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.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Track racing

Middleton CC's final track championship session got underway this afternoon with some of us arriving late (myself and Paul) due to the unnatural snow levels in Manchester. Paul had to try to get through a few valleys to get his bike from storage, then come over to get me. Anyway, we arrived, warmed up and got underway. I was the only female riding, which didn't really make much difference with me not being a member anymore, so I was riding as a guest. I set off 3rd in the sprint and did worse than anticipated with a time of 17.9 seconds: 2 seconds off my PB. I did, however, reach and maintain 28.6mph for the sprint which is one good thing. All was going well on the 'getting up to speed' laps and I set off as anticipated, if a little slow. Halfway round and my knee screamed at me, literally bringing a tear to my eye. Despite the pain I continued as I wanted to get a time to build on.
So, stats -
200 metre sprint
17.9 seconds
28.6mph average

¤ sent from mobile device ¤

Friday, 18 December 2009

Wintry welcome

I'm gutted - we didn't get anymore snow last night. I was, however, greeted with the snow still being on the floor from the afternoon snow. My walk to work this morning was a gorgeous, if freezing, one with the odd flurry, a brisk bone-chilling wind and the creamy yellow snow clouds whizzing across the sky on a mission to find a bit of land it missed before.

Thursday, 17 December 2009


After all the weather reports saying that we would get snow, we wouldn't get snow. It finally arrived with a flourish this afternoon. Sadly, being on the lower slopes of the pennines means it's not a thick thick blanket, but it's enough for the snowball fight I've had with my mother. It's settled everywhere and doesn't look like it's going anywhere soon. Hope it snows some more tonight and I wake up to a nice thick blanket of the lovely white stuff!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The weekend

The weekend has been at interesting one, and a relatively good one too.

Saturday began with me not having to work for once (worked 3 saturdays in the past month), so it began very lazily with umpteen teacakes eaten for breakfast with a huge mug of coffee before heading over to the parent's place where more coffee and the newspapers waited for me to devour.

The afternoon was spent with Mom and Bro shipping (window shopping in my case, as I'm so skint) and having a hoot with them both. Popped into the shop I work in, and we all had a go on the tombola - myself and mom not winning everything, bro winning 3 times. he was very nice and gave me one of the prizes which I'm happy about as it's a lovely fragrance, and one which I'd never normally think about. But there you go!

The evening was spent over at the Manchester Velodrome watching Revolution 26 - a night of cycling including elite and future stars riders all competing in their own sectors for placings in the series.
Unlike in November's event where the future stars had several crashes, it was the turn of the elite riders with 2 crashes in the same race. Both riders got up and carried on racing later in the night once their bikes had been fixed.
Bradley Wiggins put on a storm of cycling and former skier Alain Baxter put in an appearance for his first cycle race of his career and gave an amazing performance as he stomped through the sprint with a sub 12 second ride in the flying 200m sprint. Excellent!

Today was meant to have involved some cycling. All was fine until I woke up with bad knee pain (again). I was talking with Mom yesterday anyway about strapping it up or putting a knee brace on it at some point. I did a google search this morning on the subject and matched my symptoms with those of PCL sprain - pain on hyper-extension of the knee and most certainly made worse by straightening it out - all the pain is in the right area and fits in so well with what I read. However, I cannot physically do anything in terms of strapping/bracing etc until I have seen the physio which will be after xmas now. So in the meantime it's back with the anti-inflammatories when really needed and trying to take it easy when I can

I will not, however, let the pain stop me from riding in MCC track champs on 20th December.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Club run

Sunday was Middleton CC club run day - with me as a guest rider seeing as I haven't renewed my membership with them. It proved to be a day like no other.

I'd arranged to meet the guys at Droylsden Academy as it's close to my place and on the pre-planned route to Uppermill, so at a few minutes to 9:40 I hoicked Everest downstairs and out into the crisp chilled (make that frozen) air, locked up and shoved my hands into my cheats winter gloves - 'normal' non-cycle full finger gloves with mitts over the top (I find these better than winter cycle gloves), pulled my buff up (yep, it was cold enough for my buff) and set off to find the one-way streets have changed direction, back to how they used to be, so I found myself heading the wrong way along a short section (on the pavement too, how naughty am I?!) rather than trying to fight my way through the stupid contraflow and literally riding in circles to get to where I needed to be.

After a very chilly 5 minutes wait I saw 2 flouro people pootling in my direction - Paul and Joe were the only other club members brave enough to ride on the day that winter hit.

We set off through roadworks and round a fiveway roundabout to head to Moorside St and through to Daisy Nook where the rain began to fall from the carpet of cloud that had formed. After stopping to put on rain jackets and my phone into Paul's camelback, we pootled on through Daisy Nook and up to the climb on Vicarage Rd. After staying behind the others on the route so far and seeing them crawl up Newmarket Rd I decided that Vicarage Rd would be a much faster affair for myself; I sat behind them to the base of the climb and it's first bend biding my time. The second bend came up and I chose my moment and launched an attack that they failed to respond to. I did my usual mountain-goat impression I do on some ridiculously short steep climbs and hauled ass to the top in double quick time while they crawled up in a gentlemanly fashion. Still, it gave me time to schlurp some of my energy-powered vimto - neutral High-5 tabs in vimto - while waiting for them.

Along to Mossley Rd, between Stamford Park and it's boating lake and to the Stamford/Ridge Hill lights where a left turn took us to Wakefield Rd where the spitting rain turned into rain, then into sleety rainy crap. Climbing round past the top of Cockerhill Rd and the shit got heavier still. And colder. Much colder.

By the time we got to Heyrod and under the railway line the shit couldn't make it's mind up if it was gonna be rain, sleet or snow and the roads were collecting standing water. A fellow cyclist passed us at this point as he headed Ashton direction and seemed surprised to see us in the weather - and we, him. Soon another cyclist was passing us looking rather soggy and grumbling about the weather.

Cycling a section of road where the railway is on one side and the River Tame is on the other, it was hard to work out which was louder - the trains passing or the gushing of the very swollen river as it crashed over a weir and carried on smashing it's way through the valley. That wasn't the only river though as the standing water on the roads was getting deeper (around 1cm deep so far) and had begun to flow quite happily along the road. By this point we were all getting very wet with the rain seeping through clothes (4 layers in my case) as the rain got heavier and the spray got worse.

We were originally going to head to Uppermill, but seeing as we were nearing Mossley we decided to see if any cafes were open (they weren't). We stopped at Mossley Station to discuss what to do. Seeing as there was water pouring down Stamford Rd instead of going into the drains, and I was beginning to get very cold due to now being rather wet we chose to head back home.

Turning round in a pond and getting back onto Manchester Rd was easier than anticipated and we set off home the same way we headed out. By now we all had ponds in our shoes despite wearing neoprene overshoes (the rest of us was soggy anyway so why not pool in the shoes) meaning every pedal stroke squeezed out socks to some extent and every pull on the brakes produced visible water run-off from the squeezing out of gloves.

