Wednesday, 31 July 2013

I got the fever

TdF bug has bitten hard this year, last week I found myself loading the bike into the car and driving up to cumbria, so far so normal but got to sedbergh and realised I'd only brought a bloody a road bike! Forecast was for rain later but I was gambling on getting finished before it hit, what I didn't take into account was wind. Big old headwind all the way through garsdale, not nice, clouded over too and got a little chilly. Up buttertubs pass was tough going and I soon rode into cloud, the descent down to Thwaite wasn't great steep with sharp corners and limited visibility meant I couldn't stay off the brakes and let speed build up, once down the otherside I popped out of the cloud into sunnier climes. The rolling road to reeth was a nice spin. Stopped at Dales centre for hot chocolate and a brownie, nice but I stayed too long and legs took a while to get going again. Up arkengarthdale it was nice and sunny, the climb up to tan hill was nice and gradual, quick drink at the pub the down West Stones Dale. Headwind again but despite that it proved to be a cracking descent. Some soreen at the bottom (I'd forgotten that I don't realy like malt loaf) readied me for the climb up birkdale. Was tough on tired legs but ok, the rest of birkdale is brilliant tho (relatively, as roads go) a twisty turny undulating road, nice and open so you can see any oncoming traffic, I battered along it, top fun. After Lamps Moss you get a great fast descent, taken at not quite full speed, as usual I spent most of it wondering if my forks would snap and just how much it would hurt if they did. I have road bike trust issues. By nateby my legs were feeling shot so necked a gel but the ride down Mallerstang common just seemed to go on and on, and the headwind picked up again after Hazelgill too. I did see some roadies up ahead so put in some effort to catch them figuring teaming up with them would more than pay for the exerted effort but just as I got to them they pulled over for a chat with someone, grrr. I went slow up the next hill to give them chance to catch up but there was no sign of them so I kept on going. After an age I finally saw Moorcock Inn and got a tailwind all the way down Garsdale, weeeeeeee. Big ringed it all the way back to sedbergh. Stopped at new bridge for a dip in the river rawthey to sooth my burning legs, sun still beating down, followed by pastry based refuel at the tea room. Lovely.

Monday, 29 July 2013


"A friend and an inspiration"
Deejays last ride a couple of weeks ago, really happy that I could make it. Quite a few of us set off from the dales mountian bike centre near Reeth. Absolutely gorgeous day, sunny, still, stunning views, perfect trails. We did a reverse of what I think was a regular loop, lots of climbing (well this was a deejay ride) so the chatting and catching up had to be squeezed in between the ups. Was a really nice day, I learnt not to try to keep up with the LBS owner up his local (steep) trails, it will only end in hurt. I tried a fat bike (thanks troutie) I mentioned the tyres seemed a bit hard, "yeah they're currently 8psi" (!) apparently 1 psi can make a big difference. I stalled on some steps of another climb so tried hopping my way up them, 99% of the time this ends in unmitigated failure, this time it somehow worked and I pedalled away, just also happened to be the time where, due to a bend in the trail, a load of the group had a perfect side on view of my trials shenanigans. I chatted to a few of the darlington crew who I hadn't seen in ages. Saw some of the hills I'd done in previous rides (i never seem to make many of the dales rides) recognised a few down on the way up them! Just a nice relaxed social ride, nice. Eventually We hit the top of fremy edge and descended the first little bit to find Deejay's remembrance, lovely spot, brilliant views and a very fitting tribute. Mrs deejay said a few words and one a daughter scattered his ashes. It was very emotional. We then clattered back to the car for cake and coffee. A good send off, we'll miss you Deejay.

Monday, 15 July 2013


After a bit of pushing on the 3 passes ride Si said he wanted a pedally ride next, hmm write off the 3 rides I had in mind then, hmmmmmm. So I looked around and found some info about borrowdale add ons and planned a route. So instead of taking us onto trails that I knew would have us off and walking I took us on some trails I had no idea about (but admittedly given the nature of the geography around keswick may involve pushing). Parked up by the sports centre and headed through the town and up springs wood. Absolutely gorgeous, warm and sunny, light dappled rooty trails, perfect start to the day...if a little hard work in places. Up to castlerigg farm then up onto the fell and off and pushing already, oops. Super steep grass, 30mins in and we'd already got a huge sweat on. Onto the top and a ride along and a nice bit of gentle downhill to start and get warmed up skills wise. Pause on falcon crag and a look across to cat gill that will need further investigation at some point.

