Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Daft muddy stuff and a single speed adventure

Now I have a tendency to want to try new things - I have a hankering to do an accelerated free fall course.  I want to ski down the Pas de Chèvre in Chamonix.  I want to learn French.  But on Sunday I watched a sporting event I have no intention of ever doing - the Three Peaks Cyclo Cross.  Herb and I were a bit short of time so rather than join the Ilkley crew for an 8am start we drove to Gargrave (well why spend three hundred quid on a posh bike rack if you're not going to use it to avoid cycling on the A65?).

We then took the back roads through Bank Newton, Rathmell and Lawkland to Cold Cotes where we met Rick and Bob, plus the Ilkley CC group who'd ridden over a few minutes ahead.  This is where the racers come off Ingleborough, their first "peak" and hit the road before heading off round to Whernside.

We saw plenty of thrills and spills, with some seriously muddy boys and girls riding down the slippery grass bank to the road.

We hung around for about an hour, and watched the majority of the field come through.  Towards the end we saw the bizarre spectacle of Steve Brock and his mobile mechanic set up - which looked more like the two wheeled equivalent of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Still - it keeps him happy...

Steve and his Heath Robinson bike...
We headed off home, via Bell Busk this time for a fairly easy 48 miles.

Then today it was time to try out my new single speed Genesis bike.  Fortunately Herb wasn't with me as I was late setting off, and also whilst it's great fun, and the simplicity of the thing is very satisfying, it pretty much has a maximum speed of 20mph on the flat, as the 42-18 gearing is just about low enough to get me up the hills on the "valley" way to work and back, it's a bit high for powering along the flat bits.

Still - I shall persevere, as once I've cracked the single-speed bit I'll flip that back wheel and give fixed a go.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Risk Committee (of which there now appear to be about eight a month) finished a full 90 minutes early today, so my "after work" run (which was instead of cycling to work on my new single speed - too wet to take it out!) became a lunch run.

Up past Tesco, left then as the first mile beeped I speeded up to a comfortably brisk pace, which turned out to be about 7:25.  I kept this up for three miles then slowed to about 7:50 for the last mile to give me a steady five miler at an average of 7:30 or so.


Golf tomorrow, then London Thursday but I'll hopefully bike and maybe run as well on Friday.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Jennings River Ride

Had a good week last week for exercise, riding and running 4 days out of 7, with over 100 bike miles done.  75 of which were yesterday on the rather splendid Jennings River Ride, which was a tour of a load of Cumbrian bridges that were washed out in the floods a few years back.

I was with The Herb and Rick, plus Dave A who'd opted for the shorter, 38 mile route as he wasn't sure how his climbing legs would be.  We started out from Keswick after the usual Herb-journey, consisting of food, gaffing and poo stops, with a nice flat ride up Bassenthwaite, where we turned off at the Castle Inn Hotel (scene of a crap weekend with Kazza a couple of years back) and crossed our first rebuilt bridge.

This led to a more undulating, but not testing, section to Cockermouth where we said goodbye to Dave, as the medium route had a feedstop there.  We continued to Workington for our, rather paltry, feed by another bridge.  There was then a veritable collection of bridges as we headed down to Ennerdale Bridge then back up through Loweswater to Lorton, where we rejoined the medium riders to climb over Whinlatter Pass.

I'd done this on the C2C a year or two ago, and then simply sat on Rob's wheel all the way - however this time there was a large complement of folk on mountain bikes walking and weaving their way up.  I was chasing an irritating fat bloke who'd been overtaking us then dropping back for about ten miles, so I went a bit into the red zone up here, but whilst it's fairly long it's not massively steep and I was soon out on the main road and climbing the last bit to the Forestry Commission place at the top.

The descent was a bit hairy, but we were quickly at the next, even weedier feed stop - "A shortbread biscuit and a banana! What more could a man want?" asked the nice lady.  "Erm...a sausage roll and a cheese butty?" I suggested.

