Friday, 31 July 2009

July review

July, again was a good month for riding for me with getting a new PB in an event and getting some good miles in.

Distance covered: 209 miles
Days ridden: 9
Event: 1 - Manchester to Blackpool 4:13:27 PB
Middleton CC: 26/7 to Bleak Hey Nook
Chorlton Wanderers: no, as I was riding mcr-bpl
Hill climbs/repeats: not as a stand alone thing. A few rides have been very hilly to make up for it.

Although my mileage is down on last month I did get back into Trio's century challenge with the Manchester to Blackpool ride bringing 76.32 (route and to & from the start) miles into play. The 2 most notably hilly rides were both 30 miles long with 1063ft and 994ft of climbing respectively and only a few days apart.

Something, somehow has been going right since my accident. Despite the hill training kind of tailing off I still seem to be getting much better at it than I was at the start of the year. maybe it's something to do with the first stint back on the back was a hill rep; maybe I've mentally matured to the point where no damn hill is going to stop me getting where I want to be. Who knows? All I know is that I seem to be going in the right direction.

August is going to be an interesting month as I'll be using it to try and keep the longer rides up in preparation for the Manchester 100, plus some good rides with my club to Sowerby Bridge and Chorlton Wanderers to Great Budworth. Hopefully I'll be able to get in some good routes that I've found on mapmyride too. Oh, and maybe I'll get over to Staffs and try to ride cat and fiddle and axe edge, just to see if I would be able to take part in the CFT Cat & Fiddle Challenge.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Hardy Souls

*Amended - just clicked on the route link and it only showed Standedge not the whole route. It should now be fixed. Sorry folks!*

Only 2 hardy souls took part in July's club ride - myself and my brother Paul. Of those in the club who weren't at prior engagements the rest cried off - Simon saying he just couldn't get out at 8am in the storm - some rang to say they weren't coming, others not. As Paul had cycled over to the velodrome to (supposedly) meet the team he text me to ask what I wanted to do. I said we may as well ride seeing as he was already wet and I wanted to get out and ride. So, Paul set off towards my place.

At about 10:10 we set off in the rain (which was forecast days in advance) and we set off towards Droylsden and the dreaded contraflow. A left turn took us to Daisy Nook and the climb over Wilshaw to Hurst with another left turn taking us towards Lees before we got into some climbing territory on Thornley Lane with it's lovely 6 and 9% sections - the 9% being a single laned portion too. The climbing wasn't over at the top of here in Grotton either although it did lessen and maxed out at 4% before an awkward right turn (which doubled back on the road we were coming off) part of the way up a steep hill and we were suddenly hit with 7% then 9% before a long drop into Grasscroft and on through Uppermill to a visitor centre/museum where we discussed where to go next.

Despite being very soggy (the rain hadn't eased off at all) we decided that onwards and upwards was the order of the day and we continued through Uppermill to the Wool Rd junction where a few miles of climbing awaited us. Mapmyride doesn't do Standedge any justice as when the whole climb was plotted it came out at a paltry 6 or 7%, however once you break it down into sections the REAL* Standedge climb comes through. And somehow I made it to our destination on the hill - Bleak Hey Nook and it's extremely evil junction.
After stopping for photos and to cheer another few riders on up the hill, we turned left at the junction and found ourselves on a rapid descent into Delph on a road that actually had a sign warning of the angle of descent - 8%. On through Dobcross and back into Uppermill to give Saddleworth's The Cyclery a conundrum (the same conundrum I have given multiple bike shops in the UK - where to obtain a co2 cartridge holder that attaches to the bottle cage bosses. After a moment of puzzlement I took the guy out to my bike to shop him what I meant and he said what I knew he'd say: "I've never seen one of those in my life!" After searching through all his info in the shop, he came to the conclusion that they can't obtain any from anywhere. No surprise there as I've had multiple orders with multiple places cancelled as they can't get hold of them anymore! I have one on order that so far seems to still be on order; only downside is that it is coming from Australia from an Oz online bike shop!

