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.