Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A (very) snowy walk in the Pentlands

We drove up to Scotland on Monday 28th on a glorious sunny day and the start of a serious thaw of the snow in Lostock Hall. , the temperature gauge in the car read -7C at a particularly exposed part of the M74 and that was in the sunshine! It had climbed back up to a balmy 0C by the time we hit Glasgow though dropped down to -4 as we got into West Lothian which was totally white, not seen anything like it since I was a kid. My parents road was tricky.

We got out for a short walk in the Pentlands on the 29th, they aren't particularly high and there are no cliffs to walk off so they felt like an easy choice. The plan was to park up at Flotterstone and walk to Allermuir and Caerketton on the Edinburgh side. We weren't really banking on so much snow. The intial climb up to the firing range was nice shallow powdery snow, two fell runners passed us heading up.

A bit of a bitter wind and driving snow made things a little unpleasant, it stopped but the cloud remained.

The further up we went the, deeper the snow got. It was quite drifty, so some fairly deep patches. Then we passed the fell runners heading back down, they had turned back, we soon found out why!

We battled to the the bottom of the last pull up to Allermuir, spoke briefly to a skier who was making better progress than us then decided to turn back. It had taken quite a while to get there, would take jut as long to get back and neither of us were prepared for anything more than a bimble. We could also see people coming down sinking and generally struggling in the deep snow. We needed snowshoes!

My lower legs were starting to get very cold too. We seemed to find even deeper snow on the way back, at one point Jez disappeared up to the top of his legs and had to crawl out, the same drift was up to my waist and had me crawling on knees and elbows commando style for a good ten metres before I found some shallower snow to stand up in (then fell over again on the next step).

It really was stunning and fun.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Slush Running...

On the 27th I decided I had to get a run in, tarmac conditions near home weren't inspiring so I headed off to Abbey Village with my trail shoes to get a few miles in. Like Rivington the day before the trails were rather slushy, soft and very slow.

After about a mile of sliding I realise that my Mudclaws would have probably been a better choice of shoe, the slush was overwhelming the trail shoes. It was generally runnable but even on the flat I struggled to get much above 12 minute mile in the slush I was sliding so much.

I had thought about doing a short low level run but once going headed up to the tower. Bit of a flat light day so not much stopping to take pictures, apart from this robin perched on a post. I was probably about a foot away from it but it only moved when the camera flash went off., even then only to a low branch close by.

The enforced slow pace was probably a good thing as I was feeling pretty unfit from not doing much earlier in the month. 7.5 miles in an hour and a half. It was good to get out.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Slush Riding...

Yesterday I dared to take my On One out for a ride in snow/slush/ice, I am not a fan of riding in such conditions at all. Mainly because I fell off commuting in dodgy conditions a few years ago, trapped my left hand in or under the bars and broke the middle two fingers. It hurt, made work difficult, kept me off a bike completely for over three weeks as I couldn't brake properly and stopped me MTBing for about two months. I've not been in a hurry to repeat the experience.

What seemed to be perfect conditions on our Christmas Day doddle were replaced by total slush at Rivington on Boxing Day. Setting off about noon onto rapidly thawing snow made for a short, slow but hard ride. We met up with a friend of Jez who was bringing his young lad out for his first MTB experience. Not the best day to pick but as young kids tend to do he kept going like a trooper.

We covered about 3.7 miles in 52 minutes (of moving time, lots of stoppage). It was just such hard work in the soft snow. However, I did enjoy most of it, it was certainly good for the old bike handling skills as the front and rear would slide away in various directions and as the time wore on and the snow got softer the rear would just spin out. Here is the evidence of snow on my tyres:

As it was slush things tended to happen relatively slowly, it was just like riding in sticky mud. Our original plan to climb up past Yarrow Res then take the road was abandoned as we realised that the roads were pretty much as bad as the trails. Heading back the decision was made to take the track on the west side of Anglezarke from Knowlsey lane to Horrobin Lane.

It started off pretty well then changed to an ice rink for quite a reasonable stretch. I was riding along, just thinking to myself that "this is going well" when the front wheel caught the edge of a lump, the front wheel went away and whoomf I was on the deck pretty much instantaneously. Jez's mate turned to check I was ok and of course he hit the deck too. The little lad sailed serenly between us and Jez had already successfully ridden it.

I was ok and more importantly no Paclite was harmed. I actually think I was lacking a little speed. In the end Jez was the only one not to fall off, I can't believe how hard a less than four mile ride was. I earned my pint! Not sure its really done anything for my phobia though.

Starting plans for 2010...

Jez and I now have entries for the Etape Caledonia in May.....just trying to convince him to do the Whinlatter Enduro in March.

Do need to get some sort of list together.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 Goals

Merry Christmas.

I appear to have been hiding! Not been up to much at all this month, being ill then the snow has left me very demotivated and lethargic. I had lots of plans for December this year, normally I tend to take it easy for the month but with finishing work on the 21st I had hopes for lots of running and cycling to ward off the festive calories. Ah well, not to be.

I had two mileage goals for this year, the main one being to run 750 miles with a secondary goal of cycling 2000 miles which I didn't expect to reach due to marathon training. I passed the 750 running miles on the 18th December with a run on an ice covered St Annes beach. I'm pretty chuffed with that, so one goal reached.

I'm currently at 1929 bike miles for the year and I think its unlikely I'm going to get to 2000 due to the weather conditions and not taking bikes up to Scotland next week (no point) but I can't believe I have got so close. I have done over 500 miles more that last year and I didn't have a marathon getting in the way then.

So next year's plans.....I am currently planning on not having one event to train for and hoping to do lots of less committing stuff. Of course the danger is that I end up doing nothing at all.

So mileage targets for next year, which will be a stretch but hey:

700 running miles
2250 bike miles

Events? Not totally decided yet but have the Two Crosses in January which I am no way fit for, possibly the Whinlatter Enduro on the MTB and the Etape Caledonia on the road bike. Not sure yet....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

That inbetween stage...

of getting over whatever had infected me but not quite sure if its entirely gone. A very easy 4 mile run yesterday, felt great after and enjoyed the run. I kept my layers zipped up to keep the cold off my chest as much as possible even if I was a little warm.

7 slightly less easy miles, still all zipped up, feel slightly less fine this evening. I hate germs!

Jez is also ill too, enough to take a day off work which is exceptionally rare, though his appears to be gastric related rather than tight chest. Watch this space as I'll probably get it next.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Still not well

Not sure what is wrong with me, no sniffle but my chest feels really tight, almost like there is a weight pushing on it. Had a bit of a cough this morning and hoped it meant things were shifting but its stopped now. Could just happily go to sleep...

It's a complete no no trying to exercise if its "below the neck" isn't it? Pah.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Germ Factory...

My office that is. Felt terrible yesterday afternoon, woozy, scratchy throat. Pulled out of night riding and had an early night. Fingers crossed but I actually feel lots better today but have decided not to do todays planned 6 mile run and give myself a chance. Its currently tipping down with freezing rain so probably best to stay warm and dry today.

I've another easy day tomorrow then hopefully will get out and do something on Saturday and race XC on Sunday. The Marl Pits XC course is supposed to be quite a good one so hopefully I will get there and not feel like death warmed up.

Both my running and cycling mileage targets for the year are tantalisingly close but a heavy cold or dose of swine flu could put them out of reach.

Anyway, off to make some home brew style lemsip.....I am amusing my colleagues with my little tubs of freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

OMG How Cold?!

Breathtakingly cold today out on the prom, literally. I headed down there not sure if I was going to do the intervals I had planned or not, so cold and the wind was just biting and stronger than I was expecting!

I had on fleecy tights, thermal undershorts, thermal top, Oz Pullover zipped almost right up, gloves (ok thin ones) and a buff on. The top and the Oz have handwarmer style thumb loops to cover part of the hand, I never took my thumb out of those loops at all or really unzipped the jacket, even during the intervals I was that cold and I wished I'd put my windproof hat on.

Anyway, 2.2 mile "warm" up, 6 x 800 metres done (was supposed to be 5 but I obviously set it up wrong), wind assisted which made me set off far too fast every single time but I still found the pace hard to maintain as I think my legs were just cold and clumsy. Then back to work, still haven't warmed up properly.

It was probably good for me after the written off weekend....


Two sleep disrupted weekends on the trot, the one just past entirely self inflicted and alcohol related (serious, "never drinking again, god I am getting too old for this" stuff) , the previous weekend was work/on call related so not my fault. Not really a great deal of excitement to report apart from a new kit frenzy.....

Haglofs Oz Pullover, fab, getting lots of use already but the flappy hood is getting annoying/may strangle me/ acts as a parachute in strong head winds.
New Mudclaws half a size smaller, didn't start bothering my feet until after 10 miles on initial run so hope there (just wondering what to do with hardly used size 6's...running in Sealskins is in my future I think).
Thermal Odlo poncetastic undershorts - I suffer from painful cold arse syndrome badly, they seem to help for running.
Waterproof shorts for cycling, caved and bought a pair as full trousers too much and to help in the battle against cycling cold arse.

So ready for winter, just as well as its here!

I have bought metres of paclite in the last twelve months....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oh, I forgot something...

...setting an alarm for 6:00 am on my works phone, which hasn't been used since the beginning of October and not had the clock changed. Woke up at 5:00 am!

Whinlatter Offroad Duathlon

Ouch, that hurt a bit! Overall time 2:41 so a bit more than I was expecting to be out there in the wind and rain. A tough course.