Anyway, back to the ride. After bacon butties and coffee in a lovely little cafe we set off on the return leg in the dry! Hurrah, the rain had stopped!

After coming down through Chew Valley and Greenfield, then into Lower Mossley, just by another contraflow and roadwork area, the world could hear "PUNCTURE PUNCTURE PUNCTURE!!!!". Yup, I'd got another puncture in another contraflow. This time my rear wheel had gone, but after 10 or so minutes Paul had the tube replaced and had it pumped up with my hand pump - he didn't want me to waste a co2 canister, bless him, so he used brute force to push air into the tube! Hoping it'd hold til I got back we set off again after walking a fair way away from the blasted roadworks before pedalling through Heyrod and a turning that I knew was steep and evil, but didn't realise quite so until I plotted it on mapmyride - it averages 20% and is a little humpy in profile.

Once round here and approaching a big busy junction, with yet more roadworks, we got stuck in the middle of the road for a while (thankfully everyone else was stuck too). After getting onto the temporary road surface and up another lumpy 17% section we came to another contraflow which we opted against given my track record of punctures in them, so we snuck up a side road overtaking a car that was having problems getting up the 20% gradient at the start of it, and soon had a tricky junction to contend with before getting onto familiar territory of Stamford Park and Curzon Rd before descending down Vicarage and through Daisy Nook into Droylsden and the Metrolink roadworks (another contraflow!).

All too soon we were at my Mom's for a roast pork tea and cake (twas my Dad's birthday on Saturday) before I set off back to my place 1 mile up the road.

Standedge - view the whole climb
*The REAL standedge* - The breakdown of the climb:
Wool Rd - 43ft climbed in 0.36 mile. Max gradient 7%. Min 6%. Mostly 7%.
Standedge Wool Rd to Diggle - 253ft climbed in 1 mile. Max gradient 8%. Min 2%. Mostly 8%.
Standedge Diggle to Bleak Hey - 197ft climbed in 0.58 mile. Max gradient 16%. Min 6%. Mostly 16%.
Bleak Hey Nook junction - 16% right on the turning.

Stats - view route
Rainy (very), mild/cool, windy
Average speed: 12.3mph
Miles: 30.34
Climbed: 994ft.

SIS PSP22 Energy 500ml
Taut Isotonic 500ml

Friday, 24 July 2009

Hills, hills, and maybe more hills

Yesterday, for some unknown reason, I decided that I would go for a ride and use quite a few of the hilly roads I know. They may not be huge climbs, or long climbs, but to me they're still climbs and climbs are what I need to get better at.

So I incorporated them into a 31.19 mile route I rode. The climbs I've noted here are generally above 5%. Like I say, they're not huge, they're probably something that most of you will think nothing off and ride all the time without even noticing the road rise.

These are in the order I rode them:

Berry Brow - 46ft in 0.12 mile. Max gradient 20%. Average 12%.
Medlock Vale - 85ft in 0.25 mile. Maximum gradient 19%. Average 10%.
Vicarage - 33ft in 0.22 mile. Max gradient 9%. Average 4%.
Gorsey Lane - 52ft in 0.19 mile. Max gradient 13%. Average 6 or 7%.
Mossley Rd - 157ft in 0.88 mile. Max gradient 6%. Average 5%.
Broadcarr - 115ft in 0.47 mile. Max gradient 12%. Average 8%.
Mossley - 164ft in 0.5 mile. Max gradient 17%. Average 10%.
Luzley - 109ft in 0.39 mile. Max gradient 15%. Average 14%.
Rose Hill - 79ft in 0.42 mile. Max gradient 9%. Average 6%.
Mill Brow - 131ft in 0.33 mile. Max gradient 20%. Average 10%.
Bardsley - 72ft in 0.17 mile. Max gradient 20%. Average 19%.
Stannybrook - 46ft in 0.1 mile. Max gradient 20%. Average 14%.

As you can see none of these are over 1 mile in length, merely kicks in the road (albeit sharp kicks) however 6 months ago 10% was my limit for a short sharp climb. So something is going right somewhere!

