Friday, December 10, 2010

D'oh and Double D'oh

Planned to take advantage of the thaw and get outside for a short run at lunchtime, considering how close to the coast it is St Annes has had way more snow/ice than Lostock Hall.

I had a bit of a debate this I take the full length thermal tights or is it warm enough the 3/4 length thermals.....I thought the answer was the 3/4, in reality it turned out to be neither.

I left the tights (and socks as well) at home so no run for me, idiot! Might be able to fit one in this evening but running round local streets is just dullsville.

Fairfield Horseshoe

I've been mixing it up a bit with my activities since the cold snap. As I'm no fan of ice (I might have mentioned this before) I've not been keen on taking a bike out. I decided to just do some things I don't normally do so hour long sessions on the turbo doing intervals, a bit of running, some winter hillwalking and even back into the gym to primarily do some weights but also a bit of rowing.

I've been quite enjoying it but I'd had enough of being indoors and last Saturday afternoon saw me head out to Abbey Village in the pouring rain to go for a run. I fully expected it to be sleet higher up and normally I'd be totally meh about running in it. I wasn't sure how far I would get and took my microspikes with me. I didn't need them on the way up as the wet slush got progressively more snowy as I climbed. I had the moor almost entirely to myself which is very rare even for a dull, cold Saturday afternoon. I saw only one other person at the Tower.

I put my spikes on for the descending as the slush was compacting under my shoes and causing traction issues. Legs were a bit tired on the last trog back to the car and it was pretty much dark by the time I got there, damn these short winter days. Just over 8 miles which is the longest run for quite some time no wonder my legs felt a bit battered.

Sunday saw us head up early doors to the Lakes due to a good forecast, the Fairfield Horseshoe was the plan. I figured it would be well tracked for good progress. The drive up was a bit sketchy, lots of ice on even the main roads, there was more snow in the Lakes than I thought.

Parked up in Ambleside to a balmy -6, quick kit then set off to do the walk clockwise with the boring trog to Rydal first. A while later trog back again as forgot to get parking ticket...find its free parking anyway. Grr. Head off again but this time anti-clockwise to just get up on the hill. The trog from Rydal will be easy in the dark if necessary.

Beautiful blue sky, white snow, mist on the lakes, stunning:

Bluest of Blue Sky



Crampons weren't necessary but I did have my axe out for a bit of support for big step ups with my short legs though I think, for the first time ever when walking, poles would have been really helpful for me as the axe is a little short.

Didn't seem to take long to get to the summit of Fairfield. I think I've been on it about four times and this is the first time its been free of clag. We didn't linger really and I remembered that the last time I did this walk it seemed to take an age to do this side of it.

It didn't disappoint! It seemed to trog on forever, my legs were a bit pasted to be honest, as were Jez's. Though unlike him I'm not prone to cramp so was having a slightly easier time of it. We realise now that neither of us had eaten enough, we only had one butty and one Lebkuchen each (which didn't go rock hard in the cold, recommended!) quite early on, but we got into that push on mindset.

The last descent was most amusing, lost of judicious application of the ice axe and to be honest would have been better with a pole or even putting crampons on but the adrenalin did make me forget my legs hurt. Considering how much of an ice wuss I am I actually quite impressed myself with my "just about controlled" sliding.

Last hike back to Ambleside was a pain filled nightmare and freezing, was warmer up on the hill as the sun got to it.


We got back to the car about 15:45 and decided just to get straight off due to the state of the roads on the drive up. I don't think I've ever left Ambleside without going for a wander round the gear shops. Great walk though my legs took two days to get over the weekend.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Reduction In Commuting Speed...D'oh

Not that I've done any this week but I managed to commute in again twice since my rear tyre debacle (reminds tyre to wrestle on). I have been noticeably slower and slower riding, so much so that I thought I might as well get the Spesh out as the road bike is not conferring any speed advantage at all. Is the reduction probably because:

a) Simply not as much riding of late
b) Denser cold air to push through and more layers to weigh me down.
c) Making a hash of fitting the Crud road guards such that they have minimal clearance and clog at the merest hint of mushy leaves and road muck then act as a brake.....*

One hour of pain in the freezing cold garage, it was utterly baltic and I felt the cold. I am not one of life's warm people it would seem, if it stays like this it will be long fingered gloves, full thermal tights and top and a buff for the next session. Brrrrr.

*(....I swapped the wheel out to put bike on turbo last night.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Half a commute

For the first time in what seems like ages (because it is) I got up and cycled to work. It was a little chilly and there were a few patches of ice/frost on the tramway but nothing to scare even the big jessie I am around ice.

My legs were battered from the turbo the night before so it was a nice steady spin. Just passing the Texaco garage at Lea Gate (which isn' even half way there) when I heard a little ping. A memory is triggered and I think that the last time I heard a noise like that I got a puncture and sure enough the back wheel started squidging. Grrrr.

Couldn't find anything in the tube and being right next to a quite fast and very busy road meant no chance of hearing anything. Checked the tyre loads of times but couldn't find anything which I hate, past experience tells me there is usually something lurking somewhere.

All back on with a new tube, get the CO2 out as my fingers are freezing and time is getting on as I set off a bit late anyway. I hadn't put the valve ring on and the valve just pushed back in as I tried to cryongenically freeze my already numb fingers instead of pushing air into the tyre, lovely. Noticed about half way through the canister..I thought..sorted it and got what I thought was a reasonable amount of air in. Put it all back and just about to set off, check tyre and its soft.

A bit of a dilemma...pump it up and hope it holds, replace with my other tube and hope it doesn't puncture, if it does I don't have many options apart from to call Jez who is already at work. I have sticky patch things as a last resort but if I can't locate the actual puncture site then they are useless.

Decide to take it all off again, pump loads of air into the tube whilst thoroughly checking the tyre, rim etc at least six times and still nothing. Tube still seems relatively inflated so take a chance and stick it back in and pump it up with the mini pump rather than waste another canister.

Pump it up so it reasonably passes the finger squeeze test (which is way out usually on road tyres) and it holds once I'm ready to ride. It actually got me all the way to work (about 9 more miles) amazingly without being topped up but it was a little soft.

I left home at 7:30 am and arrived at my desk at 9:27 and I still had to get showered and changed.

I dithered a bit about whether to ride home or not, tyre was most definitely softening but I topped it up during the day and it passed the finger squeeze test but it did soften again. I just didn't want to get caught out on the pitch black section of my commute so took Jez up on the offer of a lift. He reckoned the tyre was reasonably firm.

Got home and got the track pump on it....45 psi, a pinch flat just waiting to happen, that would've been an interesting ride home. Pumped it up to 100psi and have left it to see if it goes down. Will have to have a thorough check of the tyre and possibly replace as there were a couple of deep cuts in it.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Seem to be getting owned by everything at the minute...mountain bike trails, road riding and my sinuses being the main ones. At least the latter explains the motivation dip recently as I fight off about of sinusitis, deep joy.

Got owned by the Whinlatter red route on the last weekend of October, off camber slippy rocks I can do, roots not so much. I realise now during the duathlon I must have ran over most of the technical stuff due to the traffic on the route. Had a couple of quality spud moments and once getting stuck behind my saddle on a techy, slippy rocky chute whilst avoiding someone else and ending up on a stupid line.

I have swapped my road bike and Titus saddles round as I just couldn't get comfy on it on the roadie, its fine on the Titus as I'm more upright. Its narrower, which is great for getting off the back but its one of the modern Flite designs with the handy hook for racking your bike in transition....or getting hooked on your shorts and digging in (nice bruise) and preventing you getting up again when making a dogs dinner of a trail obstacle. How I managed not to clatter into that rapidly approaching tree whilst sitting on my crud catcher so much I could hear it rubbing on the back wheel and having absolutely no control over the bike I'll never know but I'm pleased I didn't.

My technical riding needs some serious work and it's all basics like not looking far enough ahead. We did the blue which was fun but I died a death after that and jsut wanted to lie at the side of the trail and shake, though realised I'd had quite silly amounts of coffee which is never a good idea for me. I'm very susceptible to caffeine (which is why I like it) but it does tend to cause me to go off at warp speed then have a blood sugar crash if I have too much. A bit like blowing up a balloon and letting it go...that's me on 4 large mugs of good coffee.

A night on the beer in Ambleside meant I was a touch fragile and wobbly when we set off on the Grizedale red (no way I or anyone else for that matter was up for doing any of the natural stuff). Having done the trail a few times I knew the most dangerous thing on it was likely to be me in my slightly befuddled state and it somehow wasn't me that got owned by the boards.

I've never had much of a problem on the Grizedale boards, I've never had anyone stop in front of me on them either. They were like ice and seemed to be causing carnage and stoppages. Once stopped it was almost impossible to get going again it was so slippy, I tried to jog off the end of one and could barely stand up on it, was safer riding. When I was unimpeded I was actually riding them fine.

There were a few offs in our group with no damage until:


How many MTBers does it take...

Watched a lad come round that section of board when we were faffing with the disk and he landed on his chest on the boards, ouch. Some of the gouge marks on the sides are impressive. They couldn't straighten the disk out so he had to ride the last section without a front brake.

