Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
May all your hopes & dreams for 2009 come true.

Hot off the press!

News just in...
Chris Hoy is to be knighted
What an accolade after all the extremely hard work he's put in over the years, from his BMX results as a kid to the Beijing Olympics. He definitely deserves it.
Pity cyclists still don't get as much notice or coverage as other sports people at times other than the Olympics though.

Frosty the cyclist - part 2

Do I ride? Don't I ride? That was the question swimming about in my mind when I woke up, looked out of my window and saw the glorious wintry Mancunian weather. Frost, freezing fog, bone-bitingly cold.....

Sod it, I will! So I flung on all my heat-retaining bike clothes, lobbed on my Endura jacket and almost fell down the stairs on my way out! Then nearly got splattered by a bus getting out of my road. Ummmm, was it really a wise decision to get out in this weather? I guess only time can tell.

The order of the day was to go out towards Hyde via Globe Lane. Out from mine along Fairfield Rd and past the Moravian Settlement, past the lovely new canal side apartments - not that I could see them in the fog, just got a glimpse of their great hulking bulk; past Audenshaw reservoirs and up onto Shepley Rd for a little climbing competition against HGVs. Incidentally, I won.

Down into Hyde, then Woodley before taking a sneaky route to avoid a few busy junctions brought me out onto Stockport Rd by the river Tame and Hulme's Wood - all looking like a winter wonderland in the break in the fog: very frosty with lots of frozen spiderwebs everywhere.

After leaving Hyde for the second time, it was a case of passing Newton Hall, blazing past the town hall in Dukinfield and joining the impatient rush hour drivers on the A6017 and B6390 by the Snipe before a great sprint session back to mine. Fab!
View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com
Boring bits -
Temperature: -2 degrees
Max speed: 27mph
Average speed: 12.1mph
Miles: 19.36
Climbed: 476ft.

Cold? Hell yeah! Fun? Sure was!

2009 aims

Although I don't normally make resolutions I've decided that this time I will make some plans and do my damndest to stick with them. So, my aims for 2009 are -

Complete the 300 Mile a month Challenge that re-starts January 1st.
Ride every other day.
Ride at least 7 of the monthly Middleton CC club rides.
Ride at least 7 of the monthly Chorlton Wanderers rides.
Make 1 ride per week up to Hartshead Pike.
Improve hill climbing ability (or current lack of).
Ride out to Dunham/Lavender Barn once a month.
Complete at least 4 sportives.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

That darn.......

Mouse!

I had intended to get out for a ride today, but thanks to playing hunt the mouse I didn't quite make it.

Where I live is a row of 100+ year old buildings that have shop premises on the ground floor and flats above them. My row contains a hairdressers (I'm above this), take-aways and a post office. Right behind my bit is a working garage and opposite is a body-repair shop and it's rather scruffy rusty motor filled yard. Not too far away is the canal and the open land surrounding it.
For the past few nights while reading I've heard the sound of rustling in one corner of my kitchen; I'd finally had enough last night and hoicked everything out of its place and had a blooming massive deck scrubbing and deep clean session, whereupon I came upon some little bits of mouse poo! It seems Mickey got in through the tiniest of gaps round my gas pipe and has enjoyed living behind one of my fridges.

I've now put lots of duck tape sealing the gap (no others anywhere else in the flat) so I can tell if he's chewed his way back in (or out) and will be getting some bait/traps to put down at the weekend.

But, thanks to playing hunt the mouse I didn't get to bed til way past midnight and was so shattered I just snuggled under my duvet when my alarm went off and ignored the muppets singing to me (Muppets theme tune is my alarm call on mobile)! Hey ho. There's always tomorrow for riding.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Jean Keith Award ride

The day of the Jean Keith Award ride dawned cold and frosty with a glorious wintry sun beaming down as I went to collect Paul before setting off towards Bowlee and the important part of the day - the race route.

I must let you in on the tricks of this race as it's a race like no other (that I know of anyway). The rules are:

  1. Pick a piece of paper out of the envelope. This has a time written on it - your time. Do not let anyone other than the officials see this time.
  2. Remove all forms of timepiece: watches, PC, hrm, mobile phones etc.
  3. Get on your bike and ride the route at whatever speed you think will get you close to the time you picked at the start.
Fun, eh?! Rather hard really. The last time I rode this I was on an MTB and not the lovely Everest, and I was miles less fit than I am now. I think my improved fitness became my downfall. More on that later.
The aim was to get to The White Hart pub near Birch Services for 11:30. Paul and I got there for just gone 11. I suggested we do some sneaky tactics and ride the route timing it at our usual speed, then remember how easy/hard we pedalled etc for riding it 'blind'. Paul though better of my sneakiness and advised against it cos we'd probably be seen by the race officials somewhere along the route. So we sat and waited; and waited some more; and waited...until Stan arrived concerned he'd got the wrong day or wrong start point (we'd changed it from previous years). Good job we didn't try sneak tactics!

Slowly, but surely more Middleton CC riders streamed in, until we had the biggest ever turn out for this event - 9 riders. Most people think this ride is pointless or annoying, so refuse to do it.

Back row l-r: Stan, Joe, Paul, Mike, Me, Cliff, Janet, Steve, Alan. Front row l-r: Race officials Jack and Alan

Once all the riders had arrived, it was a case of getting our times off the officials then preparing to go. It's a mass start so we all set off chatting about Christmas and if anyone had been riding recently etc enjoying the scenery as the route turned left into open country before turning left again alongside a business park, then left again to take us up and over the motorway and Birch Services and finally to the finish line.

As the times we choose are all very close together (know this from past events) it became a little bit of a mass finish too. When I crossed the line I knew my chance of winning it had failed as I heard "19..." - my allotted time was 21.20, so I was out of the running.