Herb on Newlands with the steep ramp straight ahead
Next it was off up Newlands, a new climb on me which Rick told us is "not steep".  My arse - there's a lot of it that's not steep but there's a brutal straight ramp at the top which I only saw one other bloke ride up apart from us.  You can just about see it in the picture above, and the relief on my face in the photo below taken at the top is palpable!

Phew! Note the walkers behind...
The descent from Newlands was magnificent, and as we turned left past Buttermere YHA (ah, memories...used to go once a month when I was 6!) I was thinking to myself it was pretty much done - 60 miles on the clock, only 15 to go and 12 of them are downhill or flat.  Rick had also assured us that Honister from this side is "easy".  Yeah, right...

The descent from Newlands into Buttermere, with Rick's yellow jersey just visible near the front of the cars
It's perhaps not Hardknott-steep or Wrynose-sustained, but the upper section is tough - steep bit followed by a non-rest section, then more steep and finally a lung-bursting finale past the quarry workings to the top.  Again I saw nobody else ride all of it apart from us, and I was weaving like mad to keep some momentum going.  Looking at the GPS track there was a full half mile where I averaged only 4mph.

The calm before the storm - the flat approach to Honister

And there it is - the steep part visible just left of centre
Finally it was over, and we saw Borrowdale spread out below us - well we would have had there not been a massive cloud heading up the hill towards us - so it was on with the jackets and a careful descent into the cloudburst, before Herb turned into his "Meat" alter-ego and put the hammer down past the Bowderstone, Shepherds and the Lodore - Rick and I worked together and just caught him before the roundabout in Keswick.

We finished with a total time of 5:40, but a moving time for me of 5:12, so an average speed of just over 14.5mph.  Satisfying and a superb set of climbs to finish, but that's the last time I ever believe my big brother when he tells me something's "not steep"!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

What a blast!

Ran yesterday lunch - along due to a lack of Herbs and Newmanators - 5 miles (with a Garmin that stopped after 3.8m) at something around 7:30 pace overall but the canal bit was probably nearer 7:20 - which felt ok generally.

Then today I had promised myself faithfully that I'd bike to work and back, so I was a touch concerned when paul the squeaky weatherman warned of high winds and squally showers - sounded more like the shipping forecast than north yorkshire.  The second stage of the Tour of Britain had been cancelled due to the winds.  However the promise, even if only to myself, had been made, so 7am saw me up with Maisie, "getting my shit together" and I was out of the door in an outfit I really wasn't sure about by 7:30.

The ride along Shires Lane felt tough, and by the time we were climbing up Cross Bank my legs were already feeling how they used to feel back in early 2009 when I started this cycling and running nonsense - when I always seemed to train tired.

Herb kindly dragged me down to Cross Hills where the wind started to come from a friendlier direction, and we arrived at work after a 47min ride in - a long way slower than the old days when we did it in under 40 quite often, but this was a proper windy day and an average of 18mph isn't bad given the conditions.

We were expecting it to have eased off by sometime, but it was still a stiff breeze and it had now decided to rain as well.  Again Herb played the strong man and I was happy to take very short turns on the front and increasingly long ones sat in his slipstream.  Home was about 48 minutes, so respectable at 17mph for a windier, wetter and more uphill ride.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Lumpy club run

There were no ride leaders for the Ilkley club run today - disappointing that in a club of about 400 members we can't rustle up three or four people each weekend who can commit to turning up, but hey ho.  So, with a slight hangover I felt I'd better go and lead a B ride.

Vic and l'Herb showed up at 7:45 too, so I thought I'd better go.  Fortunately I'd kept up my water consumption last night as my beer intake continued, so the hangover wasn't too bad and had pretty much cleared by the time we got to the old bridge.  The original plan was another plod up to Kettlewell and back, but I decided that we could do something slightly more interesting and go up to Greenhow via West End and come home via Grassington.

So it was that ten of us set off towards Askwith, at a fairly healthy pace.  It seems that every time I lead a ride I get a load of pseudo-A Groupers out for an "easy day", and so it was again.  I was the last up to the top of the moor road climb, and was pretty much hanging on most of the way to Greenhow.

We turned into the wind, and the usual blast along to Grassington turned out to be pretty tough, so I was grateful to have some strong lads to sit behind.  At Grassington we turned south and the going was easier through Burnsall and Appletreewick.

