no imagination

I did that thing again this morning where I ride a shortish local loop repeatedly as fast as possible until I get hungry/late for work. Out at 5am, through the Clough and up to Philips Park, roughly following the HTN 1.0 course (minus the log-filled bombhole but plus the climb up the hill from Stoneclough). Managed 5 laps before getting really really bored and so hungry I was chasing down pheasants.

Saw the fabled Hurst Wood deer. It ran off again before I could draw my camera. Pah.

The annoying barky dog didn’t chase me this morning although the big chained-up dog was there. Perhaps she’s ill. Or dead. I hope not (even though it’s the most irritating animal this side of Orville the Duck).


I didn’t fancy getting out of bed this morning, least of all to do a training ride when rain was a certainty. Anyhow, I did get up and to ‘celebrate’ yesterday’s ressurection of the cycloross bike I planned a route with a good mix of hills, tarmac and bridleways. Unfortunately the brakes were utter crap throughout the ride,  that’s the last time I buy cheap pads.

I was at the foot of the ‘San Marino’ climb up Winter Hill when the rain finally arrived. I pressed on and continued to climb to the top of the hill, further and further into a cloud. No views from the top today then..! After a quick natter to a mountain biker who was crossing the stile at the top I continued down the other side of the hill (past the mast where the new fences have had holes cut in them!) into Horwich. By this time I was completely soaked but it wasn’t cold, just a bit squelchy.

Looks like the bad weather is set in for the rest of this week at least. It’s like 2008 all. over. again.

long live long rides


As daft rides go, this was going to be a real test. The last big ride Dave and I did was big enough – could we ride an even harder and longer route? The route was planned. Dave spent several afternoons checking his plan and riding sections of the 131 mile monster and the weather watching began as the date drew near.

We met at Morland, a tiny little place near Penrith at 6:30. Yep, that meant me setting my alarm clock for 4:15am. Ouch. It was throwing it down with rain in Manchester and it was dark, so dragging myself out of my pit and resisting the urge to send the “I’ve got swine flu” text was the day’s first big test. Obviously I got out of bed, ate some breakfast, strapped the bike to the rack and set off. It was still banging down and was still dark…

By the time I arrived in Morland though, the weather was fine, it was daylight and there was even some sunshine – result. We headed west towards High Street. A fast road section was followed by gravelly trails and moorland singletrack, then a great trail that followed the shore of Ullswater – mostly fast and narrow but with sections of boulders, then a huge climb to the summit of High Street itself.


Eventually we arrive back at the road – ‘big ride number one’ complete. Now for the next one. We rode to Staveley (I didn’t stop at Wilf’s for the first time EVER), Burneside and headed north to Borrowdale. Eventually riding underneath the M6 and heading south towards Howgill we prepared ourselves for the next big climb. Almost reaching Sedbergh we turned left and headed towards the summit of the Calf. After a quick photo/food/view stop at the top, we rode the utterly ace singletrack that just goes on and on and on and on down the valley to Bowderdale.


Another short road section, then across Crosby Garrett Fell towards another huge climb over Cross Fell. We were well over 80 miles into the route by now, we’d not stopped much at all apart from map reading/food scoffing/bodging a torn tyre with an ID card/going shopping for more water stops but we were getting concerned about the shortage of daylight…it was looking like we’d need to leave the final High Cup Nick section for another day, given we had one small LED light between us.

We pressed on and maintained a good average speed to Blencarn where we got on with the job of climbing Cross Fell. We had almost reached the summit when we had to make The Decision. With only an hour of daylight left, we would be pushing our luck to continue even on the modified route – leaving no margin for error or delay probably wouldn’t be a good idea so we turned around and rode back down again (which was fun). All we had to do then was find Morland (where we’d left the cars)…….

Eventually, we made it back to Morland after a ride back that just seemed to go drag more than it should have done. Dave’s rear tyre was going down and was flat by the time we got back so I suppose it dragged even more for him but we made it back in one peice, our intended route altered to avoid getting eaten by werewolves but another mammoth ride in the bag.

After checking the ride stats: 116 miles, 17266 feet of ascent.

Dave’s more detailed account of the ride here (I had no idea where I was most of the time!)

The Kerridge Climb

The Rainow village fete fell race (AKA ‘The Kerridge Climb’) is basically a run straight up a bloody big hill, then along the ridge at the top then straight back down again on another very steep bit. It’s probably a mile at the most, which means that it’s a particularly painful one. After paying my 2 quid (a special price for non-locals – it’s only a pound for locals!), I lined up with about 40 other people ranging from little kids to older runners; some taking it seriously, some less so. We SPRINTED across the field and immediately started the ascent which reminded me of the first climb in the 3 Peaks – comically steep in other words.

There’s no room to get past anyone unless you want to run through some thorny bushes so it’s a bit of a procession. Near the top the path widens so I got past a couple of people and was then running behind a young lad about 12 years old as we got to the top. BAM. He accelerated away from me so I gave chase, not wanting to be dropped on my ass by a little kid. I was chasing after him like he’d nicked a packet of Toffo’s from my papershop and I just couldn’t catch him. Once we got to the final descent, he accelerated away again – the little sod has been practicing! He then beat me to finish 5th. I then had a sprint finish with this other bloke who decided to shoulder me into a spectator just before the finish line.

They’re a bit competitive, these village fetes.

Waugh’s Well Fell Race

I’d not done a fell race for ages, but it’s great preparation for the 3 peaks cyclocross race, I’ve been running a lot more than usual in recent weeks and it’s also just up the road in Edenfield so it would be rude not to (entry was a more-than-reasonable 3 quid too). 15 minutes before the start a huge raincloud appeared, complete with thunder and lightning and changed the warm and dry conditions to completely wet and muddy. Luckily the rain ended as quickly as it had started and we were off, running up the hill in the direction of the Scout Moor wind farm from the farm yard start line. Almost immediately the ascent of the hill had many walking and scrambling – I was pleased at this point to be keeping up with the quicker runners around me and successfully getting past the slower ones. The route continued to climb upwards for a mile and a bit, crossing the new(ish) wind farm access road and ending at the highest point of the race, the wooden cross on Whittle Pike.

After this summit the race went steeply down the other side of the hill towards the broken track to Waugh’s Well. I lost loads of places on this descent (and the other 2 steep downhills) as I was mincing down whilst other runners appeared to be turning the bravery up to 11 and throwing themselves down the slope. Another climb, I advanced up the pack. Another descent, drop back again. This was a frustrating pattern. I just couldn’t seem to ‘let go’, I was getting slower in fact as the gradient got steeper.

The race was 4 miles long and I finished in 42 minutes I think. So not too bad but I guess I’d have done a lot better if I’d not been such a big jessie on the descents. At least the £3 entry fee included a cup of tea and use of the farmer’s hosepipe for cleaning your legs at the end. It’s all glamour in Lancashire.