We aborted the results giving until we were ensconced in the lovely roaring-fire warmth of the pub with drinks-a-plenty and good grub ordered.

Cliff, Joe, Alan Hilda, Alan, Jack Joe, Hilda, Janet, Steve

I came in 8th place and Paul came in 5th. Paul had managed to stay in the same place as last time we rode, although I'd dropped down 4 places.

Remember my saying my fitness was my downfall? Well, Cliff decided he wanted to sprint a little way and as he's a big teaser towards me, I simply couldn't let him get away that easily, so I took off after him. He was already at the head of the pack when he set off, I was right behind everyone else and some way behind. I curved past Steve and Alan to see Cliff out of the saddle looking behind him every now and then as I just mashed the pedals streaking past the others. Soon it was the two of us out in front of the group, Cliff looking a little panicked and out of the saddle still, myself stomping away and gaining ground fast....til I hurtled past taunting him for being beaten by a girl!

Route out to Bowlee
View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

Boring bits -
Temperature: 4 degrees
Max speed: 32mph
Average speed: 12.3mph
Miles: 22.78 (18.79 for ride out/back. 3.99 for race)
Climbed: 610ft

Jean Keith Award route

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

Thursday, 25 December 2008

It's Christmas!! Hurrah!!


Happy Christmas y'all! Hope it's the best yet and there's lots of great gifts and yummy food!
Have a good un and I'll see you again in a few days time.
xxx

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Phew!

I'm not entirely sure why (I think I may have been a little delusional) but I decided to do a ride with a nice little combo of hills to climb and sprinty sections. I never, ever, ever combine the two things into one ride and now I know why......I feel so shattered after it all!!

As the weather was quite warm compared to recent weeks the thermals got left behind and I braved the world in my dhb base layer, short sleeved jersey and long sleeved jersey over the top. Perfect.

I set off along my usual route through Daisy Nook and across Oldham Rd in Ashton before getting onto Kings Rd where the road kicked up and over Queens Rd towards Knott Hill, along Gorsey Lane to bring me out Mossley Rd where I'd usually turn right to head back into Ashton. Not today though. Instead I turned left and carried on up into Mossley Cross with Hartshead Pike on my left shrouded in mist.
Through a busy and annoying junction and I was happily heading to Uppermill for a while before dropping off down Chew Valley Rd to the start of the Isle of Skye climb - which I totally ignored for today! A right turn brought me back to Mossley (eventually) and on into Heyrod where I decided to give myself a kick up the butt as I took a road with a sting in the tail - the lovely Luzley Rd and it's skyward (for a little while) heading. This brought me back out directly opposite where I left Gorsey Lane earlier on.
It was a case of left turn and sprint away to my hearts content now as I flew through Ashton and onto a lovely section of road for really testing the legs, the section of the A635 between the A627 roundabout and the other slightly deadly triangulated roundabout thingy before turning off for Guide Bridge, up and over the motorway, saying a very close hello to the bus that lurched out into the road in front of me.

Almost home now, hurrah! Back onto the A635 at the Snipe before maneuvering round another lovely, deadly nightshade kind of one-way system and the best sprint bit of all - no traffic lights for a whole mile! And then another mile without lights. Hurrah!!
Now it was just a case of hoicking the Everest onto my shoulder and dragging myself upstairs to my flat, where a welcome pint of milk was waiting for me, teasing me with it's condensation running down it's side.

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

Boring bit -
Temperature: 12 degrees
Max speed: 31mph
Average speed: 12.6mph
Miles: 21.79
Climbed: 863ft

Sunday, 21 December 2008

What a night!

Only the people I've known for umpteen years know I danced (both as a competitor and as a teacher) for 12 years and have gained hundreds of trophies; and only those people know how much I still love dancing, despite not being able to take part anymore.

At the time I danced I was busy studying 4 A-levels at college and working 36hrs a week teaching 5 classes a week, or training myself, so as you can imagine it was rather a busy time for me!
Unfortunately, thanks to some scallies, an air rifle and the removal of a pellet from my back, I ended up taking too much time away from the dancing and just focused on the studies instead - much less painful. It resulted in my not being able to return to the school I was at, and by this point I was working elsewhere and needed the money I was currently earning while studying.

So to watch the final of Strictly Come Dancing is, for me, a highlight to my day. The quality of dance that Tom Chambers, Lisa Snowden and Rachel Stevens achieved by the final was excellent and I was not alone in thinking that - more than 13 million viewers watched Tom Chambers win with partner Camilla Dallerup after a close fought battle between himself and Rachel Stevens, with Lisa Snowden and partner Brendan Cole being knocked out at the first public vote.

Oh to be able to dance again!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Weebls

While at Adams yesterday, we were also mucking about online playing games and chuckling away at weebls and the antics in their cartoons etc.

One of the cartoons online is rather good, especially if you don't like Simon Cowell. Take a look and have a chuckle - Simon Cowell

Mmmmmmm!

Yesterday, I decided it was high time I went to visit my good friend Adam as it has been a very long time since we've been able to meet up with things getting in the way to stop us - money problems, work, lack of time etc.

So I set off bright and early as I knew it'd take some time to get over there by bus (takes 3 buses to reach his place - mainly due to my being skint, and a daysaver ticket is so much cheaper than a train fare), but I was climbing the hill to his home by midday to be greeted with the biggest bear hug I've had in years!

The day went perfectly - nice and chilled out, but with plenty of laughs along the way.
Myself and Adam are both big theatre lovers and just love watching shows, ballets etc and have had amazing times. Cats, Miss Saigon, The Ladyboys of Bangkok, The Rocky Horror Show have all been excellent birthday treats from him.

We sat down to watch The Pirates of Penzance on DVD both the straight version and the comedy Australian version with Jo English as the Pirate King were watched - poor Jon English though; at the end of the routine With Catlike Tread he ended up repeating it 4 times due to encores from the audience (and the conductor heckling him!); he was so shattered by the end of it all!

