Monday, 15 June 2015

Backside Soloist

I ummed and ah-ed long enough about doing this ride but made it out eventually and decided on a route, of the myriad I had buzzing around my head. Parked up on the kentmere road, set off and crossed the river at ullthwaite bridge and started the climb up to high boranes. Forecast was ok but the clouds looked brooding. Just as I got to HB I felt spots of rain on my face, hang on, this wasn't part of the plan. Fortunately it didn't develop further, onto dubbs rd and meandered over to garburn rd, made ok time but now the climbing started proper, up we go, nice spinny gear, the resurfacing is starting to look a little worn but I managed to clean it all ok, no idea how I did coz strava threw a wobbler. I ignored the pass and kept heading up, it was a slog upto the yoke, by now the clouds over to the west had deepened and it looked very wet over there. There was a gentle bit of down before an ok ride up to ill bell, some more interesting descending then another push up to froswick, totally sheltered on the push up as I topped out I was hit by wind and rain, kentmere valley to my right was still bathed in sunlight with a few clouds but to my left was grey and miserable. The ridge seemed to be a weather front, sun on my right cheek the left wet with rain, hmm. The down almost immediately has some very hairy exposed sections, managed bits but was slightly disappointed with myself, mind you, it was still early days, plenty more to go. 

The push up to high street was steep grass and as that eased it turned to a nadgery exposed ribbon, contouring around the edge of the plateu, more pushing, some navigational fannying around to cut the corner then finally got across to mardale Ill bell, tbh next time I'll probably continue to the race course for a bit more down. The descent started straight into stone pitch, tech but not too bad, then some liberal dashings of big **** off rocks means a bit of lifting the bike, then back of for a mostly dab free second half down to nan bield shelter, woohoo. No time to stop as I rode straight on down the backside, never been down here before, sketchy as a sketchy thing. Way to thrutchy to ever conceivably be cleanable but lots of tech bits were dispatched (in some cases soon followed by heading off trail while hauling on the anchors. Had to stop for a rest before small water, my arms were killing me, very hard work, I may have had a winter of riding but 2min downhills haven't put much meat on my weedy arms and I struggle with these big Lakeland  runs. Bit of shoving around the lake then back on the pedals, a few dead end trails if you miss a turn off your left with a biiiiig drop to the trail below. Around this point I had my crash mentioned in another post, steep down with a step at the end, rock straight after it, tried to bounce the front wheel off the ground and over the rock but no, front tucked under. Ouch.

Picked myself up and carried on, shaken up and a little more cautious but made it down ok. Sat for a bit of cake at mardale head, Harter fell was towering above me, it looked a long way up. I got on and started pedalling up gatescarth but it didn't last long, I was soon pushing and then carrying then more pushing, I'll spare you the grim details but more of the same pushing and carrying until the top of Harter fell some time later. A bit of time inspecting the view, could see the ridge I had travelled up in the morning, looked awesome. I set off down again, still not massively confident, I was a bit below par but nothing too embarrassing, rode most refused a little earlier than I normally would on the really dodgy stuff, soon found myself at nan bield shelter again, this time the full month down to kentmere, off we go. Switchbacks went ok except johnnie's corner which seems to have gotten more eroded and dodgy, could have been mind games at work tho. Cleaned the steps at the bottom then contoured, I was on for a clean run til my front wheel again tucked under on a water bar I only slightly mis-timed. Didn't crash but did jam my ribs against my hands/bars as  the bike stopped dead. Hmm. Hallow bank quarter was as great as ever. I was pretty tired by now so the trail to kentmere felt a bit of a slog but I as the sun was coming out properly I rolled into kentmere then spun down the road to the car, happy knackered and a little sore. Good route but not for the faint hearted or nervous.


