A proper season off

It’s the first cyclocross season I haven’t raced a single race since about 1994. If someone had told me a couple of years back that I was going to miss a whole season I’d have laughed at the unlikelihood of it all.  But things happen. I was repeatedly dislocating my shoulder and, inevitably, things caught up with me and I needed to get the root cause addressed.  That meant not only joining a waiting list for surgery, but also opting out of competition until it was put right (more thoughts on that here)

I managed to stay reasonably fit up until my operation on 25th November, but with the pressure of competing off, and a clear decision not to ride – at all – off road until I’m fixed – it’s amazing how the motivation to go out in poor conditions withers away.  So much mañana attitude to fitness starts to kick in.  Well… what’s the point in being fit if you don’t do anything with it, anyway?! I managed to run a lot more than I normally would. Running’s miles easier of the faff factor than autumn and winter biking, so it made sense to pop out and belt myself for 45 mins then jump in a shower, rather than do all that dreary getting-layered-up malarky

Corner-turning

I went in for my operation, and woke up dry mouthed and feeling miserable as you do with general anaesthetic. I had been prepared for a long recovery period, with six weeks in a sling, and all the misery and inconvenience that goes with it. I must say, right from the day after the operation, I have been very pleasantly surprised with how things are going. That includes psychologically, too. Whilst there was some pain and inconvenience, it was nothing compared to the worry that I was going to be strapped up and uncomfortable for a few weeks. I’m certainly not uncomfortable, and I have a lot more movement than I expected to have.  I started a mini blog (here) to chart the progress of my recovery. I had been all over Google trying to interpret how people recover from the specific injury that I had (Bankart Lesion), and whilst there was a lots of glory videos on the operation itself, there seemed little material on recovery progress. It helped me, it’s cathartic to sit down and write, or speak to a camera, about things like that.

So here I am, looking at a few weeks recovery, and getting really motivated in ways I can’t describe about where spring and 2014 will take me. You sometimes need something like this to make you focus on things like that.

Aside from physical and mental issues, I’ve been keeping reasonably busy by doing those things I don’t get much chance to do. Watching cyclocross races is actually quite good. No, really.

Cheering self up

I have also had quite a laugh lately, by setting up a board on Pinterest with some shall we say unorthodox ways of carrying cyclocross bikes. It went a little bit viral, and gathered a lot of followers in a short space of time. Cheeky, I know.  Schadenfreude is a simple, primeval way of making yourself feel better. It’s easy to be smug from the sidelines.

Alan Dorrington As usual, cheeriness also comes from mates.  Teamie Alan Dorrington (right) has performed a great job of making me feel like I’m still involved with his Planet X cyclocross season in a subtle way, without making me feel envious or anything.  Plus, he’s turned up at my house not once but twice, bearing pies and peas. That’s very good stuff.

Family have been ace, too, as usual. The girls are a load of fun and don’t really mind being dragged out to the odd cross race to watch as long as there’s something in it for them.  Sweets, chips, etc. They

Sweatball

And so, to that getting started again thing. I have managed a couple of sessions on the turbo trainer already, with a rather nifty makeshift rubber sling, that basically holds my bad arm in a good enough position to perform the sweaty acts, without soaking my good sling in sweat. I will see a physiotherapist next week, and get some more meaningful arm-based exercises going, but it is just the best way forward for me at the moment to sit down and pedal. Your mind can get sorted out with a good bit of paddling. I spent so many years moaning about how miserable the turbo trainer is. Right now, it is the only thing that is keeping me sane.  But crikey, I am so, so looking forward to getting out on a bike.

Thanks to Planet X for patiently twiddling their thumbs in the mean time.

Roll on 2014.

The final bicycle-made-for-three commute of the year

Bicycle Made for Three

I go in for my shoulder operation on Monday, and will be in a sling for the rest of the year.

It has been a lovely day here, and Lily capped it all by saying “We’re just ace” to me, as we flew through the village.

I know what she meant. Heads Turn when you ride along on a long, long vehicle like this.

Some young people would get paranoid and not enjoy the attention.

We don’t mind. We’re just ace.