After watching DVDs for a while, Adam then took me through some of the plans for his civil partnership to Phil in August. The venue is stunning and the day will be amazing, topped off with a masquerade ball in the evening - perfectly romantic and enchanting.

Phil then surprised us both by taking us out for a meal when he got home from work, so off to Nando's we went for some scrummy chicken that was snaffled down very quickly by all. Only, we ere to be disappointed by desert - they'd run out of the toffee cheesecake! Sacrilege!! We made do with some extremely moreish Krispy Kreme donuts instead - and watched them being made and glazed at the factory in Trafford Park, complete with free samples (of a whole freshly made, just been glazed donut!). Yum.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Walk on the wild side

The view along most of the walk!

Yesterday members of Middleton CC decided we'd have a wintry walk on Blackstone Edge to make up for the lack of club ride at the end of November.

So, at 9:30am on a cold, frosty morning myself and Paul set out to collect Joe and begin the drive to the White House pub on the moors by the side of Blackstone Reservoir. Once there, boots, beanies and gloves went on as we set off into the dense mist with crisp cold air and patches of snow lying about looking like natural 'white horse' engravings on the hillsides below us.

The route follows the Pennine Way as it winds it's way across the moors to Stoodley Pike and beyond. Our aim was to get the majority of the way to Stoodley Pike, although this all depended on the state of the trails and how we felt as we walked.
The frozen Little Hazzles reservoir
The walk began alongside the very still Blackstone Edge reservoir before following the path round a grassy knoll known as Cow Head and heading past the very frozen Little Hazzles reservoir and the defrosted Warland reservoir. The tracks along here were in excellent condition with only small ice filled potholes and snow to contend with. We decided that Warland reservoir, and the drain that leads to it, was a perfect place to stop for coffee and lunch to defrost us slightly.

All along this far the mist was very dense with only the odd bit of clear sky as the sun tried its best to burn through.
Myself and Joe having our lunch break
Once lunch and vast amounts of coffee was consumed we set off again alongside Warland Drain and onto Higher Moor where we encountered what had become a rather large boggy section with no way through except for the stone edge of the drain - we walked along this for a further 15 minutes before deciding that the weather and surroundings had beaten us - even more so when the bog tried to eat my footwear and not give it back!



A fight ensued between myself and the moor before I gained the upper hand, stole my boots back and clambered onto the stonework to head back to the car.

As it was so misty and cold there were very few people out; those that were out were, like us, covered in mud up to the knees. All except for one chap, and a very odd chap he was too! In the conditions on that day everybody had several layers on, gloves, beanies, scarves, waterproofs etc; this chap had on white trainers, beige trousers, yellow t-shirt and nowt else! He didn't even have any mud splatters on him anywhere. How he managed that is beyond me.
We were even more surprised when he passed us on the way back to the car - he'd obviously gone as far as the boggy bit and turned back - he was running and still didn't have any mud splats!!
All in all, it was an excellent walk - stunning even in the dense mist.

Boring bits -
Temperature: approx 0 degrees
Distance: 6.88 miles
Climbed: 141ft
Altitude: 1293ft at highest point

And the winner is.....

With a resounding 'Hurrah!', it's Chris Hoy!

The Sports Personality of the Year awards were held in Liverpool's Echo Arena and proved to be a very popular event, both at the arena and on TV and Radio.

Olympic champion Chris Hoy was given the honour after beating Lewis Hamilton and Rebecca Adlington respectively in the polls. Hoy received 283,630 votes, Hamilton 163,864 and Adlington 145,924.

Hoy received a standing ovation after the award brought him to tears. Hoy quipped, "It's been such a successful year for myself and British Sports, so to win the award this year is so special.". The last time a cyclist won the award was in 1965 with Tom Simpson receiving it at the age of 27.

The rest of the GB cycling team also won Team of the Year and Dave Brailsford won Coach of the Year, dedicating his award to the rest of the GB cycling squad - coaches and riders.

Hurrah for the cyclists!!

SPOY poll results -

Chris Hoy 283,630 votes
Lewis Hamilton 163,864
Rebecca Adlington 145,924
Ben Ainslie 35,472
Joe Calzaghe 34,077
Andy Murray 19,415
Nicole Cooke 18,256
Christine Ohuruogu 7,677
Bradley Wiggins 5,633
Rebecca Romero 4,526

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Quote

"If you go to heaven, you can eat cheese. If you go to hell, you can eat cheese on toast."

As heard in my hairdressers.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Trusty Steeds

I know Jonathan is wondering what I ride, but I don't know about the rest of you. To save you all wondering, here are my trusty steeds -

Firstly there's the Eddie McGrath Everest. She's got Shimano components, Eddie McGrath stem/handlebars, Bontrager Seatpost, Selle Italia saddle, Shimano spds, Mavic wheelset, Bontrager tyres.

She's a classic that grabs everyone's attention. Whenever I leave her alone after any event or take her to the bike shop for love and attention, she certainly gets it - she's even stopped conversation dead when I took her for repairs after we had a crash.









And there is my Surosa Pista. She's a fully hand-built track bike with Mieche components, Cinelli stem/handlebars, Alpina forks & seatpost, Selle Italia saddle, Look Keo Sprint pedals, Surosa handbuilt wheels, Vredestein tyres.


The staff at the Surosa shop in Oldham are probably the best I've spoken to about bikes - SUROSA CYCLES was established in 1983 by Ken Barlow, father of then international Bob, who took over the business in 1998. The business was around for many years before and was originally founded by Derek (Nobby) Clarke. The shop is now owned by former World Champion Mandy Jones and her husband Nigel Bishop.