So I'm crashing then....? 
yep up comes the back wheel and there goes my CoG over the front hub, here we go, everything slows down. Better look for a soft place to fall - as tho I have any choice in the matter - this grassy bit immediately in front of my handlebars looks about right. Let go of the bars, launch myself forward, no chance of stepping over the bars and running it out, crunch I hit the deck on my left hand, right shoulder and knees. Hmm that wasn't too bad actual-AAAARGH MY KNEE! I look down at a rock poking out of the grass under my left leg, whoops, that'll smart. Pick up my bike, looks ok, squeeze the back brake, ouch I've tweaked my left hand aswell. This isn't supposed to happen, I very rarely crash when I'm with mates and "giving it some beans" I never crash when I'm on my solo and being careful (tho it has to be said when I dial it down it's not much, kinda like down to 99% of my usual) I do not crash.

Except I just have. I very nearly did on helvellyn too, hmm hope this isn't a developing trend. Hardware, that'll be it, my 36s not quite tweaked to my preferences just yet.

Except I went OTB on my 29er this morning too....

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Helvellyn B line - genuine 2015 ride!

Bank holiday weekend, half reasonable forecast lets do it. Me and Johnnie headed for glenridding, parked up and began our ascent of helvellyn. Clouds up ahead and neither of us feeling on top form (me possibly finally getting over lurgy, johnnie just starting with it) but we had high hope of the sun burning off the cloud. As we got to the keppel cove zig zags tho the rain started, ho hum. Shower proof shells on and we get pushing, and push and push disappearing into the fog. Got to the top of the zig zags and pedalled onto Whiteside bank to find 3 lads with bikes at the shelter, one with the gear and bike to suit the other 2 not so much, a soggy printout of their route (they had a full OS map aswell) they did have enough chocolate and choccy biscuits to last them several days tho. Planning on summiting the big H then back down keppel cove, we advised them to ignore the summit and head down sticks, dunno if they took it. We headed on, I wondered what that deep dark shadow above us was then realised it was Lower Man hiding in the mist, which is always a lot higher than I remember it being. Push up there, wondered what the 3 lads would make of riding down that(!) and rode on upto helvellyn, as visibility was down to <15feet we just kept on going and promptly missed our turning, realised our mistake when the path narrowed for striding edge, whoops. Quick cut across to the track and off we go speeding down to wythburn. Actually speed is rather optimistic, cold limbs, numb fingers and crap visibility meant it was slow going, I was pretty rusty too. STarted off gentle enough then got to some juicy stuff just as we met our first lot of ascending walkers, paused for a regroup, tried to get clipped in as I set off, failed hit a rock and endoed, very nearly went OTB on some evil rocks, yikes. Got back on and hit some even better stuff, whoop whoop. swish swoosh skid, clatter. rest, repeat. Some thrutchy stuff that I could maybe do on a good day then into some properly steep bits alongside comb crags, rode a fair section then started to get nervy and jibbed out of doing a corner, just ran straight off the side to stop and wait for johnnie. Oof, this was more technical than I thought it would be. Views were opening up now and the sun did seem to be putting in an effort. nice.

Some more steep stuff and onto stone pitch, looks like it was pitched ages ago and has been washed out a couple of times since. Tried a proper dodgy section and didn't quite crash but ended up clattering my thighs off rear wheel and frame and scaring myself. Long stone pitch section then with several very inconvenient water bars, not quite dollywaggon style but not far off. At one point I looked up and saw Johnnie ahead, he'd found a cheat route across the grass, the way I was getting battered but the cobbles it was looking like a reasonable option. Clattered down the last section to the woods and stopped for a snacks.

Part one done, I was on a time limit tho and we weren't making much progress so off we went. A quick stint up the road, bleurgh nasty, lots of cars, and then through a field to Raise beck and a short stint up to grisedale tarn, Well I say short, subjective term. Started pushing but soon turned to carrying and then scrambling up rocks with bikes on shoulders, nice. You gain height very quickly up here, wish I could say comfortably. Picturesque spot tho and it wasn't raining so shouldn't complain.

Bit of a grassy slog around the tarn, might take the anti clockwise route next time, then hooked up with the bottom of dollywaggon steps, it's all downhill from here!