We were round quite quickly then into the cafe, I've not been there since it was rebuilt and the food was superb.

Motivation has not been up to much since then, a few turbo sessions but had a low grade headache for a while, took me a while to realise it was sinusitis as it normally comes on after a cold.

Headed out on a road ride with Jez on Sunday just past which was a bit of a disaster for me, totally owned. It was only 45 miles with about 1700ft of climbing, pretty much all in the first 10 miles and my legs were not having any of it. No power, eventually realised saddle was probably too low, saddle swap with Titus. I am totally and utterly "princess and the pea" with saddle stuff, I'm sure I've mentioned it before. I'd probably notice a mm adjustment and I knew the saddle change would open a can of worms...

After the climbing its quite flat and I just could not keep up with Jez and I was trying quite hard. There is nothing worse that flogging yourself to death to stay with someone when you know they aren't even bloody trying. He had it in the big ring the bugger - we have triples on our road bikes so he was right up at the top of the gear range and I just couldn't/can't muster that kind of power, certainly not for any length of time. Pest!

We had a brief stop whilst he chatted to his sad puppy rc model mates and I do some more saddle tinkering. A stop for some food then home. About two miles from home the inevitable happened, his legs started to go into meltdown and mine started to remember what to do. The answer to this of course is a long hilly ride to induce cramp in his quads then I can ride off leaving him upside down in a hedge...Waddington Fell and the Trough here we come...or offroad in West Yorkshire..hmm.

However on Tuesday I suddenly had motivation and energy in spades and have got a couple of runs in so fingers crossed. Hope this wind bogs off over the weekend but will be heading up for a run on Darwen moor tomorrow to see the damage to the tower and the state of the trails.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Just want to hibernate....

Where have I been...I gave blood on the 8th of this month and spent about 10 days feeling a little oxygen deprived so took it easy ( lazy). It all went well this time though so will be doing it again in a few months, I will be wary around any big events I'm doing.

The cold temperature and the dark mornings have made me want to hibernate, the running mileage is climbing back up nicely this month but the cycling most definitely is not. It still feels a little, "unnatural" as my legs want to pedal but it will come back I'm sure. So after the third attempt at getting out of my pit to cycle to work in the last week failed and I forgot to take one of my running shoes with me today (d'oh)...the punishment is ready for tomorrow.

Lets see how long it takes me to crack and get riding outside again:

Tomorrow's Pain for lazy bones

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nearly hit a cyclist with my car yesterday...

...I'm not sure who got the bigger fright, me or her. It wasn't fun that's for sure.

I was passing by a load of cars turning right (as were a couple of cars in front of me) and she just appeared from the junction on the right and I nearly t-boned her. I'm not sure why she thought it was a good idea to do that, maybe the guy at the front of the line turning right beckoned her out (that's happened to me) and she went for it without really checking the traffic going straight down the road but whatever she nearly got sprawled over the bonnet of a large bus of an Audi.

Fortunately I had been going nice and slow and was only just picking some speed up again so easily stopped in time but the wide eyed panic on her face just reminded me so much of the time I once did exactly the same stupid thing. She tried to take her hand off the bar to apologise whilst turning pale and mouthing sorry and almost lost control of the bike.

I slowed right down to check she was ok and riding, caught her eye and gave her a bit of a wave, which she returned as she cycled along so I think she was ok. She didn't look like an experienced cyclist so hopefully it won't put her off cycling, though my "incident" was earlier this year so not sure if experience is a total defence against stupidity anyway. I'd just about stopped hyperventilating by the time I parked up at work. It was a reminder of how quickly things could go wrong.

It's a particularly crap, busy junction so people do do silly things. On the way home I practically skidded to a halt as a car pulled right out in front of me as I was passing and the driver seemed to forget which pedal was the accelerator (it's the one on the right love!).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scottish C2C Days 1 & 2

On the Saturday of the 11th September (was it really that long ago) we were picked up from my parents house, yes really, door to door service! It helps that my parents live between Glasgow and Edinburgh about five minutes off the M8. The guys had already picked up Mac and Lori in Glasgow, an American couple with an amusing amount of luggage as they were coming over for more than just the week of riding.

A goodly amount of packing tetris with bags and bikes went on before we got in the van...(duct tape was employed) Due to the fact that we were heading off for a week of riding in Scotland where the weather could be doing anything and everything neither Jez or I could be accused of travelling light either with two very stuffed dead body bags.

Off to the centre of Edinburgh to pick up Mickey and Joy, another American couple who actually had perfected the art of travelling light, thankfully as the van was totally rammed. A long and tedious drive up to Aberdeen did the rain but then the sun came out as we neared the Granite City, thankfully as Aberdeen looks utterly miserable when it's overcast, all those grey buildings.

We parked up at the beach there then ensued a goodly amount of faff whilst bikes were built etc, then we set off for an easy 20 mile spin out towards Banchory. All that time faffing and this was the only photo I took around the auspicious start (totally crap I know)!

Coast to Coast Start in Aberdeen

We had to ride through the city, mostly quiet roads and cycle paths but we did have to negotiate one very busy, narrow and congested road where I decided to get a puncture after not even one mile of riding. I had to pick the bit of road where there wasn't even a proper verge to move to, I had to carry the bike hanging onto a railing for a bit whilst inching along a kerb.

Wasn't long before we were out on some easy cycle paths and a nice 20 miles to Banchory were done. We arrived at the first B & B of the trip to find our bags had already been taken up to the rooms, yay! This was particularly welcome on some of the less easy days. A couple of beers and some great food rounded off a good day.

From Banchory the next destination was Braemar, via the Royal Lochnagar distillery. Unfortunately the Balmoral estate was closed to the public so there was a bit more road work than ideal. Normally this would be fast but day 2 was the first day of "the raging headwind from hell" 44 miles of it and it didn't seem to let up for the rest of the week. I know it's a risk when travelling west but jeez, one day without it would have been nice, at least the sun was still shining. It meant the day was suprisingly hard work. It's never, ever fun or fair having to pedal downhill to keep moving. The only picture I took all day but I really can't remember if it was before or after the distillery:

Before or after distillery tour...hmm can't remember.

The distillery tour was very interesting, after the evil b*st*rd hill to get up to it, there was no real view of Lochanagar itself which was a bit disappointing but the whisky was actually ok, it's very light on peat so that's probably why I liked it. I'm glad it was pretty much downhill to Braemar from there as I had the usual problem of the alcohol going straight to my legs and turning them into wet noodles if I have any whilst riding. They did come back to me which is just at well as we were taking turns riding into the wind...downhill. By the time we rolled into Braemar I had a headache from the cold wind.

The hotel was large and overrun by elderly coach parties, as was Braemar in general. The food here was very cheap but probably the worst of the whole week though portions were generous and the showers were good and hot (always important). The entertainment was a little "old" for us and we escaped out of the dining room to the hotel bar when a weeble shaped man started playing guitar and singing.

We did think we were going to be crushed to death in a slow, white haired stampede though as codgers appeared from every direction and made their way there, particularly the ladies, of which there were lots, as always with the retired generation.

Two warm up days in, some proper offroad bog, heather and river crossings up next.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Scottish Coast to Coast...bit late

Confession time..I had actually written some stuff regarding this a week or so ago in a Word document that I cannot find anywhere, on any computer I come into contact with. As someone who looks after databases and other people's data for a living that is a a bit of an embarrassment, lol.

In summary, it was a great trip, some stunning scenery, some pelting rain, some sun, some clag, some bog to park bikes in, some great riding, great company and a not so great a raging permanent headwind for about 6 of the 7 days. Will get some more detail out soon.

Highlight for me were the Corrieyairick Pass (or River Corrieyairick as it was that day) and the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, I will be going back there again, definitely.

Photos are on Flickr and get noticeably more numerous the further west we travelled.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Just about sums up the last few weeks for no particular order:

Car trouble, more car trouble, calf injury and hobble of shame back to car after half a mile of running trouble, suspension fork trouble, even more car trouble, moron runner trying to push me off my bike trouble, car basically dead trouble, buying another car trouble, surfing forums relating to "new" car today to find it is also prone to injector problems trouble and nowhere near enough riding and no running.....thank god I'm off to ride across Scotland on Saturday.

Car has spent most of last three weeks in garage, with a week of respite when it worked properly but was soon back in...diagnosis, new fuel pump, injectors and possibly turbo which would cost about twice as much as the car was worth to repair. The fuel pump thing is not unknown in 02 Mondeo's but I was a bit p*ssed off that a car that has done just over 100, 000 miles is basically scrap. It was not a good car at all, I managed to limp it to webuyanyshed to offload it. It smoked like crazy all the way there but behaved itself when being "inspected". Not a great result.

Not having a car has had a real impact on my riding, I've done a good few rides to work and the odd offroad ride if Jez is around but the amount of faffing and working from home has made it surprisingly difficult.

I decided to pick up the running to make up for the lack of riding but my left calf decided to go ping after a mere half a mile of my inaugural run so hobble of shame back to the car (which was actually working that day). I think it is due to singlespeeding/pushing harder gears and the wrong kind of stretching. I think it is just being loaded a bit more with all the out of the saddle riding (and low cadence sitting sometimes), my usual stretches don't seem to touch it but handing my heel off a step seems to so I've been doing that daily though it is still not right. My knees aren't bothered at all on the other hand.