The Good:

My Ti 456 - it seemed to fly along the singletrack, felt fantastic.
My singletrack riding, gained a lot of places on the bike leg.
The Altura trail - need to go back on a less busy day, the traffic sometimes made the technical bits difficult.
The organisation and encouraging marshalls.
The other competitors - everyone cheery, happy to pull over, etc.
The occasional stunning views.

The Bad:

Losing over 5 minutes in transition, partly due to big faff with my gloves.
Setting off on the second run still wearing my helmet! (A lovely marshall, held onto it for me until I came back, he already had someone else's).
My slow climbing - bike or run, always lets me down.
My front brake jamming on hard, thankfully loosened off but rode the last few sections using back brake only.
Not paying any attention at all to how long I had been out there.
Seeing the lead man out on the second run when I think I was about half way through the bike leg.
The peeing rain!

The Ugly:

The guy going OTB in front of me on the bike leg, I stopped to make sure he was ok.
The guy sat at the side of the track on the second run in the throes of a complete bonk, gutted I had no gels on me to give him.
The second run in general, I was verging on bonking myself....which leads nicely onto:
Having a litre of energy drink to try to get through on the bike but have arrived home with....about a litre - I was saved by having a gel in transition.

Overall, I would do it again, but need to learn some lessons!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A lunchtime run in glorious sunshine.

Yesterday I headed out at lunchtime for an interval session. Now, I moan that the prom is the only place in St Annes to get some decent uninterrupted running and it is. There really isn't much else, getting to the prom is a big faff as St Annes is jam packed with houses so that you have to stop constantly to cross roads etc. I can find it hard to motivate myself to do the same old run, same old streets, even though it really is good to get out in the daylight over the winter months.

However, occasionally a gorgeous day comes along and I can't wait to get down there, yesterday was one of those days. I then realise that I am actually very lucky to be able to get the chance to run on the beach at luchtime, I love the feeling of wide open space.

I had an interval session planned, 2 sets of 5 x 400 metres, 1 minute recovery. Before that I took it steady to the beach, then faffed around a bit taking in the sunshine before getting to the hard work. I have a new ickle bumbag which is to carry, gloves, tissues, lip balm 20p for the loos etc but also fits my camera in. Some jogging about taking photos before heading up onto the prom itself for the intervals. Not surprisingly there was a lot of people around but it just seemed to add to the good vibe.

The intervals went well, I did them at the correct pace, 4 out of 5 of the first set were at 1.49, the other was 1.48. I did have a slight muppet moment in that I thought I had longer to rest between the sets than I did and set off on the first one of the second set 40 seconds late......

The next 4 were all around 1.49 too. Legs felt good and I could have done more. I then tootled along the bottom of the sea wall for ages before realising that it was 1:40 pm and I really should drag myself away and get back to work.

My legs felt good all the way back to work so I think last week's rest has done them some good after all.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Red Rose XC Bury

I picked a good week weather wise to be taking it easy, though the rain meant I didn't get any cycling in at all. Saturday I headed over to Bury to do another XC race. I somehow managed to get myself there without ending up lost in Bury centre but once again I found myself thinking a Sat Nav may be useful.

The course was laps around a sodden field, no real climbs or downs just constant shoe sucking mud and standing water. My feet were freezing from my short warm up and didn't warm up until I got in a hot shower at home.

Considering my legs had had most of the week off they didn't feel as sprightly as I thought they should, maybe the answer is to do a long MTB ride the day before? On the first lap I started suffering from a stitch, then I realised for reasons best known to myself that I had been practically holding my breath up the incline. Whoops.

3.5 miles in 31.01. I was totally covered in mud, I was less muddy the last time I fell in a bog.

The next XC is on the 21st of this month, however I have just realised I have races planned on the next three weekends which isn't going to leave me much time to do some miles, either bike or run. Depending on the weather I may not do the XC on the 21st.

Some "Racing" Advice Required: MTB

So, the duathlon looms this coming weekend. Starting to think about the logistics, what to wear etc.

I think I should stick a bottle cage and bottle on the on one (as fortunately it will take one, Titus will not) and put puncture stuff etc in a saddle pack so I can ditch a camelbak when riding, not have to wriggle it on/off. Jez reckons I should take a small back pack.

I have never tried to race on a bike before so any advice accepted.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dead Legs

I postd a comment on Kate's blog recently about resigning myself to permanently dead legs combining running and cycling....if anyone else had said that I'd be advising them to take it easy for a bit.

I had a look back at what I have been up to over the last month, my rough goals are to do 200 miles of biking and 50 miles of running to keep on target for the year (2000 miles and 750 miles respectively). I did 239 bike miles and just squeaked in 50 running miles, not huge volume really.

I also had a good few days off here and there but the big change was the reintroduction of running speedwork, the dreaded intervals and tempo runs are back! I have done sets of 400's. 800's and 1600's (set off too fast and they so, so hurt)- forgot to do 1200's! Two miles worth of fast stuff, and two runs with 4 miles at 8:30 mm which is just slower than my 10K pace.

This is the only way I will keep running at lunchtimes over the winter, I have no real choice of route so I have to break the run up into chunks. Its been a big increase in intensity so I've backed off this week, quite a lot due to the blooming weather! Nothing more than four miles (if this rain ever stops).

Next week, start again with 400's and 2.5 miles of fast stuff. I am not looking forward to those mile ones again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ti 456 first ride

I got out for an afternoon spin on the ti 456 last Friday. It took a while to actually get out the door, idly flicking though BBC iPlayer is not conducive to removing oneself from the sofa to go ride in strong winds.

As it was my last Friday off I eventually crowbarred myself out about 1pm ish. I decided on just a short ride, didn't want to end up too far in case things weren't ok, though my bike mechanic is usually pretty reliable! I also chucked a pair of running shoes in as I should do at least one brick before this month's looming duathlon. So, was aiming for no more than about two hours out total, run included, back well before dark. Except it didn't quite pan out like that....

Legs felt tired and heavy on the initial climb out (running speedwork), this was partly helped by increasing saddle height, which was the only faffing I had to do. As lots of people on the main track decided to do the fence track which looked quite dry. It wasn't, it was really stodgy, standing water further on but it had a covering of deceptive dry leaves. Bike was filthy within ten minutes, as it should be.

Off up the long climb to the tower, thought I was out of the wind but no it swirled round the hill so it was a bit of a grind. Along the top and the sun was out, just for a change:

Arriving at the tower and effectively on the other side of the hill I realised that what I thought was a headwind was just a slight breeze! Strong winds made the rutty descent difficult. I decided to try out a new track which started off well but got a bit rocky/droppy/rutty for me. It's the kind of track that needs a bit of knowledge as sometimes what looks like a good line suddenly gets a bit dodgy. I could also have done with lowering my saddle and having someone to follow (and a big dose of bravery).

Will be fun to run though! Back up towards the tower again, blown up by the wind then back to the top of the long climb I did where I had a bit of a think about where I wanted to go next. As I wasn't riding fast I thought a bit of exploring was worthwhile.

I keep meaning to ride across the top of Darwen moor. I've done one of the tracks (the straightest one) on a very dry day a good while ago but I actually prefer running on the other one as its not quite so rutty. The ruts are vehicle tyre ruts so I find them hard work running. The other track also has a great deal of hard pack on it too.

It wasn't too bad at all on a bike, only a few little bits where I had to get off bike and jump over stuff, though it was pretty soft in other places and is probably best avoided after a big downpour. I would say its more rideable than the other one, especially at this time of year. I was the only person on that part of the moor, which was just lovely after the busy tower area.

As I was enjoying myself on the windswept empty moor I thought I would continue down the Witton Weavers Way to the A666, ride briefly on the A666 then turn off and pick up the Catherine Edge bridleway back, which would give me a nice tailwind.

Started dropping down the track, it has some stones/cobbles and as I was going over them I remember thinking that it was much more comfortable on my steel frame. Then I realised that due to the headwind I was actually sat down pedalling downhill not stood up flying over them!

Some considerable time ago I rode down this track behind a group of lads who then did a short hike a bike onto another parallel track which eventually ended up at the A666 as well. I had no map with me but thought I would try to find a way to get up to the other track.

Rolling down I keep an eye out for likely places to try. A broken fence had me having a look but it ended with a large concrete drainage channel too wide for me to jump. I could see a footbridge further down and did briefly entertain the idea of climbing onto one of the concrete walls and shuffling along carrying my bike. Realising it was a reasonable distance to shuffle and I'd probably fall off I pushed back up to the main track.

I rolled down a bit further and a stile appeared, so over it and down to the footbridge and:

Hmm, there is a bit of a track off to the left so follow it up and round shouldering my bike onto a grassy plateau. See the where I want to get to and start riding, then have to get off and start yomping through marsh grass, which was hiding a nice (not) mossy bog.

Most of the grass is up above my shoulder height, a couple of times as I step into a deep bit of slop it goes over my head. I realise that at times I am probably invisible, in the unlikely event anyone heads down the main track anyway. I entertain myself with thoughts of being stuck out on the moor, waving my bike at the helicopter as it searches for me...hee hee.

I get there eventually, no idea how long it took but realise those lads didn't come the way I just did! I walk along the track I've just arrived at, heading back up the hill to see what's what. There is a stile, so there is obviously another cut through. I gave up after a short while as the track degenerated to stinking slop, oozing the stench of sheep poo:

More pedalling down hill against the wind, get to the A666 and realise its a bit gloomy so try to ride as fast as possible to the turn off before I get flattened. Get to the gate at the start of the Catherine Edge bridleway and realise I am really hungry. I chucked in a Chorley cake just in case so fished it out and sat down for some food. At some point around here I realised that the red lights on the Winter Hill mast were really bright...... which means light is fading fast. The time was well past 4pm, oops no wonder I'm hungry.

