Friday, 30 January 2009

Challenge complete!

After completing my 300 miles in 30 days challenge on Wednesday, I decided that my planned ride with Amy should be my victory ride.

Thursday dawned dull, grey and slightly damp but otherwise a good day for riding. Everest decided she was going to stay in one piece unlike last time I'd planned a ride with Amy.

I met Amy at the velodrome and as we neared Asda she advised that her GPS unit had decided we were a considerable distance away from the route (which began where we were)! Um, time for fast thinking as I hadn't looked at the planned route since I last rode it a few weeks ago and wasn't totally sure I remembered it all. To make matters worse the last time I rode the route I spent most of it chatting with a guy I was riding with, so wasn't paying full attention to where we were going anyway!

But we set off non-the-less. If we got lost we got lost.

I took Amy a different route to Chorlton Water Park so we didn't have to go on Princess Parkway and it'd get some more miles in the legs. Once near the park I told her that we'd be going on some trails rather than concrete/tarmac until we crossed the Mersey - that didn't quite go down too well as she'd not anticipated that, but the trails were nicely compacted and not too muddy, so all was well.

All was good so far until we were Tatton Park where I couldn't quite work out which road would take us out to the Knutsford exit, so we backtracked out onto Ashley Rd and followed the boundary walls round to Manchester Rd and through Knutsford. Once on Toft Rd my mind went a little blank and we had to wing it to find our way to The Frozen Mop in Mobberley, but find it we did. While here after mentioning how far we'd come already, Amy suggested I take part in the century a month challenge, after a few gulps of my lovely beer I decided to go ahead with it; especially seeing as I'd do pretty much all the mileage on this ride anyway.

Once out of the pub after a little nosh, I somehow remembered a section of the route so I could surprise Amy - the route to the lovely alpacas, who were greeted with squeals of glee!
After leaving the alpacas behind the route was forgotten again, so we continued to wing it through Wilmslow to find our way to Morley Green and everything began to look familiar again. A 'wrong' turn at a large roundabout took us onto a road that led up to the edge of the runway at Manchester Airport - if we'd followed this road all the way up, it would have taken us onto the orbital cycleway and one of the sections I'd planned. As it was, we got partway up it, saw the runway and thought better of it! Whoops!

Back down to the roundabout and we turned right where I surprised Amy again when I told her the huge tunnels we were going under were actually runways that went across the road, and if we're lucky we might get to see one taxiing across it. Annoyingly not one plane went across before we got into the tunnels...while we were in them, naturally and annoyingly, planes taxied across.

To extend the route a little more I took Amy through Hale Barns and down into Altrincham town centre before heading back along the 'normal' route to Wythenshawe Park. Along Altrincham Rd we both got down into the drops and were pedalling so intently and focusing on the road and traffic around us that we both missed the entrance to the park - thankfully not by much.

Once back at Chorlton Water Park we were going to have a little riverside ride but as the TPT trails were thick gloop due to overnight rain we had a loop of the lake instead before heading back to the velodrome.

A quick stop at Bike Docs for cleats for Amy and then I was having to think of extra bits to add onto the ride after leaving her at the velo so I could get my January century in. No worries there as I headed back towards Manchester City Centre than made my way past my flat and partially to Ashton before I got back home to find I'd covered the distance with a little overlap. Perfect.

So, my victory ride became the start of a new challenge and ended as a dual victory -
300 mile in 30 days challenge completed on 28.1.09 with 304.41 miles
Century (km) a month challenge (January) completed on 29.1.09 with 102km

View Interactive Map on

Boring bits -
Dull, grey, windy (15mph), cool (6 degrees)
Maximum mph/kmh: 36 / 57.9
Average mph/kph:14.1 / 22.7
Distance (miles/km): 63.34 / 102
Climbed: 837ft

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Random riding

I decided to go and do some random riding today and got on Everest, pointed her towards the hills and set off.
I wanted to see if I could complete the challenge ahead of schedule, which might explain the randomness of the ride!

I'm not going to describe the route other than to say it was very, very random, not really paying much attention to where I was going (other than to note sign posts etc) or anything. Just followed my nose and discovered once I'd plotted it on mapymyride that I'd criss-crossed pretty much everywhere.

In amongst all this randomness there were bits of normality - I nipped into Halfords for some puncture repair patches; I had to double back on Robert Sheldon Way after it was blocked by a crash with several trucks; I even managed to pop into the Job Centre to look on their job points to see if anything interesting had cropped up. Alas not!

Take a look at the route and you'll see exactly what I mean by very random!

View Interactive Map on

Boring bits -
Mild (7 degrees), calm, dull and damp
Cannot update max and average speeds as left PC on kitchen cupboard!
Distance: 56.78 miles
Climbed: 2201 ft. Not surprised I was knackered when I got home!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Hill repeats

I decided to do some hill repeats again as I need to up my game when it comes to getting up those blasted hills.

I had a little pootle out to the specified hill first - over to the Velodrome, round by Phillips Park and onto Clayton Vale and through and most likely along the same route that Amy has done on her cyclocross racing there before coming out to the start point of the repeats. Sadly, despite one of my attempts being better than last time, the others were actually worse!

Clayton Vale hills. max gradient: 18%

Attempt 1: 2.43
Attempt 2: 2.37
Attempt 3: 2.20
Attempt 4: 1.57
Attempt 5: 2.04

85ft climbed in 0.30 miles.

Boring bits -
Mild (6 degrees), gentle breeze, dull.
Distance: 6.21 miles incuding the ride out.

