Sunday, 17 January 2010

I've moved!

Hi all

Please note that I have now moved over to wordpress.

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Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Snow Things

As requested by Phill following on from Tuesday's triumphant walk and construction exercise, here are my projects - the snowman and igloo/snow dome thing were built on Tuesday after my play day. The polar bear was then built by my brother on Wednesday morning - he's actually lay looking in through the living room window!


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Simply stunning

After the snow we've had over the past few weeks, and the subsequent thaws, Monday night proved to be the best for dumping lovely stuff all over - I woke up to the loveliest winter wonderland I've seen in years. The downside? I was due to be in Ashton for an appointment and then in to work where I was training staff before getting some management training for myself.

Getting dressed I shoved on my walking boots again - they've been worn for weeks on end now - and wrapped up warm, plodded downstairs, opened the door to find lovely deep powdery snow. Stepping out of my door I sunk to my knees in it and knew it'd be a great day regardless of what happens. As there's a severe lack of grit in my borough (Tameside) only the really important main roads were gritted - I live on one such road and there was not an ounce of salt, grit or any other substance on the roads except for the snow. Cars were stupidly trying to drive through it, lorries were just abouts coping with the depth but not with the braking capabilities required. I knew no buses would be running as First always suspend services early, an Arriva driver who was walking home told me his fleet had been suspended, so I knew it was only a matter of time before Stagecoach did the same. I checked the travel info on my phone and it was saying expect severe delays and disruption - blatantly obvious given the conditions. By the time I walked across the road to the bus stop, this had changed to all bus services calling in any fleet that had managed to get out of the depot.

Mere moments later a colleague rang to say don't bother coming into work as the boss was snowed in (she lives halfway up a steep hill in Oldham) and other staff couldn't get in. One down, one to go. Phoned regarding my appointment and, again, was told to not bother.

Play day for me then!

After getting changed I set off on a mission. Armed with my camera and prepared for deep, deep snow I retraced my footsteps from New years Eve knowing that it'd be hard going due to the snow frequently covering my knees (I'm over 6ft tall, with long legs, so it gives you an idea of how deep it was).

I made my down to Berry Brow (a valley with one very steep side and one slightly less steep side) and found car, after abandoned car on the road side. Further down the hill and men in flouro jackets with tractors and vans were towing cars, vans and even people up the hill in the direction I came from. A couple of buses were stuck in the valley bottom awaiting their own tow trucks with a line of haphazardly dumped vehicles smeared all over the hillside ahead of them.

I plodded on relishing the effort I was putting in to get where I wanted to be, knowing it to be an amazing workout. Arriving at the fishing pond where I'd been on NYE, I was grinning from ear to ear to see it totally snow covered and every tree looking like it should be on a Christmas card. Simply stunning!
The little green sign in the photo is usually standing proud about 2 maybe 3ft above the water line, as you can see it's almost covered.

Wading through the magical scenery, drinking in the breathtaking views I arrived at the field by Medlock Vale farm. The proud trees in the centre of the field looked awesome and the lane to the side was just so inviting. Walking down it I crossed the river and saw that my island had disappeared under the snow and the river was frozen over in many places - it's not a particularly slow flowing river either, so proof that it was very cold and we'd have an extreme amount of snow.
The valleys were amazing to walk through, with me working ever harder to get through the snow, steps were invisible so it's lucky I know the area and where they are. Upon reaching the Oldham Way at the top of the valley I was finally seeing other people - although only a few of them. They'd made their way to the golf course to sledge the hills and slide on the frozen river, with some stupidly deciding to sledge down the sheer drop to my side.

I made my way to Daisy Nook to find the cafe only just opening up after the owner had taken forever to get there - he'd been told a road was closed when it wasn't. I carried on past the cafe and scrambled up past the old lock flights to reach Sammy's Basin which I knew would be frozen over and then further over to Crime Lake (which doesn't always freeze over). Past the Basin and I heard ducks having a bit of a strop. Not really surprising considering their habitat had totally frozen over leaving only a patch of water 12ft across for them all to swim in and feed. All too soon I saw some huge webbed footprints in the snow on the ice-covered water, followed them and found a very handsome huge swan having the biggest paddy I've ever seen a creature have and dishing out dirty looks to everyone he saw. He was really slamming his feet down hard and giving the odd honk. Poor thing.