Luckily, I had thrown my joystick into my bag so I had a front light but the rear light is still on the Titus. I flew back along that bridleway due to the wind, a lot better than the last time I crawled along it. I was riding at least four gears higher!

I rode to Slipper Lowe car park and took the descent down through the woods. It was very murky and the leaf cover made things slippy but it wasn't dark enough for a light. I got to the ford at the bottom and there seemed to be loads of people around so rather than slalom through them I headed for the road, it would get me back quicker in the gloom.

Got near the road, it was indeed very gloomy, car headlights very bright, remembered about the rear light not being on the bike. Had a vague memory of buying a little emergency LED on a cord a month or two ago and chucking it in the Camelbak, had a rummage and found it (sometimes I amaze myself with moments of sense). Hung it off the LED loop, set it to flashy, got on the road and hoped no one flattened me.

A fast whizz down the road to the car, packed up while briefly entertain the idea of getting running shoes on but it was now pretty dark so I chucked the bike on top of the shoes so I couldn't get at them.

A fun ride, the ti frame definitely accelerates better than the steel one, bursts of power (the few there were) we rewarded with an immediate jump forward. Need to get it out on a long ride, that will be the true test.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Well...It's built

My new, shinier and hopefully lighter than the steel one it replace On One Ti 456:

My last Friday off tomorrow or ride? Got stuff to do in the morning so won't be able to escape anywhere too far. I'm currently leaning towards local ride at the minute, am at the Velodrome all day Saturday for the track world champs and Sunday's weather looks stupidly windy.

As long as I do something!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A few days away...

We headed up to Scotland for a few days last week. Didn't do too much really, a bit of a bimble in the Pentlands which was fun, I definitely need to try to get some running in on them. The clag was down as it usually is when we are on top of any hill in Scotland. By the time we were walking back along the valley floor towards the car the cloud had lifted clear of the tops. By the time we came out of the Flotterstone Inn after some food it was blue sky and sunshine, typical.

I also managed to scare myself silly on the Aerial Assault course at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, only 10 minutes away from my folks. A video here, I was made to go first and my face was apparently just as much of a picture. I have to confess to having a raging hangover which really, really didn't help and also meant I didn't actually get any climbing in! However, I was getting vertigo just watching people climb, those walls are huge!

I would recommend it but not with a hangover, swinging around does nothing to settle the stomach.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Friday Fell Run

The morning of Friday 16th was spent waiting in for my new cranks and new frame (more later). By lunchtime the cranks had arrived but the frame hadn't, however it was such a beautiful day that I couldn't let one of my few remaining Friday's go by without doing something, so a run was planned.

Being such a crystal clear day I decided to head for Winter Hill and have an explore. I had a feeling my legs would be tired from this weeks riding/running so a run with lots of map faff would probably be just the ticket.

I know a couple of major tracks on Winter Hill from biking but that is about it so to give me an idea of where to explore I had a look at the checkpoints for the Winter Hill fell race and picked a couple of them to try to find (none of the ones that involve trekking up and down the steep side of the hill though, I'm not that daft!).

Final route I did is here. I started at the barn and ran clockwise. It was an enjoyable run, found lots of tracks which I've never run before. I wore my Mizuno Harriers as I know I can run a long time in them without them bothering my feet, I wasn't intending on running fast so a little bit of slipping around was no biggie. I also took out my new OMM Last Drop for a test, even though it was a beautiful day I still had some windproof cover and a pair of gloves. I had my compass with me to practice bearings too, camera, gels, phone etc.

I gradually picked my way up to the trig point, disappearing up over my ankles in slop twice jumping off stiles, to where lots of people were paragliding, it was quite busy up there. A stop for a gel, a good look at the map and to take in the view across to Great Hill, beautiful day:

On the other side of the road I can see the track that I ran along in the dusk, I can also see the where the bog I fell over in is (behind that first rise).

It was surprisingly busy up there, lots of paragliders having a great time. The wind was strong on that side of the hill and pretty cold. From the trig point I just headed off down Dean Ditch, following a path running alongside the wall ruins. I took an educated guess that at some point there would be a path branching off somewhere. It's not something I would have done on an unknown hill on a claggy day that's for sure!

Anyway some slip sliding in a generally downwards direction and eventually a path does branch off in the direction I wanted to go. It skirted round what looked like a reservoir then eventually joined back up with a track up Smithills Moor that I knew. Which was good as I was now starving due to not having eaten anything since breakfast (now after 3pm) and the stop/start was now taking its toll on my legs. It was easier to keep moving.

Trundled (slowly) up towards the masts, down the tarmac road which hurt, got fed up with that and decided to take my chances with a boggy path heading for the Pike.

A good decision it was much fun and easy on the legs. Up to the Pike then try to figure out the best way back to the top barn, being on foot meant all tracks were fair game. I found running on the hard cobble tracks quite painful after all the soft stuff and for the first time on the run nearly turned an ankle - on a tiny pebble on a flat piece of track.

Found a nice but convoluted route down through the gardens, nearly slipping on a greasy step. Got back to car, chucked stuff in, checked how much cash I had on me, not much. Drove from the top barn down to near the other barn and headed into the cafe to see what I could buy managing to stop myself diving face first into one of their large display cakes. Had a nice piece of shortcake to bring the sugar levels up.

Good run, nice to do some new stuff. The OMM sack was comfy, comfier than my little one. The trails shoes coped ok as things were still quite dry. I never took a single bearing, oops.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Catching Up

So..a couple of days off due to knee then another few days due to bunged up/infected sinuses. Thankfully, no cold materialised but I had to resort to decongestants which alway make me feel a little other worldly. So basically had four complete days off everything.

Friday 9th: Went climbing, the less said about that the better. Floundering around on 4's badly. On the plus side, the ability to string moves together increased after a few climbs. Conversely, strength disappeared, so I fell off the last climb trying to do a big move that I didn't have the strength to carry out!

Saturday 10th: Time for some running. Felt like heading off up Great Hill but would take it easy as just shaking off sinus trouble. I took a camera and faffed about but the climb was difficult, just no real strength. Had great fun running down the other side towards the A675 where it was still pretty dry, well apart from the odd section:

Won't be long til there is a lot more bog. Mudclaws were fab but again started to rub my right heel after about 5 miles. I got back near the car and almost headed out on another loop with a fair old climb but sense got in there as I was actually pretty tired.

With hindsight, some easy tarmac miles would have been a better choice! Will have to steam the heels of my Mudclaws to see if it helps.

Sunday 11th: Supposed to be an easy bimble around Gisburn with some novice friends but they cried off due to weather just as we were on the M65. Headed to Abbey Village instead, just as well as I forgot my helmet! A shortened ride, made shorter by the minging weather (my head was freezing as I had no buff either):

Took it easy on the descents due to being helmetless, almost got away with it until a tree lined trail with low branches and I got thwacked in the head three times. Ouch.

Monday 12th: The new week started with some running intervals, 2 sets of 4 x 400 metres to start things off. Seemed to go well and fairly consistent. Will start with two miles of fast stuff then increase to three (as that's how long the prom is!).

Tuesday/Wednesday: Riding to work - got towed in by Jez which was fun, made him work! Some offroad night riding fun on the Wednesday too.

Thursday: More running, this time two easy miles and two faster miles. In the evening I headed to the Chill Factore for some snowboarding......didn't go very well! I think I need to get right back to basics again.

An injury scare

The Sunday after the 3rd Oct XC race Jez and I headed out on a road ride to spin my legs out. The initial plan was for 30 odd miles taking in Belmont. My legs were pretty tired which wasn't entirely suprising. My left leg in particular was feeling a little odd.

Half way up the climb from the M65 roundabout over to Abbey Village I had to stop due to a very, very "bad" pain just above my left knee. I thought my ITB had gone, though I didn't say it out loud because that would make it seem true. It wasn't so bad if I stood up but seated climbing was very painful. I had been sort of aware of it at the end of Friday's ride too.

Anyway, we headed back so the ride was only about 20 miles long. My left leg was definitely not feeling right at all.

Later when tidying up my riding shoes I noticed my left cleat was in a bit of a bizarre position. The cleat was very loose and moving around all over the place, d'oh.

"How can you not notice these things?" asked a very exasperated Jez.

A few rest days and I think I got away with it.

Red Rose XC Womens Race - Blackburn

My first XC race this season was at Witton Park on the 3rd of October. I drove over in heavy rain and strong winds though the rain stopped before I got there thankfully. A bit of faff with parking before heading to the Chorley tent to pick up my number.

Conditions were not as stodgy as last year but still soft. I expected to have heavy legs after the wet 30 miler on the MTB the day before but they were actually fine. I had a good run and managed to keep working hard til the end and was a bit quicker than last year. Really enjoyed it even though the saucer was a much longer hill than I remembered. I finished the just over 5k in 28:34, 8:36 mm pace. A minute a mile faster than the year before.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday 2nd Oct: A Two Towers Ride...

...or three if you count Turton Tower. 30 very wet, windy, cold and sometimes plain miserable miles. The On One was out to play as the knocking headset/brake squealing was actually due to the brake hose connector coming loose and spilling fluid all over the brake, making for juddery stopping - oops. I was under orders to get the disk covered in crap to help clean the pads up.