Monday, 26 January 2009

MCC Club Ride

SUNDAY 25th JANUARY was the first club ride of the year for Middleton CC. It was expected to be a ride with a fair few riders as very few of them had actually done any riding over Xmas and new year and this would be the perfect opportunity to get out and spin the legs ready for the new season on a nice flat route.

How many turned up at the Velodrome? TWO - me and Paul. Fab 'club' ride eh?!
We set off with me leading and setting to fast a pace for poor Paul, so had to slow it down or keep slowing down when I noticed he'd fallen off my back wheel!

The route was one of our usual routes to Dunham Massey but with a few tweaks; so it began as normal heading out through Didsbury and Wythenshawe and along the now finished Shaftesbury Rd (been roadworks on the bridge just literally once you get off the roundabout for ages), to come to Altrincham itself.
Usually I either turn off along Barrington Rd to get to Atlantic St or I'll turn up Dunham Rd for a climb to a huge junction before turning off to head straight to Dunham Massey Park. This time, I turned onto Church St before getting onto Oldfield Rd for a nice quiet suburban road section before coming to a halt at the single lane bridge at the end of it where it meets Seamon's Rd. As the lights turned to our favour, I stomped down on the pedal to push off and nearly came off! I'd been so happily pootling along that I hadn't changed gear for the red light, so was trying to push off in the most definite wrong gear. Loud clunk, cleats came out of pedals and a huge bruise right on the calf muscle (I was stood on pedals when it clunked and slipped), Paul yelling at me if I was OK. Tad embarrassing, but I had to recover super quick as traffic was building behind us.

The lovely lanes of Broadheath followed with lots of sheep and cow-filled fields and the beginnings of potato crops pushing their leaves through the clag. All too soon, we were on the outskirts of the park and turning into Dog Farm for the Lavender Barn tea rooms.

After tea cakes and hot chocolate I set the pace again (again too fast so had to slow it down) and took Paul on a little diversion along Whitehouse Lane and onto Sinderland Lane an Sinderland Rd to Manchester Rd. The route became our usual one again with us heading towards Manchester on this road before turning off onto Marsland Rd and through Northenden where a very loud hissing sound began to emit from my front tyre.

Couldn't see the problem initially until I shoved the wheel into a puddle and chuckled as it happily bubbled away. Bugger! After hoicking the bike over and pulling the tyre off we then spotted the hunk of glass that'd gone right through the tyre into the tube. Now for a lesson for Paul in the speed of a co2 canister - he was pleasantly surprised, but as he rides an mtb he's rather happy with using brute force to get his tyres pumped up!

Once the wheel was back on and we'd cleaned ourselves up a bit, we carried on with getting home. Again the route changed a little with a trip through Kenworthy Wood, across the Mersey and through Chorlton Water Park. Barlow Moor Rd followed with a turn onto Yew Tree Rd and we were back near the Bike Docs. Only a little way to go now!

I think Paul sensed we didn't have too far left as he seemed to pick up the pace a little as we headed fro Alan Turing Way where every set of lights were against us, so lots of resting time! Once on Ashton New Rd by the huge Asda Walmart store I kinda got a little bit mean and left Paul behind so I could have an uphill sprint along here and North Rd. Paul didn't mind thankfully and soon caught up when I stopped to wait for him before heading off to my place while he went to his.

I carried on along North Rd to Lewis Rd for a lovely straight section, although it is permeated with speed humps. Damn those traffic planners. All too soon I was back home ready for a bowl of pasta and a hot bath. Fab!

View Interactive Map on

Boring bits -
Windy (15 mph headwinds) but mild (7 degrees) and a little damp.
Maximum mph: 27
Average mph: 13.4
Distance: 36.21 miles
Climbed: 377ft

It's Amy's Birthday!


Hope you have a great day

Friday, 23 January 2009

Glutton for punishment

I picked up Everest from Gerry Shields today. Just shy of a ton for her to have a nice shiny silver (used to be black) stem, headset, rear derailleur and gear cable.

As she's not been ridden for a week, I took her on a spin - it was intending to be shortish, but kinda grew into a longish ride. A ride that was made difficult by my aching legs after yesterdays
track exploits!

I set off towards Hollinwood in Oldham taking the right turn just before the M60 to take me towards Ashton Rd which I cut across and towards Glodwick, onto Kings Rd, Summerfield View and Alt Lane, through a little bit of Park Bridge before joining Lees New Rd and my Hartshead Pike route. As I haven't been over to the Pike at all since saying I would make it a New Year resolution (I have done other hilly routes though), I though I better get up there before the month is out.

Up I went along Thornley Lane and Lane Head Rd, past Lily Lanes and onto Broadcarr Lane for a little downhill section before turning left to head through Upper Mossley on Stockport Rd and Mossley Rd to bring me out in Greenfield. A welcome break was needed here as my legs were beginning to hurt and I was carrying my backpack with my normal clothes in - I walked for 40 minutes to get to the bike shop, and certainly wasn't going to do that in full bike gear, not with all the workmen about anyway!

After a welcome bacon butty I went for a little lane ride just off Uppermill's main road and came out on Holmforth Rd not too far from the Chew Valley roundabout. Nice little level road here let my legs ease off a bit before I punished them again with the lovely undulating Huddersfield Rd and it's continuous humps and drops until I nearly fell off in Stalybridge (not quite sure what happened to make me nearly fall off though!).

I snuck along the roads through an industrial estate to get me into Dukinfield, just so I could have another road that felt like it was downhill before my super speedy dual carriageway-esque road home.
For a 'test' ride I think I tested her pretty well - wore myself out in the process - and she's running better than she has since her last service.

