Chips and beer – food of champions

Friday was the annual Darwen Real Ale Wobble – loads of cyclists meet up at a pub, have a pint, ride to another pub, another pint, then another pub, then another pint…you get the idea. It all ends at the Black Horse in Darwen where chip butties are served, washed down with a fine selection of real ale. Well worth a visit…

Anyhow, Simon organises this each year and puts a route together. It’s a good un too, mostly offroad and with just enough bumpiness to keep you on your toes after a few bevvies. Good work fella!


My night ended with a 20 mile ride home, full of beer and chips. I failed to MTFU enough to keep all my Food Of Champions down though. That’ll teach me for trying to ride fast as I would do without 5 chip barms and 5 pints sloshing around in my tum 😦

Mountain Mayhem 2009


After a couple of years of horrid weather at Mayhem the forecast for this one was looking good. Just what everyone deserved, in fact. Dry and sunny. It would be a double-edged sword though, I knew that there would be far fewer people dropping out of the race as in previous years thus making it more of a challenge to improve on my placing last year. Still, I was looking forward to a dry and fast race for a change and also not worrying as much about Deb and the kids getting cold and wet.

Despite the forecasts, it did rain, but not much. Just enough to make the course greasy in places but still not bad enough to have me swapping tyres or even changing my clothes.

Regular readers of this blog will know that the week leading up to the race wasn’t ideal; I was a bit tired due to relentless 12 hour days at work and it also left me with some frantic packing and preparation of kit the evening before we were due to travel down. As with all things though, it was all ok in the end and we all made it in one piece. I had some earplugs this time for the first time ever – so I actually had a good night’s sleep despite the screaming kids in a neighbouring tent.

I saved a gap in our “soloists colony” for Dave’s tent, expecting him to arrive with a one or maybe two-man tent. What actually emerged from the Berlingo was the mother of all tents, much bigger than everyone else’s, perhaps even large enough for him to consider setting up a small cinema at future races 😉

Saturday, 2pm. I lined up as close to the front as possible, much closer than I have done in the past. What I did notice is that the standard of “running for one’s bike” is much higher at this end, as is the amount of time I got elbowed. Once I’d found my bike (I thought I’d lost it for a minute), I was off. There was some congestion on the first lap but a lot less than I normally encounter. What I also noticed was that there was a much funnier standard of muppetry on the course this year – it seemed like the heat was affecting brains, causing inexplicable crashing and general ineptitude. In future I’ll be a bit more bolshy when passing slower riders – less asking and more barging 😉


(photo courtesy Harry Burgess)

The race was going well. I was getting enough food down, staying hydrated and my lap times weren’t too erratic. I didn’t realise until about the halfway stage of the race though that I was on the same number of laps as Rod Mason and another guy. Rod 4th, me 5th and Other Guy 6th. I’m pretty sure I was in 4th at one point, lost that place whilst drinking tomato soup in the solo tent at 2am, got it back after passing Rod, lost it again and then spent the remainder of the race chasing him (or “doing a Benny Hill” as Rod put it). At the same time, I found myself having to defend 5th from the guy in 6th. He passed me at one point too. I caught him and somehow dropped him, eventually creating a 40 minute gap (well I thought it was impressive anyhow).

I knew the pursuit of 4th place was a lost cause on my penultimate lap when Rich told me that Rod was about 5 minutes in front. If anything I was getting slower now, so in my head a 5 minute gap was by then unassailable (unless Rod decided to lurk/have a cuppa – unlikely).

So that’s how it finished, me 5th place in the solo catagory with 22 laps. Understandably, I’m very, very, very pleased with that. Following my 12th place in last year’s race I wanted to get into the top 10, so I was over the moon to get 5th spot.

Link to results

feels weird

I’ve not ridden at all yet this week. I suppose I’ll be well rested for Mayhem, or well off the pace. I’ve been working some pretty big hours since Friday, a lot of the time commuting by car from Manchester to Workington (that’s almost Scotland!) and back, every day.

Awful. Getting back to my mile-long commute tomorrow though, will get out for a ride too. Oh, I also need to pack my stuff for the race! EEEK!

Sold short

When me and Phil were munching on butties and cake at the caff in Hayfield last Wednesday, we were somewhat surprised and disappointed when we looked at the GPS for our total mileage. It felt like we’d ridden further, but the machine was telling us “no”. We took it as gospel at the time, shrugged and carried on. I was a bit concerened though that I had the GPS in my jersey pocket, underneath a rather large rucksack. I thought it might have lost signal on occasion.

Turns out it was wrong. After some more measuring and calculations by Phil and me seperately (Gmap, Anquet and the paper map), it turns out that my total mileage for that ride was 30 more than I thought at just short of 120 miles (A June century). That’s a total for Wednesday of 135 miles (added to the social ride that evening) and a total for the week of 286 miles. A new record!

Only 14 short of 300. Bugger!

Good news though. I’ll attach the GPS to the bars in future.

Disengage brain. Pedal. Pedal. Pedal.

300 miles was the target for this week. Saturday’s ride wasn’t great though. Out on the road bike, early morning. Cold, windy, raining, getting wetter. Horrible. It was winter again, except I hadn’t dressed for winter. Cut the ride short after 2 hours when I could no longer feel my fingers or toes, headed home and went back to bed for a bit. It’s been ages since I did that, but I enjoyed it I must admit. At least I climbed plenty whilst I was out.

So…I had a bit of a mountain to climb today, mileage-wise. The only thing that could save me now (given the fact that I only had the afternoon spare for training) was a road century. The thing is, the sky is grey, it’s still chilly and it’s raining. It’s still winter. The summer was here last week though!!! Waaaah!

Going for a ride on the road bike, like I do all the time in winter, would be far too depressing.

So I decided to ride a 11.5 mile local offroad loop (on some of the trails “made famous” by Hit the North). 13 Arches, Philips Park, over to Nob End, climb up Prestolee Road, along the cheeky singletrack by the marina. I reckoned I had time to ride this loop five times. So I did.

The plan was to keep the lap times consistent (tick, all within a minute of each other), a good average (not bad at 12.5mph) and keep the heart rate under control (average around 80% – good). No crashes, no dog bites, returned happy having ridden a total of 59 miles off-road and mostly out of the pesky wind.

No 300 miles this week though. 44 miles short. ‘Bothered.