Holiday snaps

Not being a big fan of beach holidays (or sitting by the pool holidays), I planned to take my road bike with us for our week in Southern Spain. Once I realised that Ryanair charge 50 quid EACH WAY for a bike, I looked into other options. Luckily I was able to hire a carbon road bike from Murcia Bike Hire for a few days – it was cheaper than taking mine over, I wouldn’t have to worry about baggage handlers trashing it and we wouldn’t have any problems transporting a massive bike bag through the airport and into a small hire car…

After a couple of days of lounging around and getting a tan, I got bored but the bike arrived in the nick of time and I got the map out. Heading inland, I soon found the hills and wiggly roads. A welcome change to the pathetic British summer of 2012, the weather was dry and even at 7 in the morning, it was lovely and warm. The roads weren’t covered in massive holes either. As I got used to the local geography, each day I’d ride a bit further until I finally put in a mini-epic and climbed some of the mountains I could see on the horizon from the apartment balcony.


After a few hours on the bike, the heat started to become a bit much so I headed back to the apartment and resumed my position on the sun lounger/in the swimming pool. This routine lasted for a few days then the bike went back, which was a sad moment.

For the first time ever, We holidayed in Spain and I came back leaner and perhaps a little bit fitter. Riding somewhere new and exciting has worked wonders for my rain-depleted enthusiasm and also my cyclist tanlines 😉

Many thanks to Andy from Murcia Bike Hire for dropping off and picking up the bike for free and for being understanding and flexible after I cocked up the dates on the booking 😉

The Bowland Badass

Moan, moan, gripe, whinge, moan, moan….

It’s Dave I felt sorry for. Despite my near-constant barrage of whining about my sore back, running over a rabbit, my sore hamstrings, being hit by a sparrow, my headache, being smacked in the face at 35mph by a bumble bee, my lack of climbing power and almost having my head taken off by a low-flying pheasant, we rode the entire route as a pair and he even afforded me the occasional rest at the side of the road by having the decency to get three separate punctures.

166 miles and 18,500 feet of ascent was never going to be easy, even if I’d been in great shape. Which I wasn’t. I’d been happily ‘ticking over’, wining and dining and ‘recovering’ for the past seven weeks following the World champs so this was a wake-up call. A kick up the arse and a clear message for me to pull myself together and get on with some proper training before I get a similar slapping from the rest of the 2012 races and events….

The punctures weren’t a complete surprise. Even though the weather on the day was fine, the flooding of the previous week had left vast mounds of gravel, mud, large stones and other debris all over the roads which made fast cornering tricky (or suicidal) and wasn’t particularly kind to lightweight road tyres. I got away with it somehow and didn’t have any punctures at all.

Each time a puncture was being fixed, someone would catch us up and ride past but we didn’t drop too far back. Our estimate is that we lost a good half hour on punctures alone but we still managed to roll back into Garstang in 4th place (officially 4th and 5th place, but we got there at precisely the same time). The local wildlife breathed a sigh of relief as my bike was placed back in the boot of the car….

photo: Sportsunday

The Bowland Badass is a new event which includes pretty much every big hill within riding distance of Preston. Starting and finishing in an industrial estate in Garstang, it costs hardly anything to enter and includes three feed stations, full signage and cheery marshals at most of the major road crossings. Saying that the route is ‘hilly’ isn’t doing it justice at all.

Climbing-wise, it’s a bit of a horror. Arriving at the second feed station at 102-ish miles, knowing that you’ve still got 60-odd miles of Bloody Big Scary Hills to ride can put a bloke right off his carrot cake I tell thee.