I set off from a grey, not very windy Lostock Hall for a local ride and arrived at the car park just off the A675 Tockholes turnoff to driving rain and gusting winds. Its a little exposed there. Anyway sat in my car for ages being not remotely tempted to get out:

Finally, wriggled into waterproofs before even stepping out of car and got ready. Hands were wet and freezing cold before I had even set off and trying to wrestle them into gloves resulted in a few choice words! Saddle very wet too but hey ho. Had a near off within three metres of the car as the front wheel slid along a piece of wet wood edging the track. Ignored the demons telling me to give up and headed out.

I had no plan other than a vague wish to ride over to Peel Tower. In the end I did manage it by making myself ride "just a little bit more" rather than think about the whole ride. I learned that trick from my Hebden Bridge ride. The final route is here.

I decided to do a bit of downhill in the woods first then head up to Darwen tower, a vain hope it would stop raining. Nope. I took the most sheltered way I could think of up to the tower and I was almost at it before I could actually see it:

I sheltered from the howling wind for ages and ate a bit of my first butty - only about two miles in! If I'd been riding with someone else and they had suggested heading back home I think I would have gone like a shot! As it was I had to head back past the car to go anywhere else so I put off the decision until that point. The clag got really bad for a while, just as well I know the hill:

So off towards the car, drop down off the moor and the combination of wind and descending speed meant the rain stung my face hard. At the decision point the wind was behind me so I thought I would continue up over the moor again, drop down to the A666 then pick up the Catherine Edge bridleway back to the car. I couldn't be bothered with the faff of trying to pack up in the rain quite yet really.

Up and over then a fast, wet descent down towards the A666 where the cloud lifted briefly and it seemed to be brightening up:

Cheered up by the thought I continued off down the hill, unfortunately the cloud had other ideas and chased me down the valley:

Once at the road I then had a decision to make, back to the car or onto Peel Tower. I was sheltered from the wind and the rain so decided to head to Peel Tower. Some fairly straightforward track and road riding led to the bridleway along Holcombe which I really enjoyed. A short but steep pull up then I was at Peel Tower:

The cloud had actually lifted quite a bit and I could see Ramsbottom below. I stopped for a proper butty stop and just as I was getting ready to ride the cloud closed in again.

I decided just to head back the way I came up rather than chance one of the paths across the top. Back along the bridleway back to the road. As I was rolling down to Edgworth the rain seemed to start in earnest. It was hard to see flying down the road and my waterproofs were beginning to get a little overfaced.

I found the Turton tower track (handily signposted) then made my way across the golf course to Egerton. I did think about heading up to the Pike as although I was cold and wet my legs would have probably made it. However, once through Egerton I picked up the road past Delph Res and the full force of the wind and the rain hit me.

I decided to just head back, the last three miles from Delph along the bridleway back to the car were just awful. There was nowhere to hide from the wind and rain and its a gradual climb. I was very cold and just wanted it to end. Once finished I think I just chucked everything in the car, got a towel on the seat and drove home with the heating on full blast.

As I got on the M65 the sun came out.......

Monday, October 12, 2009

A ride out of Hebden Bridge - 25th Sept

I am so behind with posting.......

The long spell of dry weather had me fancying a go over High Brown Knoll so I planned (then re-planned) a route out of Hebden Bridge. The original route had me checking out a long stretch of the Bronte Way from Oxenhope, however I realised this would be quite committing so revised the route to give me plenty of get outs. The final planned route was an ambitious 40 miler with over 5000ft of climb. In the end I took a get out option and the actual route was around 30 miles with still over 4000ft of climb.

My legs hadn't properly shaken off the Rivi half really, I don't know why I was surprised as it took about a week and a half to shake the last half marathon I did. I should check my training notes more often!

The ride starts with a long drag out of Hebden Bridge on the Keighley road. I was on the Titus as the On One seemed to have developed a knocking headset and the front brake was squealing with the pitch of nails down a blackboard, urgh. I had tried tightening the head set but to be honest the bolt was tight and I didn't want to twist it so much the star fangled nut wrenched out of the steerer tube (not that I've done that....recently).

Anyway full-suss magic carpet it was. I think the climb went on for about 2.5 miles, its not steep, just a drag but it gives a good indication of how things are. My climbing legs were not at all there, which was going to be a problem on a ride with a potential 5000ft of up.

A strong, cold headwind greeted me as I climbed out of the valley. I seemed to have a perpetual headwind for most of the day, the area isn't dotted with windfarms for nothing! I finally get to the bridleway to head over HBK and I had completely forgotten about the first part. It took all my mental resolve to not just roll back down the hill again.

The first part was indeed dry but its quite "steppy" and rutty peaty track, hard to describe but it can be tricky to ride and a pain to get going again if you stop. Then it leads to a short push - always a push which I had forgotten then onto the lovely track I remembered, dry as a bone and once on it initial petted lip forgotten:

It's not the best picture but it was the only one I took of the fantastic dry singletrack on the ride as generally I was enjoying riding it too much to stop. The trig point was practically luminous for the obligatory bike shot:

The lead grey skies never really brightened up much, Stoodley Pike is just visible in the distance. Due to the totally flat light I never really stopped to take many pictures. Anyway across the moor, almost entirely dry though there were a few boggy and foul smelling patches still.

Then it was the descent to Luddenden Dean, saddle down for the top steep part which was fun then about half way down it seemed to really have disintegrated. Normally, I am following one or two people down so you can see which ruts work and which don't. I had to find it out for myself and I had to pull the bike out of a dead end rut more than once, though I at least never parted company from it in an "over the bars" stylee.

What drops steeply down must come back up again (at least around Hebden Bridge) so it was a road slog up out of Luddenden Dean then pick up the bridleway along Cold Edge - which was indeed cold due to the wind. I also realised along Cold Edge that I hadn't in fact sorted the Titus gears properly and they were all out by one!

When I thought I was in lowest gear I was in the second lowest, great. I could get it into the lowest gear but I don't think it was great for the drive train, though in my typical fashion I pushed the worry to the back of my mind. I needed that gear dammit!

Soon it was the fast drop down to Ogden Water where I was glad I was on the Titus, flattened the cobbles out a bit. The cafe was open so I stopped and had a can of coke as I needed all the boost I could get and checked the Garmin to see what was what.

About 10 miles ish, 1.5 hours of riding time, a whopping 1 hour of paused time (where?) so far and an average speed of 6.9. Hmmmm....rethink. The full route is probably not a good idea, tired legs etc and I'm obviously in faff mode. Had a map check. I still really wanted to do the bridleway from Ogden over Thornton Moor to Oxenhope. I can then climb out of Oxenhope and head back towards Hebden.

Plan made and off towards Thornton Moor. The track was quite frankly, lovely! Dry as a bone, multiple line choices and I managed to not make a bad one. Great fun until the end when I got to a now sanitised piece of rocky descent - boooooooo:

It was still fast though and there is a promising looking track off to the right which needs some investigation. At the gate I was originally supposed to head straight down but a memory was dredged up from somewhere and I realised we normally head off left. Along and down another fun and rocky track which I really like. It finally pops out at a road and I have to get the map out to check how to get back on plan.

A grassy roll down a bridleway which eventually seems to go through someones garden, it felt a bit wrong riding my bike effectively on someones lawn, especially as I was now on a footpath I walked that short section. Productive greenhouse they had!

I kept checking the map going through Oxenhope and at one of the checks I finally noticed the name of the hill I was about to head over..."Stairs Hill"....that means I'm about to climb "Stairs Lane" oh feck. Not a sight for sore legs I can tell you:

I was in fail mode before I even got to it, convinced it was going to be one long push once the tarmac ran out...Bottom third or so was quite loose and I CBA'd fighting it but it also didn't take me long to get bored with pushing. The upper two thirds while still steep were mainly dry cobbles so I trundled up in diesel truck mode and managed to clear most of it.

I realised that whilst my legs hadn't livened up they hadn't actually gotten much worse either, steady effort was fine short hard efforts were not. Back up into the wind and a rather nice track across the top then a fast, eye watering, descent off the other side.

I was getting pretty close to Hebden again, one more steady climb then I could roll back into town. I thought I would roll straight onto Crimsworth Dean, dive down the little fun bridleway at Hardcastle Crags then back to the car.

However, I arrived at the turn off for the bridleway over to New Laithe moor and decided I wasn't ready to go back quite yet. I would head over to New Laithe moor then roll down the long fast fireroad, then the Hardcastle Crags bridleway back into town. A bit more descending payback I thought so off I headed.

Another nice stretch of bridleway which I haven't been on for a long time, through a field of cows and onto the wide track at New Laithe moor. I again decided I wasn't ready to go back to the headed on towards the Gorple reservoirs. I knew the tracks well and they were steady riding, apart from the headwind, it was a bit of a grind for a while. It would also mean I could finish the ride with the descent from Jack's Bridge.

I soon pop out at the turnoff for the Pennine Bridleway past the Gorple reservoirs. I did have a big moment of indecision but sense prevailed and I decided not to head up over Widdop, if it had been less of a pig of a climb I may have done. Average speed had climbed up a little to 7.3.

I continued trundling past the reservoirs and up and over Heptonstall Moor. Finally, as I turned towards Colden I got a tailwind. A fast, easy ride down through Colden towards Jack's Bridge and the final descent of the day. This made me laugh:

I hate to think what has tried to get down there as the tarmac runs out quickly and it becomes a narrow track for a while, with a drop to the left. A Smart Car might be able to make it, just. Its a fast descent to finish on and I only had to slow for walkers twice on the whole thing. It was a great way to finish the ride and I was buzzing at the bottom and wondering if I really should have headed back to the car.