Reaching Ridge Hill Rd lights where we turn right to climb up to Mossley Rd and I was forced into taking evasive action - we were at the front of the lane and the lights turned to the green filter for my lane to turn right; as I was making my turn a car from the opposite side of the lights decided that as soon as his lights changed to green he was gonna mow down anything in its way. My evasive action meant I had to tighten my turn and resulted in going the wrong side of an island, luckily there weren't any cars there or I'd have ended up laying on their bonnets or perfecting my superman impressions.

Back home I couldn't make my mind up which was wetter - myself or the lake that was forming outside my front door! Once indoors I dropped my clothes where I stood and made for a hot bath before heading to my parent's place.

Many fellow polar bears and penguins met along the way.
Temp - 3c with real feel of 0c
Miles: 17.13
Average speed: 11mph (slow, but with slicks in the rain/sleet/snow it can't be helped)
Climbed: 520ft

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

November review

It has been a 'half' kinda month with my mileage and elevation somewhat halving what it was last month:

Distance covered: 105.98 miles
Elevation gained: 4552ft
Days ridden: 7
Night rides: 1
Middleton CC: yep - to Mossley
Cycling events: 0
Other events: 1 - coppicing.

As with October, I'm still not doing any hill reps. My monthly elevation total was averaging out quite nicely but has now halved (so have the miles ridden), so I guess it still is kinda average. As predicted, the inclement weather has now hit and I did have a lot less riding time due to either training staff or purely because the weather is crap.

I also had enforced leave off the bike due to knee problems. Hopefully I can get back on the bike for more rides this month.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Daisy Nook have varying events on through the year for both volunteers and the average Joe to come along and take part in. Sunday's event was coppicing - making pathways safe, felling trees, clearing shrubbery and making wildlife habitats out in the country park and alongside wildflower meadows.

The day started out very grim with huge dark threatening clouds in the sky and the wind blowing a gale, however by the time Paul and I got to the park the weather had calmed down massively.

After meeting the other people involved - several Duke of Edinburgh Award lads, few volunteers and 3 rangers, and receiving instruction from the chief ranger that day - Jane - we all picked up our tools and headed off into the glorious muddiness that resembled the park that day.

The DoE lads stayed in the wildflower meadow clearing there, while the vols carried on with Jane to a steep hillside which drastically needed clearing. Paul was the only male in our group with myself, Joanne, Derve and Hazel and we split into 2 groups - Paul, Derve and Joanne as one, myself and Hazel as the other. When Jane said that trees needed to be felled myself and Hazel leapt at the chance to do it.Bow saws in hand we were led to 3 Sycamore trees that were too leggy and causing a few problems. Learning the correct way to fell a tree was real interesting and before long we'd both felled a tree each before both taking down the third. Jane was mightily impressed that we'd managed it so easily. To be honest the thrill of felling something so big was exhilarating. Added to the fact that the logs were being used as dead hedges on the riverside and as critter homes elsewhere, it felt really good to be helping conservation. Pretty soon, the area had been dealt with leaving the path clear and safe (tis a very steep sided tree lined valley) and homes/hedges built.

After lunch at the centre we headed off to the second location of the day - Medlock Vale where loads needed to be done. In the seventies the council overcompensated for the lack of trees in the area etc and planted too many trees too close to each other so they grew to be pretty much poker straight 30ft tall logs with a sprout of greenery on the very tops. Not very attractive as trees really.

Again we split into our groups. Myself and Hazel attacking the sycamores, Paul and Derve attacking beech, Joanne clearing shrubbery and the DoE boys off elsewhere struggling with their trees. After being assaulted by all the brambles myself and Hazel got our trees down creating nice homes for hedgehogs and foxes and soon we'd moved on round to another area to free the path of overhanging trees and overgrown straggly brambles that were threatening to eat us up. This time there were no areas nearby where we could toss the logs, so after felling them we had to haul them up the hill and toss them into the valley we'd chosen as a good spot for the wildlife habitats. Several trees later and the coats were coming off as we'd worked up a sweat.

Pretty soon we were called to help the DoE boys as they couldn't fell a tree. Myself and Hazel stalked over bow saw in hand and attacked the bugger. Once it was down trying to cut it down into smaller sections was proving hard as it decided to bounce about. Shouting out for some assistance in holding it down proved fruitless. Looking around the DoE boys had buggered off leaving us girlies to carry on. Did they get miffed that girls could bring the tree down they were struggling with? I don't know. But I do know that it isn't part of the award to just admit defeat and leave. Oh well.

Way too soon it was time to head home as it was getting dark and the rain had begun to fall. I loved every minute of it. The best mental and physical exercise I've had in a very long time. My knee coped brilliantly. Best of all I didn't even ache the day after!

I might just become a volunteer ranger for the place.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Dr Pain

This morning's visit to the doctors passed by relatively well. Doc is rather amazed that Surgeon advised I lead a very sedentary life. So was I when originally told, hence why I ignored him and only gave up the racquet sports and football, while carrying on cycling. Doc wants me to see my physio to ensure all ligaments, muscles etc are working properly before we turn to any drastic measures. He's adamant he wants me to keep cycling and also suggested I maybe take up rowing as not only will that keep my knee active it'd also help my repairing shoulder. So, I need to speak to my local gym to see about getting an induction. I certainly won't be rowing on a river! By the time I've finished having physio on my knee, I'll have been under their care for almost a year! ¤sent from my mobile device¤

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Windy walk

Seeing as I'm going out of my tree with not riding this week I opted for a walk today regardless of the gales and the threat of torrential rain.

I chose a portion of a walk I've done frequently that I knew wouldn't be too hilly or too muddy in the current crap climatic conditions.

I set off from mine with a beanie on as despite it being mild out the gales were supposed to make it much colder. What the weather forecasters failed to note was that the wind was actually rather warm, so before long the beanie was off and replaced with my baseball cap to shelter my eyes from airborne crud. By the time I'd passed Millstream Animal Shelter my waterproof jacket was getting unzipped as I was already beginning to get a sweat on.
Before long I'd reached the steepest point of my walk with a brief 14-20% section to enter Woodhouses. Directly opposite some gorgeous cottages is a road that for several years I thought just led to some expensive looking houses off the main road. It wasn't until a year or so ago that I actually paid attention whilst walking past and saw the weathered finger post sign letting the world know that it led to Medlock Vale and was part of the Oldham Way.
I headed down this road which led past some stunning houses before reaching an old cobbled section (maybe a century old?) that led steeply down to a gorgeous farm in the valley with a stunning vista of woodland all around it. Once past the farm and along a muddy track (with some deep tractor ruts in it) and I was at my desired location of the bridge over the Medlock itself. My aim of coming here was to see exactly how much the river had risen with the influx of rain we've had recently. Further downstream I'd seen the river so deep that there wasn't much of the archway left to be seen in the road bridge - pretty sure the river had risen at least 4 or 5ft. Up here the river was lapping over the banks and had breached them at one point. Luckily the banks of the river here are actually 10ft or so below the pathways - kind of a valley in a valley. However there didn't seem any imminent danger of it breaching fully.
Once I'd had a rest I set off back through the muddy tracks to the waymarked entrance of a field and tramped my way through until I reached Vale Lane again which brought me alongside fishing ponds and back out onto the main road, where I pootled back down the hill to get onto Edge Lane again.