I'm glad I have a rest day before the
Middleton CC club run on Sunday, as I don't think I'd be able to get very far if I were to ride tomorrow! It's just a case of putting all the attachments back on her and leaving her well alone for a day before ploughing on with the challenge.

There would normally be a button link to mapmyride right about here. For some odd reason mapmyride cannot be found my my Internet connection right now, so I'll have to post the route map tomorrow or asap.

Boring bits - Wintry showers, cold winds and dull/grey. About 2 degrees.
Maximum mph: dunno - I left my PC at home
Average mph: I left my PC at home Distance: 24.17 miles 1165ft climbed 1 knackered rider!

Thursday, 22 January 2009


Everest is coming home tomorrow afternoon!

She's got a new rear derailleur, headset and stem, but will be back to normal so I can get her home int he afternoon, which gives me 6 days to finish the 120 miles left of my challenge.

Velo riding

As Everest is poorly, I got an early morning session in at the fab Manchester Velodrome.
After lugging Piste to the track in the rain and drying her off, I was all set to try out the new start time (8am) for this session. I couldn't have picked a better time as all the other riders wee newbies and needed the coaches instruction and monitoring, while I had pretty much all the track to myself! Perfect!

My initial intention was to see how my injuries have healed after my (road cycling) crash in November that left me with broken bones. As I began everything seemed fine: I could get in the drops without my wrist hurting (unlike on Everest), my shoulder was OK too. Real test would be at high speed where my ribs would get tested during the rapid/deep breathing required.

As I was having no problems I upped the pace to that of race pace to check the ribs - they seemed OK, so I maintained my race pace for several laps, just to be 100% certain.

Yup, it all seemed OK. I now began my sprint start training: few laps at the top of the banking, then when the newbies had buggered off out of my way swooping down and hurtling like a lunatic with legs all a blur for a lap, gulping air like it was running out. All still seemed OK, so that's how I spent the rest of the hour.
The coaches know I this training in the taster sessions and so long as I'm careful, they're quite happy for me to carry on.

As often happens when I've been on the track, I get used as an example of how to ride/do things for the newbies to learn from. This happened today too. Newbies were asking 'How d'you know when it's safe to drop down in front of another rider?' Conveniently, I was about to do that to pull in for a drink, so there goes lesson 1. Each time I went past the little huddled group, the coach would point at me and say summat to them that made their little faces change with the knowledge they'd learnt summat (they'll probably forget 2 seconds later!).

Right at the very end of the hour, the newbies had all pulled off the track and I'd just finished a sprint when I heard the coach shout to me to do it again; on seeing my puzzled mush he said that the group had asked how the sprints work and they didn't know where the markers were or anything (how you can't see a long white line on a wooden floor I don't know!); so I had a chance to show off and took it happily. What I didn't know was that the coach had got his stopwatch out.....

Off I set for lap 1, upping the pace and gaining height on the banking; lap 2 right at the top of the banking almost touching the upper railings, legs pumping away, then SWOOP across the 200 metre line mashing down on the pedals, straining for breath, got a perfect line all the way round.

When I eventually came to a stop panting like a dehydrated dog that's when I noticed the stopwatch; he'd timed me to show the guys exactly how it works and how fast a 'normal' rider can go.

My time? 15.67 seconds - my first sub-16 sprint. And that was after sprinting for most of the session!

My shoulder and wrist are now hurting, but I think that's purely down to being in the drops for the whole session and I normall don't stay in one position.

Boring bits -
Maximum mph: 35
Average mph: 27
Distance: 15.93 miles
Sprint time: 15.67 seconds. Yippee!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

I'm bored!!

Until I get Everest back from Gerry Shields I'm getting very bored!

Past few days have been spent filling in job applications, trying to sell stuff on eBay and doing nowt generally. Humph!

Still, I have the track session to look forward to. No doubt I will be the only female on there at stupid o'clock in the morning - usually the only female on the track regardless of what time I go actually. At least it'll get the legs spinning for whenever Everest comes home.

It's Ali's Birthday!

Hope you have a great day

Monday, 19 January 2009

She can be fixed!!

Having heard nothing from Gerry Shields over the weekend (spoke to Chris on Friday and he hadn't had a chance to look at her yet), I was beginning to worry a little that she was badly damaged. I know that Chris is pretty much the only guy in the shop and he's the mechanic and shop guy too, so I also knew that if it gets hammered in there it's difficult for him; even so, there were worries.

But I got a text off him today to say that he's examined her and she can be repaired for about 100.00 - that's to sort out the rear derailleur and the headset problems she has. Now all I have to do is let Dad know how much as I'm pretty sure he said he'd pay for her repairs.

Hurrah!! Hopefully she'll be repaired by the end of the week, then it'll be a few long rides to get the challenge finished. It WILL get finished this time round, even if it kills me!! Til I get her back there's my track session to do - although walking the trackie to the velo in heavy rain (forecast for Thursday) isn't sounding appealing.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Everest is poorly!

I was meant to be riding with Amy today. Plotted a fab route with great country roads and a spot through Tatton Park, but alas, I had to cancel last minute when I found Everest was poorly sick.

After Sunday's ride she badly needed a wash, so I lobbed her into the tub where I could clean her to my hearts content (I'm in a first floor flat, so no outside space to clean her). She got lovingly degreased, cleaned, lubed, tweaked etc and was left to rest for a day before I rode her again on Tuesday to the failed appointment. After that ride she needed a scrub again, so again she was in the tub having a scrub.

All was hunky dory.

