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.


  1. i always love the way most of your posts start with, 'it did go to plan' or something similar!! will you be using it at winlatter?

  2. Hmm, get my excuses in now perhaps....

  3. I always hate it when it's starting to get dark and I know i'm not going to make it back. It's as though my bike will turn back into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight.

  4. oops, obviously i meant to say 'didn't go to plan' but i think you got the gist ;)