From here I climbed back up the hill in another direction to the level crossing and the start of the Clayton Vale circular route (a portion of the Vale I'd not walked along for many many years) alongside the train tracks until the Culcheth Lane entrance and the trail led down into the valley here where again the river was so swollen and fast flowing that even the ducks had huge problems. Crossing the old bridge and climbing back out of the valley I startled a bunny - my startle saved it's little fuzzy life though as soon a Sparrowhawk came swooping about looking for lunch and he'd have been the meal if he hadn't have hopped away into the undergrowth.

Now I'm at my mom's place and my knee is swollen internally (horrid squishy feeling) and kinda dead, so I'm glad it was only a short walk and it's something more I can tell Doc when I see him.

Temp: 11C with a real feel of 11C. Winds 29mph S.
Miles: 4.2
Climbed: 296ft

Monday, 16 November 2009

Enforced leave

Humph! I'm not happy! At all! I'm forcing myself to have a week off the bike.

I've been having loads of problems with my knee ever since the tibial plateau was fractured in 2004 leaving a perma-buggered knee, a non-removable 'step' in the rear of the patella and stage 2 arthritis. Problems such as constant niggles, dull aches most of the time, creaking (much more than is normal in healthy knees and also more than is anticipated with my genetic joint condition) etc.

In recent months this has progressed into having approximately half the week with sharp pain when bending the knee and/or the occasional searing pain.

Within the past week this has progressed even more into extreme sickening searing pains both at the old fracture site and deep within my knee and both while awake and during the night (keeping me awake at night and/or making me snooze with a bucket by the side of the bed.

Things came to a head last night while using my pc and having both the searing pain and a dead feeling in the same joint, often at the same time. After chatting to my mom bout it, she suggested going to A&E which I knew would be pointless, as the last time I went with my knee problem I was bounced from pillar to post before getting to see my consultant again months later.
So, I'll be trying to get in to see my GP and ask for a referral to Mr Samarji. The last time I saw Mr Samarji he was talking more surgery if things don't really stay the same or improve. Maybe now is the time for that to happen.

It's kind of a Catch-22 situation: I want rid of the pain as it's horrid and often makes my leg just give way completely so having more surgery would be great in that respect. But, I was told at the time of the injury that further injury (of which there has been 2 instances) will more than likely result in a total knee replacement, which at my age isn't great as the hardware would need replacing more frequently. Hmm, constant vomit-inducing pain or frequent surgery? Choices, choices.

First things first - get in to see Doc Dean and no other doc, cos I don't want to be dismissed again like I was a few months ago.

The ouchy ride

After watching the Revolution series at the Manchester Velodrome on Saturday night, spending most of the time stood up, I possibly foolishly decided on riding Sunday morning. What was meant to be a nice easy flat ride became a slow paced ride with some climbing to do. A ride that became slower as it went on due to the pain in my knee getting progressively worse.

A portion of the Floop was ridden to Debdale before a jaunt on Hyde Rd/Manchester Rd through Denton Roundabout and into Hyde, then the climb up to Roe Cross via Victoria St and Matley. This was followed by the descent into Stalybridge then the climb back out to Ashton and up over to Park Bridge for the great descent there (rather busy this time round). Followed, naturally by my off-road jaunts that added mud to the road crud covering Everest and myself already. Over the M60 and climbing up a muddy, leafy slope on slicks brought me back out on the roads without having to get up the stupidly steep portion of road that would have finished me off as my perma-buggered knee was really whining now. Luckily I was close enough to home to really slow down without the fear of night descending before I got there.

Stats -
Temp: 11C with a real feel of 11C, wind 12mph WSW
Miles: 18.74
Average speed: 12.1mph
Climbed: 1002ft

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Lest we not forget them

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
we shall remember them.

Remembrance Ride

I set off in the morning for a nice ride, hoping to stop off at a memorial for the 2 minute silence. Just in case I couldn't get to a memorial, as with last year I wore my red kit to emulate a poppy in case I was too far away come 11am and needed to stop anywhere to remember the fallen.

As it was I made good time on the ride and rode to the war memorial in Hurst Cemetery to pay my respects again - I'd stopped to watch the Remembrance Day parade on Sunday, and rode to Ladysmith Barracks late last night and attached a poppy to the gate. Unlike Sunday, where I started blubbing (not sure why as I haven't personally lost anyone in a war), I held it together but felt very goosebumpy and cold despite sweating buckets.

I like to think the souls of the fallen came to thank me for remembering them.

After the silence, I made very easy headway home to watch the Remembrance Service on the BBC.

Stats -
Temp: 7C with a real feel of 5C, wind 9mph SW
Miles: 17.66
Average speed: 14.1mph
Climbed: 732ft

Monday, 9 November 2009

Winter wonderland

I woke up to a bright crisp, chilly morning and I just had to get out and ride. I opted for a real easy route (one I use all the time) and loved it.

After clambering into my winter gear - Giordana winter tights, compression base layer, MCC jersey, Gore arm warmers, Endura overshoes and my cheats winter gloves (normal gloves with mitts over the top) - I threw my Discovery Channel windproof jacket on and hauled ass downstairs and into the pure air of a stunning winter morning.

Due to the roadworks that have now bred all over the place on my road (main Manchester to Ashton route) and will remain there for the next 3yrs or until they actually finish, whenever that may be; and given how I've already gone through 2 pairs of tyres this year because of the roadworks; I decided to try and avoid all of the diversions and contraflows so spent a fair while doubling back on myself via back streets to get through to Fairfield and then onto my usual route to Park Bridge. After coming out at Bardsley I took the road route to the John Hayworth Centre for a bacon butty (I know, I'm undoing all the good work I've just put in), a steaming mug of tea and a chat with Lesley and the countryside centre warden.
Once I'd winterproofed myself again I set off on the muddy but fun way back to Bardsley and along the roads through Ashton and along to the Snipe. Here I had a heart stopping nearly squished moment.

The road is 3 laned at this point leading up to the one way system: left hand lane is for straight on or left turn only, middle is for following the one way system to the right and then to the left, while the right hand lane is for following the one way system all the way to the right (right, then right again). Coming up to the Snipe I was ahead of a HGV who was being real good and staying far behind me and letting me rule the road. Coming up to the 2nd set of lights, I moved into the middle lane as that will take me home, but I sit to the left of this lane to allow traffic to still pass me on the right. The HGV was still real good and was slowly trundling in the left hand lane by now and was slowly passing me taking as much care as he could. I checked behind me, saw there was nothing there nor in the right hand lane, so I pulled over a little more to give the HGV more room to pass. HOONNNNNNNNNKKKKKKK!!!!! From nowhere a black cab had jumped on my ass, honked and scared the shit out of me so much that I nearly jumped into the side of the HGV. I purposely slowed down so that the cabbie was on my side, pointed to myself, then the HGV, then slid my finger across my throat, all while yelling at the tosser that he very nearly murdered me by being a tosspot. As in the life of the Spraggster, the cabbie just looked at me blankly shrugged his shoulders and then proceeded to undertake me and go into the left hand lane before putting his foot down. He was obviously way too lazy to just simply wait behind the HGV passing a vulnerable cyclist with extreme care.