The rest of the drop to ashness bridge was fun, lots of line choices so you could make it more or less technical as you wished. Climbed up passed the view point, skipped the technical trail and went straight down the tarmac to watendlath, I got further up the climb than recent efforts but still miles from the top, more pushing. Birketts leap was good but I missed some of my usual lines, really good fun tho. Did the rosthwaite descent instead of through the woods, some stonepitching here and unfortunately Si flatted, nice place to stop tho.

Some cheek towards the stonethwaite was a bit rubbish and puncture inducing, will give it a miss next time, across to the road up to seatoller and then the start of the long, long grind up honister pass. Si was not impressed, I pointed out atleast it was pedal-able :-) Got to hause gill feeling pretty weary but looking up realised there would be a lot more climbing to come. Got to the cafe and saw the dirt road zig zagging up to the top. We also saw a bus setting off up the road, "well if a bus can make it up there we can certainly ride it" and then saw the bus turn off before the road got steep "oh, maybe not then". I had a go but didn't make it to the first zig. Off and pushing again, sorry Si. Made it up to the quarry where it looked like someone was building dirt jumps out of the slag. Bit of slippage too

Took a while to spot the BW (and even then we got it wrong) we sat down for a bite to eat before starting off. A couple of walkers came up the very sanitised looking track, I asked them about the trail, did it get trickier further up. "yeah it turns into a mine track" said the bloke, "it's pretty easy" said the lady. Easy eh? Hmm. We set off and 2 things became apparent, 1 this was going to be noisy as my rear brake started to emit a high pitched shriek everytime I applied it, proper fingers down blackboard style) and 2 this wasn't the BW. Fortunatley the track and the BW both hit dubbs quarry so we got onto the mine track soon after that. Now we're talking, getting a bit technical pinging down stuff, woohoo. Riding blind I was just following prospective lines ended up right of the main track then switchbacked onto it had to do some endo action to get heading down the trail again, cool. It was only as I got to the bottom to look up I realised it was a proper tech bit

Better pic here. Cool. Carried on down passed a few groups of walkers apologising for my brakes ruining the peace and quiet of the countryside. The route got progressively more and more tech, some big loose rocks, gnarly fixed rock, drifty gravel all combining to try to stop you. Fortunately I was having a very good day, riding out of my skin, great fun. Si behind was doing a fair bit of pushing, chatting to the walkers, I was wondering if he was telling them what a git I was, dragging him around these trails. A nice viewpoint down to buttermere above some tasty switchbacks.

The next section was even more technical it was mostly rubble, a very exposed section next to a tree, looked easy enough but penalty for failure was high and I wasn't pushing my luck, another time with 2 spotters (one to catch me, one to catch the first spotter) I'll give it a go. I was bouncing all over the shop trying to stay upright and moving, got to some mini switchbacks, just fixed rock you had to zig zag around too tight to ride, had to endo around, pulling off trials moves thinking I was martyn ashton, pumped up on adrenaline, absolutely loving it, I was giggling my tits off like I was stoned. Stopped for a rest and couldn't stop laughing for a couple minutes, brilliant. The trail eased off after that and we coasted down to gatesgarth ready to do battle with honister again. With tired legs we set off up the road, nice gentle undulating to start, honister hause hidden by fleetwith but as we got closer the full extent of the climb came into view. Si stated he'd be off and pushing soon, I tried to encourage him with that PMA bull. As we started the climb proper we both dug in, spin spin spin. About halfway I was giving simon the full "you can do it" treatment, imagine you're chris froome riding up galibier, keep at it, do it do it do it, keep at it, there's an ice cold coke waiting for you at the top. More spinning, more suffering, more sweating and oh yeah more gurgling sounds as we tried to squeeze more drops of water from empty camelbaks. As it got steeper near the top and we were still going I said "**** chris froome none of those so called climbs over there are this steep" Si kept going in silence, no idea whether the encouragement my inane wittering was helping or that he just didn't have the breath to tell me to stfu. As we got near the summit I could see a couple of faces peeking over the cafe wall watching us, I shouted up "come on then, give us some encouragement" which got a half hearted "go on!" so I made do with shouting "allez allez allez" myself - hey I was still buzzing from the downs. Finally we hit the top, massive effort well done Si, unfortunately I must have spent my camelbak emergency cash on a kebab after mr sparkles piss up ride so Si had to fund the congratulatory drinks himself. Oops. well earned rest then we set off down towards castle crag. Some nice undulating trails til we got to puncture alley. Told Si I don;t care what PSI you are currently running add more, so with rock hard tyres we set off, pinballing down the rocks and stone pitch. Miraculously we made it down flat free, first time ever iirc, I had a lie down in the river derwent at the bottom to cool down then we pushed on. Si was distinctly unimpressed with the climb up to fellside but it was soon over then an updulating trail til we hit Hawes end, didn't fancy the rolling road and it was getting late so took the by now quiet allerdale ramble back to keswick, rolled up to the car after over 7hours in the saddle. Fantastic day out and has got to be a contender for ride of the year, tho other opinions are available, I doubt Si will be back to fleetwith anytime soon. 27 miles and a bunch of climbing.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