Stats -
Warm, muggy and eventually wet
Average speed: 13.2mph
Miles: 31.19
Climbed: 1063ft

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Riders wanted

Middleton CC's July Club Run takes place Sunday 26th July and heads out through Littlemoss, Ashton, Mossley and Uppermill before heading up Holmfirth Rd to Marsden.

The most likely route we'll take will be this one. The return leg may be the outward route in reverse or it may come back through Bleak Hey Nook. That will be decided on the day. The start of the main climb is indicated by the 'mountains' logo on the map.

If anyone wants to join in they can. (Joby, Gaz, Emma it'd be good hill practice for anything in the Manchester 100). Anyone can come and ride it with us, even if it's simply so you can ride an alternative route to that you normally do, with somebody else navigating, or so you can ride as part of a group. Whatever you choose.

If you do want to join in, we'll be meeting outside the Mancehster Velodrome at around 9:30am (try to get there a little early if poss) by the stairs to the main entrance (where you'd go in to watch an event). If possible, email me (contact details on my profile page) to let me know you're coming and I will personally meet you at the start point.

See you there!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


I thought I'd have a few back to back rides, where I'm riding daily for a few days, so that I can see exactly how my riding is going: am I getting fitter or not yet, am I worse than last year or fitter etc. So here's how Sunday and Monday went -

Seeing as the weather wasn't too great during the day I went for a ride in the evening after devouring a roast beef tea at my moms. So, at 8pm I clambered into my gear, made sure Everest was all set and set off out towards the hills. Through the roadworks and to the contraflow pausing at the crossroads for the lights to change. At the amber light I pushed off (still in the contraflow) and crossed the junction speeding up as I had a car right up my ass. When hisssssssss. Of all the places to get a flat, and an instant flat at that, it had to happen in a contraflow and right outside a pub. Mmm, not the best of places to be hanging around outside while in full cycle gear.

I managed to get into a lay by and onto the pavement to a fence to sort out the tyre. As it was an instant flat it proved a little harder than normal to locate it, but when I did it was a double puncture - almost as if I'd ridden over a giant staple - but there was nothing stuck in the tyre/tube, so after I patched it up I continued on my way.

I rode pretty much straight into Ashton and back via Guide Bridge for a pretty much straightforward route. Other than having to stop to sort out the tyre it was a good ride bar the fierce headwind I got on the way back.

Sunday stats -
Still rather warm
Average speed: 15.3mph
Miles: 6.28

I was all for heading into the hills today, but as the hills were looking very gloomy and I wasn't really in the mood to get rained on in any way, I chose to head out to Gorsey Lane for a little bit of climbing.

I set off out through Littlemoss and alongside Daisy Nook to Cranbourne Rd and over to Hurst where I got onto King's Rd and it's climb up past the war memorial and stopped to admire the view at the top alongside the edge of Ashton Golf Course looking over to Hartshead Pike looming out of the gloom.
Once I'd descended to Mossley Rd and Luzley I enjoyed the superb fast descent back into Ashton, where I trained my neck to get back into the aero position it's been unable to hold since my accident (think it's simply lack of being in that position).

Soon I was climbing back out of Ashton towards Oldham and turning off the road into Daisy Nook proper for a muddy off road jaunt for a bacon butty. I very nearly came off on one of the drops down the side of the lock flight, but somehow held on as the path seemed to slide down the gradient with me! After devouring the sarnie i set off across the steep Stannybrook Rd onto the Jericho Trail crossing the M60, then trying to get up a muddy hill with the rear wheel spinning out every now and then. After the 'n'th time, I gave up and walked up the hill before mounting again for the last section before the car park by the fish farm.

A nice fast-paced ride back to another lot of roadworks and road closures brought me alongside Droylsden FC and all too soon to the roundabout where Paul painfully perfected his superman impression over a bonnet many, many years ago. Thankfully I tweak my rides this way so I leave the roundabout by the nearest exit to that which I'm entering from and soon I hurtled alongside Droylsden High before joining the one-way system and arrived home.

