Monday, 20 August 2012

Ride with Brad

Sunday saw the first run of the Ride with Brad sportive, a 100Km or 160Km ride based around the Forest of Bowland. This is basically the route of the old Pendle Pedal rides. Cath had signed me up for the 160Km and herself for the 100Km. Hmm.

An early start saw us registering at Barnoldswick, the longer ride was starting first so by 7:41 I was in the starting pen with about 40 others. Five big hills and quite a few smaller ones lay ahead. The initial miles via Bowland by Bowland to Waddington went easily enough and then the fun began. Unlike most of the other big climbs I'd never been over Waddington Fell before so wasn't sure what to expect. In the event it was a steady ride with a steepening near the top then a blast down the other side and along the valley to Slaidburn and the first food stop. 1hr15.

The climb out of Slaidburn begins straight way but it's a false summit and after a couple of miles you drop to the beck before the  real fun begins and you head up to Cross of Greet. "Did you see Brad?" asks a lad as he pulls level, "Sky top and a yellow helmet", "Oh, you mean the blur?" I respond not realising that The Man had gone past. One of the stranger sites of the ride awaited me further on: a Peregrine Falcon stood on the roadside with a pigeon, totally unconcerned about the hundreds of cyclists riding past. The riding on the other side is fast and we are soon at the food stop in Wray. 2hr20.

To keep us away from main roads the route then crossed the river Lune and headed towards Lancaster before the next big climb loomed ahead: Quernmore. I've done this a few times before and not really enjoyed it. Sunday was no different. Then it's another fast descent and through the valley towards the Trough of Bowland enlivened by the rider ahead of me making close acquaintance with several metres of a barn wall! Fortunately only cuts and bruising - he was from Norfolk apparently so didn't understand hills. The Trough of Bowland is actually a straight forward climb from this side with only a couple of slightly steeper bits. As I passed over the summit the first spots of rain began, by the time I was down at Dunsop Bridge it was heavy rain but I decided to delay putting on my jacket until the foodstop in Chipping. 4hrs25.

However by now it had stopped so decided against it. Just as well as making a right turn the road reared up to 20% and just headed straight up the hillside of Longridge Fell. What the ... Bottom gear and big effort with encouraging words from those who'd got off and were walking. Fortunately the rest of the climb was easier, well apart from the hairpin at the top. Easier riding now lead to Whalley with heavy rain now set in and before the last of the big climbs: Nick o' Pendle.

Luckily this was from the "easy" side, right. A few more walking now, plus we'd begun to catch up the tailenders of the short ride. A blast down the other side to Sabden then the real work began. An unamed, well any name wouldn't be printable on maps, climb on to the ridge had at least half the field walking. I'd ridden everything up to now so wasn't going to give in but the effort had me struggling on the following flat for a while. A steep drop back in to the valley led to another 20% climb on the slopes of Pendle. Not long to go now, except it wasn't. Descending in to Barley I could see a line of riders/walkers snaking up the road ahead.

This is more of a drag than the previous climbs. Halfway up a lass asks "How much further?", "Five miles or so", "What! This hill is five miles long?". Then a level section before dropping down and beginning another climb, the last one I promise myself, except it isn't and two more short sharp climbs appear in quick succession before it really was the last. The rider next to me checks his high tech gadget: "Nearly 4000kCals today" he announces with pride, I look down: "I had a belly before this". Finally it's back through the fenced off section and the clapping crowds to the finishing line. 7hr30.

Results here: - I came 262nd out of 628 so not as bad as I thought

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Olympic Games

What a fortnight! I have to admit to being somewhat cynical about the Olympics prior to them starting, mainly due to the heavy handed enforcing of corporate sponsorship and the Olympic torch relay really didn't do anything for me. 

All that changed. From the amazing opening show (lots of "The Daily Mail aren't going to like that" moments) the games were a brilliant mix of enthusiasm, inclusiveness and British quirkiness, plus how is anyone going to top the Queen and James Bond? It helped of course that British athletes did so well and performed beyond all expectations - 65 medals with 29 golds. We rode past the gold painted postbox at Hebden (rower Andy Hodge) on Sunday and all wondered how long they were going to remain like that?

