Mile munching

Training ride yesterday, Manchester – Anglesey. I’d not done this ride for a couple of years and last time I was on an MTB with slicks on it. I was looking forward to spending a long time in the saddle of the cross bike and hopefully improving on my last time.

I hardly slept the night before as I’ve been fighting an annoying cough. Not a great start. 5:30 am in the morning I was feeling pretty rough and considered more than once canning it. But I didn’t. The first couple of hours were horrible. I was riding slower than a pensioner and just couldn’t summon the energy to put the power down. I was struggling. Then I realised I couln’t shift into the smaller ring because the limit screw on the front mech was wound all the way in, and I didn’t have a screwdriver. I was frustrated but relieved too – maybe this was my excuse to call Deb for a pickup….

I managed to adjust it with the buckle on my watch strap so then I was on my way again, thoughts of quitting 30 miles into the ride banished from my mind. I stopped near Rhyl for 20 minutes. A sit down and some food should help. It did. I started to feel strong again, 4 or so hours after I set off. My headache vanished and I big-ringed it for the next 30 miles towards Conwy. I was flying now.

For 30 years I’ve been coming over here and in that time I’ve probably only seen Conwy castle through a car window, apart from maybe the odd tour around it when I was a kid. Riding a bike into Conwy (you’ve got to avoid the A55, obviously), up to and through the narrow sreets within the castle is an awesome experience, especially if you know the history. Thinking about it, this town has the lot. The sea, History with a big “H”, a proper military castle, a Telford suspension bridge and proper mountains. Perhaps we’ll live here one day.

More miles passed. I then joined the Sustrans cycle path along the coast parallel with the A55. When they built this path some joker must have tarmacced over a guinea pig because I was riding at a reasonable clip, one hand on the bars, other hand holding my water bottle and looking out to sea when BAM! I hit this weird mound of concrete, no more than 3 inches high and immediately smashed my knee and the bike into the ground. Ow ow ow!!!!! I’ve got blood pouring from my knee, I’ve taken a load of material off a pedal and my brake lever and i’ve bent my rear mech hanger. Ow!!! Me and the bike both eventually skidded to a halt, red and black stripes trailing behind us. I sat there for a couple of minutes cursing my bad luck and lack of concentration. The bent mech meant that from that point I couldn’t use any low gears – the mech would be driven into the wheel if I tried. Bah.

Eventually I’m over the Menai bridge and onto the island. The thing is, once you cross the bridge there’s just 8 miles to go, but the road to Benllech undulates and presents you with 14 sharp climbs. It’s a killer end to a ride.

116 miles and 8 hours after I set off (including 3 stops, 1 crash and a dose of manflu) and I arrive at the caravan where Deb’s waiting. So we went  to the beach and flew a kite.


It’s started…

Michael and I went over to Llandegla on Saturday morning. The place was packed! Mike hadn’t ridden for a bit so he was chomping at the bit…er..a bit. So I was surprised to see that he didn’t really struggle with the climbs at all, and his extra height and weight (he’s grown a bit recently) really shows now on the technical and fast downhill stuff.

When he asked to go in front, I’d expected to be riding behind him on the brakes all the time. But I had to use actual technique and everything just to keep up! He was flying in fact. He can jump too, cheeky beggar. He’s just able to use his weight to plant the bike just where he wants it to go instead of just hanging on. Soon he’ll be tall enough to fit my bikes. That’ll be interesting.  We really must make it a regular thing though. At half term I’ll take him on his first night ride, but it might be a bit early for the hip flask. So it’s started. He’s starting to show signs of the inevitable…he’s going to be more skilful, faster, stronger and just a better cyclist than me one day. And that’s brilliant in my book!


He did have a pedal/shin interface incident (blood and everything), then sat down on some hawthorns. Chuckle!

 On Sunday I’d planned to ride with Budge. He had a 25-30 miler planned so I was going to ride from the door, giving me a good 5 hour 50 miler. Unfortunately Rachael had other ideas and kept me and Deb awake all night. So I texted Budge at 6am and jibbed. I hate that, but I was shagged. I got out for a 2 hour ride late in the afternoon, just before the rain came down.

I’ve just done half a session on the turbo. It was going well until the HR monitor’s battery ran out. Bastard thing rips through lithium quicker than a mental patient. Anyway, this week’s a tough one with one eye on the Fred Whitton…only a couple of weeks to go after that. Plenty of running, riding and a century on Sunday. Grrrr!!!!

Hey I’m back!

It’s been a few days since my last entry and quite a lot has happened. More road riding, a few days being completely and utterly ill in bed and a few fun rides in the woods and in the hills.