Then I just had to remember where I parked my car in Hebden Bridge. I stopped behind a bus at some traffic lights, then realised as a policeman cycled past me that the bus was parked. I got the map out to make it look deliberate....

A quick hose off of bike and a wander around Hebden Bridge before setting off home.

A final total of 30.02 miles and 3:45 of riding time (faff time not recorded!). After the fast riding from Heptonstall the average speed had crept up to 7.9 mph, amazing what a tailwind can do.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wednesday 23rd September: Another Dry Night Ride

On the Sunday after Rivi half I woke up with a very sore little toe on my left foot, it was quite bruised and hurt when in shoes. I vaguely remember kicking a boulder during the race but it didn't hurt at the time. It took until the Wednesday before the toe was happyish being in bike or running shoes.

Some e-mails flying around ended up with just Stu and I out on a fantastic evening at Rivington. Dry trails again. Normally we would make our way out to Healey Nab first and then make our way up to the Pike but we decided to head up to the Pike first while I tell Stu the details of last Monday's run.

Gorgeous, clear view from the pike then we decide to head out to Anglezarke to ride the bit of track I had noted on the trail race.

Its pretty much all downhill to Anglezarke from the pike then along the cheeky track, which rides very well indeed! We then decide to head to Healey Nab and do the new bit of trail.

The rocks on the climb up to the start of the new trail in the Nab look bigger than normal but its the shadows cast by the lights. Onto the new trail and I start well by riding straight on where it turns right! I realised quickly as I got tangled up in a load of branches probably put there to stop people cutting the corner.

Back on and down the red route. As the trails are so dry everything looks the same and its hard to tell where the actual track really goes and once again I part company from it and have to shuffle back on. I'm not complaining about the dry track though. Some of the drops seem a lot bigger than they really are in the dark. We arrive at the track just after the drops (which we need to ride once again soon) to find the lower part "under construction". We respect the request to stay off it and roll down the bridleway then climb up to the little quarry.

I rekindle my love affair with the bush at the side of the step up on the track as I try to ride into three times and never clean the step. That old problem again! Stu has problems too but they are chain rather than ineptitude related.

Back over towards the Go Ape course then we decide to ride the reservoir track towards the castle, it definitely rides better coming the other way. A good evenings ride in almost perfect conditions.

Rivington Trail Half

Saturday 19th September saw me head bleary eyed over to Rivington and Blackrod school for the inaugural Salomon Rivington Trail Half. A crap nights sleep saw me accompanied on my way by a large, strong coffee in an attempt to wake up.

Parking up and picking up timing chip was fairly painless and caffeine was thankfully well into my system when I realised that drinking so much digestive system accelerant so close to the start probably wasn't a good idea. I toddled up the hill to check out the start then back down to visit the ladies.

The cubicle door was really stiff and I gave it a big kick to shut it then thought perhaps that wasn't the most sensible idea. Sure enough I couldn't get the door back open again! After a minute or so of pulling on the little door catch I start to wonder about missing the start due to being stuck in a toilet. Luckily, being the ladies there was a queue outside and someone shoved it open from the other side.

I headed off to car got all my stuff on/off ,whatever, carefully keeping Garmin away from boot at all times. Head off up to the start, get up on the road to the start and realise I don't have my chip on, d'oh. Back to car, find it, put it on and get up to start a bit later than planned and find a few other harriers. It doesn't seem long til we're off.

The race starts with some easy running along the track I ran in the dark on the Monday where the gate never seemed to come. It still took ages in daylight, a right turn then up a way steeper than I was expecting track that joined up with the wide climb up to the pigeon tower. Its not too steep so running was ok on this. The climb doesn't go up too far before it heads down onto the "Commonwealth Down" (Polar Bear World) at the corner I fell out onto.

Its a fast descent but I have to say I think I ran it better in the dark (the threat of the Polar Bears no doubt). Once again past the start, out to the gate that never seems to appear then off towards Anglezarke reservoir via an empty field. I had never been on part of the track alongside the reservoir and made a note to come back on a night ride.

Up past the top end of the reservoir, up a steep flight of steps. I think it was about 7 miles ish as I took the opportunity to have a gel - wasn't sure if I needed it but decided to err on the side of caution. Soon running again on Heapey Fold Lane. About 9 miles or so my legs start to hurt a bit, mainly the quads which I put down to the extra biking lately. I wasn't that surprised to be honest, not run many long ones lately and none that haven't involved faffing about taking pictures or falling in bogs.

I seemed to be fine on the flat running, any climbs were beginning to hurt. Pass Trio and Ali on some steps that my legs were very unhappy about having to climb and back across the now not so empty field. Loads of cows (bullocks it turned out) had now moved up and across the track and they seemed a little frisky.

I and the woman running near me were a bit wary and were trying to decide which way to go when one of the little blighters charged at me, wah! I think I put my hand on its head in a vain attempt to stop it, stupid animal. I heard a bit of a yelp behind me and turned round to see one lad had been chased up onto a stile. Once through it was quite funny and the marshals were wading in to try to chase them off. Never expected to get charged by a cow on a race.

Legs were very unhappy on any climbs but still seemed up for it on the flat or downhill and they managed to run the last mile to the finish pretty well. I crossed the line in 2:08 eventually, not brilliant but not that bad either. Kate introduced herself to me at the line, then I was de-chipped and picked up the rather marvellous goody bag. I picked up a medium t-shirt after being advised that I was too fat for a small one! Hee hee, no unisex t-shirts here.

Met up with Trio and Ali and saw Jane and Vikki cross the line too. Plan were made to head for lunch, directions were given to me on how to get to the pub. After speaking to Jez I forgot the directions and set off on auto pilot back home, remembered where I was supposed to be going and somehow managed to find my way to the correct pub.

A fun race, enjoyable course and great to meet up with Trio, Ali, Kate, Vikki and Jane. Not forgetting Glyn and Flipper the dog!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Whinlatter Offroad Duathlon

Just entered......eeek.

£33 did make me take a sharp intake of breath but think duathlons/tris are usually expensive.

Lack of posts...

Sorry, not dropped off the earth just way behind with blogging as work has had the temerity to actually require attention! As an IT slacker who sits in front of a PC all day if I don't do most of my posting from work due to being busy I don't want to sit at a computer in the evening.

To sum up: running a trail half, meeting fellow bloggers, sore toe stops play (kicking a boulder in said trail half), night riding on dry dusty trails, a long day ride cut short due to dead legs, laziness, a fantastic run on the beach, a fast four mile run followed by a night ride in the rain and wind.....

I will post up shortly honest.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A short Wednesday night ride

First Wednesday evening ride in what seems like ages and its night riding time again. I had company too which seems like the first time in ages too, even though I am surprised at how much I am enjoying the solo rides it was nice to have someone else there to chat to, especially in the dark.

Setting off a bit later than normal due to me taking the mog to the vet, the sun was dropping nicely when we were getting ready to ride with a lovely sunset just like Monday, except this time I had lights!

Trail were dry, just a few soft patches and it was a lovely evening for a ride. The On One front brake wasn't binding and only squeaked in use (it is a Hope brake), I was really chuffed and the bike felt fine on the uphills only my heavy legs holding me back.

I was coping well with riding with lights, normally it takes a couple of rides to adjust, probably because it was so dry. Right at the end I decided to have a silly off and land in some stodge, not sure what happened but I wasn't hurt and just for a bit of variety it was my hands that got covered in bog not my feet.

Just under 10 fast, dry and polar bear free miles.

Tour of Britain

The North West stage of the ToB started and finished in Blackpool on Tuesday, I nipped out of work at lunchtime to watch them whizz by.

I cycled in with very tired legs after Monday's rather eventful run, not surprising I suppose. The race schedule had them due to finish about 13:50 at the Sandcastle having come through a road about 2.5 miles from work.

After keeping an eye on the live tracking they were a bit behind schedule but I headed out there sometime after 1pm. It felt weird putting cycling shoes and helmet on and nipping out on the bike at lunchtime. A nice flat cycle and I stand on a large traffic island in the middle of the dual carriageway they would be coming down near the 4km from the finish sign, bit gloomy in Blackpool the sunshine was elsewhere.

The police as usual looked to be having far too much fun on their motorbikes with the rolling roadblock. Then the lead group appeared:

By the time the camera had finished whatever it was doing after the above picture they had flown past and the peloton was hot on their wheels:

vroom! They were flying.

After loads of cars and assorted hangers on were through, probably just in front of the broom wagon was a lone Garmin rider, struggling and way behind. There were few spectators on this part of the course but near me were a group of much older men and women and I could here them shouting at him: "go on sonny, keep going dear your nearly there". Which I thought was quite sweet really.

Quickly back to work then an easy spin home later.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A serious miscalculation...

..or misjudgement? Not sure what to call it but I messed up on Monday's run. My original plan was to run Sunday out from Rivington near the barn, out towards White Coppice and up onto Great Hill, back across the top of the moor then onto Winter Hill for a bit of an explore. I've never done any real running around Riv and fancied a change.

Heading out on Monday after work meant I didn't have a lot of daylight to play with so I decided to vary the route so it was about 8.5 miles, sunset around 7:30, should manage it. I had hoped to get out of work before 5 but I didn't get away until 5:15. Sense should have sent me to Abbey Village but no I continued onto Rivington and added another 20 minutes on.