Over at Crime Lake the scene was just something we rarely get here with deep snow smothering everything, leaving trees looking like they've cotton wool draped all over them and the snow on the water easily reaching 3 or 4 foot deep.

The only colour in this white and brown world was that of Crime Farm on the far bank perched on the hillside, surveying it's surroundings.

Heading back from the lake I noticed the swan had changed direction, followed his footprints and found him bullying a mallard to get out of the 'bird bath' so he could get in. The mallard didn't give much resistance - can't blame him really - and he plodded off to his harem of females.

My journey home was done by road as by now the trails I'd come along were swarming with kids and big kids alike all wanting to take advantage of the freak snow and play.

Arriving home to the seriously deep stuff I decided I wasn't yet tired enough, so set about building a snowman (instead of a penguin like I did before Christmas). After building him, I made him an igloo/snow dome type thing.

Before I knew it I'd clocked up a stonking 8 hrs of playing in the snow. I hadn't really thought I'd been out in the snow that long. Looking at my camera it's a different story though as I have over 200 photos to mull over. All depicting the best snowy day I've had in years!

Miles - approximately 20

Year Review

Wow, another year has passed. It flew by so quickly that it feels like only a few months ago that I was beginning my first whole year on here.

The year started amazingly well. It began with a cycling challenge that I completed quicker than anticipated and celebrated with a 'victory' ride of around 80 miles. Then came the snowy rides. Only a few of these happened as at the start of February was my big incident resulting with the fractured pelvis. I thought my year was ruined, as did my consultant - it was anticipated to take 6 months for the pelvis to be healed sufficiently for me to sit on a bike, with many more months graduating to actually riding it. It also meant a war between myself and NHS Direct as they fucked up big time (I had to haul my own ass into hospital) and after 3 months of fighting I won the battle with a a written apology from the NHS ombudsman and a review of how they deal with incidents.

As a result of the injury I hadn't planned any other challenges for the year as I knew it was going to be along haul back to even being able to sit on a bike never mind ride it. My chances at the Track Championships were in tatters as I'd not be able to ride the track at all for the whole year.
Somehow, and I'm still not sure how, I got the all clear to be discharged from my consultant in May after only 3 months with the advice that I should start riding the bike again as soon as I was able to sit on it, but to obviously take it very, very easy. So that meant Everest was liberated, I was happy and the challenge of getting fit again arose.

May was the easy month with only 138 miles ridden and 4500ft climbed, before the summer got better with the mileage and climbing stats pretty much doubling. This trend continued into Autumn until my knee began to play up again, which is plainly obvious with the lower mileage for November and the complete lack of anything really for December.

All in all. It's been an interesting year. Battles have been won - getting back on the bike and finally racing again just before Christmas, the apology; battles have been lost - mileage has been lower than I'd like and I've left my bike club as a full member. Weight has also been lost without even trying (sorry to all those who are working their butts off).

It's also been a strange year for many, many reasons. But I have my memories to relive, my new friendships and renewed friendships to take with me into 2010. And I have exciting things to build on - more about those another time.

New Years Eve

A little late, but here it is ->
Seeing as I had absolutely no intentions of going out and getting ratted in the evening (or any part of the day really) I went for a nice crisp walk on New Years Eve day.

I set off from mine wading through a slushy gloopy mess to get from my door to the road before sploshing my way down to the lovely Bay Horse and the beginnings of the climb up to where the true walk would start.
Once at the start of the off road route I slid my way along the access road (Vale Lane) to the entrance for the fish pond, looking gorgeous in the hazy sunshine and frosty ice on parts of it, before heading properly off road to the muddy pathways where I did my coppicing in November, along those and through a field to bring me out by Medlock Vale Farm and it's gloriously muddy tracks churned up by the frequent manoeuvres of the funky tractor.