Monday stats -
Warm though cloudy
Average speed: 12.7mph
Miles: 13.97

In respect of riding days back-to-back, I seemed to manage quite well. Monday's average seems about right for the climbs regardless of whether I'd ridden 12hrs earlier or not. The real test for me will be riding the day after a track session (sadly I've not been back on the track since January time).

So maybe my fitness is improving. Maybe I'm just a tad more mentally stronger. Maybe.

*Pictures will follow for Monday's ride soon*

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Test run

After getting my docs advice I decided that today would be a good day to go for a short ride and test out my knee and also the new bibshorts I received yesterday. So I set off on an easy ride to Daisy Nook. Nothing exciting happened really apart from having workmen in a HGV behind me stare at my butt and others working on the tramway works make strange noises as I rode past them!

The knee coped fine with no pain at all and the shorts were snug to the point of not even being able to tell I was wearing any, they fitted like a second skin and were uber comfortable. Hurrah!

Stats -
Patchy cloud, muggy, warm
Average speed: 13.2mph
Miles: 11.96
Climbed: 154ft

Knee news

After Tuesday's exploits on the moor resulted in my knee really hurting, I decided it'd be good to go see my doc about it - I have to be very careful about this knee now after what had happened in 2004.
After fracturing the tibial plateau in a sustained attack in 2004 I have been left with stage 2 arthritis in my right knee and a 'step' in the rear of my patella, which obviously shouldn't be there. My consultant decided against more surgery on that knee as to remove said step could rupture the kneecap completely. My surgeon also advised that any further injury to the knee would result in my needing a full knee replacement, which at the age of 30 isn't particularly good as I'd need them frequently.

Anyway, I managed to get to see my doc on Wednesday and explained to her what had happened both in 2004 and Tuesday. She examined the knee, doing all the usual torture tactics that docs love to do to knees and said there's no excess fluid in there which is a good sign. I told her about the step on the patella and she agreed with my theory - that the cartilage had caught on the step as I was descending causing the searing pain and once it was released from it's trap (at the bottom of the hill) it was loads easier.

So good news all round really. I was anticipating another trip to my surgeon and another op, maybe something major. Doc advised I keep on as normal and only go to the surgeon if the pain returns. So I carried on normally!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Wessenden Moor Wander

Tuesday morning began with the threat of rain and seemed to get even worse when I read the forecast for the day - heavy rain, potential thunderstorms and flooding. Not ideal conditions for moorland walk where there'd be river crossings and peat to cross.

Still I went ahead and met with Joe armed with a map and several potential routes to walk. After perusing them for a while and advising him of a few road problems. meaning a couple of the route may be hard to get to, we chose to head up the Isle of Skye road onto the moors between Manchester and Holmfirth. After pulling into the dinky car park on the Wessenden Head Rd and consulting the map we set off.

After reading the sign about the Kirklees Way by the gate and noting that there were endangered birds about we set off alongside Wessenden Head and Pudding Real Moss along the shared Kirklees and Pennine Way path, down a lovely limestone slab/cobble path and across a few bouncy bridges to come alongside Wessenden Reservoir by the Cradles and Great Dike Springs.

After reading another sign about the area - over 5000 acres belong to the Marsden Moor Estate and tended to by only a few farms - we chose to follow the Kirklees Way across the dam wall and up Long Grain. As the path climb higher and higher, the path got narrower and narrower and squelchy underfoot. Then we saw a sign saying there'd been a bit of subsidence and could clearly see a little of the path had disappeared down into the valley, although the rest of it was fine.

We carried on this path and came to a lovely waterfall and the first of our river crossing points. Luckily the brook wasn't too wide and the water wasn't too deep and there were plenty of big rocks to clamber over before getting to the other side. Once over the other side we had to scramble over rocks almost hip height before we could get back on the path, which became more squelchy underfoot. At this point we were trying to find little grassy hillocks to stand on as the path seemed to be made of peat too and any attempt to stand on it resulted in a boot sucking experience. Joe went first and found some areas were OK to bear weight. I followed on and found that said areas wouldn't bear my weight, so opted for the hillock stepping places. After getting onto one big lump of grass and working out where to step next I managed to find a nice big hole to stick my other foot in - a hole that wasn't seen by anyone! Thankfully it wasn't full of peaty water and was only squelchy to the ankle of my boot.