Started out pretty good but halfway down hit trouble, couple of rear wheel slips and one front too had me nearly off a couple of times. Stalled at one point put my foot out onto a rock and my foot slipped straight over the top and down I went, lay there leaning against the rock still clipped in til Johnnie got there. "play it cool Trig play it cool" I managed to get unclipped let a bit of pressure out of both tyres and carried on. Fairly event free run into glenridding after that, sun was out now and everyone was in T shirts, bit annoying about our crappy start to the day but not a bad ride all in all. I've been running my bombers since the travel adjust on my 36s started acting up on the spain trip. 18months later I've finally got the 36s serviced and fitted, I need to do some adjustments to get them right, they're definitely stiffer/better steering but they aren't dialled in just yet, finger crossed I get it sorted soon, bruised thighs and aching wrists (or worse) are not something I want to get used to.

Tuesday I was wondering why I had a sore neck, jolted it? Bad driving position? Slept funny? Took me a while to remember that I had my bike slung across the back of it for 30mins or so, doh! I genuinely tend to remember the good bits and forget the bad ones - not that anyone believes me when I say "don't remember this climb being quite so bad" while out riding.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The big cheese

Strava made me do it, yep that pesky app again. It gives you virtual badges for riding your bike, I like riding my bike and I'm never one to turn down a badge so last april I decided to give the gran fondo a go, 130k in 24hours or 80 miles in real money, I figured road riding would be cheating and I'd just fitted this spangly new 1x10 gear setup to my cross bike so....

Lunch time start due to parental duties, started with my usual offroad commute it was nice and dry, a lovely day, singletrack through the trees, mmm. Picked up a puncture at salford crescent ho hum, not a great start but tbh that was the last bike problem I had. Briefly into manchester then took the bridgewater canal out, flat and a bit boring but pleasant enough and easy to clock up the miles i was after. Jumped onto route 55 at monton and took this through to hindley with some detours due to the bus expressway/debacle works. A brief period of navigational drift but I was soon back on track and rode up skirting wigan and through Haigh hall parks. 2.5hours and >30 miles in I necked a few fig rolls and kept on. Onto the canal until red rock then a nice detour down the old railway line (i think) back onto the canal at adlington right through to Chorley, rsisting the urge to call up to freds for ice cream. Saw a few booze cruise/party boats on the canal, nice day for it. Took the road upto to white coppice, there was a cricket match on and the cafe was open so called in for cake and a water refill. Few clouds about but nothing serious, still nice and warm.

Back offroad again as I rode through the woods to brinscall then over to roddlesworth and around the reservoirs there. Tow paths, dirt roads, NCN routes, tarmac and some of the less gnarly trails suit cross bikes down to the ground. Fast and not too bumpy. Climbed up to tockholes, no cafe stop this time, down the road a little then up the switchbacks, this bike really likes climbing, seated up steep hills your just in a perfect position, weight perfectly balanced on the back wheel. Around the moor top trail passed darwen tower screamed down the dirt road and along the ginnels to white hall, brilliant. Climbed up through the cemetary and eventually back onto the road to cadshaw then down the farm track to the Duck and that long long climb upto crowthorn res. The trasck round holcombe has to be taken a bit easier on skinny tyres but I coped with that and the steep drop down to the hare and hounds. Was flagging a bit now and needed a caffeine hit.

Found my way onto ncn 6 and blasted down through totty, a nice easy spin and fairly picturesque in parts, lots of walkers normally but it was getting on and was fairly quiet now. I used the quiet route to cut through bury, another navigational moment but just followed my nose around elton res, a nice bit of riding (that I'd probably struggle to find again) and I eventually popped back out onto the bolton bury canal. I spun along there for a while unsure of where to head next, I'd pretty much bagged the 80 miles I was after, hmm what about an offroad century....? I descended from the canal and headed back into radcliffe to pick up route 6 all the way to philips park eager to get some more fun miles in. Did some of the trails there then back up through giants seat and the canal heading towards home, thinking "is this 100 doable?" only one way to find out, unfortunately I tried, and failed, to find an old short cut, ended up pushing through unrideable grass/brambles. Back on track I went through seven acres and the golf course upto bradshaw, called at morrisons petrol station for another caffeine shot and water. Up through bradshaw and along the edge of the jumbles, upto turton tower. I was over 90 miles now and it was dark, my head torch and tiredness weren't going to cope very well so through the golf course, last drop, into dunscar, up to horrocks fold and figured I needed a little livener on the way home so up scout road and did the carpark->smithills descent, weeeee. It was all downhill from there.
9hours, 101 miles, I was quite happy with that - didn't fell too beat up next day either, cool!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