Sent rear shock and TALAS fork off the Titus to TF Tuned for servicing...shock needed new body but otherwise ok TALAS are apparently dead, anodising all worn off down in the lowers, deep joy. They were actually working ok so the guys at TF Tuned suggested running them into the ground then replacing with a set of Revelations, lol.

Last Sunday headed over to Hurstwood for a bit of a Calderdale ride, my car worked perfectly on the way over. Very windy day but sunny. I was having one of those days when I couldn't ride for toffee, felt dead and had no control over the bike at all. Had a proper girly strop and sat on a rock for a while, hee hee. Been years since I did that. Day was not improved when we encountered the runner on the canal towpath.

He was jogging along the canal towpath towards Hebden Bridge, wearing MP3 player and totally abd utterly oblivious to anyone or anything else. He was also apparently incapable of running in a straight line which made getting past somewhat difficult as he couldn't hear our shouted "excuse me's". Eventually he seemed to settle on the left side to Ed and I went to pass him on the right when he decided to jump a puddle. Well not only jump it but completely jump to the other side of the towpath without a backward glance, bloody numpty.

Of course he landed on Ed's front wheel, got a bit of a fright because obviously noone would be passing then started bawling at us, we weren't offended as it was clear he thought he was talking at a normal volume, just his music was obviously on pretty loud. We did point out he was prancing about like a fairy on a public towpath and perhaps he should pay attention as he wasn't running so fast that nothing was going to pass him. He let all 6ft 3 of Ed go past but as I went to give him a wide berth on the left (away from the canal, thankfully) he stepped over and tried to push me off my bike, fecker.

I had an attack of the red mist, skidded to a halt and as he ran past I thumped him in the chest as hard as I could, don't think he expected that. To be frank, neither did I and it didn't escape me that it probably wasn't the most sensible thing to do. I have a feeling he also thought things had gotten a bit out of hand and he left the towpath a few metres later. Nearly ruined the ride for me and really wasn't clever but I do get quite p*ssed off at a certain type of bloke who wouldn't say boo to Jez or Ed or any of the lads as they ride past but will voice their "disapproval" at me (whatever it happens to be at the time, just being a woman on a mountain bike seems to annoy some of them I think) , had it loads of times.

Had to fight a raging headwind all the way back to Hurstwood, including having to pedal all the way down the Gorple Road, don't think I had to touch my brakes once. On the way home my car decided to start packing in.....

Anyway, happy thoughts, 3 miles of mainly downhill back to the car:

The Gorple Road

Picking up a VW Passat tomorrow, more injector problems heading my way it would seem. This time it'll be Jez's fault, he insisted on a Passat or an A6 (out of my budget).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rucksack advice required.

I've not died just been quiet and not had the best July early August ever I have to say. Jez has been away a lot, we have a bit of a standard joke that something always breaks or goes wrong when he's away...the fridge, the kitchen lights, his car getting stolen (not really fun that one) but this year it seemed to have been mainly ok.

Until last few weeks where grandparent, codger cat then heading for codgerdom car all decided to have something quite wrong with them. A bit stressful to say the least. However, got a good blast on the road bike on Saturday and ridden in to work yesterday and today and things are starting to feel right in my world again, yay!

Anyway, back to the matter in hand the zips on my trusty Salomon 20L commuting rucksack have both finally given up the ghost. I've had it for years and got my money's worth so I now need to replace it with something similar. I think it was too long for my back really so looking at the OMM sacks. My last drop is too small really so its a choice between:

The Adventure Light 20L

Or the Ultra Light 15L

It needs to have waist pockets for works pass, keys and enough space to take clothes (no shoes or owt as they are at work), a camp towel thingy and some food but not be so big I'm tempted to carry too much. Will also probably use it for light hillwalking and general fubbing around. Anyone got one of the above, how big are they really and what can you squeeze in them?

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Grinch is reborn.....

Here it is, good to be putting the frame to use again as had great fun on it before I bought the ti one and I do like the grinch green colour even though I normally wouldn't go for green, it seems to glow in murky light:

Friday evening saw it's first ride from Abbey Village up to the tower and round about the moor, currently gone for 32:18 on there and it will stay for a bit methinks. The climbs were as hard as I thought they would be but only had to walk a couple of very short sections (though one was spinning out on roots) so not too bad. What I hadn't even thought about was how much I use the gears to recover between efforts and not being able to was surprisingly hard but in a good way.

The chainline needs a bit of tweaking as it would skip when I got to that last gasp grind on the climb when I couldn't turn the pedals anymore, will need some spacers to fine tune it. The stem is also too long and puts me too far over the front when stood up, will put a shorter one on. A colleague of mine mentioned one of his mates had managed to go over the bars whilst going uphill, I can see that happening to me if the stem doesn't get changed!

Having the front tyre pumped up to "rock bloody hard" (thanks for that Jez) didn't help the handling I have to say, had a corking stack early on as it just pinged sideways off a root and skittered everywhere on the climbs. Only thought to check once I got to the tower as I know I'm really not fond of the tyre that's on the front and thought it was that (tyre will be getting changed as well).

Did 12 miles which was just right, though it was my arms that were complaining more than my legs which I expected, shoulders absolutely killed on Saturday. It will certainly make the short midweek spins harder, which is what I wanted. It still goes downhill very well but feels sluggish on the up in comparison to the ti one but hey, it'll do.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Stuff....running...and a bike project...

Been a bit quiet lately, my hip/lower back has been annoying me quite a bit since my topple onto the rocks last month. It didn't hurt at all during the Trossachs Ton but ached quite a bit for a few days afterwards and I was aware of it aching when riding the MTB's.

Jez and I had a few days away to Wales taking it easy, a quick blat round the Marin Trail for the first time in a few years was fun though I had forgotten just how much fireroad there was on the bloody thing and how much the singletrack doesn't actually decend. However it was dry and dusty and we were both on full suss for first time round there too and it was faaaaast.

A bit of a toddle up Snowdon (on foot) and some touristy stuff wandering round Caernarfon Castle and Newborough beach. We were lucky with the weather as it didn't start tipping down until we headed back home.

In the last couple of weeks I have resumed running, yay just in time for the wind and rain! No more than 6 easy miles and mainly all offroad, hip was achy afterwards for the first two runs but it now seems ok. I am now a complete convert to running in compression tights/shorts, I bought them for recover after my long mara training runs and I am now wondering why I wasn't wearing them when I was running, really stopping the little calf niggles I get when doing more cycling than running.

I had a visit to the chiro at the beginning of the week and my pelvis is moving fine and not hurting after short rides/runs now so it's time to start getting some good rides in again, will leave the runs short for a while yet.

Tonight I'm heading out to test out my new project....been feeling guilty about my old 456 frame just hanging in the garage so have assembled various bits from our garage/flea bay/singletrack classifieds/Merlin and Jez just finished building it before he bogs off for another few weeks. I did originally intend building it myself but he offered as he was servicing forks/faffing with brake hose/servicing hubs anyway.

Anyway photo and report of pain to follow.....

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Trossachs Ton

Last Sunday (20th) I did the Trossachs Ton 100 miler (or 98.85 as it turned out on my Garmin annoyingly). As June hasn't been great cycling wise due to falling onto a big pile of rocks I wasn't sure if I was going to actually go for the full distance or do the shorter one.

It was a bit of a last minute decision to enter anyway, I entered mid week with an eye on the forecast which was pretty good and thought it would be good to tie it in with a visit to my folks on father's day weekend.

A quick 25 minutes on the M9 from my folks on the Sunday morning saw me parked up in Stirling and as I rolled to registration I decided to go for the full distance, sod it. Plan was to settle into a steady pace, eat and drink regularly, actually look at the scenery occasionally as the Trossachs is a lovely part of the world and basically just get to the end. The route had around 6000ft of climbing so it wasn't a brute. Two major long (but alpine style) climbs: the 3 mile long Duke's Pass at about 22 miles and the 5 mile long Crow Road at 75.

Set off just before 8 and the first 20 miles are pretty flat, I'd forgotten how much of a plain Stirling was on, there was a reason they built the castle where they did, can see for miles from it. I was kind of sitting in behind a group, not too close as there was some shonky riding going on but close enough that I was getting some benefit. It was a bit windy and there was a bit of cloud cover, however it was due to get quite warm later on.

Soon we were at the bottom of the Duke's Pass, quite a few 12 and 13% ramps at the bottom and my legs didn't seem happy but I think it was just the transition to climbing. It soon eased off and steadily climbed away and my legs found their rhythm, I even overtook a few people. The steady climb gave way to a steady descent, easy to keep a really good speed going and not too many tight corners to worry about, just the odd cavernous pothole and a corking view - theme for the ride really.

Soon into the first very, very well stocked feed station. Lots of flapjack, biscuits, jelly babies and other goodies on offer. I stocked up on some jelly babies and some chunks of flapjack, topped up the bottles and set off on the road around Loch Katrine. I'd taken my gilet and armwarmers off at the feed station as things felt like they were warming up, got about 10 metres out of the station onto the lochside and stopped to put the gilet back on, the wind was strong and cold blowing up the loch, brr.

