Pre-brekky ride

As planned, I’ve started to “enhance” my morning road rides by re-fitting the knobbly cyclocross tyres to the Uncle John. I’ve been getting used to the low rolling resistance and ability to accelerate hard with the Michelin race tyres I’ve been using since the spring so the Maxxis Locusts I’ve now fitted make it feel like the anchor’s been dropped. It must have been getting too easy.

Anyway, I’m doing the same 8 mile climb as usual, sometimes in a lower gear but then when I get up to Ramsbottom it gets much more interesting. Up the road towards Holcombe Brook, then double back onto the cobbles (ouch) then up the bridleway that skirts around the bottom of Holcombe Hill. Shoulder the bike, over the stile, and then run straight up the rutted, rocky track to the summit. Over the top stile and then descend the main bridleway down to the road.

This is more like it! I’m glad I got those cycling shoes with studs in the toes off Ebay the other day as they certainly helped on the steep run up the hill. Descending off road on this thing will take some getting used to, mind. I guess I’ll get faster over the next few weeks as my confidence improves. Either that or I’ll start to close my eyes and pray.

 

Aggies Staircase fell race

It’s traditional for me to occasionally take part in a fell race having done hardly any running in training recently. This time was no exception. It’s not like I think training is for gayers, or anything – I just hardly ever get around to going for a run when the focus is always cycling, cycling, cycling.

It was bloody freezing last night. And Windy. And raining. Oh well, it all adds to the fun. Deb and Rachael came over (or dragged over, depends on who you ask) to show their support and have a change of scenery. Good job Deb “acquired” a big golf brolly some years ago.

What struck me about this race was how much of it was narrow – too narrow to get past the slow bugger in front most of the time. What also struck me is how much climbing can be fitted into a relatively short distance (3.5 miles or summat)! On the ascent of Aggies Staircase itself I was reduced to walking in parts due to the fact that the race had turned into a patient queue. I remember thinking “Please don’t fart, mate”, when I had my head almost up this bloke’s bum. He kept walking up the hill and when it widened out a bit, he’d run for a few strides. Gnnnnarrrgh! The guy that finished one position ahead of me appeared to be a local judging by the number of spectators letting on to him (there weren’t many on the moors though). I must have overtook him 3 or 4 times only for him to return the favour. A good old scrap really. He pulled away on the last descent though.

I did feel quite good last night, especially on the descents. I finished 46th out of 88 which in reality is pantaloons…but there’s not much time separating the faster lads with us middle-of-the-group lot  😉

I’m definitely going to do more of this when time is more limited later this year and through the winter – if nothing else to maintain fitness when baby #2 arrives, when I’m unable to ride quite as often.

Midweek training ride

45 miler, most of it off road. Basically I followed the Sustrans route from the house up to Ramsbottom where I climbed up to Holcombe Moor and continued around the edge of the firing ranges, eventually meeting Simon and John at Cadshaw, near Darwen. We then rode a reasonable loop in the hills over there where my rear mech cable decided to snap (that’s a new one!). So with some faffing about with the upper and lower limit screws I managed to bodge the chain into position about halfway up the cassette, whilst being eaten by the local gang of insects. There was me enjoying my gears too. Anyway, there I was once again riding a singlespeed. Well, I had 3 gears at the front anyway.

The weather was great, thankfully. Even at 11pm it was still warm and not too windy…winding my way back through Bolton and home where a leftover bowl of cottage pie was demolished.

Hot Fuzz

Went for a run earlier. Quite a good one, as it happens. 45 minutes of mud and grassy action. I had to wait at the gates to the Clough before I could start though because I was “detained” by a copper. The helicopter was overhead and it was looking for some baddies with the infrared camera. So I had to wait for 10 minutes until another copper told this copper that the bad lads had been copped by the cops.

I kept meeting random policemen throughout the run. They looked like they were enjoying the tranquility of the woods. Maybe they were looking for abandoned loot.

Mountain Mayhem

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Mountain Mayhem 2007 was an absolutely brilliant race. The whole atmosphere of the event was fantastic from beginning to end, despite the rain.

Mixed team of 5, 21 laps altogether. Not bad at all considering 4 of the team (all apart from me) had never done anything like this before.

We arrived and set up a big camping area on Friday. Our families arrived soon afterwards and we had the barbecue and sheltered from the rain that had already started to affect the course. We “inspected” the course earlier that day and for some reason I was hoodwinked into doing 2 practice laps!

During the race proper, we were fairly consistent with our lap times and you could tell that the competitive urge was starting to take over…

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Nobody complained about having to get out of bed in the wee small hours, in the rain, to ride a shitted-up bike around a muddy, rutted course. It was just a great weekend. Without wanting to sound cheesy this was a great team effort and I know that everyone thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the weather. They’re all hooked and will be re-entering Mountain Mayhem next year.

I’m the only one to get a puncture – right near the end of my only dry-ish lap…I was on for a 45 minute lap too. Bugger. There were a few changeover issues that cost some time as well, so next time we’ll have to iron that out.

I’m just glad I took a singlespeed this time to save the mud and ferns-induced horror bike dragging that I saw others doing near the end of the race. 6 laps on that bugger still took its toll though…

We finished 46th in a category of 148 teams. Phil got the fastest lap, which despite all the “background detail” (including the huge difference in the number of gears…) is still the fastest lap. The swine. 16 seconds!

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It took me nearly 2 hours last night to remove all the mud off 2 bikes. Unbelievable.

Looking ahead, I’ve got bored of just road riding on the ‘cross bike so back on go the cyclocross tyres. I’ve got to focus not only on the Cristalp in August, but the 3 Peaks shortly afterwards (if I get in). I’ll be entering that as a complete novice really, so maybe it’s a daft thing to enter in the first place. Anyway, I’ll need to make sure I’ve included carrying/running with the bike, off-road handling and descending in time for the race. 3 mornings a week I can be found riding up to Holcombe Brook, up the rocky steep side of Holcombe Hill whilst carrying the bike and back down the bridleway as quick as. I’ll be doing this instead of the road rides on race tyres I’ve been doing recently.