Pista has served me well at the Manchester Velodrome helping my times for the three events I take part in at the Middleton CC Club Championship drop by a good amount. Since getting her in March 2008 my times have improved greatly -

200 metre sprint - 3.56 seconds quicker

1k time trial - 6.83 seconds quicker

2k pursuit - 25 seconds quicker

Frosty the cyclist

When I saw the weather this morning, I just had to get out. Everywhere was all twinkly with the frost and looked so pretty, I just had to be part of it all. So I wrapped myself up nice and warm in my Orca base layer, Discovery Channel jersey & bibs and Altura reflex jersey, and the oh so important Specialized legwarmers (though they do have a hole in the knee from when I fell off!) and Endura overshoes to keep my tootsies nice and toasty, then I was off into the frost.

I decided I'd head East into the foothills of the Pennines - although I only wanted a short ride - and set off towards Daisy Nook where I was treated to the sight of what looked like the dawn of the day, although it was 9:26am, honest!

Everywhere looked great and I felt good, so I carried on despite it being rather cold out. Lots of funny looks were the order of the day as I must've looked like I wasn't wearing much while everyone else was wearing every coat they owned - several people looked they were wearing all their clothes at once! I even had several coppers commenting on my (apparent) lack of clothes; then they started whining cos they were cold in several layers and I was cosy in my 3. I left them to whine to themselves.
At this point I discovered that I hadn't put my pump back on the bike after I washed it last night, so thought better of going to the Pike or the foothills and stuck to Ashton and it's 'burbs. Up through Hurst and by Knott Hill Nature Reserve and I was suddenly part of the way I'd go to the Pike, so I thought I better head back downhill, just in case I punctured - not really the weather to have a long walk to a bike shop or home.

I snuck in a loop round Silver Springs before getting back on road and flying through Ashton's heart and up to Taunton. Usually I'd get in the drops for this section of the ride, when I tried it today I yelped as my wrist really didn't want to play in that position, so opted for hands on the brake hoods, arms resting on the bars - still got as aero as I wanted to, so no worries there.

Down along Newmarket Rd, past Daisy Nook and I decided I'd have another sneaky section - this time on the Littlemoss 'camp' of the Hollinwood branch canal. Lovely and frosty here; only downside was the thundering traffic on the M60. I doubled back on myself here to get back to Daisy Nook and back along the roads to where I took the 'dawn' picture and noticed that the cottages across the road were looking lovely in the light, so snapped them then chatted to a couple of horse riders on lovely chestnut mares before pootling along quite happily til I got to one of my favourite sections of the ride; although it's on the busy main road I like it cos I get to drop down into the bars and sprint the mile to home.

It was doing this that I scared a copper! Lots of the Droylsden Force were out pulling drivers for random checks etc and as I flew past them at God knows what speed, all I heard, "Bloody Hell, that was a cyclist going at that speed!" Heh heh...well, you do have to keep them on their toes!

All in all, it was a fab winter wonderland ride/route, and it's great when you can rattle a PC!
Boring bits -
Temperature: -5 degrees
Average speed: 11.4mph
Max speed: 27.9mph
Miles: 14.39
Climbing: 381ft

Monday, 8 December 2008

My idea of Hell

Boy, did I make the wrong decision today!

Was contemplating riding today and trying out my new bike PC that I'd fitted on Saturday night after my Cateye one slunk off to pastures new (most likely got squished by a HGV), until I saw the weather forecast this morning - rain showers with heavy rain at times. I will ride in rain (if I really, really want to) but heavy rain???? That's a no for me!

So, instead of getting soggy on the bike, I opted for going shopping instead. Bad, bad choice, as it seemed like the rest of the world made the same choice and crowded into Manchester just to annoy me. I really hate shopping in the city centre at the best of times, so Christmas shopping is like torture for me - last year I bought all the presents on November 1st when the stock was still being put out on the shelves; and it was all done first thing in the morning at the Trafford Centre which, blissfully, was still void of punters.
This year, according to the news reports, I chose to do all my shopping on the very day that the Christmas rush started! This information, of course, was only relayed to me after I'd been squished, shoved, barged past, poked and prodded, and finally had enough and stomped out of most shops I went into.

Luckily, I knew what I had in mind for the gang, so continued to stomp my way to the relevant places in which I knew I could get the goods cheaper than others. Anything else can be done online, or made, or tell the relevant person to go buy for themselves and give it me to wrap up ;o)

Realistically, I only have 1 or 2 more things to get and then I can chill out while everyone around me freaks out, tears their hair out and just grabs anything within their arms reach!

Ho! Ho! Ho! ???? More like No! No! No!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Sports personality of the year

The sports personality of the year awards take place on 14 December at Liverpool Echo Arena wth live TV coverage on BBC1 and radio/website coverage on BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sports website.

The top 10 nominees are -

Rebecca Adlington
Ben Ainslie
Joe Calzaghe
Nicole Cooke
Lewis Hamilton
Chris Hoy
Andy Murray
Christine Ohuruogu
Rebecca Romero
Bradley Wiggins


Who do you want to win? Use the poll in the sidebar and see how close you get!

Revolution 22

Chris Hoy made an emphatic post-Olympic return to track racing in last nights Revolution 22. He featured in his usual events - the sprint and keirin. At the other end of the scale Sam Harrison and Ruby Miller both consolidated their positions in Future Stars. And again there was another intriguing Sprint/Endurance face off.