3 passes

More nice weather, really pleased with how this summer is going so far. Did My annual "the tour is on so let's do a road ride" ride on Friday, Johnnie was ill so couldn't make it, we had planned to practice drafting/working together for our upcoming (maybe/possibly/whenever) coast to coast ride, so I went out on my own. Not much to say except I managed to thrash my legs in just 3.5hours possibly a new record.

Me and Si hit the lakes sunday, parked up in kentmere, rode the boat over to sadgill and descended the tech off camber rocky track, erm which isn't tech or off camber anymore, it's now stone pitched and boring, ho hum. The climb up longsledale was a drag but I was riding well, managed to get almost upto the cobbled corners, furthest I've ever got. Then after i remounted I managed to climb the cobbled corner and part of the next bit, another first. Woohoo go me! The climb upto gatesgarth neither of us even attempted, we just settled in to a steady trudge pushing the bikes and looking back down the valley, sadgill looked a hell of a long way away, funny how far you can get on a bike.

Sun was beating down as we hit the top and veered onto the cheek up to Harter fell. Riding across the top of little Harter fell there was a massive bang, oh dear that'll be my rear tyre exploding again. Downhill tube installed, tubeless spaff wiped off hands and off we went again. Stopped for a bite to eat near the top, drank in the awesome views then set off down to Nan bield. Me and Johnnie did this last year, proper tech but this time I was riding better and getting more creative with my lines, one alternate run in was exposed and I had to get over a big slab, tricky but it would set me p for the next bit. First run I stalled on the slab and almost pitched over and down a big drop. Went back tried again almost a perfect repeat. Lined up again from further back, little more speed and I made it. Woot! On a another bit Si was watching, he saw my line and took a sharp intake of breath sucking through his teeth, you know, the sound plumbers and builders make just before they give you the bad news, he obviously thought my line looked a bit wreckless, i made it tho :-)

We were both riding well so after that nan bield was almost a doddle. Zig zagged our way down without incident. I really like hollow bank quarter, we zoomed down there and I managed to get Simon to follow me down a steep roll in I've tried and failed to get Johnnie and burk to ride, kudos! That was mainly incident free tho on one fast section I was braking and wondering was the buzzing noise was, that'll be my back tyre completely failing to grip or impede my progress in anyway, oops grass braking is rubbish. Si had similar problems on that section too. We did the pedally trail back into kentmere, refuel at the car then did the kentmere hall climb where Si pointed out the castle turret-esque bit of the hall, half a dozen times I've ridden passed and never noticed, doh. A nice pedal across kentmere park, only spoilt by Si's chain exploding.

ooh look, a tree.
The climb up to dubbs rd was a drag, our legs tired, got to garburn road which I had warned Si was a technical nightmare of a climb, steep and rocky both loose and fixed rock......and currently as smooth as a sustrans track! Oh, more trail sanitisation, however as this was the last climb of the day and my legs were already fried I wasn't complaining, infact as I got to the steep bit and realised I could still breath and even take my hands off the bars to wipe my face I realised I might actually clean this. (Not hyperventilating, no sweat stinging my eyes or running down my nose to be inhaled, awesome!) My legs were burning but I wasn't feeling too bad otherwise so I trudged on to the top, wow a garburn rd "clean", cheating I know but you have to play the hand you're dealt. Last time I rode garburn was at the end of a monster ride and I just held of for dear life, this time I had a bit of energy left to actually enjoy it until I flatted again, DH tubes just don't cut it I'm afraid. Minced the last bit on xc tube and back to the car feeling battered but having bagged another cracking ride.

