Saturday, 22 November 2014

A Milestone and err, something else

On the commute home last night I clocked up 10, 000 Kilometres for the year to date. Well, this is the distance I've logged via Strava, the actual distance will be a bit more as most rides from home are started and stopped about a kilometre away. I've also climbed 133,000 metres of ascent and taken 340 rides to do it. Given that January and February were basically washouts in terms of activity due to recovering from my hip replacement (a year ago this coming Tuesday as it happens) it's not bad.

So what of the something else? Well last night was a pretty awful night and as I was descending the lane down to the house I began to realise that the brakes weren't slowing me down! I wasn't getting faster but I certainly wasn't slowing down, I was probably doing between 15 & 20Kmh. Our lane is about 25% and there's virtually no flat ground before the house.

I began to run through my options: run in to the back of the car - from personal experience I know that bodies tend to come off worse in such collisions; run in to the house - even less likely to result in a positive outcome; make a sharp right over a very slippery cattle grid in to the yard - any fall would be on to my operated hip and there were all the slots to lose an arm or leg in. The only remaining option was to carry on down the lane by the side of the house and hope that when the tarmac ended the mud would slow me down.

I managed about fifteen metres before my increasingly comical swervings saw me off, fortunately I landed on my left side and didn't land on any of the various rocks that stick out of the ground. Apart from a bruise and a slightly pulled muscle in my leg I got away with no injuries. There was one broken spoke on the bike and the brake lever on the left side had been knocked round a bit.

So why had the brakes failed? They are Avid BB7 disk brakes and have been pretty reliable but I think they have somehow loosened themselves off during my commutes as the canal bank is pretty jarring at times, I've checked them this morning and was able to turn in the adjustment pads so that the brakes worked. It was probably a combination of the gradient and the rain, on lesser slopes I have been able to stop. I'll have to keep an eye on them to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Bonfire Night

After a couple of failed attempts to get out for a night ride this week we finally managed to get our act together to head out on Wednesday night which just so happened to be Bonfire Night. In recent years it seems that bad weather has plagued this traditional celebration of home-grown terrorism but with clear skies and a near-full moon it looked like it was going to be worth getting out.

Our earlier ineptitude reasserted itself as we were parking the car at Threshfield - Cath wondered if she'd put her cycling shoes in the car. Of course she hadn't so since she was using flat pedals I suggested that she use the Crocs she was wearing (other hippy plastic shoes are available). It seemed to work so off we set, twitching occasionally when a particularly loud firework detonated nearby.

With the clear skies it was pretty cold and it was with some reluctance that we rode past a large bonfire at the bottom of the lane leading on to Boss Moor. My hands still hadn't warmed up by the time I reached the top though a minute or two's rest allowed the warmth to return. The bridleway over the moor was resurfaced a few years ago and old railway sleepers put in to span drainage ditches and frost was already beginning to form on these - the cold air can attack from all sides so they cool quicker.

At Bordley Lane we had a choice: down towards Kilnsey and up Mastiles Lane (the opposite way to how we'd ridden last time up here) or head up the lane, on to Mastiles Lane and round to Lee Gate Farm before heading back to Bordley then southwards towards Hetton before getting back on to Boss Moor. Cath didn't fancy the climb up Mastiles so up the road it was.

The moon was so bright that we kept thinking that there was a car behind us, understandable on a road but we kept thinking it when off-road as well! At the drop down to the end of the road we cut right and climbed steadily to Mastiles Gate then left and along the open lane until we could cut left through the fields to Lee Gate. Things were a lot muddier than the last time we were up here and it was with relief that we got on to the hard surface of the bridleway back to Bordley farm.

Going past Bordley was a little tricky as there's no option but to go through the farmyard and wake the dogs up but we did the best we could. Getting across the beck below the farm meant that we both had wet feet to some extent - not good in the temperature at the time. The track down past Lainger House is fast, well once the sheep get out of the way, and there's just a short steep pull on tarmac until the next bridleway cuts left over Boss Moor.

Soon we are at the top of the initial track and the tricky part is making sure to hit the wooden water bars square on as they are now pretty frosty. I'm thinking I'm struggling to see and it's a while before I realise that the light on the handlebar has come loose and is pointing nearly straight down - oops!

The bonfire is nearly out as we pass it again but it's still pumping out plenty of heat and we grab a minute of warmth before coasting down to the car. The bikes are filthy and I grab a rag out of the car to wipe the worst of it off but it's all frozen to the frame! Cleaning will have to wait. It's now ten o'clock, time to get something to eat.