2 lakeland cherries

Ryan had never ridden the lakes and his buddy Cox was up for a go too so me, Si, Nick (Jacqui came aswell but she went walking) met them at Dungeon Ghyll carpark. We set off the ride up Mickleden, as we got toward the head of the valley we heard comments along the lines of "oh it's big up here isn't it?". Rosset pike loomed ahead and yes it had a certain biggity.

Riding up the gradient and tech factor increased, I was thrutching around a tricky bit when I terminally over shot the traction properties of my rear tyre, cue spin out and collapsing on the bike, left hand grip buried into the turf, right hand grip almost buried into my groin. That smarted a bit. Visions of derekstarship-esque haematoma swam around my head for the next few days.

We soon ran out of fitness/skill and started to push and then carry, and then throw our bikes up the rocky bits and scramble up after them. It was not fun, in fact it was pretty bloody awful. Rossett gill has been on my todo list for a while now, not any more! Ryan and Cox began to fall behind a bit, this was not what they had expected. Happy smiling faces all round!

The pleasure of topping out at rossett and descending to angle tarn was short lived as it became obvious there was still a lot more climbing to go before, especially for Si who had a minor fall and an inconvenient rock lead to dot fluid pissing from his rear brake. Front brake only promised to make the downs interesting for him. A certain amount of bitching and moaning ensued. It was a right old slog up to the esk hause shelter but we eventually made it. Everyone was rather subdued and Ryan and Cox were muttering about the down better be worth it, I think I was the only one who had ridden this trail before. Helmets on, saddles down, pads for those of that persuasion, and off we went. I barrelled down the first section, for about a minute and a half, maybe two then paused to wait for everyone to catch up, Ryan and Cox were grinning from ear to ear, what a transformation, their first lakes downhill and after a tiny fraction of it I could see they were converts. Some more down and then another wait, I pointed out a line to those behind, unfortunately this distracted Nick who binned it and collected a right gash to his shin, apologies Nick.

Not that big but seemed pretty deep

Nick shows us his gnar face

Ryan throwing shapes
A pause for a punctures, and then another, some more down, a rest and bite to eat, some more down, then some more, then yet more. Eventually we made it to stockley bridge, about 45mins after we'd left the shelter. The weather had looked pretty moody on the way down but we got to stonethwaite with no rain - but a kamikaze sheep running out in front of me nearly caused another crash - and the sky seemed to be clearing up for the return leg. I've been up langstrath valley a couple of times and this route was probably the best route I've done so far, we stuck to the double track from stonethwaite on the western side of the valley. This was gravelly and quite draggy in parts but not too bad, then we crossed at the bridge right at the foot of the zig zags up stake pass.

Another long slog pushing up then some thrutchy riding across the top. The descent down langdale combe was OK, but a bit of a let down after esk hause, started off with rutted singletrack, got thrutchy again as it crossed stake gill then onto a long stone pitched section with some properly devious corners. Fun, tho not as funny as watching Cox fix a flat, a most unusual style of reinflation, sitting crosslegged with the wheel on his lap, holding the base of the mini pump vertically in his left hand and vigorously pumping the handle with his right, the rest of us watching from a littre further down the hill were pissing our sides. We took it easy pedalling back to the car park, everyone was pretty happy and the two lakeland virgins vowed to return asap.