Elite events

Sprint - Chris Hoy
6k scratch race - Peter Kennaugh
Womens 5k points - Sarah Reynolds
Mens 10k points - Luke Roberts
1k Madison TT - Ed Clancy & Steven Burke
Womens 500 TT - Jo Rowsell
Womens 6 lap dash - Hannah Mayho
Mens 10k scratch - Rob Hayles
Revolution keirin - Dave Daniel
Invitation keirin - Chris Hoy

Future Stars events

Girls 5k points - Laura Trott
Boys 5k points - Sam Harrison
Girls 6 lap dash - Lucy Garner
Boys 6 lap dash - Sam Harrison
Girls 5k scratch - Harriet Owen
Boys 5k scratch - Sam Harrison

Revolution 21 saw a 750m flying start challenge between the Sprint and Endurance guys, with Endurance taking first blood. This time saw a face off over 1km with a standing start. Would this be a chance for the fast-twitchers?

The result was evident from the first lap, with the sprinters opening up a huge advantage – with Staff putting in an awesome 17.9 opener – from then on in, the Endurance guys were unable to do very much about it. A score settled then…


Result
Sprint Team- 58.832
Endurance Team - 1.01.438

Friday, 5 December 2008

A little bit ouch

After getting my bike back from it's service after the crash I had in November I went on my first ride to test it and my poor body out.

The day dawned sunny and the roads were a little slick after early rain, but there was no threat of cloud or rain. Until I left my flat that is!
I managed a few miles before the heavens opened; I chose to carry on though seeing as it's a bit pointless going out for anything less than 5 miles. The route I took was based on rough jolty roads to test my injuries and also nice new slick tarmac to ensure I've not lost any cornering confidence.

As it turned out I hurtled round slick puddle-filled corners no problem; the jolty sections were a little painful on my wrist, but I think that's down to having taken the strapping off it. I'll give it another go with the strapping back on and see how it goes.

My route took me out towards Littlemoss on the roads before diverting along a track through fields and over the M60 to bring me out in Taunton before a little back road loop that took me part of the way towards Hartshead Pike. I crossed over Mossley Rd and set off down the side of Tameside Hospital to the track that is alongside Silver Springs and Stamford Park. Back along Beaufort Rd and more back roads to Taunton, through Daisynook and Littlemoss and onto the lovely section of the A662 Ashton New Rd where I always drop down into an aero position and fly along til I get back home.

Annoyingly, at some point through the ride my bike pc went flying off my stem - don't know where it went. When it's done that in the past I've either seen it fly off or heard it land/get drove over etc, but I think due to the amount of rain it did a runner without me even noticing until I got home!

Boring bits -
Temperature: 0 degrees
Average speed: abt 10mph
Max speed: abt 23mph
Miles: 12.1
Climbing: 302ft

Amount of pain when riding -
Ribs: 0%
Shoulder: 10%
Wrist: 30%

Everybody say 'Awwww'

I'd like you to meet my Marco, my very cute little sponsored puppy. He's in training to be a Guide Dog for a registered blind person and my dad has sponsored him for me cos he knows I love little Labs.It will take 20 months for him to be fully trained and 'graduate' as a Guide Dog, although if he can't cope with all the situations that a blind person encounters, then he'll be trained as a Hearing Dog for the deaf.

I think you'll all agree that he's extremely cute and wish him well in his training.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Homecoming 2

Mom's coming home!!!!!!!

Got a call off mom earlier this morning to say that her doc has been to see her and he's really pleased with her progress and she can come home later on this afternoon. Hurrah!

Final tally of things that were not quite right:
Femoral embolism - removed by emergency surgery
Venal embolism - treated by drugs
Rapid heart rate - treated by drugs & to see heart doc for some time
Thyroid problems - treated by drugs and to see that doc too

She's been really spoilt in the hospital - having puddings with every meal, people waiting on her hand and foot (although I tend to do that anyway when I'm at her place).

At one point it looked like she had a police guard outside her room! A guy who was shot near HMP Manchester (Strangeways to those who know the place) was put in a room very close to hers and the police were kinda patrolling between the two doors!

But she's coming home, yippee!! Hurrah!! Can you tell that I've missed her?!?!?!?

Homecoming 1

The Everest is home! Hurrah!

Got a call on Monday to say she was fixed, but obviously with all the trips to hospital my bike was the last thing on my mind...although I had run out of clothes drying space while she was away - I use her body you see!

I collected her on Saturday morning and she's looking good. She bravely sustained no damage in the crash, so all that she needed doing was a fine tune and have her rear brake and gear cables replaced. Chris had even managed to find some cables to match the colour of my bike!

Once things get back to normal I'll post a picture of her on here for you all to see ;o)

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Boo hoo

My poor mom had to be told today that her sister had died suddenly on Saturday afternoon.

It seems her husband had gone out for the morning and he received a call from the warden (they live in warden controlled housing) saying that when the warden got to her house Lynda had already passed away.
Poor William had gone into shock and was blathering away to himself while the warden was keeping a very close eye on him.

Lynda and William used to live in the Falkland Islands (William is a Falklander by birth, I think) but they came back to live over here after William's heart bypass, mainly because of the hospitals over here, but also because it costs a fortune to get from the Islands to England - has to be done by RAF usually.
Sadly, William will need to be looked after quite carefully for some time as it's obviously a massive shock to just lose someone like that.

Naturally, we advised the nurses at the hospital about the news we were going to tell mom, just so they could keep an eye on her.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Apologies

I have to apologise for the lack of posts in the past few days - it's been a very hectic and worrying time for me and my family.

My mom has had an infection in her leg for a few weeks that seemed to be getting better with the antibiotics that her doc had given her. Monday lunchtime, I got a text from my mom asking me to get to hers asap as her leg had given way after a massive shooting pain through it and she had no feeling in the leg now. So, off I ran despite having massive pain in my chest/ribs from my previous accident. Got there to find that she was in a lot of pain, feeling rather poorly and sorry for herself. I really didn't like the look of her and decided that she needed emergency treatment.