I knew I had to keep faff to a minimum, gutted to find public loos shut so headed off out on run keeping an eye out for a suitable bush, spotted one, zoomed over, heard voices, right under the Go Ape course bah. Anyway sorted eventually so head out on part of the Rivi trail course, alongside Anglezarke really enjoying the run.

its really dry so having the road/trail shoe debate, la la la. All the way up to Great Hill, the moor being pretty dry. Stood on top of Great Hill watching the sunset, isn't it pretty:

It was about 7:30, I'm on top of a hill, it's taken me about 6 miles to get here, there is no way its only 2.5 miles back to my car and the sun is dropping fast - I know cos I've been watching it! I think briefly, as the light is fading decide to keep on open tracks to take off across the top of the moor on the flagstones.

Lovely glowing heather and orange sky.....must not stop to stare. Not too bad on the moor as its open. The flags stop but its still quite dry, running well then splat, left leg up to the knee in bog and I fall over, luckily onto firm ground so only leg covered.

Hee hee, giggling away, faffing, take a picture, realise I don't have time and get running again across to Belmont Road. Hard work running on the rough track, particularly as it was in shadow and I coudn't see a thing just had to hope I didn't turn an ankle and keep running. Lots of gorgeous reflections on the puddles but must not stop. It seems to take ages to get to the big left bend, get round it, where the hell is the pigeon tower? How can it be that far away still?

I've only biked around these trails and its a lot faster than on foot. Forgot track get really rough just before the pigeon tower, stumble a bit but get to tower. Think, what is the best way down as it is quite frankly dark, not dusk, its night, feck. Think, think, think. I have a map but its too dark to see it!

I realise I have no phone (charging elsewhere), no layers save a pair of thin armwarmers and no light. Decide to head for the Commonwealth Down, stay out of the trees as much as possible. So across where the cottage used to be down through a short pitch black tree section out into the clear then cut down to the track. I have biked the rutty/grassy track but couldn't make out any detail on it at all so was stumbling all over the place like a drunk. Then a couple of metres in front of me something bounds out of the gloom right across the track.....probably a fox.

Now, I'd been having a few axe murderer out to get me worries but had never thought about the wildlife. The anxiety level was raised a few notches then I fell out onto the big track at the switch back. I know its fine at the top but gets rough at the gate at the bottom. As its out of the trees I can make out a bit of the track but no real detail but it was a fun descent even so. Then two sheep shuffled out of the bushes at the side of the track, all I saw were two slightly glowing white blobs.....

..I though OMG Polar Bears! Wtf? Eh? Rivington, that well known Polar Bear habitat! I realise I am actually getting a bit hysterical worried. I get to the gate turn right and head for the car. Again, I've only biked this flattish track so I was expecting the gate to come soon but it didn't.

I was feeling very disoriented, I was sure I was going the correct way but if I wasn't I couldn't see to go somewhere else. Then it appeared, could have hugged it! Next the wooden stumps.....they appeared. Oh the tracks going left, think, oh yes it does that keep going.

Almost fell down a big dip in the track but managed to stay upright then I saw car headlights where I'd parked, hurrah! Arrived at the parking but had to wait for another car to go past and use the light from its headlights to actually find mine.

Quick check of the Garmin 11.6 miles and 1:56 or running, what an eejit! I must have plucked the 8.5 miles figure out of the air.

Sleeping, cooking, garden and bike maintenance

Is what I got up to over the weekend. After frying in the Dales for a day I had a couple of extra hours sleep on Saturday morning. Had to get up to feed the cat about 7:30am but he graciously allowed me another couple of hours sleep before demanding any more attention.

The sunny weather seems to have ripened all the tomatoes and chillies I have all at once, I thought I was doomed to tonnes of green tomato chutney again, I needed to do something qith them quickly. Spent a lot of Saturday cooking, making damson vodka (farm shop selling them cheap), bisuits, roasting tomatoes and generally making a mess of the kitchen.

Sunday I did think about going out for a run but the mossery that passes for our back lawn was dry enough to walk on without turning it into the Somme so I cracked on with tidying the garden up ready for autumn though I have filled our garden waste bin to bursting and there is still more to do.

Bike maintenance next. I had to go back to basics with my rear derailleur, printed the Shimano instructions out, checked the stops, lubed the cables, faffed around for ages getting clockwise/anti mixed up and eventually the gears are pretty much sorted. Something that would have taken Jez about five minutes took, well a lot longer than that!

Also sorted the front brake out on the On One via application of a large flat bladed screwdriver, meant I got enough leverage to really force the pistons back. A bit of shimming and the disk was central, hopefully it will stay that way.

A timely thread on STW had me checking all my Eggbeaters for play, the Titus left pedal is starting to wobble so a rebuild kit for that then.

My bike shopping list consisted of:

New cables for Titus
New pistons and rebuild kit for On One front brake (rear done recently)
Egg beater rebuid kit

Utterly boring so to cheer myself up I have ordered some Salsa flip off skewers for the On One. Hate the skewers on there at the minute.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another Dales Ride

I headed back over to the Dales on Friday, this time to ride from Horton over to Bainbridge and back, primarily to ride all the way down the Roman Road. There was however the small matter of riding up Fleet Moss and pushing up onto Horsehead to deal with...

A complete contrast to the last time I was over there, gorgeous sunshine and very little wind. My new Garmin had arrived on Thursday so route plotted on that and on a map, navigation simple again. Set off riding up the way I had descended last time at a nice easy pace. Had to stop to wait for some sheep to pass. At least I stopped, the two walkers I had just passed kept walking which only succeeded in chasing the sheep all the way back up. I'm sure the farmers were impressed.

The climb was fairly straight forward until the rubbly section, which seemed very bad. I kept pedalling but going nowhere. I don't know if it was as bad as that when I came down it and the water was just hiding everything. If that was the case then I was very lucky to get down it riding so slowly.

Up onto Birkwith moor, a really nice track to ride in this direction and all the water splashes were back to normal and rideable. My legs were not particularly sprightly I have to say but fresh legs are a luxury (so I told myself) and just kept pedalling. I was slightly worried that I seemed to need my first butty after about 6 miles, quite early really as apart from waiting for the sheep I hadn't stopped. I obviously hadn't eaten enough after running the night before.

I had energy drink too but I really needed some solid food. It wasn't long before I was heading for Fleet Moss. I had taken the hardtail out as the Titus has been having all the fun lately...actually the gears are totally shot and I hadn't had time to sort them out. However, the front brake was playing up, has been for a while. It was giving its little chirp which is really annoying but I was also slowing down on any downhill sections rather than speeding up.

After the first steepish ramp after Oughtershaw I decided that climbing Fleet Moss with a partially applied front brake wasn't my idea of a great time. I pulled over into a large layby and had a serious look at the brake. Tried pushing pistons back though they seemed ok, it still touched the disk. I tried shimming it with the barest of shims but that pushed it too far over. After a good faff it had freed enough to continue (i.e. the fluid had cooled down).

The squeak came back eventually but I was quite near the top. I'm glad I've come down it as it's a deceptive sod, gets harder the further up you go, the last switchback I took wide! Cracking view down the valley though, so nice to be able to really appreciate it.

Across the top then down a bit towards the start of the offroad section of the Roman Road, passed a couple of recumbents climbing up as I was dropping. A bit of climbing first, actually a bit more than I thought, a bit of rolling along before the long, fast drop into Bainbridge.

Nothing technical but very fast, the kind of track where a full suspension could get up to quite silly speeds and get you into trouble, my hardtail tried a few times too. It seemed to go on forever, then had a fair old road descent into Bainbridge afterwards. I rolled into Bainbridge and sat in the sun for a while and ate another butty, I was about half way but the worst climbs were still to come.
The climb out wasn't too bad, would have been better without brake faff but as I couldnt't be bothered to stop all the time I only did something when it was really starting to bind. It was a pretty gradual but steady climb up onto Stake Allotments. One loose bit of track to work hard on but rest of it was fine. I'd never been up here before and on such a glorious day it was lovely cruising. Nothing technical just vast open space.

I really enjoyed tootling along here, however it would be pretty bleak on a minging day. About half way along I found a nice big puddle and got a handful of Yorkshire's finest gritty mud and smeared it all over the front disk, sorted it out for ages. To cap off a fab bit of cruising a fast, lumpy drop to the road. Excellent. Then a long fast road drop down towards Hubberholme. I pass the recumbents going up again, except this time I realise they are hand word they were working hard up that hill.

It wasn't lost on me that all this long descent was heading for a massive up, I could see where I needed to get to and it was high. I stopped at the bottom of the bridleway to Horsehead for my last butty before beginning the push up, I knew it was going to be a push.

Bits of the bottom section were actually rideable, it was very steep and grassy but if you had the legs you could get up some of it. If I had had fresher legs then I would have tried a lot more and only succeeded in tiring myself out. It got pretty unrideable for the rest of it and it just went on and on and on and the hot sun. It took a long time to push up, added an awful lot of time onto a ride which had already had its fair share of faff with brake fiddling and a leisurely lunch stop.

The top eventually came and the view was enough to put a smile on my face again.

Next the descent to Halton Gill which I have seen raved about. I wasn't that impressed to be honest. Ok it was fast but it only had a couple of lumpy corners for interest and it was over far too quickly. The Dales is packed with good fast descents that don't need an epic push to get to them. So I probably wouldn't bother again.

The bridleway along Pen-y-Ghent on the other hand was fantastic fun. The grassy slog of a climb was hard and my legs didn't want to ride it all but once onto the flatter bridleway with all the tricksy rock my legs suddenly kicked into life. I loved it, even the really boggy stuff had dried out enough that only a few sections were too soft to get through.