he's just heard it's downhill all the way to the car :-)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Cheers Simon pt 2

So the rain was forecast to die out thankfully, good job as all my "waterproof" gear was sodden. So I kitted up grabbed the singlespeed and rode to the train station. Mr Sparkle's (Simon) Real Ale Wobble was happening and finally I was going to attend....without actually partaking of any Ale obviously, bleurgh. After the rough day I'd had I was going to catch the train to entwistle catch up with the group there, ride the rest of the route with them ending up in darwen and then get the last train home at 23:10, my legs should be able to cope with that. I spun down to the white horse in edgeworth, still drizzling slightly, grrrr. There was diesel all over the road. Got to the cross roads at the white horse to see a broken down bus with a guy trying to mop up the fuel, aha so that's the source. Somehow there was diesel all over the cross roads. Was locking my bike up opposite the pub and watched a car slide around the corner, hmm don't think I'll leave the bike here. Got in and ordered a pint checked my phone the group were running late just arrived at the first pub, damn. Downed my pint and went to meet ehm, caught up with them near chapeltown. By now the rain had finally stopped and it was dry for the rest of the night. We headed back over wayoh damn to the white horse. Got chatting to the group, they were mainly Darwen Dashers (running group) some were full time runners occasional cyclists, others closer to 50/50 like simon. Friendly group anyway. A short cheeky run over to the Duck where they had a couple of girls singing/playing guitar. A couple of iffy song selections (IMHO) but they were good. The next bit was hard work, climbing up Edge Fold to cadshaw but my legs weren't working too bad actually, dabbed when the rider in front stalled near the bottom but once I got started again I cleaned the rest of the climb, quite happy with that. At somepoint I realised I'd lost my bike lock, must have been at a pee stop near wayoh, oops might have to look for that tomorrow. Bit of road followed by the singletrack through dog shit woods and around to The Greenfield, couple in there then down to the final stop at the black horse were several of us rode through the pub to the beer garden out back (the landlord is a very accommodating chap, held the door open for us) It was 10:30 by now so after the group photo I started saying my good byes. Simon was telling me what a cracking night it was going to be, offering me a bed for the night or just house my bike if I wanted to get a taxi home later. I said I really had to go so he thanked me for coming especially as this was likely to be the last one, so it was going to be a big etc etc OK OK you've twisted my arm. I text the mrs, "mr sarkle made me stay" and sat down for a few more pints and a good blether. A good craic was had.
At 1 o'clock Budge and his mate (associates of terrahawk) were heading off for ramsbottom, figured I'd tag along for a while. We did the road climb out of darwen, at a fair old pace too considering the state of my legs and sobriety (or lack thereof) the lads weren't sure which way to head back, I suggested dropping through cadshaw to wayoh then they could climb crowthorne or take the road route through hawkshaw - and I could check for my lock at wayoh :-) You may have noticed I have a bit of a thing about riding late at night when everyone else is asleep, well tonight speeding along, offroad in the dark, tanked up, it was lovely. A clear still night, perfect for riding. I took edge fold descent probably a lot faster than I should, don't think Budge and his mate were quite as squiffy as me, passed the duck then we split at wayoh, looked for my lock but no sign. I headed back over to the white horse (again) to check there, couldn't see it outside but they were still open so I called in and asked and yes someone had handed in my lock, with my house keys attached - didn't notice I'd lost them. Result. Spun home taking easy offroad routes, feeling good. Called in to town for a kebab and rolled home just gone 2. Up with the kids at 7 and unbelievably considering I'd been supping cider all night, no hangover! I shall have to try 12 mile ride home next time I over indulge*.
What a cracking day, leg burning, balls out descending, bike breaking mileage and then fun and games bimbling with good banter all round, good job I had a whole weekend to recover from it. Apparently the black horse didn't chuck out til 4! After such a successful event it turns out it may not be the last Wobble after all. Lowey take note!
*only joking kids, lots of drinking and riding is not a good idea. /serious face