Singlespeed training ride

I rode a route last night that goes from my house up into the hills via a lovely place called Birtle. John Whatshisname who’s the chairman of Man City lives there. The main feature of Birtle is it’s on a big nasty hill. I was on the singlespeed and it HURT. A lot. There’s a fair bit of climbing to get there in the first place but then it really kicks up and starts to punish, in fact a couple of times I thought I was going to dismount on account of me almost not being able to turn the pedals…then came the bit with the ankle-deep mud, and then the bit where you’ve got to ride up the rock-filled stream (Garry knows this one from waaaayyyy back).

Once I’d topped that one out I was then a short downhill and the climb up the Nangreaves cobbles. Think of Paris-Roubaix without the spectators. That climb hurt more than the last one! What works is focussing on the event you’re training for. I found that thinking about the Fred and the Cristalp and reminding myself this is why I’m doing this stupid thing really helped me put the power down and give those bars a good old wrenching. Then it was steeply down into Ramsbottom along the rocky path that made me really appreciate suspension forks (cos I didn’t have one). I literally went down the thing going “OW!”, “ARGH!”, “OOF!”, “URGH!” and I had arms like Popeye when I’d finally reached the bottom. Quick stop at Phil’s to drop off a small Camelbak I’ve sold him (yep, I’d ridden up till now with two Camelbaks on), and then off down the “easier” route home again. Made it in 2.5 hours, which I thought was pretty good and leaves some room for improvement too.

This year’s manouvres

So I’ve kind of decided what my racing activity is going to be this year. I’m intending nailing the running this time and aiming to do a few fell races, including Aggies Staircase, Two Lads and Bull Hill. I’ve only mentioned them cos they’ve got cool names.

Anyhoo, the main even this year is the Grand Raid Cristalp. Regarded as one of the best and toughest mountain bike races in the world, 130-ish kilometres in the Swiss Alps and very much a rite of passage for any serious mountain biker. I’m really looking forward to this now and there’s a possibility that me and Simon will be taking our families. There’s plenty to do in Verbier, the place caters for thousands of skiers in the winter, so a big group holiday could be on the cards.

Before that, I’m doing the Fred Whitton Challenge. A monster of a road race in the lake district that includes all of the major mountain passes that you can think of.


This one just looks mental. Not only does it look like the toughest thing ever, but the last climb is the Hardknott Pass.

Some serious hill intervals on the cards, then.


Then there’s the 3 Peaks Cyclocross to think about. I’ve not much to say about this one until after the Cristalp, there’s only so much fretting about big climbs one can cope with.