The road was single lane but basically closed to traffic apart from water authority vehicles (Loch Katrine is the main reservoir for Glasgow..and it was pretty empty looking). It was typical lochside road, up and down and twisty. On the outward side it was generally heading uphill. There were a few other cyclists around but I quickly decided to ride in my own space after watching a few near misses as people didn't quite make bends or slithered around on gravel.

With it being single lane there were effectively two clear lines where the vehicle tyres travel but lots of gravel piled up in the middle. It was also forested so the edges of the road had pine needles strewn everywhere, add to that some fair old potholes and I took it steady and kept plenty of space around me. As the road twisted around the edge of the loch it seemed to move in and out of the wind. Once around the end of the loch the wind briefly became a tail wind and the track started heading down.

I had settled on eating solid food approximately every 10 miles or so and drinking regularly, anytime I saw someone else go for their bottles I took in some fluid too even if I thought I didn't need to. I had a bottle of energy drink and one of plain water and alternated each drink.

Once off the Loch Katrine road it was back onto a slightly wider but still twisty and pothole strewn open road. The potholes were just unbelievable, often seemingly covering the entire road and being unavoidable. A few cars were travelling in the opposite direction so had to ride on the left and the dappled light through the trees made spotting the holes difficult too. I manualled the road bike over several huge ones I couldn't avoid, somehow managing not to explode the rear tyre or get any sort of puncture.

The road surface was so broken and holed there was no way I would take my hand off the bars to warn anyone behind me, the riders in front of me were clinging on for grim death too. At least it was mainly downhill, got stuck behind a camper van for a bit on the twisty road but managed to draft it a bit through Aberfoyle so I forgave it!

I rolled into the second feed station at The Rob Roy hotel, Aberfoyle just after 50 miles. It was billed as a "lunch stop" and they had proper food. My plan was to have a proper break, use the loo (proper loos, fab), top up bottles etc. I queued up for some pasta with a savoury meat sauce which was great after all the sweet stuff. I ate that and some cheese salad then was itching to get going again. I still had the Crow Road to come at 75 miles so I was very mindful of saving some energy for it and took off at a steady pace.

I found this section the hardest by far, mainly because it was seemingly into the wind again and I was on my own and it was quite a busy road. A couple of groups sped past but I thought they were going too fast for the effort I wanted to put out at this stage. It was quite undulating which broke things up a bit. I could see Dumgoyne in the distance and I knew the course went somewhere near it but it just never seemed to get any closer.

Eventually whizzed past the Glengoyne Distillery where I could see the WHW and wondered how Kate had got on. Things were starting to warm up, the cloud cover had gone but the wind was still there in my face. Blew into the last feed stop at the bottom of the Crow Road still feeling pretty good. I could see the climb snaking up the hill in a very alpine style, I would be turning back on myself and realised I would be out of the cooling wind once heading up.

Stocked up on more jelly babies and had a caffienated gel for that last kick for the end then started up the climb. Like the Duke's Pass the Crow started with some 12 and 13% ramps but my legs were happier this time. It soon eased off and I kicked the cadence up a few notches and started overtaking people, lots of people. I really enjoyed the climb, seemed to suit me though it was a bit warm.

Only one person overtook me and it was a very fit looking roadie bloke stomping up in the big ring. A switchback with a 10% ramp had me out of the saddle briefly but then it was fairly easy gradient to the top. It took quite a while to get to the actual top but the five miles of up passed quite quickly, one of the motorbike marshall's gave me a thumbs up as he passed and said I had made it look easy.

Once over the top it was onto the long steady down where I had a near crash nearly missing a turn....because the view was just jaw dropping, it really was and I stopped looking where I was going. Took it slow for a while to stare then started heading down, fast and open descent apart from one dodgy sharp turn near the bottom then it was onto the last stretch along Carron Valley Reservoir to the finish.

I knew from the course profile that it was quite lumpy for a while but I was still climbing well, the road was very quiet but still had quite a few potholes. It wasn't too twisty which was great for pedalling hard downhill, not something I tend to do very often. I think most of the last 10 miles were downhill which was nice. Rode over the M9, out of the quiet roads and into Stirling and a bit of traffic, was quite a sudden change. I felt good all the way to the finish. Total time 6:35 and ride time of 6:05 with 16.2 average, pretty pleased with that as I did most of it on my own.

The event wasn't officially timed but as a first 100 miler it was a good one to pick, great scenery and good organisation.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oh no...

...the work vending machine now stocks Haribo Starmix and Tangfastics! I lasted a whole morning but just caved for some Starmix. This is very dangerous.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back on the bike!

Didn't get out for much of a ride on Saturday after all, spent a good part of the afternon trying to get the front mech on the Spesh to work. It was seized solid and given the amount of (probably road salt filled) gunk I pulled out of it even after a serious clean I'm not surprised and a little ashamed, even a regular spray of the mech with WD-40 would have gone a long way to preventing the build up. Lots of WD-40, penetrating oil and lube later it would move quite happily up the chainringa with cable pull but just wouldn't return back down without manual intervention so it's borked. It was the original mech that came with the bike in 2001 so it's not done too badly, new one on it's way. Lets see what a mess I can make of fitting it....

I stuck the mech in middle ring position to make the bike rideable and gave the Spesh a bit of a test ride, only five miles and my hip wasn't massively happy during or after really. Sunday was another day off (raining so not too bad) and last night I took the road bike out on some local hills, nothing brutal and all seemed fine. Took a while to get into the ride as it does after some time off but I was buzzing by the end.

My hip still seems a little stiff in the mornings at the minute but I've ridden into work today and felt great, rucksack didn't bother me either.

Running is still out though which is annoying, was hoping to dust off my trail shoes last week but falling over put paid to that and an experimental jog across the work car park yesterday showed I need to leave it a bit longer.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bruises and bike maintenance

The aftermath of my inability to stand on my own two feet has meant no riding this week. I have a couple of corking bruises, even by my standards (I do bruise very well it has to be said) the one on my leg is a stoater, it continues on round behind my leg which you can't quite see in the photo. Annoyingly the non-purple bit in the centre is what really hurts which means it will be hanging around for weeks, just as well I no longer wear skirts to work.

The bruises are just a minor irritation, my left hip pretty much seized up and feels very bruised indeed, I also have a very, very painful spot on my back, at the bottom of my ribs and about three centimetres to the left of my spine (I know). Even today it is still sending shooting pains if I prod it, however there is no bruising on my back as yet. I can't wear any sort of rucksack and surprisingly using the clutch whilst driving has been very painful.

Today, I seem to be getting normal movement back in my hip at last and driving isn't so painful. Planning on doing a road ride tomorrow to see how things are.

I've made good use of the week (and some of last week too) to learn some bike maintenance skills as mine have extended to changing the odd pair of brake pads and lubing the odd chain. All my bikes have something wrong with them, some serious and as Jez is away until the end of the month I kind of had no choice. It's costing me a small fortune in boring bike parts.

I've had to change the bottom brackets on the Spesh and the road bike, my original plan was to practice on the Spesh first then do the road bike but the Spesh had other ideas. Even using the old clamping the tool in a vice and using the whole frame as a lever failed to budge it. I poured a load of penetrating oil down the seat tube and left it overnight. Luckily the road bike one was easy to change.

As this was the Saturday and I borked my back on the Sunday there was no way I could twist enough to have another go so I borrowed an impact wrench from a guy at work who said he'd managed to get two stuck BB's out with it. It still took a bit of persuasion, I had to apply it for a solid 15 seconds but it did the job. What a racket it made but it was good fun, I had a brief look around the garage to see if I could find something else to attack with it but saw sense and packed it away. Impact Wrench: 3 BB's: 0!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Surpassing myself falling off *

(* actually, should really be "falling over" as I was stood next to the bike at the time).

Sunday just past Ed and I headed out on offroad on a great loop neither of us have done for ages, effectively a half MTL route. Starting from Clowbridge Res, picking up the MTL for a while until on Deerplay, past Thieveley Pike and down to the Bacup Road, over that then heading through the post industrial landscape towards Ramsden Clough on some interesting bridleways, pick up the MTL around Whitworth again and a pretty much follow it all the way back, with a diversion into the new stuff at Cragg on the way.

Set off into fairly persistent rain and low cloud, the surface easy going due to being MTL and still pretty dry. Once off the MTL and particularly over the Bacup Road find actual boggish tracks for a while, it's a grassy slog generally but I've seen it a lot worse. We once did this route in the winter into a raging headwind, it took us three hours to go 12 miles due to the wind and soft tracks. The bike was actually good and filthy for the first time in ages.

Anyway, skittered down a short, steepish, grassy slope and got bogged down in some rocks. The track was raised, with a drop to either side. I did think about getting going again then thought better of it, got off the bike at the edge of the narrow section to push it on a bit. I'm not sure what happened exactly but as I pushed the bike it sort of fell over onto me, I obviously wasn't very well balanced and I just timbered right over like a sack of spuds off the side of the track, bike landing on top of me. Unfortunately it was onto:

Right onto that big pile of pointy rocks, track is on the left. It wasn't quite onto my back but almost and not surprisingly it really hurt. Due to the Titus being on top of me I couldn't actually move, fortunately a very concerned Ed picked the bike up off me and I got up. Nothing was broken (probably) so decided to get riding asap, usually the best thing to do, keep moving so it doesn't seize up. This was about 7 miles into what in the end was a 30 mile ride.