Blues and Two's were in order of the day as she was rushed into hospital. Paramedics were not happy at all with my poor mom, as her heart rate on their machines was just literally all over the place - one minute it was at 60 bpm, the next 199bpm, then down to 120.
The docs at the Manchester Royal Infirmary took one look at her leg and said that her GP had it all totally wrong and he practically ran from the room and got straight on the phone - at which point I chose to listen in to the conversation, while my dad sat with mom. The dreaded words were then spoken - femoral embolism. I know enough medical terminology to know that it means she had a clot in the artery in her thigh; and I also know enough to know that it can be fatal.
Then a surgeon came down to have a look and listen to the pulse (or lack of by this time) in her foot; then I was taken out of the room to be told what was wrong; she needed immediate surgery and was to be transferred to Wythenshawe hospital to the best surgeons for this type of op. Given the problems with her heart rate too, it was the best thing as Wythenshawe is the heart centre of the Northwest, so that could be dealt with at the same time.

More blues and two's got us across Manchester where mom was hurtled into resus, so that her heart rate could be monitored closely.
My medical knowledge told me that the surgery she'd need had to be done under local anaesthetic, so I prepared her to be told that by the surgeon who agreed with me. He was mightily concerned about her heart too s she'd never had any problems with it before; he thought that the clot may have formed in her heart and travelled down and this may cause the problems, but he couldn't be sure. Either way, she ended up with tubes coming out of both arms, being pumped full of drugs and being hurtled towards theatre.

Thankfully, she did great through the op (she said it really hurt, poor thing) and was transferred onto Vascular HDU, where she still is today. She's looking much better though and the swelling in her leg has gone down a lot. Docs are really pleased with her and have said that they're sure there're no other clots anywhere else in her body.
She's got to see the heart docs to find out what caused (if anything) the heart problems and how it can be treated. As she's not been in hospital since she had me in 1979, nobody knows if she's been like this since then or if it's a sudden thing.

We're not entirely sure when she'll be allowed home either, but it's proving interesting for me looking after my dad and brothers and stopping them from running themselves ragged.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Man's best friend?

'A hunter from Brad Urach in Germany was shot dead by his own dog after he left it with a loaded gun. The fifty-one year old man was found sprawled next to his car in the Black Forest. A gun barrel was pointing out the window and his bereaved dog was howling inside the car. The animal is presumed to have pressed the trigger with it's paw and police have ruled out foul play.

Since it happened in a hunting preserve, the dog may elect to have the trophy head mounted on a wall in its doghouse.'

Taken from The Darwin Awards book - True stories of how dumb humans have met their maker and removed themselves from the gene pool.

Poorly bike :o(

Well, the Everest has now gone to the bike hospital (Gerry Shields) for some much needed love and attention - he's been very kind and has said he'll do his best to get it done this week for me.

As my ribs are practically screaming at me every time I move recently though, I think it's fair to say the challenge is over for now.

I have planned to start it up again in January - what a way to start the year with a challenge!!

Between now and then, I'll be giving my poor body it's much needed rest and recuperation and trying to get some sleep (not doing well at the moment as I'm lucky if I catch 5hrs each night).

My new helmet has arrived and looks lovely - a Specialized S-works 2D Team Edition Helmet - a bargain at just 69 quid! All I need now is for Everest to make it home again safely and looking brand spanking new. She has made a few more admirers too - a few guys in Gerry Shields's shop were very appreciative of her looks and that she's an authentic Eddie McGrath hand built bike. She's had other admirers, usually on the sportives that I've ridden with Amy, but to know there are locals too, I'm sure she'll be happy about that!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Humph!

Well, I've still not heard anything from the GP place where I had my interview, so I'm going to assume I didn't get it and just carry on looking around for other positions.

Cleaned the Everest last night as best I can and found that bits of her are broken :o( The front derailleur just blatantly refuses to move, my gears are slipping anyway, and the rear brake is totally pants - I can have it so the brake blocks are stupidly close to the wheel meaning just a fingertip nudge and they'll be on, but I still have to practically pull the lever through the bars before it does anything. When it does, it then sticks in place!

I braved riding this morning to give it a test ride to see what else is up with her and made sure my route was to the local bike shop (Gerry Shields) to book her in for a full service anyway.

My route took me through Medlock Vale and along Briscoe Lane in to Newton Heath before swooping round to Oldham Rd and the shop. I specifically took some difficult roads to put her to task and get a feel for what else is up - thankfully I haven't found anything else wrong with her, but Chris is going to give her the love and attention she needs......asap, when I can find the cash for it.

It does mean that the Asics 300 mile challenge is over, I'm afraid. If I could have carried on and taken part in the MCC club ride at the end of the month to Todmorden it would've meant I'd get to 79% completed - could've easily made up those extra miles between now and the end of the month. But my bike needs the attention now.

Boring bit -
Temperature: 10 degrees
Max speed: 27mph
Average speed: 12mph
Miles: 7.31
Climbed: 203ft

Challenge 65% complete with 107.71 miles left to go - but it is now over for me :o( I have ridden 192.33 miles of it. I will definitely take part in this challenge again another month.....keep watching!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

This should be interesting

The following is an excerpt from Cycling Weekly -

'Triple Olympic gold-medallist Chris Hoy will take to his bike in a showdown with the newly crowned Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton at the Race of Champions event on December 14.

Whilst Hoy will be riding his bike, Hamilton will be on board a Mercedes Benz road car. The head to head battle will be the highlight of the pre-show entertainment at the event in Wembley.

Racing on a tight and twisty circuit, the two rivals may well be closer-matched than expected: what Hamilton may gain on the straights, Hoy can make up in the bends. "This is going to be something very special," said Hamilton. "I've done F1 demonstration runs away from race tracks before, but Wembley Stadium's completely different, the atmosphere is going to be crazy. It's going to be a great way to end a fantastic year, and I'm really looking forward to putting on a show." "I'm a big motor racing fan anyway," said Hoy. "I've seen the Race of Champions on TV so to be there in the flesh is going to be great and to be actually able to compete in it is fantastic. I can kick out about two and half break horse power so that's not quite going to match his car but I think they'll make the race as close as possible and I'll be giving it absolutely everything; I'm really looking forward to it." '

Once the duo have finished racing, they will head to Liverpool for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year presentation.