The rest of the way home was filled with trepidation each time a vehicle got too close behind me (on slick roads too) half expecting to be splattered and scraped up into a jam jar.

Ah well, there's always another day to ride :oD

Stats -
Temp: 3C with real feel of 0C, wind 7mph wsw.
Miles: 15.73
Average speed: 13.6mph
Climbed: 470ft

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Pike and Remembrance

Before heading over to the cenotaph close by my place to pay my respects, I set off for a ride to the Pike - a lung busting, leg crunching ride that took me through Audenshaw, Dukinfield and Stalybridge to get to the Pike the hard way up Broadcarr Lane, a short but steep (13%) climb.

After sucking in the chill air a fab descent brought me out at the Abbey Hills Rd junction where I aimed to get back over to Park Bridge via the steepest way down into the valley. I managed it fine this time with only a little bit of a scare when I underturned a corner and nearly rode into trees. Whoops!

After the jolty cobbled section of road between Park Bridge and the Medlock I took it easy for a while before descending Crime Lane and climbing back out of the valley and up into Ashton. Excellent sprinting along Robert Sheldon Way has boosted my hopes for a decent time in Decembers Track Champs.

Back near Droylsden and I had a rest while veterans and cadets were led on a parade by a marvellous marching band through the streets to the cenotaph near where I live. I hadn't realised I'd been out so long and had to sprint back to my place for a quick bath and change of clothes before heading over to Cemetery Rd and the Remembrance Day service.

Stats -
Miles: 19.6
Average speed: 16.7mph
Climbed: 1218ft

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Who did that?!

Seeing as the weather was pretty good - dryish and with a breeze, not the howling gales we had recently - I set off for another easy pootle. Was hoping to replicate Monday nights ride. The reality, however, was it was not to be.

The weather was chilly, but I was wrapped up nice and warm.

Up towards Ashton with no problems. By the Wild Bean Cafe/BP garage, I turned off to avoid the one way section. While turning I got a heart stopping moment as my rear wheel began to slide out from under me. SHIIIIIIIT! I'm not sure how, but I managed to stop it sliding completely out from under me as I didn't want a repeat of the pelvis injury I got in February when I got splatted. My poor pelvis has been in a state of shock since February and is really susceptible to injury for a few years yet.


Passing Ikea my lungs were beginning to scream at me. My chest felt like it was caving in, and I was having problems breathing due to the extreme pain around my sternum. With each breath it felt like I was sucking on dry ice and the waves of pain were rather nauseating. I knew that this ride would be pathetically short. The situation was evident: the icy cold air was freezing my broncheoles and alveoli (sections of lung to those not medically-minded) and causing my asthma (which was thought to have long gone) to return with a huge boom. This has happened before* and docs are wary of giving me steroids again to deal with it as other than these vary odd episodes, I'm pretty much ok. I knew how to deal with it without medical help, so just got on with it while receiving very odd looks due to what I was doing.

When the pain had subsided to an acceptable level I carried on towards Daisy Nook where a welcome sweet hot tea calmed me down and the warm indoor air melted the icebergs in my chest.

I decided there and then to just head home and not go any further to reduce after effects (I'm now wheezy). The warm air back at home has helped massively.

* The sudden change in air temperature is the usual suspect for these episodes as my lungs don't have the gradual decline in warmth to get used to. Think of how you get goose bumps going from a warm car into the snowy outdoors. My brochioles and alveoli sort of react like that but constrict at the same time.

Stats -
Miles: 8.46
Average speed: 14.6mph
Climbed: 181ft

Night ride

My night ride was changed to Monday night as I was meeting a friend on Tuesday evening after work. I was kind of glad to have a change of day for the ride to be honest.

Given that my shoulder was still sore after physio on Friday (hence why I didn't ride the 50 Mile Madness with Joby and Chris on Sunday) I took it real easy and tweaked the route so it was more of a pootle than an ordeal.

I set off along my usual evening route to Ashton, then up Cranbourne, along Ladbrooke to Whiteacre, across Queens Rd and up Palace Rd to Rose Hill Rd and up to Gorsey Lane before the awesome descent into Ashton again, through Guide Bridge, sneaking my way into the middle lane once back on Manchester Rd by the Snipe and hurtled along back home.

Despite the descent and the hurtling home, I took the rest of the route quite easily due to the rain slick roads and the showers I had to endure while out. Luckily I wore my Endura waterproof jacket so I remained dry, but I did have the ubiquitous skunk tail effect (I don't own any mudguards for Everest yet).

Even better is that my Endura jacket is so-called Tangerine coloured - in reality it is high viz. I also have the rear of my bike looking a little like a christmas tree with my cat-eye and 2 knog frogs blinking away. It's still more than a little disconcerting that a few drivers still came within a whisker of taking me out on corners. One bus driver, whose company shall remain nameless (Stagecoach. Oops, did I tell everyone?? Lol), very nearly squished me on a sprint as he meandered lazily into my lane.

Still, he didn't. I'm, alive (I think) and all ready to play out again another day!

Stats -
Miles: 12.14
Average speed: 14.3mph
Climbed: 431ft

Sunday, 1 November 2009

October review

Again, it has been a fairly good month:

Distance covered: 210.35 miles
Elevation gained: 7428ft

Days ridden: 11 (some night rides in amongst that)
Middleton CC: yep - to Ramsbottom
Events: 0

Still not doing any hill reps as most of my longer rides now seem to incorporate hillier routes and I feel stronger on the climbs. My monthly elevation total is averaging out quite nicely now too.

Granted, due to the inclement weather that has now hit us very hard today, the next few months may well have a lot less riding in them. But, I will try to get out there and do what I can.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Bloody roadworks!

Despite my shoulder still being pretty sore from previous rides I still got out for a pootle as I really didn't want to stay indoors on such a nice day.

I wanted to get to my cafe via an alternative route that I haven't ridden for a while - one that pretty much goes in the opposite direction for quite a while before coming back on itself. It'd be a nice easy, recovery ride type thing. Or so I thought.

As I know don't head into Manchester City Centre for anything other than meeting friends every now and then, I have no idea exactly where the metrolink roadworks are int hat direction. However, within the space of 0.69 miles I had ridden at speed through 3 YES 3 traffic-lighted contraflows. Mmm, so much for an easy start to the ride.

Out alongside Philips Park, through Newton Heath and into Failsworth was a nice easy pootle with only minimal climbing to do, with the worst bit of it being the climb over the M60 on Cutler Hill Rd. I turned off onto Coal Pit Lane (no sprinting along it this time) and headed up it to the Ashton Rd junction. As I neared White Bank Rd in Limeside I spotted roadworks signs saying the road was closed. As I was seeing traffic still coming down it, I pootled on around the bend by the golf course and found the roadworks were right at the far end at the Ashton Rd junction.