The last bit up from Bolton Abbey was hard though, as we were back into the wind again, but we were soon home with 48 miles on the clock and lunchtime still an hour away.  Nice day.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A couple of runs and a bit of speed

Just a bit mind...

Trying very hard to get my exercise organised, but it's proving difficult - although after this weekend I'm going to be more disciplined about food and exercise.  Yes really...

Anyway - this week passed quickly again, and before I knew it it was Thursday and I'd done nothing.  To be fair the weather's been shite so biking in would have been a trial, plus my bottom bracket was sounding horribly graunchy after last weekend.

Anyway - Thursday and it was out for a lunchtime steady one with Herb and Newmanator - just 4 miles, just under 8 min pace and for me at least it felt pretty comfortable.  Herb was gasping like a rapist...

Then Friday's plan was for a slightly longer one (for "longer" read "about 6 miles") with Newman, but his weedy hockey legs let him down so he dipped out.  Shame really, as it was a perfect cycling day, but I was running so run I did.

A mile up to the canal, then a bit of an effort for two miles - which pleasingly came out at just under 6:40 pace, which whilst that was planned marathon pace a few months ago is still a great deal quicker than I have been running.  So - more of the same required, methinks.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Bog all running but a bit of biking

Blimey - three weeks since last post - and I was in Italy and riding to San Jimmy!

Been back a couple of weeks now, and whilst I've done a bit of running it's all been a bit hit and miss.  I can report, however, that I am hideously unfit, and probably very fat indeed (the latter I've been too scared to confirm but I feel lardy in the extreme).

My replacement Garmin 610 had been delivered whilst we were away, so my runs are recorded at Garmin Connect, but they total about 15 miles a week at an embarrassingly slow pace.  Whatever - I've probably done slightly more running this August than last, and I managed a 3:11 marathon this spring.  Ber.

More worrying is my bike form - I'd kind of kidded myself that because I managed the 130 miles up to Newcastle easily, and I've been getting a 50+ miler in most weekends then I'd be the picture of fitness when the road headed uphill.  Well, no...

I did the Ilkley club run up to the Buckden triangle, finishing over Halton Heights, which went ok, but I did find the climb hard after 60 miles or so.  Doesn't bode well...

Then last weekend me, Bob and The Herb headed over to the Forest of Bowland for some tourist avoidance.  We did a fairly lumpy 65 miles over to Settle, then a windy climb up Cross o' Greet then back over from Keasden.  By the end I was feeling thigh burn the likes of which I don't think I've had since last year's EduD - eek.

Still - a nice day out:

Then after another week of failing to cycle to work today was the Evans Skipton Sportive.  I'd entered the long 100 mile ride, but thoughts of riding over Buttertubs then back over Oxnop to Askrigg put me off, so Herb and I went for the shorter route, which also allowed me to get home in time to watch Wiggo lose the Jersey in the Vuelta.

A stiff climb up the Raikes and a tortuous route on back roads popped us out on the Rylstone road, then more daft routing dropped us into Airton via the long way round.  Into Malham for our major climb up the Cove Road - harder than I remember it, but lots of rest sections and just enough walkers to make us feel good about ourselves.

The road to Arncliffe has a beast of a steep section, but again Herb and I managed to pass a few folk and not get passed ourselves.  Job done, we thought, as we were turning for home after the feed stop at Kettlewell.

Virtually everyone else at the stop were doing the honourable thing and doing the 100 miler, but the route had been changed after Fleet Moss so Buttertubs was no longer on the agenda - even so the call of an easy(ish) day proved too strong for me and Herb and we headed back down the valley.

The blast to Burnsall and garden was quickly dispensed, but I found the last section of the climb up from Burnsall hard, and felt it as we climbed back over Barden Moor.  At the top there was a "5 miles to go" sign, and it felt odd riding through Embsay and back into Skipton to hand back our dibbers, eat a bowl of pasta and get home for about 12:45, with an average speed of just under 15mph.

Respectable, but more work needed, fatty.