For more details of the event click here

Waiting is hard to do

I've been looking for a better job since January and have found the whole process rather boring, tedious and most of all annoying - people just don't have the decency to get back in touch with you anymore, even to just say you don't have the right thing we're looking for. It makes the whole thing harder as you never get to find out why you haven't been invited to interview etc.

So far, I've had one interview - with GMP and that one was a whole 6 month long process with 2 interviews, medicals, capability tests........
Unfortunately I didn't get that job as I'd taken too much time off sick in the last 2 years, so had to go back to hunting again.

Then, yesterday afternoon at 12:30 I received a phone call from a place I'd sent my CV to inviting me for an interview the very same day, 3 hrs later on. Obviously I accepted the request and hurried home to dig out some professional looking garb rather than the scally-esque stuff I was wearing.

I got to the place (GP surgery in Whalley range) with seconds to spare -taxi driver got lost - and found myself up in the manager's office being interviewed be her and one of the centre's GPs. Everything went well and now begins the waiting process to see if I get the job. If I do it'd be great, as it means only working 3 days a week, but I must be good and wait........ho hum!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Revolution 21

The Revolution series began in earnest on Saturday night, and it made for an excellent night. Seating tickets had sold out way before the event and there were only a few standing tickets left, so capacity crowds were on the boards.

On top of the track events, there was the thrill of Rollapaluza track centre which was a popular place all night. Unfortunately I haven't got the results from that event, but I have for the track events.

Elite events
Motor-paced scratch race - Geraint Thomas
Women's 10k points - Alex Greenfield
Scratch - Brad McGee
Women's scratch - Becky James
Sprint - Matt Crampton
Madison 1k TT - Ed Clancy and Steven Burke
International revolution keirin - Matt Crampton
Points - Chris Newton

Special event just for this night - Flying 750m team sprint - Endurance riders v sprinters
Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas & Steven Burke beat Jamie Staff, Jason Kenny and Matt Crampton

Future Stars events
Girl's points - Ruby Miller
Boy's 6 lap dash - Sam Harrison
Girl's scratch - Harriet Owen
Boy's points - Sam Harrison
Boy's scratch - Kian Emadi

Sam Harrison leads the Future Stars so far in season.

Brad McGee has used this Revolution night to showcase his talents before retiring from racing and concentrating on coaching. After a video clip of his previous races on the big screen, Brad was given several victory laps with a guard of honour compiling all the night's riders on the track with their bikes on their rear wheels forming an archway for him to ride through.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

OUCH!!

After yesterday's crash I went to the MRI to get checked out as I was in agony - not entirely sure how I managed to ride home after it!

Explained to docs how I'd come off landing on my right shoulder and elbow, cutting my knee and really hurting my left wrist, before sliding some distance on my head and ear and that my helmet is broken. Docs decided to ignore the pain (excruciating) in my ribs and that of my left wrist. They also ignored the fact that my helmet was broken and head could be hurt; they just ordered xrays of my shoulder and elbow.
Results came back and doc was rather abrupt - came into the waiting room to tell me nothing was broken, shoved painkillers I can't have into my hand (asthma means I can't have certain painkillers) and buggered off, leaving me stood there amazed at his audacity to ignore what I'm telling him!

As you can imagine I came home very disgruntled!!

After a very sleepless and excruciatingly painful night, I went to Tameside Hospital for a 2nd opinion. Boy, am I glad I did!!

The doc I saw here was one who worked in the Fracture clinic too, so he knew what he was doing when he checked me out. The results of his examination and xrays came back as 3 cracked ribs - explains the agony - a cracked bone in my left wrist and torn ligaments in the right shoulder. Mega ouchy!!!
I've seen this doc before and he knows how much I hate having arms in casts, so he's advised I wear a strong support bandage, like a sports-type strapping on the wrist, which I'm happy to do. He also doesn't want me to have it in a cast due to having both arms injured...I'd be a little bit stuck given that I live alone!

I will have some war wounds to show off too as the cut on my knee is more of a gouge and is about the size of a 2p and the same sort of depth. And I'll have some pretty impressive bruising too - though most of it'll be hidden.

One thing is for sure, I certainly won't be falling off like that again!

Rainy ride

I met up with Amy for a ride out to Lavender Barn tea rooms - an enjoyable route that we did last week. We set off through quiet roads until we came to the junction of Barrington Rd and Manchester Rd in Altrincham where a queue of traffic and a few buses got the better of us - Amy stopped suddenly (too suddenly for me to be able to stop), I shouted for her to try and move to no avail; as I squished past her she fell onto a Clio - rather her fall onto that than me go under the oncoming bus! Sorry Amy!

As we pulled into the farmyard for the cafe it was evident that we wouldn't have the place to ourselves as we did last time, as there was a tandem in the barn and a little kids bike leaning against the wall. Once inside, we found ourselves with several other people who'd braved the rain.

Hot chocolate and teacake later, we stopped for a chat with two chaps who'd also braved the rain on their bikes before we took a little detour along a section of the Transpennine Trail - lovely and muddy.



We got onto the Floop by Sainsbury's in Fallowfield before I took a rather interesting tumble while riding at 18mph, ending up in a heap on the floor cussing the weather and coming off!

Somehow, my chain ended up getting off the chainrings and through the little gap between the rear derraileur and the rings...something that amazed both myself and Amy! Thanks to Amy for putting my bike back together for me.