I can normally tell by the state of my riding how bad a "crash" was (not that I can call it a crash), it quickly became clear that the last thing I wanted to do was fall off again and add to the can imagine how and tense wussy my riding became, I had to shout at myself, a lot to get off the brakes and look ahead etc. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to cut the ride short and try to head back to the car but it didn't. I was actually enjoying being out in the mud and rain, I thought the pain would ease didn't.

The long drag up Rooley Moor Road was a complete miseryfest for me again, legs were fine (apart from the huge throbbing bruise above my left knee) but my lower back had gotten progressively more sore and stiff. I stood up once in an effort to stretch it and it felt like someone had knifed me in the back, I'm sure I saw stars briefly. The sun had also decided to come out especially for the climb and for once the Rooley Moor headwind was missing just to add to my overall misery.

By the time we got to Cragg it hurt the least sitting and pedalling steadily, standing pedalling was excruciating, standing without pedalling was a bit less excruciating but the worst thing was transitioning from not pedalling to pedalling, particularly if spinning madly due to too low a gear choice. I basically yelped and grimaced my way all around the fab Cragg trails (and they were good) but I was in no fit state to do much other than hang on and pedal a bit (as low cadence as possible). We decided against another lap!

By this time any lumps and bumps on the trail seemed to vibrate up into my back, I was on a full-suspension, I hate to think what the hardtail would have been like. The descent down to Waterfoot, normally a favourite, passed slowly in a blur of clenched teeth and whimpers. Thankfully, the rest of the route is fairly easyish going but getting on and off for gates really hurt, particularly when my Camelbak re-settled itself on my back. We finally got back to Clowbridge, total relief! Except I had forgotten about the last two flights of wooden steps down into the car park, it was like someone attacked my back with a pneumatic drill as I rattled down them, there were tears at that point.

Getting packed up was interesting, my ability to bend was almost zero and getting out of the car at the other end was painful.

Having said all that it was a good ride, really like that loop!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Etape Caledonia

Been doing a few road rides since my last post but haven't really posted about them....think I'm actually in denial about how much I'm enjoying the tarmac.

Anyway, official result: 4:41 for the 81 miles, an average speed of about 17.3 including stops which I am pretty chuffed about. I was hoping for around the five hour mark but thought we would both have to be having a really good days to make it.

Both of us really enjoyed it (yes, even Jez), the closed roads thing is just fantastic. The organisation was superb, marshalling was superb as was the local support. I'm not really a fan of bagpipes but the pipers dotted around the course really raised a smile. Pitlochry had a real buzz about the place, don't think I've ever seen so many cyclists in one place as I did at the start on Sunday morning.

Actual ride time on the Garmin was 4:34 with an average speed of 17.8, we didn't stop much! As can be gathered from the time it was a fast course and a fast day, bit of a wind on the outward section but pretty fast other than that.

We did take advantage of a group for a while on the outward leg into the wind, cruising along at about 20mph effortlessly, which was nice. I was a bit wary but was getting quite happy in the group until suddenly the guy next to me seemed to be resting his right hand shifter on the guy in front of him's arse! A bit of wobbling and they separate but not without them nearly taking me off, I was a bit more cautious after that!

The Schiehallion climb wasn't too bad at all though I messed up my KOTM stage timing due to me not stopping when Jez had a comfort break. I rolled on a bit, crossed the timing mat without thinking then stopped to wait, d'oh. No real matter, took it quite easy anyway as not sure exactly what to expect. The scenery up there was stunning and it was nice to get a good look at Schiehallion as it was the first Munro I ever walked up.

Even though we weren't really tagging on to groups the sheer number of cyclists around just spurred us on to keep pedalling hard and coming up behind people before overtaking them must have been giving us some slipstream benefit.

My legs were certainly feeling it on the last 5% climb to the finish, I thought that was uncalled for. Jez coped with that one better than me but waited til I caught him up before we crossed the finish

Would I do it again...definitely!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Woke up yesterday and stomach felt normal at last, hurrah! An evening night ride was planned to kick off from Rivington, five of us riding which is the most of an evening for a while. Set off at a fair lick in usual Jez style, though with lots of pauses to wait the latecomer - usual Mr S style! Dry, dusty trails and we're altogether for the dive into Healey Nab.

It's the first time most of us have been there in what seems like forever, climbing up to the new trails we were a bit gutted to find they'd mashed the orginal track and replaced it with a motorway, a badly constructed one at that...think Tony is going to having some words...

Onto the trails, I'd forgotten how tight the berms were on the top part, ended up on the black for a bit somehow as its a bit confusing in there then down to the new stuff at the bottom which is all really nice, the berms aren't anywhere near as tight. Up the new singletrack climb then up another one that is only partially constructed, though we only did that because it was so dry.

Over towards Great Hill, past White Coppice and on the new bridleway until Wheelton Plantation. Jez goes straight up the main footpath the rest of us decide to try a piece of singletrack that I've run part of and I'm pretty sure follows the fenceline up and around to where the main track comes out. It does. It's very steep to start and very rooty and bits of it aren't really rideable as an up but it was an interesting new track and probably much better the other way with gravity assistance I would imagine though those roots in the wet would be entertaining.

Up to Great Hill on the big track, getting quite dark as we're on the summit, lights on for heading down. I tell everyone how dry the moorland crossing to White Coppice is but that there are possibly still a few front wheel traps. Obviously visibility very reduced with lights so can't see too far ahead on the line I've chosen and come to a bit of a dip that looks a little soft. I'd ridden through a smaller one just minutes earlier and it was fine so rather than go round I went in, expecting to roll out the other side.

Front wheel drops in and sinks, then sinks more, then sinks even more. My weight wasn't very far back at all as totally not expecting it and everything slowed down as the bike started tipping over....I thought I could save it so started pushing back on the pedals but it was to late for that and tipped over. I stuck my hands out but they went into the dip and I broke the fall with my face, what seemed like my two front teeth in fact, striking the edge of the dip. Ouch, bloody ouch! Watch those front wheel traps!

Got up and spat a gobful of peat out, thankfully both front teeth still there and somehow not wobbly. My mouth is completely numb though at least there seems to be no blood and no other damage to me or bike. So get riding again before I have time to think about it and no further mishap.

Well no more until about 5 minutes later when I get to the last rutty, loose and rocky drop into White Coppice where I part company from bike again. No idea what happened but one second I was riding well and confidently, the next the bars were wrenched round and the front wheel flopped to the left, perpendicular to track, which never tends to end well. Luckily I wasn't actually going too fast but crashed off to the side with a "bloody hell not again" and a few other choice words!

After disentangling myself again I noticed a whopping boulder lying on the track, I'm sure it wasn't there before I crashed so maybe I clipped it at the side of the track..who knows. Back on once again and catch up with the lads and we start heading back to the cars.

Onto the cheeky track around Anglezarke and I suddenly feel like my arms have turned to two bits of string, no strength to lift the front wheel. My legs start following suit soon after, it took a while for me to catch on what was happening but a quick time check showed it was 9:45 pm and I hadn't eaten anything since 4pm (a long time for me). I was starving and heading towards the dreaded bonk. The last mile or so was like wading through treacle. It's been quite a while since I've headed that way as I've been making a real effort to avoid it, though had been wondering if taking bottles of energy drink and slices of malt loaf out on my long road rides was overkill, err no, not for me it's not.

We didn't leave Riv until after 10, picked up some food on the way home. Eating so late meant it took me a while to get into a decent sleep so shattered this morning and resting HR was something ludicrous like 65 (normally around the 48 mark) so I had a complete rest day today.

I woke up with what felt like a massive fat top lip but thankfully it didn'tt look anywhere near as bad as it felt. The inside of my lip is very bruised and has a cut from where I bit it, I have a few small scratches under my nose and I had a few bruises on my legs but other than that I thought I had gotten off really lightly. However, as the day wore on my jaw got increasingly stiff and the side of my face a little tender. It feels like I've been smacked in the face, which I suppose I have. I also now have very sore ribs on the right hand side and probably a good few more bruises but really, I have gotten off lightly.

Monday, April 19, 2010


This weekend was almost a complete write off for me. Gran plans for a hard road ride over Waddington Fell and Nick 'O Pendle, perhaps with a circuit of Pendle Hill thrown in if legs up for it. Plotting the route out on Friday evening and I suddenly had no enthusiasm for it whatsoever, tucked up in bed by 9:20 pm barely able to keep my eyes open and woke up with a very dodgy tummy on Saturday, just great.

Managed to eat and move around until Saturday afternoon when I was sofa bound for most of the afternoon, couldn't face food and any movement just made me feel queasy. Lots of (boringly mild) curry and I felt human again that evening.