After lots of chuckling from me and more squelching we made our way to another meeting point of the two trails, by a solar panel for the Lodge. Just past the solar panel we saw the back of a sign, so went round to read it - "Warning, path dangerous. Please use the Pennine Way" Mmm, seems Joe and I had just traversed a highly dangerous path that had no danger signs at the end we came from! We plodded on, thankful that the path hadn't given way on us; around Grouse Butts and to the second river crossing, this time involving a bit more scrambling down a steep valley to get to the bank and across the other side to a set of limestone steps bordered by lots of bracken. Those steps seemed to go on forever. Once at the top, we plodded on for a little while alongside Blakely Clough between Black Moss and Great Butterly Hill before stopping for some lunch.

After teacakes and coffee we continued on our merry way and followed the limestone slab path that'd replaced the well worn path through the moss, heather, cotton grass and bracken to reach Black Moss and Swellands reservoirs, where the rain decided it was going to put in an appearance.

We decided that it'd be best to head back as we were quite far from the car on a peat moor with nowhere to shelter from the rain, with the prospect of the place becoming extremely dangerous. So, after a rest stop, we set off back to the solar panel and the warning sign.

Deciding to play it safe we took the Pennine Way to the left of the panel....down a very steep sided valley (probably talking about 45% gradient to get down and back up on the other side). As I was descending, my knee decided to play up with searing pain through it. Not the best of places to get severe knee pain really. I put it down to the way I was descending, as I seemed to hover on that leg for quite some time before putting my left foot down anywhere, so I presumed I was putting undue stress on it. I managed to get down OK without too much pain, crossing the brook and back up the other side. By the finger post at the top of the climb, we had another rest which gave me time to assess my knee to make sure I hadn't really buggered it up.

This was where we made friends with an adorable ram. He walked past us initially following his missus, then decided to turn round and come have a look and a sniff. Perfect picture moment as he looked at us with a little bit of disdain.

Then Joe put some biscuit on the floor and the ram quite happily came, ate it and stayed put, so Joe put more bits out. The ram got so close that I ended up holding onto the signpost with one hand, kinda slightly hanging over the edge, just so I could fit the whole ram in the frame for another shot!

After the ram had decided he's posed long enough he ran off to find his ewe, leaving us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and head back to the car.

Stats - view route
Miles: 7.31
Climbed: 814ft

Monday, 13 July 2009

Manchester to Blackpool

****NEW PB - 4:13:27****

At 6:00am a very weary me woke up to dull grey skies with the threat of rain on the morning of Sunday 12th July for my 2nd Manchester to Blackpool ride. After a night of rain (some heavy) my heart sank a little at the prospect of 60+ soggy miles. However my worries were unfounded as not a drop of rain fell until we were back at base waiting for the bikes to arrive back.

I had aimed to leave my place at around 6:30 for the 7ish mile ride out to Old Trafford to start the ride with Simon who had the same start time as I did; however I ended up leaving my place late, but used the ride out as a very good warm up with a few sprints in there to test the legs out.

Arriving at OT at 7:15 I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Bananaman say that they're letting people off early due to the sheer number of participants (over 8500 people), so I set off at 7:25.

Bananaman also had a warning (already) that there'd been quite a few accidents (already) pretty much 5 minutes outside of the ground (already!), due to the rail lines that crisscross the roads (slow moving freight trains use(d) them for the warehouses). Hmm, that's not sounding good. As it was we only had to cross the lines once and they were easy provided you attack them in the right way - I cross lines quite often on some of my rides so I know how to do it without slipping.

Out past Trafford Ecology Park and round to pass the Imperial War Museum looking very brooding under the cloudy skies, and soon we hit the first 'climb' of the day that got quite a lot of people panicking and slowing down or stopping and walking. Mmm, it got me last year, but I wasn't going to let it get me this time round. The organisers are great at shoving a climb (this one was an average of 11% with a max of 20%) right near the start of the thing. I happily twiddled my way up it passing all sorts of riders of differing abilities.