I’ve been helping out with some course design for a possible 12 hour endurance race in the woods near my house. Andy, the guy who lives on my street and is really driving this on knows Brant (who IS On One) and he’s already got the sponsorship in principle. The landowner discussions appear to be ticking along and the logistics (bogs and stuff) are all lined up and costed.

If it happens it’ll be next year but judging by the guys that are involved in this there’s going to be a lot of publicity and reasonably high-profile coverage.

I’ve made my mark on the route anyway, and I’ve set an unofficial course record of 40 minutes 😉

Last night I’d planned to ride from the house, meet up with Phil in Rammy then ride from there to Darwen where we’d meet up with Simon and John, thus giving me a 50 mile ride. Well, an issue at work meant that I was a bit late and only got as far as Ramsbottom. It was a good ride though. I made it up the Rake and Robin Hood’s Well on the singlespeed – just. My upper body got as much a brutal workout as my legs did whilst winching up the steep hills (Simon – they’re steep, before you say they’re not!).

Lovely evening too. Just look at that sunset!


The rest of this week I’ll be mostly running and turbo’ing…I’m taking Michael to Llandegla on Saturday and the plan is to ride with Budge on Sunday morning, early. That’ll be a long one if I have my way. Again I’m planning to ride from the front door and get an extra “free” 20 miles.

I’ve started this week with a 10K-ish run offroad. I didn’t do anything at all yesterday as I’d earned the rest I reckon. I’ve started to enjoy running a bit more now that I’m able to do it in daylight and it isn’t as painful as it was a few weeks ago. Wait till the weather warms up though. That’ll sort me out.

My training plan for this week (week 1 of 4) has me losing my sanity and undercarriage blood supply on the turbo a couple of times and hopefully riding over to Darwen on Wednesday night. I’ll be running a fair bit too this week. Thank God for Ipods and barely-legal MP3 download sites.

At the end of the week (bank holiday!) I’ll be doing the Rivvy fell race with any luck and riding over to
Anglesey too. That’s a good 120-ish miles in the bank on top of the rest of the planned stuff and the “I’m just nipping out for a quick ride, Love” miles that one can do during a bank hol.

I’ll see how I get on anyway. The trouble with Easter is that I’m not very good at resisting chocolate.

The Easter Bunny hates you

Putting it in for Fred

On Sunday Simon and I rode the route that we’d had planned for a while. It was a somewhat shorter but all the nasty bits (well most of them) of the Fred Whitton Challenge that we’ll be doing in May.


After an early (like, dark) start in Manchester it was off to Ambleside after a rendezvous in Darwen. We were on the road just after 9 and immediately set the pace that we were to maintain throughout the day. The route included the Whinlatter Pass, Fangs, Swarth Fell, Cold Fell, Irton Pike, the Hardknott Pass and the Wrynose Pass.

The weather was brilliant – chilly with sunshine. Perfect, in fact. Everything was going well, no mechanicals, plenty of food and water, great weather throughout and we were belting along.

The road from Ennerdale Bridge to Calder Bridge towards the coast, sun beating down and Sellafield in the distance was one of those “memorable” cycling experiences that if you describe it to someone it sounds like “we were riding fast along a deserted road on a nice day” – however the combination of the sunshine, scenery, speed and tailwind just kind of gave it that “this is why I ride bikes” feeling that I don’t think there’s a name for. Apart from the usual adjectives such as “awesome” and “f**king brilliant”.


The climb up the Harknott Pass was immense. How people clean this all the way up is incredible really. Perhaps they’re using triple chainsets and not doubles (like we were). Perhaps they’re on drugs. Perhaps they’re stronger than me. My gearing was a bit more sensible than Simon’s but we were both off and pushing for portions of the climb, the air thick with the stench of burning car brakes and clutches. On the approach from Eskdale, the Harknott looks pretty much vertical. That’s because it is pretty much vertical.


The Wrynose was massive too, but a bit more rideable than the last one. Not much more though. There’s still some pushing to do.

The drops off the other side of both were terrifying…on the brakes all the way down and trying to maintain control on the poor road surface. Add to that the cars on their way up in the opposite direction, with drivers of varying amounts of bad attitude, you’ve got a recipe for potential disaster.

75 miles in just under 5 hours, and about three thousand metres of climbing. I’ve no doubt at all that I’ll be able to do the Fred and feel positive now that the training is starting to pay off.

Here’s me and Senor Sparkle (clearly having a sneaky kip) at the summit of Wrynose, not getting into our pose fast enough for the camera’s timer.