Black in the Black

I had a meeting with a customer late afternoon yesterday. They just so happened to be 10 miles down the road from Llandegla…so what am I to do? A night ride, solo, in a Welsh forest is probably a stupid thing to do but sometimes you’ve just got to grab any opportunity you can to scare yourself silly.

Meeting ended after 5pm and by then it’s properly dark. I’d heard that night riding at Llandegla is frowned upon but I decided that given I’d taken the trouble to bring a bike with me, I was going to drive over there and do it anyway. The alternative was sitting in the traffic on the M56.

Starting on the red route, my helmet light was casting the usual spooky shadows that you see when shining 20 watts of halogen into a forest. Still, that made me put the power down a bit more.

The start of the black route appeared and from that point it was a terrifying mix of berms, cautious covering of brakes and the occasional locking up of the rear wheel.

Back at the car within 90 minutes. A short ride, but way off the thrill scale.

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Lee Majors hits Calderdale

Greetland Duathlon today. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this “poxy little race up in the middle of the hills with nobody but tri lads (and lasses) in attendance” if I’m honest, but Simon said he was going so I was hardly going to jib now was I? I just felt neither arsed nor prepared and would happily have spent the day doing something else. Anyway, 5K run over the moors, 10K mountain bike section apparently around a muddy field, followed by another 3K run, presumably over the moors again. It looked like me and Simon were two of around 60-ish competitors and for once I started at the front. There was a bit of running across a field and hurdling a log before we headed up to the moors. We climbed a footpath that was pretty rocky and I was being elbowed for space by Elbows Out When Running Girl. It carried on climbing and I was sure that running isn’t normally this hard. At the summit of the climb I suddenly recognised this trail from a cheeky ride me Martin and Wal had done some years previously.

Anyway, we started to descend and EOWR Girl was starting to pull away (a bit) on the quickly-getting-narrower-and-rockier trail.

Then it happened. The Colt Seevers I’m the unknown stuntman moment. My left foot slipped on a muddy rock and SLAM – I whacked my thigh, rib and knee into the rocks and decided it would be a good idea to continue into a forward roll. I thought it would have looked impressive, me rolling over then immediately carrying on running. Which is what happened, but it probably looked like a geezer going arse over tit with his legs up in the air. The next climb was bloody awful. I was in a fair bit of pain from the fall and I kept looking down at the big glob of blood and filth that used to be my kneecap. By this point, Simon was out of sight.

At the transition, I thought “Right. 5 laps. Then another run. Take it easy”. Then I got on the bike and thought “bollocks to that. That’s what I always do”. Loads had passed me on the second part of that first run and I’m not doing “finishing about halfway” any more. So I went for it and passed around 15 other riders over the 5 laps of the course.

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The only minor setback was a quick allen key session after my saddle decided it wanted to tilt skywards. By the end of the riding I was right behind Simon, which was encouraging. The course was half muddy field and half dead dead good bermy singletrack sort of twisty turny stuff. There wasn’t an abundance of overtaking places so I had to be pretty sketchy and probably annoyed some other folk. Ah well who cares. Anyway, back to the transition and off we go for the 3K’er. The marshall said I was now in 14th. In a lot of pain and now with 2 cramping calves. Down through the woods where we had to cross a bloody stream about 6 times and climb some ridiculously slippery muddy steps. Anyway, finished about 16th I think. Which I’m happy with. Simon finished 13th I think.

Turns out I’ve lost pretty much all the top few layers of skin from my knee 

Keep and eye on me in case I start to foam at the mouth.

8am start, and a ride 8 miles north to meet Simon, Martin and Dave. I was running a bit late so I was redlining on my way along the canal and up past the sailing club. This is no way to warm up!

Once I’d arrived (and stopped hyperventilating), we were up Holcombe Hill to meet the other Simon and the other Dave. We couldn’t see the hill as we approached as it was completely shrouded in fog. A short wait for Simon and Dave at the top then we were off on the cheeky paths down the hill…

A big loop on the moors via Darwen and Tockholes, then back towards Ramsbottom.

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Plenty of mud, general talking bollocks and plenty of freezing fog at first, then lovely sunshine later.

Only one puncture following a fast rocky downhill and a sudden inability to avoid a large square-sided rock.

It’s a big ride that. I’d clocked 45 or so off road miles. I felt good though so presumably the pesky cold that’s dogged me for the last couple of weeks has gone.

The fun started a mile from the house though. On the way back I was attacked by a dog, bitten firmly on the leg and spent the rest of the afternoon being bandaged and jabbed with a needle (oh, and sat waiting to be looked at).

Here’s the leg complete with punctures and mud:

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Go see Simon’s somewhat surreal “account” of the ride and more pics over on Industrial Fell Biking.

hello. me again.

Well that cold knocked me for six. Perhaps even knocked me for twelve.

I’ve not done anything at all for a few days, and it appears to have cleared up.

So that’s why it’s been quiet ‘round ere.

I’ve got a duathlon to do a week on Sunday, so the timing of this “interlude” is pretty poor, but hey ho. It’s not like it’s on telly or anything.