About turn and I found myself in unknown territory as I followed the diversion notices through Limeside and the climb up Hollins Rd to the Park cakes junction on Hathershaw Rd. Here, I got stuck at the lights for several changes as way too many hgvs tried to get in or out of the bakery, blocking the junction and preventing people from turning right (like I was trying to).
Eventually I got round and loved the descent through Bardsley and through to Daisy Nook.

In the cafe, chatting away to Lesley I got a phone call from work asking me if I could work the afternoon as the new epos till was going live and they needed someone to help with a stock take and cover the old till until it was all sorted with the epos. As I was close to home I agreed to go in at 1pm. Nothing would stop me from chowing down on my bacon butty I'd ordered!

Stats -
Miles: 13.68
Average speed: 14.2mph
Climbed: 478ft

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Tepid Tuesday

Wow! This is so not October weather! What is going on with it; it's way too warm to be nearing November. So warm in fact, that I wore a summery top for work!

This meant that my night ride was not a winter clothed one. The arm warmers still went on, but the leg warmers stayed off. As it was, I was still too hot, but that is way better than being cold.

I set off along my usual route through Daisy Nook up to Ashton Rd, down to Cranbourne, up Smallshaw and onto Lees Rd in Hurst. Snuck over a bollarded section onto Kenworthy Ave and King's Rd to climb up Gorsey Lane to the Ashbourne junction. I took a photo on my mobile of how dark it was here, but sadly it just looked like a big black thing so not posting it on here!

Fabulous descent to Mossley Rd and then down to the Queen's Rd junction where I, again, sat in the middle of the road waiting for the traffic to pass and let me turn right. Had to wait until the lights were changing to red before I could turn. Back up through Hurst and another great descent down Broadoak and swooping round the roundabout and along Wilshaw before heading into Ashton town centre and a section of Park Parade and on towards home.

Excellent ride with perfect night weather.

Stats -
Miles: 13.93
Average speed: 14.7mph
Climbed: 458ft

Monday, 26 October 2009

Mad and muddy

After Sunday's chaotic ride, I wanted to get a bit of order in and do some hill climbing and some sprints if I could manage both on the same day. My shoulder was still sore too, so I wasn't holding out much hope on the hills.
As it was, I needn't have worried as the weather made my decision for me.

Thanks to the metrolink roadworks I couldn't take the immediate left once I'd left my crummy road so I had to tweak it a little to get onto Edge Lane and round through Fairfield, Daisy Nook and onto to Lees New Rd by Lily Lanes.
On the way up St Alban's the weather got a bit crap with drizzle and by the time I'd got to the top I couldn't see Hartshead Pike anymore due to mist and storm clouds. That was my mind made up; I wouldn't be going up that climb, so I focused on sprint training instead.

I carried on until I reached Alt Lane and swooped round by Alexandra Park to Hathershaw, around/through Limeside and to the start of Coal Pit Lane where I was going to practise my sprinting. Having no turbo yet and unable to afford the track sessions, this is the next best thing for me in preparation for the next club track championship in December.
The road is just over 1.03 miles long, little traffic and with approx 70ft of climbing along it's length. My LBS owner uses this road too for his sprinting, so I knew it'd be a good road to get top whack on.

I was, however, completely blown away by what I did mange to achieve.
I rode up it 4 times, each time sprinting as hard as I could for as long as I could. Granted, I know that the track sprint is only 200metres, but with the 1k TT and the 2k pursuit also ahead of me, I wanted to push myself.
The stats for the sprint are included in the usual stats below.

After nigh on wiping myself out to the point of nearly falling off the bike by the end of the sprinting (must've been doing it right then!), I carried on to Bardsley for my lovely off road route to the cafe where, due to the rain, I arrived very, very muddy, rather wet and knackered!

Stats -
Miles: 18.34
Average speed: 26mph (thanks to the sprinting)
Maximum speed: 37mph (top whack! PB for max speed too)
Climbed: 619ft

Sheep's Arse!

Sunday was the day of Middleton CC's October club ride.

I wasn't looking forward to this ride too much due to the amount of climbing I thought would be involved. I set off towards the meeting point at Heaton Park and met up with my bro Paul along the way. We travelled through Philip's Park and onto Alan Turing Way and Queen's Rd before heading through Cheetham Hill to the meet point at the bus stop by Victoria Ave.

Crimmy and Mike were already at the meet point with Pantani Pete arriving not long after myself and Paul did. While waiting for John W to arrive the rest of the boys looked at the map to decipher the route while Mike and I discussed the Manchester 100 that we'd ridden (not seen or spoken to him since then) in September.

After John W arrived we set off up towards Bowlee and its steep climb towards Birch where we turned off to take in a section of the MCC Jean Keith Award route before heading left round the roundabout at junction 2 of the M66 and then right to take us to the A56 Walmersley Rd - a nice drag of a climb.

Several times the ride leader Joe was at the rear of the group and didn't shout out directions. The two impromptu leaders then took it upon themselves to squabble about the directions to take. Usually we'd end up at lights while they squabbled and more than once we were then told to turn right (while in the left hand lane of a 2 or 3 laned road). Weaving in and out of traffic isn't my ideal ride to do. All this messing about ended up leaving me less than amused and in some considerable pain due to the impromptu leaders choosing hillier roads - my pelvis was throbbing a fair bit, knee was beginning to hurt and my shoulder was killing me. At one point I couldn't really hold on with my left arm.

The climb was rewarded right at the top with amazing views then the best descent yet: a 12% drop into Ramsbottom across the level crossing and left to a mobile catering unit.

After noshing on bananas Crimmy and Pantani took in the Rake, a notoriously steep, evil git of a climb approximately 20% gradient. They came back full of enthusiasm for it, saying it wasn't that bad. Erm...that'd be hell for me!

We split into 2 groups for the route back - Mike, Crimmy and Pantani heading back a hillier way and myself, Paul, John and Joe heading back a slightly flatter route.
I had bike problems immediately after leaving the car park with my chain dropping off the front chainrings. I put it back on and thought nothing of it. However I had to put up with problems all the way back home as the chain kept jumping and skipping gears regardless of whether I was on the inner or outer chainring at the front. Mmmm. Not good as I either had to really twiddle my way up hills or grind my way up them. It refused point blank to get into the gear I needed or stay there when it did go in. At times I was having to slam the brakes on or ended up jerking the bike around as Joe kept weaving about in front of me (not intentional I don't think). Around this time I discovered that Joe hadn't been wearing his hearing aid either, so no doubt couldn't hear me behind him. Rather dangerous though as it also meant he couldn't hear the traffic either.

The route back through Greenmount, Bury and Whitefield wasn't easy with the gears arsing about, but I made it back to near Heaton Park where Joe and John W headed off in their respective directions to get home. Myself and Paul carried on to get back home the way we came out to the Park.

On Bury Old Rd at a huge junction with traffic lights I sat behind a black Merc with a First bus behind me. As the lights turned green for us we all set off. As soon as I'd clipped in the Merc slammed his brakes on, forcing myself and the bus into emergency stops on rain slick tarmac (so close to being squished with the bus up my arse). Black Merc let a car cut in front of him to turn left then proceeded to turn left himself without indication. I have to admit to a huge amount of road rage at that point. That incident on top of everything else that'd happened just meant that sadly I didn't enjoy the ride much.