This morning, I'd got all my stuff sorted, got into my kit, took her downstairs, put her on the floor so I could lock the door. KER-THUNK!!!! Looked down at her and my heart sank....the rear derailleur had snapped off. Completely off!
When I told Amy she advised it may need tightening up with the allen key, but nope, it needed emergency surgery! Bugger! I was really looking forward to the ride, and I think Amy was too as it's been a while since we last rode together - when I had the crash in November was the last ride together.

So began the 40 minute walk to Gerry Shields to book her in for repairs. Chris Shields took one look at her and was gobsmacked - this thing happens in after a large knock to it. Other than the bouncing she did in the crash (after which she had a very good scrutinous service), she's not had any knocks when I've ridden her or lugged her downstairs, so my only thoughts are when she's been locked up with other bikes - Jean Keith ride or CW ride. Either way, Chris isn't too sure of how he can repair her or how much it's gonna cost me. She'll be having her headset replaced at the same time too as that was a plan for the start of this year anyway.

I can still plough on with the challenge for now as I have the track session booked for next week, so that'll mean another 10-15 miles. I'll just have to do the remaining miles in as few rides possible and make them long...when I get her back of course.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Bloody hospitals!

300 mile in 30 days challenge 54.7 % complete.

I had a hospital appointment at 9am, so thought I'd ride out for it instead of putting up with annoying rush hour bus types.
So I got the Everest ready for a partial dusk ride and set off, chuckling to myself as I passed the motorists in a jam on Ashton New Rd. I positively flew down to Alan Turing Way and along here, crossing Ashton Old Rd and Hyde Rd. Then I got stuck in a little bit of a jam at Stockport Rd, but soon cleared that before heading along Anson Rd and Upper Brook St to the MRI Eye Hospital.

Umpteen locks went on the bike, lobbed (in the street) a pair of trackies over the lycra and headed to the be told that'd been cancelled. GRR! I hadn't received any notification of that! They also couldn't tell me when it was rescheduled for.
Stomped out, yanked the trackies off (again in the street), unlocked the bike and went for a hurtling ride through town into Salford for a little while and back into town before making my way past Piccadilly Station where I found the going tough - turns out I'd ridden so far with the front wheel rubbing on the brake blocks and it refused to spin all by itself. Hmm, more amazed now that I hurtled along quite happily earlier then...I must be getting stronger than I originally though I was!

Once the wheel was re-aligned, I gave myself some sprint training - get to the lights asap, pass such a person asap etc etc. Ashton Old Rd was perfect for this as at this time of day the traffic is quite light and it's a straight road with an incline (only noticeable on knackered days) to climb.

I took a diversion back along Alan Turing Way to the velodrome; partway along I stuck myself on the back end of the GB youth squad as they headed to the velo for their track training. had a little natter with Dave Daniel who had a bit of a hacking cough, poor love. Once at the velo I booked myself on for an early morning training session (8am) in a weeks time, then rode through the vale before heading up my hill repeat hill and home.

View Interactive Map on

Boring bit -
Wet, mild (7 degrees)
Maximum mph: 23
Average mph: 15
Distance: 14.83
269ft climbed

Monday, 12 January 2009

Muddy Mobberley

300 mile in a month challenge - 49.6% complete.

On Sunday I joined Chorlton Wanderers for their first ride of the year which was to Mobberley.

The forecast for Sunday wasn't too great with heavy rain and gales forecast, just to spice things up a little, so the waterproof jacket got packed up and I was prepared to get very soggy.

The day began with the ride out to meet the guys at Chorlton Water Park - I chose a different route than last time and set off towards Manchester City Centre down Ashton New Rd, turning off at Every St to head over to Pin Mill Brow and onto Fairfield St to pass Piccadilly Station. Down Whitworth St (now flooded thanks to last nights rain) and onto Deansgate and the huge A56 Chester Rd/Mancunian Way roundabout. Sneaking onto Seymour Grove once past St George's and a straight forward road to follow to Barlow Moor where a left turn down a very long avenue brought me to CWP car park.

As on the previous occasion I was pretty much the first one to arrive, so had a wait ahead of me. Thankfully the little office and toilet block were open so some warmth could be gained.

Pretty soon other riders were appearing; not long after the ride leader arrived, got onto a bench and announced the destination and that he wanted us to get back to the water park for 3pm as that's when the rain was timed to start - of course the minute he said that, what happened? It began to rain!! It continued to rain for about half an hour - not too heavily, but enough for some people to put on waterproofs. I was too warm so left mine off.

We set off into the wind that'd picked up- like the last ride, we set off round the lake, over the Mersey and by the side of Kenworthy Woods (no puncture this time, thankfully). CW's route joined up with my own that I use to Dunham Massey or Tatton Park so I was still on familiar ground as we cycled past Wythenshawe Park and onto Shaftesbury Rd up to it's Thorley Rd junction. About halfway up Thorley Rd is a climb that's not huge but is always a good one for testing climbing speed etc. As we neared this I began to pick up speed and tested myself on how quick I could get up it; About two thirds of the way up, I looked behind me to see that a fellow rider who I'd been riding alongside since leaving CWP had leapt into action when I opened up the gap and had drafted me all the way up the hill! Once through the lights and we were chuckling to ourselves as we flew down the hill to Ashley Heath, where he sneakily drafted me for the rest of the ride! I didn't mind too much despite the strong headwind as I felt really strong, and it was funny to know a bloke was hiding behind a woman!

The ride continued through to Ashley and onto Tatton Park were we had a short pit-stop before heading off along Knutsford drive through the park where, again, myself and Jason shot off the front gabbing away like there's no tomorrow and not letting the other get a lead of more than a few centimetres.