I felt up for a bit of ride on the MTB on Sunday, had to take it very easy on hills as stomach not happy if pushing hard and heart rate would just rocket to silly levels, however dry conditions and a full suspension bike made pedalling most things fairly easy. I had another hour or two of sofadom afterwards but was able to get out and spend some time cleaning bikes later. My On One was so filthy it took most of the afternoon, that'll learn me not to take the DirtWorker. My plans of getting several bikes done failed, only got the On One and my road bike done.

Monday I felt a bit better, headed out for a run from White Coppice after work, running up the hills seemed fine and only had one slight queasy moment, oddly on a flat piece of track, the rest of the time things were ok. Amongst all the unusual dusty dryness I managed to stomp into a patch of ankle deep bog, strangely reassuring!

Tuesday, still felt a little out of sorts in the morning but decided to have an easy spin into work on the road bike. I didn't pay much attention to the forecast and was happily tootling along through a sheltered Preston when I turned off to the docks and straight into a raging headwind, think I went from 18 mph to about 8 in less than a metre. It was a long, long slog against it all the way to work, so glad I was on the road bike to at least get down on the drops a bit. Not really what I wanted that morning.

The ride home was obviously faster but the wind was more of a crosswind in parts and I got blown sideways into the main dual carriageway at one point, luckily no cars coming. Even with faffing through Lytham and Warton, almost wearing a bus and having to stop, being scared more than once battling to control the bike and often not pedalling too hard I was averaging 18.7 when I got to the roadworks at Strand Rd which I thought was quite impressive, wish I could do that normally. By the time I'd crawled through them I was at a more normal 17 and tootled home from there quite happily.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Almost wished I hadn't bothered.....almost.

Home after work, cycling gear on, waiting for Jez to get back to go out riding. Dragged the Titus out as it hasn't been out this year and it's an expensive bike just to be sitting in the garage. Pumps tyres up, air in shock, change Garmin mount...hear the racket of Jez's motorbike engine...Jez arrives with a big CBA to riding. I go anyway, thinking I'll get a good spin in before it gets dark, being on my own will mean minimum faff (yeah right!).

Drive off, a bit of thought about where to go, as I'm on my own decide to ride Great Hill but where from? Abbey Village is the closest and most sensible time wise so get there unpack bike, get rest of kit on, lube the chain. Whilst back pedalling the chain to lube it it falls off the cassette and jams between cassette and spokes, grrr. Had to undo powerlink to fish it out, get it out and make note to do some serious bike cleaning (of all bikes) as chain is black and so now were my gloves.

Put it all back together and linked it up but failed to notice between threading it through derailleur and joining the powerlink it had fallen into the spokes again, grrrrrrrrrrrr! Undo it all again, rethread, join it back up, gloves even blacker, put car key in jacket pocket, jacket pocket now covered in black, oily fingerprints. So much for a quick and faffless start!

Set off riding, a few pedal revs later the grinding noise tells me I've done my usual crap job of threading the chain through the rear derailleur, seriously, seriously tempted to chuck everything back in car and go home but the prospect of dry, moorland trails is too much.

Pull over at Sawmill, undo it all again, thread chain through properly this time and manage not to lose powerlink in the long grass, off again with no grinding and working gears. Quick map check to locate the first piece of cheek I was intending to ride and head off to it, getting used to a squidgy bike again which was creaking annoyingly from the swingarm. It felt a lot heavier than the On One, particularly lifting it over gates.

Off up a section of relatively well packed double track onto the moor, will be a bit of a grassy slog in the wet but only one section looked like it would get boggy, mainly due to tractor tyres. Get up onto the moor and pick up one of my favourite pieces of running singletrack. In the spirit of minimising faff I stopped to take some pictures, it was lovely:

On again towards Great Hill and I'm finding the rear suspension (and the front to an extent) a bit of a liability to be honest, was like riding a pogo stick. I remember that last time I rode it I found the same and it needs some settings tweaked, more rebound damping I think, the rebound adjuster on the shock is turned wholly to one side (technical description) so I turned turned it completely the other way to see what happened.

Onwards onto the big track to the summit of Great Hill, more photo faff and the creaking seems to have stopped from the swingarm. Cracking view of the sun dropping, more picture faff and general staring:

Up to the summit of Great Hill, stare a bit at the sun dropping then head down again. Just as I was setting off I heard the low battery beep from my mobile, oh great. So now if something does go wrong with bike or me the mobile is about to die. That did make me pause a bit, original plan was to head to White Coppice but maybe it would be more sensible to take the big track back.

I got to the decision point and headed to White Coppice, it looked more fun. I do ride more cautiously on my own (especially with a dying mobile) and fluffed a few things across the rutty moor that the application of a little more speed would have probably fixed but it was fun and mainly dry. The rear suspension seemed a bit better so will need to twiddle the forks a bit soon.

The sunset was gorgeous and one of the reasons I headed up here, I know from past activities that the view is pretty good from Great Hill and I did watch for a bit, however I had lights/layers and food with me this time, the working and charged mobile phone thing obviously needs some remedial work though:

The bit I was worried about was the rutty drop to White Coppice but I had a whale of a time on that and was briefly tempted to ride/actually push (let's be honest) back up and do it again. Sense prevailed and I pegged it along the new bridleway for a bit then back up through the woods to pick up the moorland singletrack. I got down, just, without putting my lights on but fired them up for the last short bit of road back to the car.

Quick drive home for Chinese after a mainly satisfying ride and a cat runs across the road in front of me, I stop in time, just.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Road Riding

Lots of it (for me anyway) is what I have been up to, 190 miles on the Ribble so far this month and have enjoyed pretty much every minute. Only 18 miles on the MTB so far but the road riding won't do my MTB fitness any harm. Have now taken in the local road hotspots of the Trough of Bowland from Dunsop Bridge (twice) and Waddington Fell from the easy side.

I've also had company for the last two road rides, I was surprised Jez, Ed and Rick wanted to come out again with me after killing them over the Trough and Waddington Fell. With four pairs of muddy mtb shoes, a peaked helmet and one large camelbak between us we look like what we were - a bunch of MTBers on a road ride - rather than a peloton.

Jez's riding was going to go one of two ways after the Cheshire Cat, either do even less and don't ride the EC or do more and thrash me round the EC to prove a point. It has gone the latter way (wasn't too surprised). His fitness and strength is coming back very quickly in that annoying way it does for him and already I can see road rides together won't really be feasible soon. On the plus side he can tow me round the EC and we may get a decent time.

Running is now down to two a week but Monday's easy beach run was great, I felt more comfortable and relaxed on that run than I did for most of my marathon training when I was running a lot and it was a similar speed for a lot less effort - go figure. They do say cycling fitness does translate to running well so come autumn I may not be back to square one running wise. I'm looking forward to a summer of evening runs on the moors.

I've got another 60/70 mile road ride planned this weekend though not sure where, did think of the steep side of Waddington Fell then over to Nick 'o Pendle or maybe over the Trough again and up to Quernmore. However, the EC is not actually as brutal a ride climbing wise as that so not sure whether to cut the climbing and go flatter for some of it...the MTBer in me says no!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Run!

Finally, today I got out for a run, it seems forever since I last put any running shoes on. Monday was a rest day after the Cheshire Cat. Tuesday was originally planned at 3 mile easy run but the weather was grim and I thought an extra lazy day wouldn't be that much of a bad thing. Wednesday I just plain forgot I was supposed to be running and didn't go out!

So today after work I headed out. Legs had lost most of their cycling leadedness but there are things that need to be stretched (hip flexors and mid back, no surprise really). However, it quickly became apparent that while an easy spin on the bike is a good recovery session for running I'm not sure, for me at least, its going to work the other way. Which is a bit of a blow, the impact is noticeable.

Anyway, it was just under 6 miles, some tarmac, some woods and hills and after the first 2 miles was really enjoyable. I think the best bet is to head off road for my runs as much as possible. My gait has changed back to being quad heavy again though....


Well March was an interesting month. The start was spent in the Cairngorms learning all about winter walking and enjoying the best snow for years and also, unusually for Scotland excellent weather. A fantastic holiday.

Mileage wise things have been good in one respect and a bit dismal in another. The good aspect is I managed 310 cycling miles, the first time I've broken the 300 mark since 2006 apparently. Almost 200 miles of those were on the road bike, all "rides". I also did my first roadie sportive, the Cheshire Cat which was suprisingly good fun. I'm seriously in love with my road bike at the minute, very odd.

Only one cycling commute in to work jfor the whole month, ust after coming back from Scotland but I got the train home (and didn't have to pay). The rest of the miles are split between MTB (30 - rubbish) and fubbing about shopping.

The dismal aspect is running, in March I managed 21 miles! Partly being away for a week, then having the tightest lower legs imaginable for a week after, then a bit of running, then taking it easy for the Cheshire Cat.....Must do better!

I've kind of decided to do two runs a week for a while until after the Etape Caledonia and some fun trail/fell running is what I have in mind. I just need to keep it ticking over until the autumn where I'll most likely pick the running mileage up again.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Cheshire Cat

Yesterday Jez and I did the medium route of the Cheshire Cat road sportive. It was billed as 67 miles but turned out at 68.8 on my Garmin, the 1.8 miles mattered a lot to a certain person! I have to say I really enjoyed every single minute of it, this enjoyment was shared by my riding partner right up until, oh about just after Mow Cop, 16ish miles in.