We got onto the A572 through Boothstown and on through Leigh to Hindley Green and Hindley for another 5% climb to Aspull and on to Haigh Hall. An interesting cobbled section (they didn't warn us about that!) led to a 7% speed-humped descent into the grounds and the Higher Plantation. Still descending we entered the Lower Plantation for what can only be described as a bit of a silly route - steep, twisty, leaf-littered, slick road with chicanes added to ensure we didn't fly down it. As it was, I overshot a corner and nearly fell into a valley, with only a tree stopping me. Almost everyone I passed or who passed me at this point were all saying this bit wasn't ideal for a road bike due to the conditions. Not only was this bit bad, but we had to climb back out of it at the other side in the same conditions, only shorter and much steeper.

After leaving the grounds I noticed a chap riding alongside me and decided to natter to him for a bit. This was his ninth or tenth time of riding the event, but the first on his nice shiny new bike he got off his mate (alloy, carbon forks/seatpost, Italian wheelset). We were both a good pacer for each other as we shot along at 17mph chatting, neither letting the other get away

Once back out of the grounds, the route took us through Standish, past Charnock Richard Golf Course and up to Euxton where the route left the A49 and joined on to some very odd sounding roads: Schleswig Way and Flensburg Way. Soon we were at Preston Marina and the right side of the Ribble for Blackpool.
Up to this point, the route really wasn't overly scenic, but now above Preston it was, with lovely little villages to ride through. I found Treales to be the prettiest. I also knew of it's secret: last year I stopped for a breather here and got chatting to a villager who asked what was going on, after telling him of the event and asking him how much further Blackpool is, he let me in on the secret - there is a very evil hill that catches everyone unaware not too soon around the corner - this hill leads right up to a junction where we have to turn right and there is no flat bit at the top, so the possibility of rolling backwards is quite high.

Last year this hill was a bitch to me. I wasn't going to let her take a bite out of me again. I forewarned my riding chum and advised he take it real easy as his leg was beginning to hurt and I knew that this hill would make him really hurt. He rode part of it, then got off to walk the rest. I wasn't going to let the hill get off that easily. It starts of as quite an unassuming 2 or 3%, but soon kicks upwards to an average 5%, then to 7, 9, 10% until right at the very top it's 13%. Last year I got halfway before having to walk. This year I tamed the beast! I was amazed to see quite a few club riders struggling despite their super light carbon bikes.

Now, we were heading south towards Freckleton and the coast road where I knew it was going to get hard. The winds were pretty bad last year, but this year? My God! I don't think they could get any worse than they were. They must have hit us at 20mph!

As soon as we turned right onto the coast road it became a struggle for a lot of people. I only slowed down 1mph, others were really slowing down to crawl. My riding chum was suffering big time with the wind despite drafting me. By the time I'd got to Lytham Lighthouse he'd dropped right back and urged me to go on as I was coming close to my time for last years ride.

On I plodded, riding through the piles of sand that'd drifted onto the road, even eating some as the wind whipped it up in the air. On past struggling riders, most of whom were drafting people or being drafted. On past the line of cars parked by the dunes. By the time I neared Blackpool Airport I had passed 30, 40 people who were struggling like they were riding through glue. Yet I was still maintaining a bloody good average; although I could feel the wind whipping sand across my body, it was like I barely noticed it.

As I approached the last marshall he shouted to everyone "Only 1 mile to go". One mile?? Am I really that close? From somewhere I found the strength to push even harder, flying past people who just seemed to be going backwards. Cheers and the sound of clapping pushing me on. 22, 25, 28mph. Bikers trying to catch me up and draft me, but getting left behind. A group in the distance with an mtb on the front of it. I wasn't letting that bugger beat me. Pushing, pushing, harder, faster, a blur of grey as I passed him mashing down on the pedals as I hit 30mph with 100 metres to go.