Now we were in Knutsford and we jokingly suggested to the ride leader that we could sneak in a quick loop of the Cheshire Cat before lunch. In short the answer was no! Then we were on the A50 and heading towards Ollerton before a turn off to Lindow End and Mobberley, and lunch in the Frozen Mop - a stunning gastropub with the best draught beer and scrummy food. After plenty of chat and allowing food to settle we set off again.

The most notable place on the return leg was the alpaca farm, where I decided instantly that I wanted one as they're so cute. Naturally I can't have one - flat-living isn't great for furry little things. After cutting through Knoll's Green we were on rough tracks that led us through Lindow Moss famed for Lindow man who now resides at the British Museum. Everyone thought my slicks wouldn't be that great on this surface, but I did fine - the only person who fell here was actually on an mtb. These trails led us through Morley Green and out onto Altrincham Rd by Ringway where both Jason and I tucked into aero positions and shot down the hill. After negotiating a roundabout we got onto the path alongside and were treated to viewing a drill taking place - airplane speeding up, slamming it's brakes on and the fire crews etc hurtling along to it. All good fun!

All too soon we were back on the roads (Styal Rd) heading back towards Northenden and Palatine Rd. A sneaky section on Princess Parkway brought us back to Kenworthy Wood and the water park.

After arranging for Jason to take part in the Middleton CC Track Championship in march and sorting out his riding on some of the club rides, everyone set off to their respective homes. I set off with one of the girls who'd come along for the first time (she was in very dark clothing and as it was getting dark I wanted to ensure she was safely off the worst roads before I left her). After leaving her at Chester Rd, I came back along Whitworth rd - the way I came out - but along Ashton Old Rd as far as Fairfield Rd and Edge Lane and the warmth and stillness of my flat.

View Interactive Map on

Boring bit -
Windy (18mph headwinds), rainy, quite balmy (8 degrees)
Maximum mph: 31.8
Average mph: 12.8
Distance: 56.97 miles
817ft climbed.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

300 mile in a month challenge - 31% complete.

After yesterdays slight catastrophe with the case of the exploding tyre, I decided to have another look at my old Hutchinson tyres - only replaced them as one tyre sidewall was really worn and I'm a bit of a tyres have to match freak! Anyway having looked at them both, one is k to use, so have put that on the front wheel and moved my Bonty tyre onto the back. Now for the test ride to check it is actually OK.

I made sure the test ride was one of my local routes in case anything did go wrong and I needed to hitch my way home! I also made sure the route took me along some rubbish road surfaces.
So, I set off along Ashton New Rd and turned towards Littlemoss and following the road past Daisy Nook to take me to Oldham Rd; a right turn along here before turning off to head up Cranbourne Rd, up the one way Ladbrooke Rd and onto Whiteacre Rd. Now for the royal roads - a left turn onto Queen's Rd and a left onto King's Rd to begin the little climb to the top of here with it's junction with Gorsey Lane. Excellent views over to Hartshead Pike from here too.

No time to stop though as I wanted to get home asap due to being tired - didn't really sleep well last night.
Down Gorsey Lane onto Mossley rd for a nice little downhill section where I pick up some great speed, before taking a sneaky little turn down a road that looks like it leads purely to Tameside Hospital; but no! It houses an entrance onto Silver Springs where I had the pleasure of an isolated loop round the lake before getting back onto Mossley Rd for the return journey.

Getting stuck behind a bus isn't fun, and that's what happened to me all the way home from Ashton. The lights turned red for me as I got close, but not close enough to sprint my way across, so I patiently waited, and groaned as a bus pulled out of the adjacent bus station. Groaned even louder when I saw that it was going the same way as me!
All the way along Newmarket Rd I got stuck behind it as it trundled it's way along - the road isn't really wide enough to pass it safely without getting splattered by oncoming traffic, which was beginning to build by this point. So, I stuck with it until the turning for Daisy Nook; I took a right turn to take me to the disused Hollinwood canal and pootled my way along it until Littlemoss. I got off and back onto the road, looking left and bus! Hurrah! I had beaten it to this point (or it had beat me and zoomed far into the distance).
Back home, I checked the tyres again - they seem fine, so here's hoping I may not have to buy some new ones just yet!

View Interactive Map on

Boring bits -
Cold (-2), dull, grey.
Maximum mph: 26.1
Average mph: 12.6 - thanks to that blooming bus!
Distance: 14.44 miles
381ft climbed.

Friday, 9 January 2009

The day it all went pear-shaped

300 mile in a month challenge - 28% complete.

Back on the bike today - was planning on heading out to Todmorden but my legs were a little tired and I'm not feeling 100% so I headed out towards Dunham instead so I wouldn't be pushing myself too much.

I decided to head out the way I occasionally come back - along Chester Rd. First though I had to get to Chester Rd. I set out along my main road, cutting through Bank Bridge St and Lord North St to get onto Hulme Hall Lane and across Oldham Rd through Monsall before turning left onto Rochdale Rd. Zooming along here soon got me into the outskirts of Manchester City Centre where I snuck alongside Victoria Train Station and out onto Deansgate, past Evans Bike Shop, through Castlefield and to the fabulously annoying Chester Rd/Mancunian Way roundabout at Castlefield.

Once this had been safely negotiated, I just followed my nose literally as it's a straight forward route from here to Dunham. Old Trafford, Stretford and Sale all passed in a blur as I mashed the pedals in a bid to get to that sarnie that was yelling me from afar.

Then things started to go a little bit wrong....I got a flat on the front tyre which was quickly sorted out. As I only had one more spare tube and co2 cartridge I made the decision to head back home and shot down Marsland Rd through Northenden.