When I got home I took Everest straight round to my LBS where Neil took the rear derailleur apart, put it back together again and she's now all fine. Thanks Neil!

Stats -
Miles: 33.29
Average speed: 12.9mph
Max speed: 27mph
Climbed: 1428ft

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Tour de Tameside

I arranged to meet Gaz at 8am for a nice easy ride of the Floop and then my Park Bridge route. Last night he asked if we could drop the Floop and concentrate on Park Bridge. Not a problem!

Bang on 8am as I stepped outside Gaz had just pulled up on his sexy Ribble, we discussed saddlebags for a little while (I put on the Topeak wedge to show him, usually have my Scicon on Everest) and we set off.

Out through Fairfield past a heritage area (Moravian Settlement) and out to Littlemoss/Daisy Nook and the first 'climb' of the day to Oldham Rd. i could have carried straight over the crossroads but as gaz wasn't feeling 100% I opted for the easier and flatter route to save killing him. So, up Smallshaw past the evil Vicarage, then onto another longish gradual climb to Alt Hill Lane and the start of the ace descent through Park Bridge. I'd forewarned Gaz that the going would be treacherous round here due to the rain slick tarmac, extreme leaf litter, cow shit (several farms along here) and the field run-off. Boy, was it lethal! We took it real slow which took the edge of the greatness of the descent, but it did mean we got to live another day!

I pointed out one of my hill rep hills to whimpers from Gaz and a huge sigh of relief from him once I'd said we weren't going up it. Onto Daisy Nook where the sexy Ribble got dirty (poor Gaz) and round to the cafe. After being there for a few minutes an MTBer on a sweet full sus Trek arrived and after asking us where we'd been, he proceeded to regale us with tales of his rides and his mates steeds (even telling us that his bike was nearly 2k and on one ride there were 20-20k worth of bikes). At this point gaz disappeared into his own world (don't blame you!) and I just abouts managed to keep up with the chat. Bit strange though that an MTBer would just blather on at 2 roadies like that. We than got bearated by him for taking the roadies along the singletrack/canal path. Why? the beasts are more than capable of handling them!

Anyway. Up Joby's 'mountain' which Gaz seemed to make it look like hard work (soz Gaz), while I pootled up it. Back up to Oldham Rd and down through Ashton town centre to the huge (and often lethal) Lidl roundabout where we went our separate ways: Gaz straight on to climb up through Dukinfield; myself turning right to Park Parade and sprint training alongside a police car.

After beating the cop car from a standing start to the stupid one way system I swooped and swooped some more before another sprinty bit to another stupid one way system. More swooping followed by sprinting meant that I was getting in some good training for the track champs in December (can't afford to get on the track at the moment to train).

Final mile to home was taken as a sprint for me; tucked up swooping through the contraflows was a little scary at times, but I made it safe and sound.
Stats -
Miles: 13.92
Average speed: 13.2mph
Max speed: 185.9mph (apparantly!)
Sprinting max: 23.8mph (thanks to the pc balls up I had to keep looking at the pc. It was most likely more than stated above.)
Climbed: 459ft

Monday, 19 October 2009

Team 100k ride again

After imbibing alcohol at L&J's reception on Saturday night an early morning ride on Sunday was very welcome to clear out the cobwebs and wake me up.

Joby and Emma (2 other members of Team 100k) met me at mine to ride the Floop and were easily persuaded to add on one my loops to the mix. After Joby arrived really early on the club ride he rode on, and after Gaz and Emma were bang on time for our pootle t'other week, I expected them early so waited outside for them. 9 o'clock came and no sign of them (was beginning to think they may've chickened out cos it was bloody freezing outside!), a text confirmed that they were running a little late. Rather than disappearing back upstairs to my flat I began to hop about on the spot to keep myself warm and no doubt made the passers by chuckle. I even endured a 'Hoy! Race ya!' from 2 scallies.
No sooner had Joby and Emma arrived and Joby was already making demands(!) - he needed a top up of his water bottle already. Either that or he wanted to try the borderland water.

I promised that the route would be easy and a nice slowish pace seeing as Joby was recovering from Swine Flu and Emma had ridden the night before.

After refreshing Joby (ooer) we set off towards the start of the Floop and I was greeted by a grumble from Joby about the gravel beginnings. Pretty soon, he was appeased by the remainder of the route which he'd ridden before as part of the return of the last MCC ride. Emma hadn't ridden all of this portion so it was fairly new to her. Pretty soon we were all on new turf as we crossed Wilmslow Rd to get onto the other portion of the Floop to head to Chorlton where the route ended by Corkland. We headed back the way we came as far as Abbey Hey before getting back onto the roads for my add-on.

Entering Ashton Old Rd opposite a beautiful church, the route headed through Fairfield and Audenshaw before passing the Snipe and entering Ashton town centre. Sadly, here, Emma headed off to go be with her chap leaving myself and Joby to ride the rest of the route.

Up Cranbourne and Smallshaw and soon I was pointing out Hartshead Pike on the right perched on top of the hill with the sun shining on it. Joby begged me to tell him that we weren't riding up to it this time. I could have been evil and said we were, but I thought I'd be nice, told him the truth and we swung off into Alt Hill Lane where the fabulous descent lay ahead of us: swoopy, stunning vista, narrow lanes. It's over way too soon sadly.

At the bottom Joby was again begging me to tell him that we weren't going back up the hill. As we were beginning to freeze our feet I told him we weren't and that we'd soon be able to warm up in the cafe in Daisy Nook. Strangely Daisy Nook seemed to be full to the rafters with hounds and owners. I'm thinking that there may have been a dog class on and we encountered them on their way out. Either way we got to the cafe where tea/coffee and hot radiators warmed us up.

I promised Joby that we wouldn't be going back via any huge hills, but failed to tell him that to get to the main road from the car park involved a very short but rather steep climb before the gradual climb of Newmarket. As I reached the top of this climb I heard the bellow behind me 'You said there'd be no hills, that was a bloody MOUNTAIN!' - it wasn't that bad, just ridiculously steep for it's length (it's about 13 or 14% and about 20ft of road). He didn't complain about the rest of the climb!

Just past Ikea we both went our separate ways - to opposite ends of Tameside. I decided to book Everest into my brand spanking new (and opened by Jamie Staff) ridiculously close local bike shop for a service. I ended up staying in the shop talking to the owner and his mate for close to an hour and half before walking around the corner and up the stairs to home. I get Everest back on Thursday,s o I'll have to find something else to do until then.

Stats -
Miles: 28.09
Average speed: 11.2mph (nice and easy pace)
Climbed: 656ft

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Weddings 'r' us

Tonight I was at the wedding reception of my dear friend Andy's brother and sister-in-law John and Liz. I know Liz from a previous job of mine at JD Williams, so I knew she'd be inviting people from there. I was amazed at the amount of people I knew who were there (I left there in 2007). It was good to see them all again. As you can see from the photo Liz had a blast tonight. This is the 2nd wedding bash: they actually got married in Cyprus, but obviously couldn't invite us all over, hence this reception party. A good time was had by all. Liz looked gorgeous, John was handsome, the best man (and my dear chum) Andy looked dapper and a great time was had by all. They're probably all still partying the night away right now.