An easy drive down to Crewe, straightforward parking and a little queue to pick up numbers and chips and we were ready to go. Unfortunately the queue to get started was massive and I think we were there for an hour before finally starting at 9:29. It was pretty cold and there was a fair wind blowing but the forecasted heavy rain wasn't there, I was glad to get moving and be able to try to generate some heat.

The first 16 miles were pretty flat and we were moving well, averaging about 16.8 which was faster than our 15mph plan but it was really easy riding. We got stopped at the level crossing at the bottom (of what I hadn't quite realised) was the climb to Mow Cop. We set off in a big bunch and the road soon headed up, I hadn't realised where I was and thought the road would soon level out so stayed in my middle ring but it just got steeper, a lot steeper.

My new Garmin said the gradient was 20%, whether that's entirely true or not it was too steep to be trying to grind up it in the gear I was in, there was no way the front derallieur was going to move due to being stood up and it was so crowded I couldn't do anything but keep moving, slowly forward. Once it eased off significantly my legs were toasted but I did think to myself "if I can get up that in that gear then there is a good chance of getting up Mow Cop". Then I looked up and there it was up ahead, oops. It looked like carnage at the top.

Lowest gear engaged, slow spinning to regain some sort of control over myself. As I got closer to the pub the steep bit started looking shorter and shorter (because it is very short) and I decided "I'm having that"...and I did. It did hurt, quite a bit and toasting my legs further down didn't help but I got up. The only slight eek moment was when someone bailed next to me and nearly dropped his bike on me, I squeaked and he pulled it away (thanks). I saw Jez stomp up it as well but he put a foot down somewhere apparently before the pub I think.

I continued on, unlike a lot of other people, until the road totally stopped going up. I waited for Jez then we set off down the descent and on towards the next climb. My memory of exactly what hills were what is pretty hazy (no change there then) but on the next one Jez stopped as he was knackered. Hmmm.

I stopped part way up the hill for a bit which was a bit of a mistake. We continued on, Jez walking bits if he needed to and me waiting at the top. None of the remaining climbs were as brutal as Mow Cop.

For a bit of balance, there was some excellent descents, particularly around Bridestones (I think). Jez pretty much managed to blast past everyone when the road headed down, very confident descending. I managed to hit 41.2mph on a descent around there, god knows what Jez was at as he was way faster than me.

We finally made it to the first feed station at 27 miles and it is clear he is not a happy camper! I make a suggestion that perhaps we could find out if there is a way of getting back to the start but I was informed that he was "not giving up, mutter, mutter, grr, bloody road bikes" (or something to that effect). Okay then....get round mode engaged and I stopped worrying about riding time taken - which was probably a good thing as I had forgotten to set autopause on the Garmin. I remembered to pause it manually sometimes but it was irrelevant really.

Fed, bottles refilled we set off again, next target feed station 2 at about 48 miles. The next 10 miles or so seemed to take absolutely ages, a few more hills to contend with though I found them fine and again waited at the top. Jez was in that special personal hell that you only visit when your knackered with miles and miles to go.

I've been there lots of times myself and I know there is nothing I could say to make it better (except perhaps "Taxi for Jez!"). I did what he has done for me loads of times before, ignore the grumbling and keep thing moving on..."you can't stop here".."why not?".."Road bikes are crap"..."It's not the bikes fault"..Only x miles to go..that was the last climb..and on and on.

I think the hills were pretty much done by 36 miles, a few more fast descents which were fun but it really seemed to take ages to get to the feed station.

We finally rolled into it, I decided to have my butty and Jez wandered in and came back with a sausage roll which seemed to start perking him up a bit - that and the fact there were only about 20 miles left. Next target, get to the finish.

Setting off from there we tagged onto the back of a large group, that meant tootling along at 15mph with very little effort. My legs were feeling pretty strong but we stayed with the group for a while until I started to worry about the route split as the miles were stacking up above 50. I didn't want to end up on the 100 by mistake (and had forgot to start the course I had loaded into the Garmin). I saw a signpost showing we were heading for Church Minshull, a quick squint at the route card on the back of the number and saw Church Minshull was on the long route and then looked at the wrong part of the card for the medium, saw it wasn't there and panicked.

We pulled over and lost the group, a proper look at the card showed that in fact we were supposed to come though it. I thought he was going to murder me, seriously if looks could kill.....We got going again and just round a bend, not more than 100 metres further was the bloody route split sign.

My penance for that little bit of stupidity was to ride on the front all the way back. I think it was at least 10 miles with a good chunk into a headwind. My legs were feeling pretty good, however both Jez's legs were now threatening to cramp so keeping a pace he could ride at wasn't that easy. However, eventually I realised that he was starting to get quicker and quicker. The last 5 miles were at 16.7 average, which I was really pleased about because it was my legs setting that pace and they could have gone faster.

As the stadium got really close a buch of fast lads came zooming past and Jez jumped on the back of them, blew past me with a big grin on his face and took off for the sprint finish!!!!!!!! I gave chase but didn't quite manage to catch him, the sod. He crossed the line a few seconds faster than me some semblance of male pride restored hopefully. It was a bit of a miserable experience for him but he toughed it out.

We queued up again to hand chips in and I got my medal for clearing Mow Cop. I can't remember the overall time, it was something like 5:25. My Garmin had 4:55 for ride time and an average of 14mph but it was really all about getting Jez round.

Overall, I loved it and whilst I knew my legs had done something by the end they were still going well. I had a bit of numb bum as I didn't stand enough and my gloves were starting to annoy my hands. I think I could have made the 100 but if I tried it yesterday would have probably suffered due to not eating enough early in the ride. It was fine for the 68 miles but wouldn't have been for longer I don't think.

The jury is out on whether Jez does the Etape Caledonia, I can't wait.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Playing Frogger

On last nights ride, loads of the little things on the roads and trails near Anglezarke. Not entirely sure I was 100% successful in missing them. A very short and chat paced ride in the end with just Ed and I out, the only real effort put in was climbing Lead Mines, just for a change though its still firmly a decent for me. Everything was wet and sloppy, even stuff I didn't think was normally prone to being that bad.

Decided against exploring the new Healy Nab stuff for the first time in the dark and it was only when packing up that I realised we hadn't gone to the pike. Not really a proper Rivi ride for me if the pike isn't visited. Just perfect for an easy week.

Running has resumed and an easy five miles are planned tonight, then a lazy two days before the Cheshire Cat on Sunday. Forecast is for p*ssing rain....what tyres for stopping wheelspin on Mow Cop?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hmmmm, now what?

This weekend is the Whinlatter Enduro. I have been in two minds about whether to do it due to not getting in many (or actually any) long MTB rides due to the weather. In the last couple of days I had pretty much decided to HTFU and just get on with it but my stupid car has now got to go back into the garage.

It had developed quite an oil leak and spent last weekend there being "fixed", I got it back on Tuesday so far so good but Jez opened the bonnet last night to put the engine cover back on (which they had failed to do) and the whole of the engine is just swimming in oil. It looked like a fire just waiting to happen. Another car was used to get us to the Velodrome and apparently at some point today the garage are hopefully going to come and pick it up so I'm probably going to be carless again for the weekend and won't be able to get there.

Weather forecast is less than ideal to ask someone to hang around while I crawl my way around Whinlatter forest for five hours or so. I'm not doing very well with my planned events this year.

I think a road ride is the only real option but I do need to get in something over a couple of hours or so. as the Cheshire Cat is next weekend..........grrr cars.

Not much running going on

Not sure what has been up with my calf muscles since I've come back from the Cairngorms but they have not been happy bunnies.

A short get back into it run last Thursday was enjoyable, I expected possibly a little bit of soreness but my calves were very stiff on the Friday. I ended up doing some lunchtime hill reps on the bike on Friday due to car faff and working from home meant I had access to some hills.

The reps were about 1.4 miles long but not massively steep, more of a gradual climb interspersed with steeper bits. It wasn't ideal but I didn't have time to really get anywhere properly steep so decided to make sure I worked hard all the way up and resist the temptation to take it easy on the easier bits and push on over the top of the steepish sections.

I have to say, at least mentally, proper steep is easier, its just "get to the top". Making myself push where I wanted to back off was hard. They took about seven minutes each and I got slightly quicker each one but there is lots of room for improvement. I only had time to get three in before heading back home. Since I found them so difficult I should probably do them again.

A lot of stretching afterwards and I thought my calves would be fine, nope. Saturday I woke up and could barely put my heels on the floor. My calves and achilles were just solid, from my heels to just below the back of my knees. I wasn't 100% sure if it was the running or the hill reps but the pattern of tightness was slightly different on each leg which made me suspect running, my foot strike is slightly different on each leg. Maybe something to do with doing lots of walking as opposed to running?

An easy day of fubbing about on the shopping bike due to no car and an easy afternoon ride on the MTB did nothing to help but at least my calves didn't hurt when pedalling. It was too sore to stretch or bear the foam roller. They didn't hurt like that after the marathon so I rested on the Sunday completely.

They felt much better on the Monday, I could walk properly so decided to celebrate by going out for a run. I got less than quarter of a mile before my calves felt solid again, a bit of stretching and I decided to carry on taking it easy for a couple of miles to loosen them up.