FINISHED!!!! Suddenly, there're girls shouting at us to slow down. Wondering why, I looked round to see they were handing out the welcome bags on the finish line, actually on the line. Bit of an odd place to hand them out seeing as people were riding to the finish so fast. We're not pro riders passing a feed station after all!

Sadly, I never saw my riding chum finish, so I don't know if he did or not.

Once through the hordes of well wishers and into the Solaris Centre gardens, I checked my PC to see a time of 4hrs 13mins and 27 seconds. I'd beaten last years time by 1min 33 seconds. Hurrah! After gulping in lots of fresh sea air and downing the bottled water in the welcome pack I headed for the barbecue area for an amazingly tasty burger to wolf down.
I didn't want to stay in Blackpool for too long as I knew it'd take a while to get home by coach and even longer for the truck carrying our bikes to get back, so I set of in search of the ticket tent, handed over my ticket (I had good sense to book it in advance) and was advised I can get the next bus which was boarding half an hour from now. After fighting my way through the crowds, never easy with a bike in tow, I got out onto the prom and joined the queue for the TNT truck which was to be home for the bikes for the journey back to OT. Clambering onto the first coach I was surprised to find it was an executive coach with lovely plush, comfy seats and tvs.

As the coach was leaving I noticed how the truck was still being loaded and not following on behind us like last year. Hmm, perplexing. Last year there was one truck per coach, this year we weren't sure what was happening. Not to worry, I thought, the truck will be leaving Blackpool soon, right? Wrong! We arrived back at OT and piled off the coach into one of many car parks. People I was talking to were asking where the bikes were. I advised that they'll be with us shortly, but to expect a wait of up to half an hour, as that's what happened last year. Half an hour later, no sign of any trucks. 40 minutes later and even I'm wondering if the driver has nicked off with all the bikes. An hour later the second coach pulls in without a truck in tow. 10 minutes later the truck finally appears, only for the driver to look like he's going to get mobbed.

The shutter of the tuck opened and sudden intake of air was audible, swiftly followed by "that better not be my bike!". Peering round a tall guys head I saw a couple of bikes lay on the floor, and thought "oh dear". The driver, sensing he might get decked in a bit luckily had paperwork to say that if he takes on too many bikes to be secured in an upright position, he must lie the others on the floor and tether them to the floor. Disaster averted!

Once Everest had been pulled away from her chat with umpteen bikes, a quick check over her revealed she'd survived the journey. On I jumped and off I set (surprisingly quickly) to head to my moms in search of a roast dinner!

Stats - view route
Cloudy, pleasantly warm, mega windy.
Maximum speed: 42.5mph
Average speed: 14.2mph
Miles: 62 (actual mcr to bpl) 76.32 (total)
Climbed: 948ft

Nutrition -
3 litres SIS GO electrolyte drink
2 SIS GO isotonic gels
2 mule bars
1 'recovery' burger
0.5 litres water

Saturday, 11 July 2009

All set

It's the Manchester to Blackpool ride tomorrow. I've got my bike set up and ready, my kit is all set up and ready with my rider number pinned to my jersey. All I have to do now is try to find my blasted debit card as I need to have money to take with me for food at the end int he Solaris Centre and the bloody thing has gone walkies. Grr!

The weather is looking pretty good with a little rain, lots of cloud though, so it'll either just keep raining or it'll be muggy. Either way, myself and the 5500+ other riders will have a blast, although I am hoping that people don't fall onto me like last year at a huge roundabout on the A6 heading to Preston!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Gee whizz!

I've totted up the number of jobs I've applied for in June and it's 31! July is going along the same lines too as I've already applied for 10. All the Job Centre want me to do is a minimum of 2 each week. Mmmm. Not surprised they don't know what to do with me anymore!

On a brighter note, one of the apps is for Cycle Surgery on Princess Rd in Didsbury. I haven't worked in a shop for years but I enjoyed it when I did, and where better to expand my knowledge of all things bike related than in a cycle shop?

So, fingers crossed all round, me thinks.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Am I mad?

I think I may have lost my mind. I'm contemplating entering the CF Trust's Cat and Fiddle 55 mile challenge with Mr Sean Kelly and about 1500 others.