KABOOM!!! The rear tyre practically exploded; good job I've had tyres do that when I'm on the track so don't freak out and can retain control. Luckily there were no vehicles behind me either seeing as I came to a halt in super quick time.
When I got onto the grass verge and looked at the tyre there was a rather nice looking 1.5 cm split in it. Not entirely sure how I got it as the roads were pretty clear of crud but there was some work being done on the traffic lights at a crossing I'd not long passed. Maybe that was to blame? Either way I was about 10 miles from home, about 8 from the nearest bike shop and with only 30 quid with me and no cash card.

I made the decision that I'd get a bacon sarnie and mug of coffee while mulling over what to do, so I nipped into Ernie's cafe. Sarnie was very tasty, coffee steaming and punters friendly - had a great chinwag with an old boy who rides a lot and was very interested in me and my bike. The cafe manger very kindly rung for an estate taxi to come pick me up and take me home rather than walking the distance for repairs etc, so my ride was very bluntly cut very short!

I guess I'll have to try and get on the track to boost my miles til I can get some new tyres.

Out of curiosity, what tyres do you guys use?

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Boring bits -
Dull, grey and cold (2 degrees)
Maximum mph: 27.3
Average mph: 16.8
Distance: 14.66
89ft climbed.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Todays snowy playground

Daisy Nook and the Hollinwood Branch canal.

I got onto the walk from Lumb Lane at the Littlemoss Camp of the canal, crossed the car park then began the descent between snow covered trees and shrubs with the soundtrack of the dull hum of the cars as they passed by on the motorway nearby.

This pathway comes to the canal at a pretty little wooden bridge that you have to cross to get onto the pathway again. At this point I turned right to take me to the footbridge over the motorway which has dissected the canal in two. As the canal has been un-navigable for decades this wasn't too big a deal, although if it were to be revamped and re-opened aqueducts would have to be built here, and in other places where it's been dissected.

The footbridge was an experience and a half. I hate heights and footbridges over motorways are just stupidly high and narrow, but take it I must if I want that bacon butty and steaming mug of tea that was calling my name from afar!

Isolation is fab when it's in a place like this. Following the now in-filled section of canal soon brought me out opposite the entrance to Daisy Nook and the John Howarth visitor centre.

Fab bacon butty and mug of tea was followed by a look around the centre before crossing back over to the canal again to join the pathway to the bridge and beyond this time.

I followed the canal through unspoilt countryside and a perfect wildlife haven with enormous bull rushes standing proud against the snowy backdrop until Cinderland Bridge - a very quaint and old brick-built bridge by the fields of Cinderland Hall Farm.

Squashing through a very tall sided narrow stile and I was on the teeny trail alongside Littlemoss High School for Boys, with a lot of them braving the weather for rugby practise - I reckon the teacher was plain evil for doing that to them!

The trail continued on past Cinderland Hall Farm (dated 16th century) and comes out on Lumb Lane a little closer to Droylsden than where I started from. From here, I followed the road back to Villemomble Square and home.

Boring bit -
Snowy, sleety, dull and cold (1 degree)
75ft ascent.
Bacon butties eaten - 1, but wanted lots more!

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Best laid plans

Have you noticed how often we'll make plans then they go a trifle wrong?

That kinda happened to me. I put it in black and white that I'd try to get out every other day on my bike. So far I've managed to set it to ride 2 days, have x off, ride again.....mmm, mebbe I should stick with the new found plans? Ride 2 days, have 2 days off the bike, back on for 2? What say you?

TUESDAY - as this was a designated day off the bike, and it'd snowed again, I thought I'd get out for a walk over at Dovestone Reservoir.

I rose nice and early, got into my cold weather gear, pulled the boots on and jumped on a bus to get me into Ashton so I could get the bus from there to Greenfield. I really felt for the driver of the 350 as it really struggled to get up the ice and slush covered hills on it's route out through Mossley, the driver looked more than a little worried at one point, but he got us there in one piece.

Once off the bus at Chew Valley Roundabout I'd normally head down a private road that leads straight to the reservoir; only today this road really was a private road - it was having nice shiny, rather large security gates put on it. Humph! I won't be going that way then!

Instead I had the fun of hiking up Holmforth Rd as far as Bank Lane before sliding my way down to the car park at the bottom of the road and back up the unexpected little hill at the other end.

The rangers advise to walk anti-clockwise round the reservoir as it's easier - means you go down the 6% section instead of up it. Did I follow their advice? Nope, I chose to go clockwise instead - more of a workout that way. So, off I set walking along the dam wall watching poor little ducks trying to slide-waddle their way across ice sheets; the only tracks in the snow were those of dog walkers and their hounds (no actual sign of anyone, so i think they'd been and gone) and the only sounds were those of the few vehicles braving it across Saddleworth Moor and the sheep bleating.

I found a picture perfect spot to sit and have some coffee and a jam sandwich just soaking up the serenity of my surroundings. If it wasn't for my butt beginning to feel like it was sticking to the rock I ws sat on I'd have stayed there all day. As it was, I set off again past conifer forests and miniature icicle waterfalls at strategic brook inlets before climbing up the 6% hill to Yeoman Hey dam and across it to the base of the craggy Dovestone Rocks and back past another conifer forest and picnic area. Now I was in with the free roaming sheep that graze over on this side of the reservoir.

All too soon I was crossing over the little brook that runs down from by Chew Valley reservoir into Dovestone and passing by Dovestone Sailing Club and the memorial plantations before sliding my way back down to the wall-mounted map and boot wash.