Friday, 16 October 2009


My legs decided they'd be kind to me today and let me get out for a ride with some climbing involved.

I set off on a deviated route to Droylsden centre avoiding the roadworks and contraflows and headed through Littlemoss where I got stuck behind a very slow moving hgv - I could understand it being cautious on the bends etc, but it was uber slow on the straights too. It decided to pull over before the M60 crossing so the huge line of traffic behind managed to get past before we all had to stop at the temporary traffic lights heralding another single laned section of road (they're breeding rapidly I tell you!). On passing through the narrow section the car in front clipped a roadworks sign (you know the one with the little man opening his umbrella to the ground, lol) and sent it careening into my path. I had two options: stop suddenly getting a car up the ass and maybe falling off, or ride over the thing. I chose to slaughter the sign and rode over it; it was a little noisy and lumpy but it beats a car up the butt any day!

On the gradient up to Oldham Rd the afore-mentioned slow moving hgv now got stuck behind me, although I was going quicker than it was doing on the flat straight road earlier. Somewhere along here it turned off, dunno where but god help those narrower streets with that beast driving down it!

Over and past Hartshead Sports College I made a quick decision to head to Hartshead Pike for a climb I haven't done in a while. Round two sides of Oldham Golf Course and the climbing keeps on coming until I'm at the top where the glare from the hazy sun is a nightmare and the wind has gotten chilly. A rapid descent and I'm in Mossley and ascending Under Lane into Grotten, along Thorley and across Abbey Hills Lane before getting onto Alt Lane.

At the Alt Lane junction I came across this rather sad sight:
Welcoming? Not likely!

Alt Lane began as a normal suburban street with a hump in the midst of it. Once over the hump however things change quickly. It becomes a narrow single laned, twisting, steep (9%ish) effort. Partway down this descent my brakes decided to play up and not actually slow my bike down much. When I did manage to slow down enough, I decided to walk the longest and steepest bit to be on the safe side until I got to a level(ish) section where I could tweak the brakes. When I got them working again I continued down Mill Brow and onto Park Bridge Rd and it's cobbled speed humps and it's final long cobbled section. Juddering about on these cobbles with a painful pelvis and shoulder isn't the best of practices, but I had actually forgotten they're as bad as they are - they're pretty spaced apart with some completely missing in places and with deep ruts between some of them. I came off the other end unscathed if a little tender.

The route home from here wasn't really thrilling as it's a route I do on a regular basis and there was nothing to write home about.

Near home however was a different matter. As I rode along St Andrew's nearing Eastwood a moronic driver in a mushy pea green metro decided to ignore the stop signs, white lines on the road and the fact that a rider was nearing and chose to just swing out into my path, just metres away from me. Come-uppance came when a car did the exact same to him at the next junction. I tried to not laugh, but it was hard not to.

Miles: 19.7
Average speed: 13.4mph
Climbed: 1073ft

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Evening ride

Seeing as Tuesday day passed without me feeling any worse I decided that I would get out for my evening ride. So, while watching Hollyoaks (I know, at my age it's sad) I clamboured into my kit (bizarrely the kit of a club to which I am no longer a member!), mounted my lights onto Everest and hoicked her downstairs. Dodged a muppet van driver as soon as I got out the door - there're 2 working garages on my crappy street and one of them works quite late; the morons who drive the cars back into the compound think they're rally drivers (my road is gravel and railway sleepers), doing handbrake turns and wheel spins. All without any of the lights on the vehicles. if it wasn't for my bins being either side of my front door, the vehicles would literally be on my doorstep.

I digress, apologies.

As the metrolink works have now reached my junction and have added several more contraflows to the mix I had to immediately alter the route out to Ashton and set off through Openshaw and Fairfield to get to where I wanted to be (a nice sprinty section of road leading to the Snipe and on through into Ashton. Past the splatter zone and onto Cranbourne before Kings and Gorsey Lane. Then came the great descent back towards Ashton, only diverting off at the rubbish five-way junction where I sat in the middle of the road waiting to turn right as there seemed to be an endless line of cars heading up towards Mossley. Personally I think there should be a filter at these lights, but there isn't and most likely never will be.
Back through Hurst, Daisy Nook and Littlemoss, whizzing round a mini roundabout at yet another five-way junction and the final sprint to home.

Given that my left knee was really aching in work I was expecting some problems. However, none occurred and all went well without real incident or accident.

Stats -
Miles: 13.69
Average speed: 14.6mph
Climbed: 500ft

No oink!

Well, after Monday's querying with Joby, Gaz, the NHS and other peeps I've come to the conclusion that I may just have a very mild form of oink. Several people agree with me. As I'm not sneezing or coughing then I'm certainly not infectious so I carried on with life as normal.

Tuesday began with a nice walk to work in the clear crisp air and a shop that looked like it'd been hit by gremlins. The new till refuses to go into training mode so nobody knows how to use the system and the media shelves have huge empty spaces in them. I knew I was going to be very busy sorting them out.

Maybe not as busy as originally thought as I got stock out and onto the shelves in double quick time, interspersed with stints helping the customers and chatting away with the boss. It was quite funny when I told her bout my chats with the nhs on Monday night, and she agreed with me and went on to say that if I infect her it doesn't matter as she has next week off work anyway!

On to my appointment with JC and despite them running late everything went according to plan and I came away relatively happy and with some thoughts on potential. Back to work and the rest of the day passed by real quick as it usually does.

Monday, 12 October 2009


Three friends of mine have been diagnosed with swine flu. Three people I've been in contact with recently. After 2 of them were diagnosed today, I took a look at the symptoms and compared them with how I've felt recently. Now, the symptom list says ANY 2 or more symptoms and you've probably got the illness. Running nose? Yep. Diarrhoea/vomiting? Yep. Any aches or pains? Yep. Headaches? Yep. Ok, so that's 4 symptoms. At risk category such as asthma, diabetes, pregnancy etc? Yep. So, that adds a risk to the symptoms. I phoned the NHS. First question: do you have a fever? I answered truthfully that I don't. I rarely get a high temperature with any illness and never had one when I actually had flu several years ago. Due to the lack of the apparantly compulsory fever I supposedly cannot therefore have swine flu. These are the same authority who said I hadn't fractured my pelvis...yet several hrs later I was diagnosed with a fracture that was due to take 6 months to heal. My faith in the NHS is waning rapidly. I'll take their advice, go into work tomorrow, go to my appointment with JC. If I infect you world, I apologise, but the NHS told me I'm not ill at all. Must be all psychological then. Can psychologists diagnose swine flu.....? ¤ sent from my mobile device ¤

All present and correct

I think! Finally got all my elevation stats correct. I was using mapmyride for the maps/elevation etc, but found that it lied massively after completing the mcr 100 and it stated I'd only done about 700ft of climbing. I knew that this wasn't correct as it felt more and also Joby's Garmin was saying otherwise. Since the mcr100 I've been using bikehike which is much more realistic, and I have been spending some time converting the elevation stats from one to the other.