Interesting that the only time the dour Jacque Rogge clapped during Sebastian Coe's closing speech was following the mention of the volunteer Gamesmakers. 

My favourite moment of the games was Mo Farah's daughter running across the track to congratulate her dad on winning the 10,000 metres. Pure unbridled joy, lovely.

Can I go back to being cynical now?

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Over the Hills and Far Away

Some months ago Cath signed me up for the "Ride with Brad" 100 mile sportive. This was actually before the start of the Tour de France so not really jumping on any bandwagon. However I'd not really done any long rides so when Skipton CC posted that Sunday's ride was heading over Fleet Moss to Hawes and back via Kidstone Gate I thought I'd better get out and do it.

Six of us set off from Skipton and from the start the speed was high. It didn't look as if any quarter was going to be given. In short order we were at Burnsall where Tim discovered that the rattle on his bike was a loose cassette lockring. With no-one carrying the requisite tool he decided to head home.

Grassington, Conistone and Kettlewell came and went in short order and before long we were on the long drag by the upper Wharfe before the climb proper of Fleet Moss. There's a short intro which begins suddenly with a sharp right hand bend and a couple of hundred metres of 14% before the road drops in to Oughtershaw. 

Then the fun begins. Mostly it isn't too bad as there's an easy section to recover after every steep bit. Of course the steepest bit is right at the top where a sharp hairpin forces you on to the opposite side of the road to the easiest angle hereabouts. As I was approaching this a car full of Chinese went past with cameras hanging out of the window. Having not got enough of my wonderful visage they stopped on the summit area and took more shots as I went past! Regrouping on the summit, the Chinese went past then it was time for the fast descent in to Gayle. Except we were now gaining on the Chinese who then proceeded to take shots of us as we descended. Not often you get your own press car whilst on a club ride!

Tea stop in Hawes avoided most of the rain storm that past then it was down to Aysgarth and the climb out of Bishopdale. I wasn't looking forward to this as it feels steep enough in a car. It starts steadily then steepens and steepens until the last few hundred metres are at 16%. I seriously considered getting off and walking but managed to keep going. The descent through Cray and down to Buckden is excellent though.

By now I was getting tired so kept getting dropped. By the time we got to Kilnsey I was just going to hold the others up so they sped back to Skipton. I wasn't that slow on the flat but any slope saw me down to a crawl. A short stop at Rylstone to get an energy gel down me followed by a steady pace to Skipton meant that I managed the steep hill to get back home (another one I really thought I was going to have to walk). 

All in all I did 85 miles in 5hrs30 which given the hilliness of it wasn't too bad. Another reasonable length ride next Sunday should see me good for the Sportive.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Valley of Eden

Actually managed to get out climbing for once! We had intended to head over to The Lakes but the weather looked a bit (actually a lot) iffy so when Simon arrived at he had another plan. The Eden Valley. Despite growing up in the South Lakes, the only crag I'd been to in this area was Armathwaite so plenty to go at. 

We decided on Windmore End as it was supposedly quick drying. When we got there, the small walls facing the sun were dry whilst those in the shade were damp. It then began to rain so a retreat to the café was in order. On returning the rain began again in earnest so we headed down the valley to The Hoff an easy access crag near Appleby. Except there were big signs on the gates stating that climbing was now banned!

Running out of time our next attempt at getting some climbing done was Kings Meaburn. No ban and it was dry! Ivy Crack at HVS looked good to start with so Simon set off but took several goes to get through the crux start. It was pretty hard and we later found out it's been upgraded as there used to be a tree to help with the bottom section. After an easy lead for me, Simon lead Marik. Given VS it too has been upgraded which is probably fair as leaning limestone with hard to read moves is probably not VS. Very good climbing though and a real pity it didn't go on for twice as long.

On the way home we grabbed copies of the new FRCC guide to the peripheral Lakeland crags, only to find that the section of Windmore End that we'd been on is also now banned.