At this point I was accosted by a very friendly hound who refused to go back to her owner until I pointed the way! After another coffee, I found my route back out blocked by a BT van having a wheel-spinning session on the ice as it tried to do a 3-point turn that turned into something like a 50-point turn. One of the risks of having to bring a business vehicle down here to the farms I guess.

I got to have a little chat with a sheep on the crawl back up Bank Lane, but he didn't stay still long enough for me to get a picture of him. One of the gorgeous houses up there was up for sale too - it'll remain a long distance dream for me to own anything like that. Way, way expensive out there. And a tad isolated when you don't drive!

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Boring bits -
Wintry, snowy gorgeousness. 1 degree.
361ft climbed - about 20ft of that slid along.


I thought I'd do a more comprehensive list of the events I'll be riding this year -

08/03 MCC Track Championship 1. This will involve a 200 metre sprint, 1k TT and 2K individual pursuit. Men and women cver the same distance - unlike for the pros. Usually 3 sessions per year with the best times overall put forward to try to win the trophy.

29/03 Cheshire Cat 37 miles. I've ridden this event before but had a crash that rendered me unable to bear weight on my arm, so had to pull out partway through. The route looks fairly easy with no gradient higher than 1%.

26/04 White Peak Challenge 29 miles. A ride through Derbyshire's spectacular White Peak district that offers a real challenge. The first steep hill is at Winster. They've promised a downhill finish, but as we know event organisers like to spice things up and fool the riders into a false sense of relief! Not ridden this before, but should be a good test of whether I've improved the hill-climbing.

31/05 Manchester - Liverpool 38 miles. Starts at Salford Quays and follows the Trans Pennine Trail alongside the Manchester Ship Canal and the Mersey along Penny Lane. Not ridden this before but should be a good ride.

12/07 Manchester - Blackpool 63 miles. Rode this last year in 4 hrs 15 minutes. Max gradient then was 1%. Hoping to get below 4hrs this year.

06/09 Manchester 100 100 miles. Never ridden this route nor the full distance of 100 miles yet; most I've ridden so far is approx 75-80 miles. The route starts at Wythenshawe Park and goes through Northwich, Delamere Forest and Middlewich before finishing again at Wythenshawe Park.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Need I say more?

Just thought I'd share this with the rest of you

Need I say more?!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Snowy bliss

300 mile in a month challenge - 21% complete
Seeing the weather was snowy and gorgeous, I just had to get out and play while everyone slaved away at work!
So off I went - first to Clayton Vale as I knew that other than dog walkers, nobody else will have been there, so I had it all to myself and I'm so glad I did as it looked amazing and felt great to be out riding in the snow. Once I'd ridden the length of the Vale, I headed out to another spot I knew would be deserted - Coal Pit Lane on the Ashton/Oldham border. I headed up along Ten Acres Lane, onto Briscoe Lane and into Newton heath where I went for little slide as my bike decided it wanted to take a corner sideways and at a rather odd angle to the ground! Carrying on through Failsworth and past the huge Tesco and I was getting close to where I wanted to be.

Onto Ashton Rd East, over the motorway, round a corner and, aaaah bliss! I had Coal Pit Lane all to myself. I pootled along here really slowly savouring the noise of my wheels in the snow and admiring some of the most beautiful views that nature can gives us whilst barely trying. And to make it even better Mother Nature decided it should start snowing again!

I really didn't want to leave this place, but as I was freezing my ass off, I thought I'd better get a wriggle on. So, after taking a few pics, I got back on Everest - even she didn't want to leave - and grudgingly made my way to Bardsley so I could begin the return journey.
I took Ney Lane with its odd mix of sixties council houses and cute cottages with pathways leading to Daisy Nook and enjoyed the little dip and climb at its junction with Downing St, before getting onto Newmarket Rd and saying hello to some very cute horses that live alongside.

Glare greeted me as I turned the corner in Littlemoss and stayed with me the majority of the way back to Droylsden. It made for some very interesting riding as I was either blinded by it, or seemed to be following a glarey blob! Either way, I got home OK without any spills, so I'm not too worried about it.
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Boring bits -
Cold (-1), snowy, stunningly bright and beautiful
Maximum mph: 27.1
Average mph: 12
Distance: 10.83 miles
253ft climbed.

Hill repeats 1

SUNDAY Hill repeats.
Seeing as my ride didn't go quite as planned, I got myself to do sme hill repeats - on 2 different hills!

HILL 1 - Collyhurst Hills. Max gradient: 10%

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Attempt 1: 3.57
Attempt 2: 3.45
Attempt 3: 3.51
Attempt 4: 3.49
Attempt 5: 4.02
59ft climbed in 0.43 miles.

HILL 2. Clayton Vale hills. max gradient: 18%

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Attempt 1: 2.31
Attempt 2: 2.04
Attempt 3: 2.12
Attempt 4: 2.27
Attempt 5: 2.23

85ft climbed in 0.30 miles.

Do tyres have a sixth sense?

SUNDAY. Do tyres have a sixth sense and know when you're having fun?

As the weather wasn't too bad and I hadn't managed to get out on Saturday, I forced myself out of bed (so warm and cosy) and onto the bike for a ride that was intended to get me to Knoll's Green, where I went with Chorlton Wanderers back in October.

I set off towards the City of Manchester stadium before turning off down Alan Turing Way to take me over Ashton Old Rd, under Ashbury's station and over to Longsight before passing Bike Docs and getting onto Platt Lane for the long ride over to Princess Rd (Parkway). Good fast pace set here before braving the turning onto Nell Lane - rather wide and very busy 3 lane crossing (Princess Road is not quite a motorway at this point) before settling for a very sedate and quiet pootle through Southern Cemetery and out through the gates directly opposite the road I needed - Maitland Rd, that takes me straight to Chorlton Water Park.

