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.