It was a case of crawling back to where we split to head to our homes as every jolt was like sending shockwaves through my body, but we got there in the end; Amy was even offering to kick me in my good leg to take my mind off the pain everywhere else!

Boring bit -
Temperature: 13 degrees
Max speed: 24mph
Average speed: 14.2mph before crash, 11.5mph after
Miles: 35.61.
Challenge 61.29% complete with 116.12 miles left to go

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

I'm a Gecko!

Back from my hospital appointment feeling a little confused. I've seen 3 different specialists today who have all agreed what the problem is but aren't able to tell me how, why or when....

...After all the tests and checks, they've agreed that I've developed non-binocular sight - basically my eyes have stopped working together and now work independently. Think of it as looking through the lens section of binoculars or microscopes: there's 2 lenses, one for each eye, and both eyes should be able to see through the lenses at the same time; mine now don't meaning that when I look at something, I'm looking at it through one eye only rather than both. Both eyes are facing the same direction, but they won't both see what I'm facing. So that's the 'what' dealt with.

The 'how', 'why' and 'when' is more problematic as there was no head trauma to cause it, no genetic defects and certainly no tumours or illness. They're also very unsure if this will get better, worse or stay the same.

My vision hasn't actually changed in over 10 years - I've been told that my sight is excellent considering I had a squint as a kid (the squint has been ruled out as the cause) - but the hospital are allowing me to change my glasses as this won't make a difference.

The interesting thing is that I saw an optician in September who failed to notice my eyes work separately, yet my humble GP was the one who initially pointed this out to me. How strange that the taxes we payed for this guy to train in the field failed to notice something he's meant to spot!

The funniest thing of this all is that the only time this condition isn't a problem is when I'm on the bike!

Oh, and despite my eyes working independently like a gecko, I don't have the distinct pleasure of being able to swivel them around!!

Aargh!

Some of you may be aware of the problems I've been having over the past 3 months with my right eye - constantly sore, unable to focus properly, letting too much light in and generally moving into position a little after the left eye - and this has been extremely frustrating for me as I love to read and have been having massive problems doing so during this time.
Well, I have an appointment at the eye hospital later this morning, so hopefully I'll get down to the bottom of what is causing the problems and find a way of sorting it out.

As the appointment will take several hours I decided that rather than not riding at all, I'd get out stupidly early and went for a ride this morning.

My route took me over to Heaton Park along the notoriously busy Alan Turing Way, Cheetham Hill Rd and Bury Old Rd to the St Margaret's Lodge entrance where the fun began. Onto the Bridle Rd that skirts the Park and is bordered by the ever increasingly busy M60 and down a fun, muddy hill before coming out by the huge motorway roundabout, where even the hardy cyclists get a little scared as they try to navigate this (before they remember that there is an underpass through the junction)!
Now it was onto Heywood Old Rd to start the long straight route up into Bowlee and pass near the renewed Birch Services. At this point my route joined that of the Middleton CC Jean Keith Award route and, having passed under the motorway bridge, turns left onto Hareshill Rd, left at the -junction in front of the Business Park and follows Pilsworth Rd round to where Pilsworth Rd turns left.

Onto a little lane that's rough and lumpy before becoming cobbles after Pilsworth Cottages and crossing over the motorway on Castle Rd brought me back round to Heaton Park where I started the return leg of the ride. I rode round to Victoria Avenue (always a nightmare around this area, never mind at this time of day!), purely because it'd mean I could get some speed up and get home quicker!
Blackley passed by in a blur of lights, building shaped blobs and car shaped blobs as I wove my way through the building traffic (it never seems to recede on here) to enter Moston and Newton Heath, where I had fun flying down Droylsden Rd and the Graver Lane conservation area and Berry Brow, where my chain decided to have as much fun as me, and flew off the bike! Luckily I wasn't too far from home if I needed to walk, but the chain went back on like a dream (it has been known to be very stroppy on occasions) and off I went to climb back up Edge Lane and home to a nice steaming bowl of Ready Brek - I know, I'm a big kid at heart!

See the route I took here

Boring bits -

Temperature: 4.5 degrees
Max speed: 33mph
Average speed: 15.7mph
Miles: 29.13
Challenge 49.3% complete with 151.87 miles left to go

Monday, 10 November 2008

Annoying builders. Grrr!

Thanks to the annoying builders at the business premises next door to me, I got rudely woken at 8am when they started to use a pneumatic drill on god knows what!
So I thought that, seeing as I'm awake I may as well get out and ride. After crawling out of my nice warn bed and throwing on bike stuff, I set off on a ride towards Park Bridge - it's a loop that I really like and isn't too harsh for an early ride.

I set out along my usual route through Daisy Nook and Littlemoss, choosing to go up the hillier route of St Alban's Rd once over into Ashton before the nice little downhill section along Lees Rd into Lees itself. I usually go through Park Bridge along Alt Hill Rd through the pretty little village of Alt Hill, but today I thought I'd head along Mill Brow and right through the heart of Park Bridge itself, feeling the chill in the air as I flew down the hills.

Thankfully, the route I took also meant that I got to avoid the farms on Alt Hill Rd that where I've often encountered problems, so no tractors in the road for me this time round. Yay!
Once back in Bardsley, I decided to cross over Ashton Rd and head along Knott Lanes and Crime Lane to pass by Crime Lake before heading down through the conservation area of Waterhouses past beautiful farms such as the Grade 2 listed Diamond Hall Farm (15th Century), and very sweet cottages.
This brought me down past Millstream Animal Shelter and onto Berry Brow where a loop of the Medlock Vale was in order before heading back home, tired, muddy and cold, but happy that I've boosted my miles for the Challenge.

Boring bit -

Temperature: 7 degrees
Max speed: 25mph
Average speed: 15mph
Miles: 14.97
Challenge 39.86% complete with 180.12 miles left to go