Straight through the car park, skirt the lake, cross the river and I'm on the Trans Pennine Trail heading out towards Kenworthy Wood. This is where my rear tyre decided I'd had enough fun for the day and flatted. Grr! Out came my nice shiny, new, never been used before PBK tyre levers; new tube fitted in no time, now came the fun of pumping the tyre up with a mini pump - it so wasn't gonna happen! Several minutes of pumping later (and getting nowhere fast), a lovely passing cyclist sacrificed one of his co2 cartridges to get my tyre back up to the correct psi. Hurrah for passing cyclists!

Thought better of continuing on my predetermined route and decided to head back to the lake. Before heading into Manchester City Centre, I enjoyed a loop round the lake, then began the ride into town - onto Princess Rd again for a good paced hurtle until Moss Side, where I had to divert to take a look at my (and Amy's) old college - looking rather different from when we were there, except for the chapel which still look stunning. Over the Hulme Arch, then into the thrum of the centre stopping off at Evans Cycles for a co2 set-up of my own - my bike's very own Christmas present.

I chose a different route home than I'd normally take and took me along roads that I didn't know at all - purely for the fun of it. I'm glad I did too. Once past Victoria Station I cut across Miller St onto Dantzic St and into industrial estate land alongside the River Irk before coming to a hill that looked rather daunting to me at first, but once up it I just wanted to do it all again!
Now I was back on familiar turf - Crumpsall - and enjoyed hurtling along Queens Rd, Hulme hall Lane and round onto Riverpark Rd before heading into Clayton Vale for another riverside ride and out onto another hill that is quite daunting if you're totally pants at hills!
Soon after I was safely ensconced in the warmth of my flat with a very welcome Irish Coffee to warm me up, yum!

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Boring bits -
Quite cold (+/-0), dull and grey.
Maximum mph: 22.4
Average mph: 12.1
Distance: 21.22 miles
295ft climbed

Friday, 2 January 2009

Wonderful wonderful Sudafed

Sniff, sniff!

I was meant to get out today for a ride but woke up feeling like my head had been stuffed with cotton wool, so didn't get out.
I hate getting head colds cos they make me feel like complete shite. Thankfully, with the powers of Sudafed I'm feeling a little better than I did this morning, so hopefully I may get out for a short ride tomorrow to see how I am. If I'm ok then it'll be a longer ride on Sunday.

Sniff, sniff!

My challenge has begun

300 mile in a month challenge - 9% complete

I was brave (like Jon) as it was bloody freezing and went for a ride on New Year's Day, while Amy chose to stay in and eat chocolate.

Seeing as it looked beautiful outside with all the frost, I chose to head out to Dovestone reservoir - the hillier route out. Well, I did say I need to improve my hill climbing!
I set off using one of my usual rides up to Hurst and out onto Mossley rd. Here, I would normally turn right and head back into Ashton and home. Today I turned left and continued climbing to Lydgate (A669) and turned right to head towards Uppermill, another favourite location of mine. I continued slightly through Uppermill before taking a right and getting onto some country lanes along the edge of the Peak District National Park and down Tunstead Rd turning right then left onto a private lane just before the Chew Valley roundabout. This road is quite confusing if you've never been on it before - it forks off in two directions: one will head over Chew Brook to a business premises, the other will take you through large gateposts with Private No Entry signs on them.

The first time I came this way with Amy after my bro Paul told me about this lane, we saw the signs so took the right fork across the little bridge and came to a halt at the business, more than a little confused about why Paul told us this lane existed. We saw a dirt track alongside the brook but thought better of it, so turned back.

I've been through these gates so many times now that I now know that it's just private for vehicles further down it - there're a few houses down here along with tennis courts (over-run with weeds now though). I'm pretty sure the mountain rescue teams use this bit of land as a training spot for their rescue dogs too.

Had to turn my lights on down this lane as it was rather dark with the trees on either side meeting overhead and being in a valley there's little natural light at times. It's rather desolate down here too. Eventually I came out over another little bridge made of railway sleepers over the brook (this one is a little more rickety than the first bridge) and joined the main Bank Lane to the main car park for the reservoir.

Quick rest and pit stop to peruse the map on the wall of the toilet block/boot wash area, then I was back off for a ride along the frosty tracks watching the sheep munch on grass popsicles and being followed by one in particular, until he got bored and wandered off! Total winter wonderland up here - only me, Everest, the sheep and the birds of prey that live up by the crags and Indian Head. Pretty soon I was by the Yeoman Hey dam and thinking about coming home as I was really beginning to feel the cold - my fingertips were getting extremely painful, so thought better of riding alongside Yeoman Hey reservoir and made my way along to another private road and the climb up to Holmforth Rd not too far from Bill 'O' Jacks Plantation car park; excellent decision, as I got the brill downhill to Chew Valley roundabout all to myself.

Took a dinky detour on the way home, so I could ride along Huddersfield Rd for yet more undulations to get over. This brought me out in Stalybridge. 5 minutes later I was back on Mossley Rd and heading home.

Annoyingly, the camera on my phone stubbornly refused to work, so alas no pictures. It was a wonderful ride and a fab way to start off my challenge.

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Boring bits -
Very cold (-7), clear, frosty but beautiful
Maximum mph: 24.1
Average mph: 14.4
Distance: 27.77 miles
1401 ft climbed