They did loosen up a bit eventually but I was having to stretch them a lot at road crossings, or at the top of inclines, I should have taken the hint and cut it short but I carried on and did over 7 miles. I was hobbling for the rest of the night and the next morning so it was a bit of a stupid thing to do.

An easy spin out on the road bike on the flat on Tuesday, a fantastic dry trails and spring temperature night ride on Wednesday (so glad I made myself go) and a fantastic session at the Velodrome last night and I think, touch wood, things are heading back towards normal.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Cairngorms

I've been back from the Cairngorms for almost a week now, a bit of a sniffle and post holiday blahs this week and it all seems a world away now.

I could write loads about the experience but I won't, it was just utterly fantastic. The snow was simply amazing. We had a pretty painless drive up on the Sunday, avoiding the worst section of the A9 it would seem by coming up from the Edinburgh side. Managed to drive past the turn off for Glenmore Lodge as the sign was totally obscured by snow. Heading up the ski road was entertaining, the road hadn't been ploughed, it had had to have a snow blower to cut through it. There is a four metre high wall of snow near the Coire Cas car park.
Days 1 -4 had pretty much no wind, which is quite frankly rare in the Cairngorms. We also had lots of sunshine and blue skies, again rare. I just hope I haven't had my lifetime's quota of good Scottish winter weather in one week. Soft snow meant slow moving progress particularly being the shortest member of the group, with the shortest stride. It wasn't always easy following others footsteps and as I took a lot of photos I spent a lot of time as the tail end Charlie.

On the Tuesday we were accompanied for the day by cameraman from the Adventure Show, they are doing a piece on people beginning to venture out into the Scottish hills in winter. It was quite odd doing stuff and then having a camera watching or being asked questions. Its only shown in Scotland and probably won't be out til the autumn so I'll have forgotten all about it by then. I will no doubt look and sound like a complete plank!

Ice axe arrest practice was hilarious, crampons and ice axes were seriously confidence inspiring though there wasn't always a massive need for them due to the soft snow. Snow shelter digging was interesting but quite frankly I think I'd rather bust a gut to get off the hill. A snow hole on the other hand might be fun for a night. Avalanche awareness was a hot topic for obvious reasons, lots of attention to the forecasts, looking for wind scoured slopes etc, learning new words for snow....loaded:

Sastrugi, my favourite word for snow:

A good walk around the Northern Corries on the Wednesday with visibility for miles in every direction, not sure if I'll see it like that ever again:

Lots more photos on Flickr if you want to trawl through them.

Just to redress the balance the normal weather closed in on Friday. We wanted some experience of trying to navigate in white out conditions and we got it. Snow shoes and following the pistes up made for fast progress up to Cairn Gorm summit. Sheltering in the Ptarmigan ski station for some food and layer rearrange it was then up to the summit, walking on bearings in pairs using dark patches in the snow to sight off - it was the only detail and using hand signals to correct the lead (voice signals drowned out by the wind). The view from Cairn Gorm summit, the little grey "sighting" patches visible at the bottom:

From the summit over to another feature on a bearing taken and measured by me (gulp) but it worked. I was the lead of our pair, we managed to stay on bearing and I managed to keep counting paces. I found it was a good way of blocking out thinking about the conditions. I had my only real "I'm not liking this" moment across here as everytime I had to turn back to check I was still on bearing I got a load of icy snow driven into my eyeballs, not pleasant.

Still, we found the little tor we were looking for, walking round it I got blown off my feet three times due to the combination of 40mph winds, soft, deep snow and snow shoes. Hiding behind the tor on quite frankly, dodgy windslab (just as well it was flat) I managed to get my ski goggles on and what a difference. Eyes protected, hood up, in my own bright yellow bubble it made a huge difference to things.

We set off back to the Ptarmigan with more bearing walking and pace counting and I was by then really enjoying the challenge. The only slight annoyance was having to carry my walking poles to use the compass and they kept icing to my gloves and making whatever hand was holding them freezing. The compass base plate was ice, all toggles etc were covered in rime ice, jacket hoods etc. It was a good reminder of exactly how serious things can get up there.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Heading up to my folks tomorrow then onto Glenmore Lodge on Sunday to do 5 days of winter hillwalking skills (or how not to get swept away in an avalanche!). Already had mum on the phone with the "are you sure it's a good idea" conversation (after the Glencoe avalanche). I'm not sure my assurances of being with some of the finest mountain instructors around reassured her...

Currently in the process of assembling every single hat, pair of gloves/mitts, buff, socks, baselayer, waterproof, down/merino garment etc I own.......maybe we should just pack all our clothes and take them with us.

Finger crossed the Highlands have finally been reopened by the time we have to drive up there on Sunday afternoon, can snow us in if it likes after that, I won't care then but don't want to have to spend a night in the car on the A9 on the way up.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Catching Up

After tweaking my left backside slipping about in the dunes on the 12th I was hobbling the next day. The "next day" was the Mid Lancs XC at Hyndburn. The Chorley Harrier ladies were hoping for promotion and to get as many out as possible to help, I had said I would run (help make up some numbers rather than actually count for the team). On Saturday morning I did lots of stretching but it didn't help, a bit annoyed as the Hyndburn course is really enjoyable.

At about noon when it wasn't getting any better I did the sensible thing and necked a load of ibuprofen and went anyway. Once I warmed up a bit it only bothered me when my left leg slid sideways...which happened a lot on the stodgy course. I was over two minutes quicker than the year before but getting out of my car at home was not very dignified! I wouldn't have done it for a longer race (probably).

It seemed fine for cycling thankfully so got some road miles in on the Sunday....for some reason decided to go chevron bagging around Belmont way and got my backside kicked, even with a 30 * 27 lowest gear. I found the hills mentally hard too which wasn't good, I'm no climber but I normally just get on and grind them out without too much thought. 44 miles, 3800 ft of up and an embarrassing average speed of 13.9....more work needed.

I did some short runs in the week as bum was still tight, it started to ease off after a trip to the climbing wall meant some serious stretching of various tight muscles.

On Saturday I headed out to check out snow conditions around the moors. I was only intending to do about six miles but it was so lovely I ended up doing over 9. Lots of snow:

I ended up on the turbo on Sunday afternoon but probably should have gotten the MTB out really.

This week I've managed to get back to some better running, a quick 4 miles after work on Monday saw me set off with leaden turbo legs. Last time I did that after about two miles my legs were fine and sure enough I managed to up the pace each mile, really enjoyed it and no problems the next day.

Tuesday was some turbo intervals, hard but bearable now I have invested in a fan. It meant I was able to work harder without boiling myself or having to open the door and freeze the house out.

Yesterday was another set of intervals, running this time. Possibly not the most sensible decision but I wondered how my legs would cope. A little leaden at the start but changed into running mode after about a mile. I did 3 x 1200 metres as slowly building the interval distance back up to three miles. They went well, not having fresh legs meant I paced things more evenly and didn't tear off at the start though on the last interval I had to push hard to keep the pace as I got stopped at the one road crossing. First and second interval had the same time, third was two seconds slower which I thought wasn't too bad. Run back to work was fine after the first half mile.

Yesterday was finished off with a trip to the wall again, which was really good fun.

Today I'm taking it very easy, I did think of cycling into work but couldn't get myself out of bed. The cycling gods punished me for my laziness by having me sit on the M6 for ages, eventually took 1 3/4 hours to get to work as opposed to 30 minutes.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I felt a bit lifeless last weekend, not sure why but got a couple of easy rides in. One short MTB ride with new front brake pads that were binding hard and had to be worn in. Did I moan? Nope, just treated it as extra resistance (could have done without the slipping seat post though), it needed to be done. The wheel was spinning much better by the end.

Monday, I was much more lively and got some 800m intervals out. I managed to pick the wrong direction and run them straight into a strong wind which meant the pace was well off but the effort level was there.

Tuesday was a good ride to work, really enjoyed both journeys though had to tell Jez to go off on his own after about a mile in the morning as there was no way I was going to keep up with him on his road bike when I was on the shopping bike.

Wednesday was a rest day due to neither of us getting home from work early enough to contemplate riding anywhere. Thursday was an interval session on the turbo where I attempted to boil my head again and nearly succeeded...thinking of moving it outside onto the patio to entertain the neighbours.

Friday was a run but with no plan, just for fun so headed to the beach to play in the dunes. The sun was out over Blackpool:

The sand was dry and really loose and after clambering up the third steep dune I thought maybe I shouldn't be hammering my calves and achilles like this as I had said I would turn up at the XC on Saturday. My glutes were also notcieably tight from the turbo session the day before. Just around then my left leg slipped in the sand down and away from me with a tweak sensation in the bum. A definite ooof! moment. Not great timing.

Onto the flat beach and seems no harm done so head way out towards the sea faffing about taking some pictures as the cloud rolled in for some dramatic sky moments:

Had a bit of a run in the lower dunes which are a lot more packed down then I could feel things starting to niggle, bit of a stretch and head back to work with my left butt cheek and hip trying to cramp up completely. Oops, needless to say an afternoon sat down at a desk did nothing for it. I got into my car like a 90 year old.