Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Wet and Dry Cycling

Thursday's evening ride was, to put it mildly, a bit of a washout. No sooner had we met up than the heavens opened and we had to wait under a nearby tree for around fifteen minutes before setting off.

We had just got to the top of the road underneath Earl Crag (AKA The Pinnacles) when there was a big clap of thunder and it began to rain quite heavily so we decided to head back down in to the village. It was "interesting" heading down one of the steepest roads in the area with so much water around. It had got so bad by the time we got in to Sutton that we headed for the park benches that have a wooden canopy.

To say the rain got worse would be an understatement and the thunderstorm was pretty intense. Eventually we called it quits and headed home. The roads were more like rivers and I was having to avoid golfball sized stones being washed down the hill. I got home to find that we'd had four power cuts and that the kitchen was flooded in one corner.

Saturday's ride was a steady affair, livened by one of my cleats breaking - I should have replaced it some time ago - and by having to get one rider back in to Skipton before his parking ticket ran out! Rather bizarrely it was quite sunny and I've a prominent tan line on my arms. Normal service was resumed later in the day as I was mowing the lawn in a race against an approaching thunderstorm. I lost by about ten seconds!

Sunday looked like it was going to be fine in the morning so another 0900 start saw about 17 or 18 of us head out on the Grassington road. Once again it began at a rapid pace and it was more like a spread out chain gaing than a steady ride. By the time we got to Hetton a split had developed so we ended up with an 'A' and a 'B' group though on the same route at least as far as Settle. Somehow I was with the 'A' group - hopefully I wouldn't be too far off the back.

The idea was that we'd wait at the cafe for the others to catch up. As it happened they weren't too far behind plus one of our group had had a mechanical - his front tyre exploded due to the heat from braking down Stockdale Lane! Fortunately it happened right outside the cafe not on the hill so it was a short walk to the bike shop on the other side of the square.

Once we got going again the speed really picked up and with no-one willing to sit up (!) we flew through Rathmel and Wigglesworth. I got dropped on the short climb out of the latter (I really need to figure out my gear selection for these short steep climbs) and spent the next 5Km hammering along at 50kph+ to catch the group. At Bolton By Bowland we got a breather due to another mechanical but then it was another long effort over to Halton West before the final effort through Bank Newton to Gargrave. Then it was just the usual hill to get home which wasn't as hard as I thought it might be.

Definitely tired after the speed, and concentration, needed on the ride though my legs aren't as sore today as they were after last week's ride.

Monday, 2 July 2012

A Tale of Two Clubs

The weather's been pretty dire for the last few weeks which hasn't been that condusive to climbing. Consequently I've been doing more cycling.

As it happens there are two new(ish) cycling clubs in the area: South Craven Wheelers and Skipton Cycling Club. South Craven meet up down in the village so one Thursday I headed down for an evening ride. Due to the weather forecast there were only three of us. One of these was the cyclist with whom I'd had a "male competitive syndrome" ride in to work a while back. With perfect timing there was a heavy downpour as we set off but after that there wasn't much precipitation. Rather than the advertised ride it was decided to go for a hilly option with West Bank being the first climb - eek!

A couple of more hills later we arrived in Elslack and decided to go for a longer loop out to East Marton and Gargrave. Once back at Elslack we just had the one big hill up on to Pinhaw in our way to get back home. Not a bad ride done at reasonable pace. (Missed the next Thursday ride due to going to watch Alan Davies at Grassington Festival)

This weekend there were two rides organised by Skipton CC: Saturday's was advertised as being a gentle 25 miles and Sunday's was to be a bit brisker, more like South Craven pace. There were a dozen there for Saturday's ride on bikes ranging from carbon fibre racers to city commuting models. The route went round Barden Moor via Bolton Abbey, Appletreewick, Burnsall, Thorpe and Cracoe. Apart from a heavy shower as we passed through Thorpe it was a pleasant ride with a bit of a blast back along the Cracoe - Skipton road.

Sunday's ride was of sterner stuff. The route was Skipton - Cracoe - Threshfield - Halton Gill - Malham - Airton - Gargrave and back. There's a steady climb out of Skipton up to the bypass, this was taken at pace such: "lively" I thought to myself. I began to think that I was likely to spend the day getting dropped out of the back of the group. With regular regroupings we got to Cracoe where I was about 60 metres behind the lead group of four when without warning they sped up and began to pull away. I managed to regain ten metres or so but couldn't close the gap as we were blasting along the flat at about 26MPH. Eventually I caught them up when they pulled up at Threshfield.

I was ready for the next break/effort as we headed towards Kilnsey and didn't have much problem sitting in the small group. Together again we headed up Littondale with the day's main climb ahead. By now it was raining and pretty miserable. There was a bit of a hiatus as we helped out a young lad whose chain had jammed round his bottom bracket but then it was time for the climb. It's not too bad with only a couple of short steep sections but once we got to the top we were in the full force of the wind and I was going at a slower pace on the flat than on the climb! By now we were all soaked from the driving rain so a café stop was called for.

The farm shop at Airton is most welcoming in these situations and after a refuel we were ready to go again. Except that when paying the staff caused the till to lock up so I was late back to my bike. Fortunately, three of the group had waited for me, unfortunately they were keen to catch the others up so another high speed blast down to Gargrave ensued. I got dropped off the back on a short steep pull and wasn't able to regain the group. Once at Gargrave the rest of the group were heading back to Skipton so I headed straight home with just the hill up from Elslack to look forward to again. 

My legs definitely feel the exhertions from the efforts. Still it will do me good.