The event takes place October 4th and starts at Brian Rourke's and goes through Staffs, Cheshire, Derbyshire and the Peak District including the infamous 7 mile long climb.

Anyone who knows me (or knows of me through this blog) knows exactly how pants I am on hills and how I'm more likely to run away from them rather than dance up them. But you know, maybe, just maybe this is what i need to get better at them?

I've asked for info to be sent to me anyway and I'll decide once I've got that and once Manchester to Blackpool is out of the way.

Rainy fun

I was too tired this morning to get a very early run out like I did yesterday, so I left my place after the rush hour had ended and set off on my regular 10 mile route with a little tweak that took me through Fairfield to avoid some of the Metro roadworks, before getting back onto the route at Villemomble Square.

As I passed Medlock Leisure Centre the scratching noise I'd been hearing started to get a little bit louder, but when I looked down at the components while riding everything looked in order, so I though maybe the car that had been tailing me was the culprit of the noise. So I carried on regardless and turned into Daisy Nook as I passed so I could give Everest a proper check over again (she had a look over before I left the house). As I looked straight down at the chain it looked like it was too far to the left on the front mech, which would cause it to grate. After having a feel around and a look from a different angle, it dawned on me that the front mech hadn't reverted back to its proper position after the stint on the big ring, although it felt like it had clicked into place as I'd changed down. But, hey ho! After a play about with the gearing it sorted itself out without a problem, so all's good.

As I left to carry on my route it began to spit a little (it was forecast) and kept dying out, starting again etc. By the time I got to Guide Bridge it was heavy rain. By the time I got a further 2 minutes down the road it had turned into a monsoon, albeit a very, very welcome monsoon as it really cooled me down. Seconds later I was drenched, feet waterlogged, hands killing me (my eczema reacts badly to water), but I was grinning like a nutter at everyone who looked at me as though a cyclist shouldn't be out in the rain.

One thing that the rain did for me other than chill me out and turn me crazy, was that it made me faster. Probably a little stupid to be going faster on slick, greasy roads, but it did. And I was still super cautious turning left due to the paranoia that another car will side-swipe me while turning!

C'est la vie!

Stats -
Muggy, sticky and bloody hot already (21C at 9:30am)!
Average speed: 14.9mph
Miles: 9.62

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Early morning ride

Seeing as it's still so hot outside, and I wasn't particularly in the mood for a morning or afternoon ride, when I woke up at 6am unable to sleep any longer I got out on Everest and took her for a trip to Hartshead Pike....the hillier way.

Usually I'd head up Lees Rd and past Oldham Golf Club for a short climbing experience with a few 11% sections. This time I head out the way I would normally come back - climbing Mossley Rd, passing Ashton Golf Course and turning off at the brow of the hill up Broadcarr Lane. I did this on purpose knowing full well that I'd have a 2 mile climb with an average of 5% followed by a short sharp 11% section that rears straight up from Mossley Rd with no let up - for me that is fairly evil as I can do short and sharp, I can just about do long climbs, but to combine the two was evil; but it had to be done seeing as I can't avoid hills all my life!

Anyway, after getting to the Pike, savouring the breeze up there, I knew I'd have to leave again pretty sharpish if I wanted to avoid the rush hour traffic as they headed out to work.
I came back down via Lees Head Rd, Lees New Rd and Abbey Hills Rd (with its 20% section) to Alt Lane and a lovely descent through Park Bridge to Bardsley and more descending until an 11% climb brought me back out of the valley to a flat section through Failsworth and Newton Heath before reaching my hill repeat hill.
Sadly (or gladly, not sure which yet) there are lots of roadworks on this hill now and it's been narrowed down to a single lane while the work is going on, so I couldn't really do my hill climb on it as stopping halfway up a hill for traffic lights would really bugger up my times - I felt slower getting up it anyway, so numbers wouldn't really tell me much different!

Stats - view route
Already 20 degrees and sticky
Average speed: 12.4mph
Miles: 17.3
Climbed: 646ft