It is now complete. Finally. I can't quite believe that I have done quite so much climbing, especially that in January, but I have. All this from a hill-hating, non-climbing whiner like me!!

Can it be...

That I am truly made of lead? The reason I ask is simple. The photo shows Hartshead Pike on top of its hill. This was my intended destination for a ride today. The reality? I didn't even get as far as the place the photo was taken from (photo taken a few months ago). I'd eaten some readybrek before I left the house, travelled roads I'd done many times before, even took a gel with me which I don't normally do on rides as short as this would be. I knew my legs would take a while to get used to the chill air so took it easy up the first portion of not-quite-flat road and took a hump bridge as normal. At the top of the road by a roundabout I knew I wouldn't make it the way I'd intended as my average was way down on what it normally is and I hadn't even headed skywards yet. I slurped my gel and was heading towards the longer albeit less steep route, my legs feeling no better. I couldn't even manage to get above 19mph on a sprinty bit. I had to face facts: the bug I caught on saturday (and which I presumed had passed through my system as I felt 100% yesterday) is obviously still lurking somewhere deep within. My ride home felt like Everest and I were made of lead. I managed a very paltry 7 miles and am now rather grumpy about it. Humph! ¤ sent from my mobile device ¤

Sunday, 11 October 2009


Well it may not sound much to some of you mad cyclists out there, but in the 6ish months of this year that I've been able to ride (and since updating my stats after calculating elevation on bikehike instead of mapmyride (for only half my rides at the moment)) I have now climbed more than twice the height of Mt McKinley in Alaska and am well on my way to twice the height of Everest. Not bad going considering most of the climbing has been done AFTER my pelvic fracture and while still in pain from it!

I wonder what I could do if totally free from the pain the fracture has left me in.......

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Devil's Hill

Early this bright, clear, cold morning I set off to enjoy the roads as I took Everest out for a ride along the Fallowfield Loop and beyond.

I set off towards the Floop entrance on Falmer Close and decided by the time I got to Debdale that I wanted to ride Hyde Rd (not sure why) and then over and up Devil's Hill. Getting off the Floop by McD's a woman with suitcase decided she'd walk right into the road as I was flying towards the junction, silly woman. She was obviously too distracted trying to do multiple things at once - on her moby and hauling a mammoth suitcase behind her. Still we didn't collide and I carried on my merry way to Hyde Rd.

Once on there, I tucked down and sprinted along past the golf course and to the gorgeously deadly Denton Roundabout. Now at this point most people (with sense) would probably get off the road and go over the footbridge. Now, as that involved trying to get to the other side of the road, which by this point was 6 lanes wide, then hauling ass up and over the bridge then trying to get back onto the right side of the road, I just decided to ride the thing seeing as it was miles easier to do.
Riding in the draft of a car with a motorcycle at the side of me I made it round the enormous roundabout with ease and without a hint of the danger that Joby and Gaz seems to encounter every day.

Down the one way system on Manchester Rd (it's a strange road with the M67 slap bang in the centre of it and the normal road either side) and to the lights on the bus/cycle lane. Now Gaz and myself find that these lights are never on red. Except now. And for a stupidly long time. So long in fact that I ignored them after a while and joined the main lanes. There was sod all coming in any direction yet these stupid lights were still saying 'stay put you cyclist you'. Maybe if I'd pretended to be a bus and go 'Beep Beep!' they may have changed. I shall never know.

Anyway, after hurtling down the road and over the Tame and it was time to meet the Devil; although he didn't seem very mean to me as I practically flew up the hill. Maybe he'd not woken up yet? Into Hyde, round into Dukinfield and they're putting up the Christmas lights. Already. It's only October!!!

After greeting another roundabout and encountering calf cramp halfway round it (so not necessary) I was on the lookout for a safe stopping point, found a fence and threw myself at it to stretch the cramp away. Five minutes later and the smile was back on my face as I headed up and round to Daisy Nook for the obligatory bacon butty and to make friends with some spaniels before the sprinty route home.

Stats -
Miles: 13.8
Average speed: 13.9mph (slow but still happy with it)
Max speed (?): 71.3mph (!!!!!!) that was up devil's Hill too!
Climbed: not much 340ft

Dunham desires

On Monday morning myself and bro Paul got in the Fabia and drove to Dunham to spend the day taking photos of the autumn gorgeousness and hopefully many shots of the deer before rutting.

The day proved warmer than anticipated and both of us were rather warm as we'd overdressed, but we couldn't be bothered removing various articles as we'd no room in our bags what with our camera kit and picnic in them. Oh and Paul's tripod that looked like it was trying to strangle him when he carried it!

First port of call was the sawmill and the stunning reflections of the barn and clock tower in the moat. Whilst Paul was taking shots of the moat I wandered off to a tree stump and it's lovely collection of fungus where I got to practice macro before returning to the moat for some shots myself.
Onto the main house and for once I managed to get a shot of the listed building without any body, buggy or bloody idiot getting in the way and with the nice sundial central to the building. Paul was also taking multiple shots here and I got mine over his head while he squatted down to take his shots from a lower angle.
After the Hall we wandered over to one of the lakes where last year we saw a massive orange Koi Carp. He'd gone from the lake now, hopefully he's been moved into the larger lake. There weren't many swans, coots, or moorhens here either so the wildlife shots were thin on the ground, but I did get some gorgeous shots of the lake and the trees reflected in it. Again while Paul was taking shots I wandered over to a fallen tree to take some 'arty' shots (I like quite bizarre architectural type shots). While here I heard a cricket 'singing' looked round and found him on one of the fallen trees where he seemed happy to have his picture taken and slowly wandered over to his mate who, again, seemed happy to just stand still while I took multiple shots of them. Paul cursed himself when he saw what he was taking as he'd left his macro lens at home and couldn't do any close-ups. Tsk. Still, all better for me as I need the macro practice.

Wandering about and over to another lake, Paul began taking glorious shots of the lilies and swans while I set off looking at the ground in search of more macro possibilities, and came across a good few things. And a stunning view across another lake with beautiful skies and colours in the grasses.
We finally found a stag (in the whole day we only saw 4 deer (2 stags and 2 females - pretty sure they were the same stag/female on both occasions!) and I managed to get a good picture of him lay down in the grass. Not as good as I'd have liked though as my camera is only a compact and therefore the zoom isn't as great as Paul's SLR, but still, it is one of the best pictures of deer that I've taken.
After the stag got bored and wandered off we set off in the opposite direction and came across the old slaughter house in the woods, where I found my nice architectural/arty things to shoot and yet more macro!
Last port of call was back to a lake and the woods behind it where we watched several squirrels frolicking in the sun and leaves, while one was busy burying his findings for a possible harsh winters lunch,and while we got bombarded with beech nut cups as it seemed that every tree had multiple squirrels in the canopy stuffing his tummy and little cheeks and dropping what he didn't want onto the floor. After we both got hit several times we decided to head off back to the car as we'd managed to spend about 6hrs wandering around!
These and more photos are on my photo blog avixpics