These tracks led to a bridge over the Medlock Valley with steep slopes down to the river side, which I slid my way down, and made my way to one of the little islands in the river (the water is only ankle deep to get here).
After a scramble back up the slope my route took me across the undulations in the area, crossing the river again on a rather precarious little bridge (no rails, just the ice for company and the babbling river below) before hauling ass up a steep hillside to get to the Oldham Way at the top of one side of the valley with Brookdale Golf Course on the opposite side, sheer drops to the left of me and a barbed wire fence for the farm close to my right.

Splodging my way along here I was often met with very deep and thick mud patches, too big to jump across and no way around. The only answer was to walk through it. Admittedly it was quite good fun, so I didn't really mind. Over and across a few stiles, then it got even muddier as I had to squelch my way across a field then another stile, then along the Jericho Trail to Stannybrook where I tried not to slide down the hill towards Medlock Hall Farm and scrambled my way back up another hillside along the trail to the start of Riversvale Drive, turned off to head to Sammy's Basin then off again to splodge through the wildflower meadow (it is allowed), past more areas where I hacked down trees, down the hill, through the river to clean my boots a little (it didn't really work for the boots, but it did on the gaiters) and hauled ass up the other side of the valley to the cafe.

After chowing down on a bacon butty and steaming tea I hauled ass home to a very welcome hot bath and to flop on the sofa with a big grin on my face!

Stats -
Miles: approx 8
Lots of fun had.

December Review

A little late, but here it is ->

Well, what can I really say about December other than it was a shite month for riding the bike. Thanks to the pain in my knee progressively getting worse throughout October and November I opted to not ride at all in December to allow me to take part in the Middleton CC track championships on the 20th.

So, it was a case of just one little ride totalling approx 10 miles on the track.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Year End Stats

2009 Total Miles & Ft Climbed:

Road - 1716.06 (74) 64,566ft
Track - 25.93 (2)
Walks - 67.09 (10) 3799ft

Total 1809.08 miles 69,355ft

2009 Monthly Road Miles & Ft Climbed:

Jan - 366.75 (13) 13,828ft
Feb - 15.29 (1) 518ft
Mar - 0 (0)
Apr - 0 (0)
May - 137.42 (7) 4550ft
Jun - 226.83 (10) 7974ft
Jul - 209 (9) 7185ft
Aug - 214.08 (7) 9117ft
Sep - 215.28 (9) 6884ft
Oct - 210.35 (11) 7428ft
Nov - 123.11 (8) 5072ft
Dec - (0) pitiful!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Ice skating anyone?

This ice rink is right outside my door! Although I live on a main rd my front door opens onto a side road with 2 businesses at the bottom end and businesses either side of my place. Given that the businesses are automotive operating 24hr pick-up trucks you'd think it'd get gritted. Nope. During the snow it's fine. During the snow in February it was also fine and didn't ice up much. Now? It's solid ice. Undulating ice, so not even easy to slide across. If you do get to slide, it's straight into the busy main rd and not across as it's on a slope too! I just about managed to slip-slide my way to the road holding onto the wall before walking the rest of the way to my moms on the road. Sod the cars, it was still safer to walk the road than the pavements given the fragility of my knee and pelvis right now. Oh, and the snow penguin? His flipper has fallen off and he's on a diet now!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Well, waddaya know?! It's Christmas again!
Have a great time over the holidays, get out biking and no doubt I'll be joining y'all for a ride soon.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Building work

This is my contribution to the snowman world. Meet Pecky the penguin. He has a beak and flippers, though his right flipper keeps falling off. After playing with toys at work (you gotta make sure they work, haven't you) I came home and built Pecky.

I saw some very cute snowmen on my travels to and from work today, but the following 2 are probably the cutest ones I've seen to date.