Strava killed my blog

Aswell as the destruction of trails, causing KOM chasing riders to crash, the incessant segment dissection during post pub drinks and the general downfall of civilisation as we know it Strava also stopped me blogging. This blog has always been a ride diary first and foremost and now strava does that for me without having to fanny around with mapping software to work out mileages, populate spreadsheets and fire up calc.exe to do all that number crunching my inner geek loved to do. Record, upload and then I can pour over the stats at my leisure. Unfortunately what it doesn't do is keep pictures and a decent description. I miss writing about my adventures, in the dark wet winter months I miss being able to read about warmer days and long dusty rides. So I've done a password recovery, spruced up the site and started again. I've got a load of 2014 adventures that I may post, dunno, I'll see if I can keep this up, no promises mind.

Monday, 14 April 2014

STW to the rescue

Just found this in my drafts, wrote it last April, dunno why I didn't publish it. Here you go:
Si was up for a weekend ride, Ryan injured, Johnnie unavailable, we figured we hadn't done the peaks for a while, but we've done hayfield and Edale valley lots so fancied a change, google to the rescue and found a route around the Goyt valley. I thought I'd run it passed STW first, nbt said yeah that's ok, but you could change it here and here or, tell you what, just come with us instead, so we did. Met up in marple, nbt his better half, Ian and Steve (I think), we dropped down to roman lakes and started the first climb, Steve on a pretty sprightly looking canondale was off like a shot, speedy. Rode through the golf course and down a bit of dirt road where one of steves spokes went ping, fortunately he had another 27 so removed it and on we went. Up passed mellor hall, across a field, tarmac climb then down Gird lane, fun! Started unassuming rocky dirt road then went round a corner and turned a bit more slabby with extra rocks and ping went another of Steve's spokes, oops. Climb back up to the hall and some more tarmac and dirt road got us to broadhurst edge or "zigzags" Steve rocketed off again seemingly unconcerned about his below par spoke count, dunno if reality hit soon after but I passed him halfway down, he then left us and rode home before any more damage was done. Quick snack stop (fig rolls for me) then a bit of road and a short climb got us to the bottom half of the lantern pike descent, nbt obliged by going on ahead to open the gate and we all pinged down to sett valley, was busy on the valley trail but soon got on to the hard 23 trees climb up to middle moor, tough start which I only just cleaned (and thankfully got to rest on gate duty) it eased off after that, Si broke out the jelly babies halfway and we slowly winched our way to the top. Stunning views at the top as we girded our various loins for the descent ahead, heather edged rocky sandy moorland singletrack that flows just right. Different lines to choose from, following nbt but often taking a different line, great fun and I was told in no uncertain terms to do the water splash at the end and not the bridge, yes boss :-)

I regroup on the grass soaking up the weather and atmosphere then a tough pull up out of brookhouse farm, scooted around the other side of lantern pike then dropped into rowarth, another nice rocky slabby downhill I started out first but nbt took me on a flat pedally section, I've gotten lazy recently, pedal more dammit! Bunnyhop had a bit of trouble, one of those stall n fall spd moments and ended up tangled in her bike but unscathed. We then climbed up hollinsmoor and back onto the top road again, whilst saying au revoir to Ian nbt spotted a tube bulging out of a slash in Si's tyre, sit down for a faff, I then noticed a link on my chain very close to falling apart, oops, more faff. Next was a fantastic bit of trail, started with a choice of singletrack or rocky double track, me and nbt went for the former but Si came passed us on the rocks, as ever soaking up the fast big hits with aplomb - all that practice kicking my arse on the ICR. Still not finished we rolled onto the fox inn, reminded me of a uk version of back of bar in Spain, starting from a pub, a lovely bit of track, not as twisty steep or tech as the Spanish version but on the plus side not as dangerous and no razor wire vegetation hanging from the trees. Just a really good track wending its way down to the railway bridge, proper floated my boat that one. A couple of climbs and some more swoopy riverside tracks brought us back to the roman lakes, just a steepish climb between us and the car (and some pub based refreshments)

Not our usual peak ride in that it was all rideable (!), with slightly more civilised gradients than Edale offers, a different side of the Peak District. I like it.