket! After that it was a little stop/start up the M61 due to traffic but once on the M6 pretty clear. We got to the venue at 2pm and set up opposite the JMC it guys. Tom was camped just a little bit down the track. All that was left to do then was faff and panic. Although I think that there was now nothing that could be done calmed me down a bit. I mainly just chatted to people, some things don't change. Greg and Pauline and got their huge tent set up near us and then it was time to sign on and get our pasta party vouchers. The pasta party was a little disappointing with nowhere near enough food so Ali then cooked chilli. After that it was time for bed. For me I slept well, woke up a fair few times but always got back to sleep.

Morning came and it went quick enough, Ali got set up and I got bikes ready, putting a front mudguard on the Superfly (which I was glad of throughout the race), race numbers on both bikes and a charger for the Garmin so I could use my 800 for the whole race, geek me? A while was spent trying to decide what to wear, all my previous 24hour races were warmer and I started in shorts! In no time at all I was riding down to Newcastleton with Ali and chatting to people I hadn't seen since last year. They called up the top three in each category to sign-on and line up at the front and excitingly that included me.

The start was a friendly slow affair, where being able to track stand was useful! Once the van swung off at the front the pace went up but I kept my plodding. I could see three other female 24hour racers round me and they looked very very strong. We hit the muddy singletrack through the trees and there had been some work done on it over the winter. It is very hard to ride when in a queue but surprisingly I only dabbed a few times, my ability to ride very slowly was useful here! As we got onto the fireroad two of the girls rode off, my heart rate was already high so I didn't follow, its a long race and no point killing myself on the first lap. Just before the first bit of singletrack I nipped past the girl from Portugal, who was looking strong. I love the singletrack at Newcastleton and have ridden it a fair few times now, I was hoping this would give me an advantage, but no I could hear her on my wheel the whole way down. Only once we started climbing on fireroad again I realised it was someone else on my wheel. We were similar pace climbing and so chatted for a while but he was faster through the next bit of singletrack. The first lap continued the same and I came into the Pits in 3rd place with a smile on my face.

The next two laps continued the same, I was putting some time into 4th but losing time on 1st and 2nd. I was managing to drink well, I've never had to stop so many times to go to the toilet in a race before, and eating steadily. I was beginning to feel I was in all day pace although my back and knee were already hurting - I think from all the climbing. At some point I had a gel that made me feel sick, making it harder to eat. But I went onto savoury which seemed to work. As it got dark I turned on my lights and flew through the singletrack. This is turns out was the one lap that I made time up on the two girls in front of me. I continued through the night slowing slightly but enjoying the riding and Ali was there everytime I came into the pits.

In the morning I died, I found myself riding off the side of the fireroad and closing my eyes on the singletrack. The girl who had been in 2nd came past me (I had gone past her at some point in the night) and she looked very strong and the girl in 4th came past me, turns out she was unlapping herself. I started having to walk just so I didn't fall asleep and I was close to tears. As soon as I got to the Pits the tears came and I told Ali I was off to bed I couldn't stay awake. She sat me down, fed me a bacon roll and lots of shot bloks while telling me I had to keep going I was in 3rd. Eventually she put me on my bike and running the first bit with me sent me out. I wasn't happy telling her she was mean but plodded my way round.

Next time in there was loads of people in my pits ready to bully me. I was slow and tired but knew that I only had time for one more lap at the pace I was going, there was no way I was going to speed up. The girls ahead of me were super strong and pulling away but as long as I kept plodding it was unlikely the girl in 4th could catch me. Out I went and had quite an enjoyable lap, if still slow and sore.

Finishing I got an Easter Egg and the news I was definitely third, that was my if everything goes amazingly and I am lucky goal so I was happy. The nice thing about having to finish before 12noon is I had time to have a shower and then cheer friends in, not go out for another lap and be one of the last to finish.

The podium presentation was fantastic and thanks to Exposure Lights for the fantastic prize.

In the evening the wind and the rain came and we decamped to the pub for food. I slept better than I've ever slept after a race, I think maybe for the first time every I wasn't too dehydrated.

Big thanks to Ali it really wasn't a solo effort but a team effort, she even packed everything in the car on monday while I sat and read. I think I had the easy job, I just had to ride!

The bike was perfect, I rode the whole race on it so thanks to Cookson Cycles for getting it ready and everything else.

Also thanks to everyone there, those I was camped with, those in the pub later, everyone in the Arena it was lovely been cheered round every lap and of course the Marshalls who were there all night.

Problem is I want to do another one, I blew up completely in the morning and wasn't ready for a hilly course almost makes me want to do some specific training!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

24 Hours of Exposure

A hard hard race, I rode as hard as I could died in the morning and Ali made me keep going. Finished 3rd which I am chuffed with. Learnt lots not least that if I enter a hilly event I need to ride more hills in the run-up to it. But even with the bad bits the good bits were better, helped by a brutal but fun course, and I will probably be back.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Swimming 50metres

So swimming, after not swimming last week I was determined to get in a pool this week. Logistics weren't so easy as I was office (manchester) based all week. A change of pool was required so yesterday me and my bike got on the 6:35am train from Bolton. Off at Oxford Road and a quick spin down to the Aquatics Centre. Silly as it sounds I was quite anxious about going to a different pool, even more silly as back when I lived in Manchester I regularly swam there. To add to my worries the pool is 50m which felt like a long way!

Getting there, locking bike up, paying, changing was fine. I was then scared to go in, would I know which lane to swim in. It was too late not to go in so I made myself. British Swimming had half the pool so I got in the medium lane, one length and I moved into the fast lane as I was doing breaststroke to avoid lots of overtaking. Here I settled in, most of us were the same speed which was nice. 50lengths later I got out and headed to work. It hadn't been as scary as I thought and it is nice to swim in a 50m pool.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Commuting in Off-Road

As its Easter Holidays my work pattern tends to change slightly. I've been a little more office based so Saturday, Monday and today I rode in off-road. Saturday and Monday the trails were dry and dusty. This morning I quickly put the rear mudguard on and a crud catcher on the front. I thought it was probably overkill but looking at my bike at work it probably was a good idea.

Getting to work after riding singletrack and berms leaves me with a big smile on my face! As I'm tapering (well trying to) I am getting the train home, that isn't as much fun!

Monday, 2 April 2012

March Round Up

In March one of my aims was to get some more off-road miles, specifically on my mountain bike, as I had lots of miles in my legs but I hadn't rode off-road at all in February. Well I managed some fantastic rides, a weekend away in Kielder with Ali and a couple of evening rides have helped my confidence off-road loads. Not quite as many miles as in January but that was due to having a week in the office and commuting off-road all week.

I've also started swimming, aiming for once a week, as it was suggested by the physio as something to help my back. Back has been doing better (touch wood) so hopefully it is helping, just to keep it up now.

So the numbers:

Road Cycling:         581miles
Mixed Cycling:       145miles
Off-Road Cycling:  234miles
Total Cycling:      960miles

Running:              1.16 miles (one to work on)
Swimming:           6.7miles

Onto April, it is obviously dominated at the moment by 24solo. I'm not feeling ready at all but aim is to go, ride for the whole time and enjoy the trail as it uses some of the parts of Newcastleton that I love. I've been riding a bit with music as I think I'll need it when it gets really quiet once all the 12hour riders stop. Lots of people I know up there as well so it'll be good to see people.

After that I'm hoping to have some more big days in the hills, that is what I love about biking and what I seem to be missing out!