Time had seriously gotten away from me, the light was definitely changing, think it was getting on past five:

It wasn't as dark as that picture suggests but the light was changing. The July weather had made me forget that I didn't have July levels of daylight. As I got to the end of the fun track and joined up with the last wide track back to Horton my water ran out - timing. My forearms were feeling pretty sore from all the pushing probably so I did the last drop to the car pretty fast in an attempt to not use the brakes much. There were a couple of surprises I have to say but I got away with them.

The benefit of it being late on was that I only passed one walker the whole way down. Back to the car, clean bike, head home, order takeaway, fall asleep after managing to stay awake for Rebus. A longer day than I really thought, glad I didn't leave it much later in the year though I now have plans to do a Horton Bainbridge ride without the push up Horsehead.....

Club Run

Headed down to the club on Thursday for a nice easy run. Ended up doing over 7 miles at a fairly fast pace, the first tarmac run since the beginning of August and probably the longest since the marathon. My calves and achilles felt pretty battered when I was finished, not the best preparation for the longest MTB ride I've done in years...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Legs surprisingly ok

After Sundays run. About two thirds of the way down the descent I thought my legs were going to be so sore after the hammering I was giving them but on Monday they weren't too bad at all. Tuesday I headed to the gym for a weights session, legs ok.

Had a totally random moment on the way into the gym passing Roy Walker coming out.

I've cycled in today taking advantage of the sunshine, a bit of a parky start proper autumnal. I have realised the Garmin really still works and I can read my current speed in cycling mode but not a lot else. I can do basic things with it like stop/start/reset but that's about it but to be honest I'm not sure if I started it or not. Will find out when I try to download it later.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Derwentwater Trail Race

Yesterday was the Derwentwater trail race, I wasn't sure if I was going to do it but my legs felt fine in the morning, it wasn't chucking it down and I've not managed to run it the previous two years (cancellation and injury). So got my stuff together and drove up to Keswick.

The registration was in town which was great for wandering round prior to race start. What wasn't so great was shutting the boot lid on my Garmin when getting ready to race, d'oh. Screen smashed and only top right hand corner readable:

A new one is on its way, sigh. I decided spending mega bucks on one of the newer models was folly given my track record....

Anyway, raced without it. Race went surprisingly well, I thought my lack of running would really tell but I think I got away with it, not sure I would've wanted to run for much longer though. I did the just under 9 miles ish in 1.29.

It was a really enjoyable course, the only bad bit was the bogs which weren't so much boggy as just shin deep water. My feet were like blocks of ice after wading through them, keeping running was difficult so I used the section to recover well and keep something in reserve for the descent. On a dryer day the climb should be pretty much all runnable, even by me.

The course is basically one big climb followed by one big descent (down Latrigg). I had an absolute whale of a time on the descent and made up a lot of time and did a lot of overtaking and even managed to hang on to all my gained places on the last run in to the finish. A great run, shame about the Garmin though.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friday Lakes Ride (Wray - Loughrigg Terrace - Elterwater - Little Langdale - Claife Heights)

I fancied a ride in the Lakes, I did think about it last week but decided to avoid it around the bank holiday particularly as I was looking at riding around Loughrigg which is a walker magnet. The final route plotted out to be just under 26 miles but I ended up doing closer to 29 after a couple of navigational snafus (again, not always my fault though!).

I've ridden all these bridleways before, some like Loughrigg and those out Elterwater way not for quite some time, the stuff around Hawkshead and Claife a lot more recently (and more often). I've pretty much always ridden them in the direction of the planned route, not sure why but after the ride I decided I needed to do the ride the opposite way soon.

Weather was still really windy but at least wasn't raining when I was packing the car up. I think I left home at about 8:30 and it felt great to head straight past the M55 turnoff. I parked up near Wray Castle which meant a road cruise to Ambleside at the start but an easy finish offroad along the edge of Windermere to finish. I figured it was best to get the Ambleside section done early.

I know a lot of the bridleways are fairly sheltered and it wasn't a full waterproof day, just felt too warm for the trousers. I set off in my waterproof jacket and rolled off down the road and was quickly turning off for below Loughrigg. I had planned to take the permissive bridleway up around the caves today, thought the waterlevel in Rydal water would be a bit high to attempt to ride through and I hate that rock step, its lethal in bike shoes.

I've never ridden the permissive track but it was really nice a few steep sections, a bit of rolling along some rock steps, some I had to have two goes at but it was a nice track. It joined back up with the other bridleway just in time for a steep loose climb (I had hoped it would miss that) that I spun out on and couldn't restart. A short push then back on eventually reaching the road.

I found the Garmin a lot more tricky to follow on this ride, mainly because there was often such a choice of tracks/roads heading roughly in the same direction. I had a lot of map checks using the Garmin to back it up if I got it wrong. Generally worked pretty well.

A fast road descent down to Chapel Stile where the waterproof came off then a spin along the road into Great Langdale for a bit before picking up the bridleway to Baysbrown. So far I had remembered a good deal of the ride but I didn't remember this bridleway though I knew I have done it before. It was pleasant riding too. Cloud level was pretty high so there was a good view of the hills. The water level in the stream I had just crossed over was very high too - there would be lots of water on this ride.

Some good riding on the bridleway to Baysbrown, I really enjoyed it, quite wet in places but any stream crossings were actually quite shallow. I actually decided against the bridleway up through the woods from Elterwater, I remembered it as steep an rooty and a bit of a push so I decided to take the road round thinking it would be more rideable and less steep, wrong on both counts!
It was quite steep in parts and very loose and rubbly, probably made worse by the fact it was a stream, a lot of water had come down it. I rode most of it, spun out a few times but managed to get going again until near the top where it got very rough and I just couldn't restart.

Joined back up with some rideable stuff then headed down to the ford at Little Langdale, waterproof had gone back on at some point prior as it was cold again. Zoomed down the road towards the ford, passed a couple of MTBers going the other way then approached the ford. No intention of riding it as I knew it would be very full today but I hadn't bargained on the depth of the puddles just before it. The first one was fine, deepish but not too bad. Second one was a lot deeper and I had to give a big push to the pedals to keep from stopping.

The bridge is looking somewhat rickety I have to say! Then off towards Hodge Close. I set off on what I thought was the way but the Garmin told me I was off course. Thinking I was being daft as usual I rode back to the ford as a known point and got the map out, checked it, sure I was correct so headed off the same way again. Garmin told me I was off course again.

Maybe I had plotted it in wrong (unlikely) so I set off on the other choice of track but it got to tarmac which I knew wasn't right and the Garmin said I was off course again. So I'm wrong whichever way I go? I was in some tree cover so headed back to the ford, set off on the original choice again. It said I was off course, I ignored it and about a minute later it told me I had found the course again! Think the tree cover was upsetting it.

I was approaching one of my favourite little climbs in the Lakes, a short push up a slate covered track where the slate is almost musical as you go over it. Except I couldn't clean it, no matter what line I chose. Bah. It was a stream, lots of water running down it so no tinkly slate as the water muffled it and it has washed lots of big chunks down which I kept getting bogged down it. Its normall like the foreground section here, lots of small slate with the odd slightly thicker piece:

But it was a lot rougher than that, especially up near the wall. After three attempts and knowing I still had two tough climbs to come I pushed. Not a happy bunny, lots of big bits of slate though and lots of water:

Next, the pig of a climb up Arnside Intake, not a favourite as it hurts a lot but I usually clear it. Like a lot of the other tracks today it has had a lot of loose stuff washed down it and annoyingly I managed to climb until about a bike length away from where it eases off when my rear wheel spun out and I couldn't get it back. Pah. In order to get a good go at it again I would have to go down a fair way so just scootered up a bit and got going again - I'm not that annoyed at not cleaning it.

I had a butty break at Iron Keld then down towards Hawkshead ready for the worst climb of the day. I was actually feeling a little disappointed as I knew that once the climb was out the way I wasn't that far away from the car. Another bit of navigational faff but I got to where I should be then almost at the bridleway up from Colthouse the Garmin said I was off course. I didn't think I'd missed it as I knew I was looking for a big deer gate but I rolled back anyway.

It was wrong (more tree problems possibly), I was right and I got back on the bridleway. I knew this one was going to hurt, I knew I wouldn't ride it all but I had a go at it all. It was quite wet and very loose and very steep in parts. I had a couple of "regroups" on flatter bits. Pushed up a few short bits where I couldn't keep pedalling. My legs were really starting to feel it, I was suddenly pleased the car wasn't too far away!

I got really worried for a guy descending it on an MTB purely because he was riding so slow and nervously. This bridleway is part of the Hawkshead trail race (both as an up and down). I ran all of it as an ascent at the start of that race and I now fully understand why my legs died on me at Far Sawrey! Ouch.

The top finally came, a bit of forestry track then onto one of my favourite parts of Claife Heights, the open area with the tarns, lovely, the sun was out too:

Fast down to Far Sawrey, past the pub then brace for the loose climb to the gate.....which has been sanitised. A bit of a reprieve for my tired legs but now very boring. Soon at the top of the last descent of the day, one of my favourites and the reason I chose to do the ride this way.

Saddle down as it can have its moments, some slippy sections at speed and rode it much faster that was really sensible on my own, hee hee. I didn't have any skaty moments at all for a change, excellent fun all the way down. From there it is an easy undulating spin back to the car.

