Monday, 28 May 2012

Is Summer Here?

Having put my name down for the long route in the White Rose Classic, all 115 miles of it, I thought I'd better get some biking miles in to my legs. There were a couple of hills that I'd not done before so it was time to check them out.

First up (literally) was Stockdale Lane out of Settle. A couple of rides on successive weekends saw me getting to it after 25 & 35 miles and even though I was in bottom gear it didn't seem *too* bad. The first time up it was harder as there was a headwind. 

The next bit to try out was the first twenty miles or so out of Ilkley and up to Greenhow Hill. This all started nice and steadily, though with the obligitory headwind, climbing out of Otley then dropping down in to the Washburn Valley. The next section was steep and a bit of a grind but once the first half of the hill was over it began to ease and the crest was soon reached. Unfortunately this led to a taste of things to come as getting to the A59 was hard work in the wind. The road up to Greenhow had a few surprises in the form of a couple of 25% hills but it was the final miles to the summit that were depressing with a slow road surface; a subtle constant climb and an ever present wind. Once at the village things picked up and the miles heading home were easier, even when heading over Halton Heights.

A seeming constant over the past few weeks has been a strong breeze often a wind and it's been a real pain to bike in. Saturday was no exception - Cath was going biking round Clapham so I blagged a lift and  would bike home, taking in a hill or two on the way. However, after what seems like an age, warm weather has finally arrived and combined with the wind would make it a much harder ride than I had planned for, generally my speeds were about 25% down on what I normally manage. Oh well.

Sunday was looking like a day for climbing and with the forecast set fair we settled on Neckband Crag as Lionel had never been there before. The last time I'd been up here I'd done Razor Crack in very damp conditions - I thought this was only a couple of years ago but when checking my guide it turned out to be a full ten years. Climbing as a three meant we could be sensible about gear. So one person had the rack and the other two a rope each. My rucksack still weighed masses though as I'd about 4 litres of liquid on board!

Plodding our way up The Band in the heat there was a loud "Fancy meeting you lot here!". It was the Phizacklea/Matheson team on their way up to Flat Crags. After chatting for a while they pressed on and we dropped over the col and down to the crag which was still in the sun. Things looked dry if a little dirty.

First up was Glorfindel, a HVS which starts up Mithrandir and finishes up the original finish to Gillette. I'd not done this before so Lionel led off with a bit of huffing and puffing on the first bulges but then he got in to his stride and made short work of the upper section. Then it was my turn and the huffing and puffing went on for a bit longer:-) Good climbing though. Once Simon had followed we abseiled off (in common with a lot of Lakes crags these days it seems that they are increasingly being set up for abseil descents).

Lionel starting the upper crack of Glorfindal

Simon wasn't impressed by the vintage of Lionel's gear.

Then we pointed Simon at Razor Crack, the classic E1 of the crag. When it came to my turn to follow I found it significantly harder than I remembered it and struggled quite a bit. It's very good climbing though and you get good no-hands rests between moves. Lionel and Simon then did Gillette Direct, one of the best E2s around. I didn't fancy getting hauled up it so sat this one out. By the time they were down from the route it was time to go.

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