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.