The water level of Windermere was very, very high. On the last section of track before the climb (I always forget that little climb) back up to the car the lake eventually was high enough to pour onto the track. A couple of very deep puddles to wash the bike off:

So whilst I didn't ride in Rydal Water I technically rode in Windermere. Hope noone wants to get in here soon:

Pack up, hose bike off. The bloke parked up next to me was absolutely fascinated by the Dirt Worker. A quick trip into Ambleside to visit Lakes Runner before getting a slice of Bath bun from the Apple Pie Shop - decided a whole apple pie was excessive. Then drove home.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Rather Underwhelming Week

Not sure what was up with me, felt like was coming down with a cold or maybe I was just sick of the wind and rain (more likely). After the Dales ride I had a lazy day on the Saturday doing some serious reading and not a lot else. Sunday involved lots of shopping and stuff using the bike, got a nice 25 miles in but against the strong winds with the panniers acting like sails on more than one occasion. My face was very windburnt.

Monday I made myself go for an offroad run, aiming for 10 miles but cut it to 7.5 when I just couldn't get into it. I just couldn't seem to take enough air in, it felt completely airless even though the wind was blowing a hoolie, more windburn. I then cycled over to my mates for tea and was half way there when the heavens opened and it lashed, luckily I had had the sense to put my waterproofs on but I had the lights switched on my bike at 6pm, bah! it was still raining by the time I made my way home.

Felt really out of sorts Tuesday to Thursday, work was busy so I couldn't even get away at lunchtime to get to the gym either. Some rest and extra sleep (and a lot of Tangfastics) and I felt much better for riding on Friday. The windburn stopped stinging on Thursday evening.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dales Ride (Horton - Hawes - Horton)

I'm behind with my blogging got quite a few started posts but haven't finished them! This is for last Fridays ride, 30th of August....

Being on call for the bank holiday weekend meant I was pretty limited in what I could get up to, I have to be able to log onto the systems within an absolute max of an hour so I am kind of tied to my laptop. However, on call doesn't start til 5.30 pm on Friday so I had the day free, albeit with a time limit of sorts.

Plan was a 30 mile ride in the Dales, one I have done a few times before though not for a few years, one that is very rideable and should have few navigational challenges (though I always seem to be able to make one). Forecast was appalling I have to say, heavy rain, gales....still decided to go. I plotted the route on the Garmin, printed a map out from Memory Map, marked the route on it and laminated it.

A bit of discussion with Jez about the exact route showed that I had picked up the bridleway out of Burtersett which would be a push at the top at least, possibly more. We normally head up the road a bit and pick up the Roman Road further down. Rather than faff around and change the map etc I just thought I would remember it wasn't that difficult a detour.

Friday dawned, I had prepped everything the night before intending to get away at about 8:30 am. The rain and wind had other ideas and it lashed down, if I squinted really hard and stared across at my neighbours palm tree it looked like some tropical storm. No point getting drenched so I stayed in the house, made another coffee and waited.

As suddenly as it started, rain stopped, sun out so car packed, coffee taken with me before I had time to change my mind. I got off about 9:40 am soon on the A59 heading for Horton. I impressed myself by remembering the way to Horton (I'm normally a passenger and retain nothing of the journey) and parked up in the lay by just outside town. Noone else there and it was getting on for 11am, an indication of how crap the weather was.

It wasn't raining there but it was threatening so I put full waterproofs on, the strong wind was cold so it helped keep the windchill off. Off through town to start climbing first on the road then on the Pennine Way. The first 9 miles of this route are basically uphill to Dodd Fell. Pretty easy riding and I was sheltered from the wind and apart from a brief shower was missing the rain.

Steady plugging away to the junction of the Pennine Way with the footpath to Old Ing. I got the map out rather than just follow the Garmin. Only a choice of two possible tracks and I chose the wrong one, luckily it said it was a footpath. The embarassing thing was I put some thought into that decision.....

Onwards and I could hear this roar of water and I eventually got to what must be Calf Holes where a torrent of a stream suddenly dropped down a large hole underground. Not a day for caving then.

I passed a few walkers here and there on the continued climb and jumped out of my skin twice when I opened a gate to find a bunch huddled behind the wall on the other side having tea breaks. The second time I was giving myself a running commentary...well no one else to talk to! The wind was pretty noisy so don't think they heard me.

Nearing the top of the climb I joined then end of a tarmac section of the Roman Road, this was a cut off point I could ride from here across to the top of Fleet Moss and then head back but I felt fine and carried on towards Dodd Fell. Just leaving the road I soon realised how much I had been sheltered from the wind up to now as all of a sudden I was getting the full force of it as a crosswind, with a slight tailwind bias. Which was great until the track changed to two ruts.

Under normal conditions they are fine, wide enough to easily ride but definitely noticeable ruts and the wind was doing its best to try to throw me against the edge of whichever rut I happened to be in. It was hard work keeping control of the bike, the wind was so strong I had a Vulcan death grip on the bars, was leaning over against the wind and could only concentrate on the foot or so of track in front of me. Slow progress.

I missed the turn for the grassy bridleway down to Hawes I was having to work so hard against the wind I just didn't see it or notice the Garmin but I realised quickly when I started losing height. The track I was on apparently becomes an unrideable rubble strewn mess so I had to push back up as I couldn't get going against the wind. Onto the grassy bridleway, I rode a short section, then it became very narrow singletrack with a drop to one side that just wasn't wide enough in the scary strong wind.

After a bit the track became a lot wider and riding recommenced. The descent was very, very wet and muddy. It was the kind of bog that's quite deceptive, you roll through a few sections that are surprisingly firm then just when you get confident your front wheel sinks past the hub and you stop dead. By the time I got to the bottom I was sprayed head to toe with mud and grinning.

A fast drop down on the road, even against the wind and into Hawes and I had lost all the height I had gained earlier. It was like entering a parallel universe in Hawes. The sun was come out and everyone was wandering around in shorts and t-shirts eating ice cream having a jolly old time, even the wind seemed to have dropped down. There I was cycling through town in full waterproofs and covered in kack.

I forgot all about my detour and blithely followed the Garmin and my original route onto the bridleway at Burtersett. Having now swung round I was right into the wind and the bridleway was steep. I ground up in granny gear fighting the wind, I did well for a while but eventually it started to get difficult. The bridleway had a lot of loose stone on lower down and the wind kept blowing me across the track into it where I spun out due to the low gear I was in. Eventually I was pushing more than riding then I remembered I wasn't supposed to be coming up here, oops. Decided just to keep pushing up.

I pushed most of the rest, even on a less ferociously windy day it would be a challenge and some of the top section impossible with rocky steps and MotoX damage. Its one to be tried as a descent though, one day. Eventually I reached the top and joined up with the Roman Road. I took a leaf out of the walkers book and hid behind a wall for a food stop. Ominous black clouds were massing but I had been very lucky with the weather so far.

Back on the Roman Road and some easy riding was made very, very difficult by the stupidly strong headwind. Just as well the track was wide as I was being blown all over it. I joined up with the road and headed up to Fleet Moss where the wind was just getting silly. I tried to take some pictures of the black clouds I was avoiding but the wind was so strong I couldn't stand still and I did think that perhaps bringing a bike up here in this weather wasn't one of my best ideas, none of the shots were really sharp.

I did wonder if I was going to have to pedal down Fleet Moss? I had to wait a bit as flock of sheep were driven across the road, being sheep they were jumping around everywhere so I waited til most of them were across before heading off.

The wind was really scary heading down Fleet Moss, I was being overly cautious and the wind was wobbling the front wheel then it seemed to really catch it and I was pushed right across to the other side of the road. I let out a massive girly scream before deciding that speed was the order of the day and got down as fast as I could.

I always find it interesting which bits of a ride stick in my memory and which bits don't, I had pretty much remembered everything so far but I appear to have a complete blank about all of the tarmac section of Langstrothdale, which is not short.

I had forgotten it is mainly uphill, undulating but uphill. I really don't remember the limestone pavement, I love limestone pavement, I think its unlikely it has been placed there recently. I had forgotten how long it goes on for too and was convinced I had missed a turning. My luck with the weather finally ran out and the rain started. A brief shower at first which gave me an excuse to stop and take some pictures of the pavement. The wind was right in my face so I turned my back to it for a bit, the rain stopped and I got going again.

Then the rain lashed hard, I sheltered behind a building for a bit but it was only getting me cold, I only had about 6 miles to go. Off tarmac, onto fire road then off onto more interesting track (which I did remember), normally quite fun when its not a river and today it was a river.

Actually, more of a stream as the streams were now rivers. There are about three water splashes along the Birkwith moor track which were now pretty deep. I tried to ride the first one thinking that I could see the bottom so it should be ok, it was a lot deeper than I thought and I stopped dead against something. Luckily managed to get feet down before toppling, pretty cold!

The other two crossings were both very deep at the rideable parts so I walked though them, I was pretty wet by this point anyway. The track was quite sketchy and most of it wasn't limestone, what limestone there was was treacherous. The back wheel was slithering all over the place, I tried to avoid steering as much as possible which made for riding through some very deep puddles.

I know the last drop down to the car has quite a few rubbly sections on in, not as bad as I remember it but still difficult due to the water hiding everything. The sun had come out again and was shining off the surface of the water so I could only see the odd rock sticking up out of the water. If I picked up too much speed the water thrown off the front wheel blinded me. I pretty much got away with riding slowly but its not the best way to get through rubble.

Back at the car with a pretty clean bike but very muddy waterproofs, hosed the lot off with the Dirtworker before heading off home hoping not to get stuck in bank holiday traffic. All I can say is that I was glad I wasn't trying to head into the Dales.