sod the turbo

I’d planned to do a session on the trainer last night. It’s part of the plan and the weather’s been pants anyway. Yesterday, all of a sudden, the weather went good again. Lovely sunshine but not too warm, so I got the singlespeed out and did some hill reps instead. It was quite enjoyable considering on Sunday I was ready to sell the singlespeed or at least throw it in a bush and walk away.


 Today we’ve had a management planning meeting at Nick’s house in Horwich. Afterwards, we went for a run up and around Rivvy. This guy joined us – he’s a neighbour of Nick’s and he’s just a bit handy. check out his ranking for the steeplechase! At the commonwealth games in Manchester he lost out on a medal to 3 Kenyans and he’s got his eye on the Olympics next year. I didn’t see him sweating as much as the rest of us anyway. Nice fella, hopefully I’ll run with him again.

Mary gives us a kicking

Simon and I rode the Mary Townley yesterday on singlespeeds. Another early start, and we were off straight from the cars up one of the biggest climbs on the route. I’m sure it would have been less painful, turning a moderate gear (instead of a tiny one), if I’d warmed up first, but hey ho. We rode the first part of the route in fact without any kind of incident, then we were distracted by a ramshackle wooden shed toilet thing in a field and went the wrong way (WTF is a ladies dunny doing in that field anyway?) up a big grassy climb that REALLY hurt. Once we’d spotted our error we were miles from the intended bridleway…so down the road we went. The wrong way down a huge hill. Then we spotted that error and climbed back up the road. Bah.

Once we rejoined the MTL, we were off again at a decent pace. By now however, our feed stops were getting more frequent. Singlespeeding a route like this was bigger than anything I’d done with one gear and I was starting to realise the real limitations of the bike. Just getting to the top of moderate climbs was becoming a world of pain and the amount of food that can be realistically consumed was evidently far less than the carbohydrate that was being expended.

We went wrong again a couple of times due to some “missing” bridleway signs and whilst we got back on track we were both reduced to the odd push uphill here and there. We canned it when the time was getting on even though we probably only had 5 miles of the MTL to go. Once back at the cars (via Rochdale town centre) in a glycogen-defecit dizzy haze, the GPS revealed we’d covered 64 miles. The MTL is only 47! We took 9 hours to complete our adventure – I’m taking 90 minutes off for getting lost and another hour for the pushing 😉 So that’s the MTL on a singlespeed in 6.5 hours! See what I did there??

That’s a proper training ride, I tell thee.


12 or so weeks to go until the main event. The Cristalp is starting to loom large and is becoming something I really need to start planning and increasing the training for.

I’ve been getting some road rides in before work a couple of days a week, doing a bit of running in the mornings too. Monday I got a long ride in, meeting Budge, Phil and Andy halfway ’round. Two sessions on the turbo earlier in the week and a ride around the Hit The North 😉 course earlier this evening are starting to crank up the fuzzy buzz in my legs. Some hill intervals early Saturday morning (before everyone’s up) and a ride around the MTL on Sunday on the singlespeed should see my mileage this week up near 200 miles-ish. Well, maybe 180. In future weeks I’ll try to squeeze 250 in a week, plus running.

I’m starting to really look forward to this now. It’s going to be ACE. FACT.


Phil riding “Spillipe’s Knee”, Holcombe.

Fred Whitton Challenge

Well that was interesting. After a 5:30am alarm, it was a dash up North to Coniston. Once in Coniston with a couple of minutes to spare, I couldn’t find the start/signon place. Something to do with no signs.

Anyway, Simon started at 8, and I was about a minute behind. That’s when it all started to go downhill…

Perhaps over the last few years I’ve been spoiled by various off-road enduros in that they always go the whole hog on the signage and the marshalling. You’re never too far from a bloke on a quad bike or a few army cadets. On the Fred, there’s fuck all. If you’re not in a group, or if you’ve been so late you’ve forgotten to bring any kind of map, you’re either going the wrong way or tentatively pootling along, getting more and more frustrated, thinking you’re going the wrong way. Over and over again I descended into a festering pit of uncertainty and doubt and several times my fears were right. On one occasion I overshot my turning by about 10 miles – only turning around when a group of (presumably local) mountain bikers pointed out my error.

This went on for a long time, in fact it was becoming an all-consuming issue. I caught a group of riders and I remember thinking that I’d been saved. Until everyone stopped and asked “is this the right way?” Geeeuuuurrrragggh….

Once near Whinlatter I had a phone signal at last. At this point I was keen to phone Simon’s wife Cath, who was doing some mobile support. She was waiting at the top of Kirkstone for me, then moved on as I was so late. Not her fault, I was late.

Then she was waiting at the first feed stop. I got there 3 minutes before the cut-off and she’d already had to go. So I was then stuck with no food. 3 jam butties from the feed stop really really really hurt on the next climb…a “I’ve been stabbed in the belly” kind of hurt. So when I got that phone signal at Whinlatter, I called and asked nicely for a lift back to the start. If I’d carried on, and not got lost, and considering I was about 90 minutes behind schedule, it was more than likely going to mean I was clocking a time of 10 or so hours. Not good.

“DNF” is a lesser indignity than “10:15:34” in my book.

Highlights for me though were the descent off Honister (bloody scary) and Newlands. At the summit of Honister there was The Token Sign, a warning of the imminent danger beyond. Presumably because a woman in last year’s event needed a year of facial reconstructive surgery after caving her face in on a drystone wall. We were well protected by that sign, I recall thinking.

Simon coming over the line, looking quite dead, in just over 7 hours was pretty good too. That’s some bloody fast riding, I tell thee. He prepared better than I did too – he knew the route and he probably took a map. Oh, and he didn’t arrive like a great big arm-waving ball of stress like I did.

So….next year? Well, that depends how the Fred Whitton people react to my imminent well-worded, considered, polite email. All told though, it was still a pretty good training ride (I think about 80 miles if you include the go-wrongs) for the Cristalp, and I’m positive the Swiss will spend a couple of francs on some flourescent paper arrows to nail to stuff….