Lily’s Eleventh

Chocolate Fondue

Don’t get me started on the ‘they grow up quick’ thing. Lily, who was a babe in arms the day before yesterday, was eleven yesterday. Lovely quiet but perfectly formed day including

  • a day’s leave for me
  • bit of tolerable shopping for Converse for both girls
  • Ten pin bowling with Elsie and Lily
  • Lunch for us all at Pizza Express
  • Picking up Lexie and Leah, and a visit from Lucy to make too many children beginning with L party
  • Sausage & Mash and a Chocolate Fondue
  • Netball with gloves on because the ball was too hard for delicate girls

Video here and photos here

 

A change of direction.

It’s 4 weeks now since I dislocated my shoulder (for the third time) and had what I now see as an epiphany. I was unceremoniously dispatched to the tarmac at the Colne Grand Prix about a week after hearing that I needed surgery on the shoulder. It was inevitable in hindsight that it was going to pop out when my next crash came.  Anyway… that’s the physical. It’s the mental stuff that’s been preoccupying me since then. That’s come as some sort of a surprise to me, in a way. It’s hit me a bit harder than I thought.

Let’s get this straight. The decision not to race until this is sorted is unequivocally made and not in question. The pain that happens with my dislocation when it happens is as near to all-consuming as I have experienced. To race – either a bike or fell running, would elevate the risk of a fall and I’m in no doubt at all that I do not want that.

I’ve yet to get a date for the surgery but am happy for now to sit it out. (It looks like October, if you’re interested)

There’s a few things that have caught me by surprise since ‘the decision’.

Routine.

The first thing is, life is about routine more than I realise. Bringing up children, I became aware of that. Routine is your best friend with children with so many things. It helps them immensely – and you – especially when they are very little. But I’m only just coming to realise how strong an influence the routine of my cycling life has had upon me over the years.  This time of year is deeply engrained in me. The scene is familiar but the stage has been taken away.  It’s the end of family holidays and about 6 weeks until the 3 peaks cyclocross. In my normal routine that means lots of things; coping with a minor weight loss burdon, running with the bike, hill reps, longer rides with the harder last hour, fine-tuning the bike, obsessing over minor frills, there’s a long long list (and each worthy of its own blog post over the years!).

But that’s all gone. I’m not riding the 3 peaks, and on the surface, that’s making things simple. Except it isn’t. It makes it strange, unfamiliar, partly exciting, mildly depressing, but very, very out of routine.

Any speed you like as long as it hurts.

Another thing I have come to realise is that I ride bikes and run because I am competitive in nature. I have ‘tried’ riding my bike a couple of times now in the last four weeks, and also ‘tried’ a couple of runs.  (These are – by my own strict rules – away from competition.  There is a clear self-preservation thing in me keeping me from situations where I might fall until the surgery and recovery has taken its course).  I actually enjoyed both riding and running. But only because I went fast. I hurt. My legs hurt. My feet hurt when I ran. My chest was straining on climbs on the bike. I got in that zone as soon as I could. And that’s why I enjoyed it.  I did try, when I set off, to go easy. I’d love to think that I could just go out for a spin… or for a jog… just an amble. That’s not going to happen for me.  Not easily, anyway. I do try not to go hard, but it’s hard.

So, for now, I’ve decided to carry on not racing as fast and aggressively as I can.

The beaten track

I thought I’d miss off-roading on the bike, but I don’t. I’m really unsure as to why, but have an incling that this really won’t nag me too much over the next six months or so. I can – for the time being – get my fix of the rural by running, when I want (I’m permitting myself to run off road – just not go silly downhill*). There is a bit more faff in off-road biking and I’m not missing that at all. I can pedal on the roads, and I can run off. So that’s fine. Surprisingly fine. For now.

Mind Games

It may be a break from sport, but my subconscious has never been so rushed off its feet. All my holiday, I read tales of people’s cycling adventures. Those of my team mate Alan off in the Pyrenees were particularly, disturbingly envy-inducing. But even everywhere we went on our holidays, driving to chunky altitudes in the Picos de Europa Picos de Europa Roadsup swooping smooth roads, driving through the dramatic tree-smothered hills of the Basque country, the swirling Mediterranean Carreteras of the Costa Brava… all of it was basically one huge monologue-to-self about how the Planet X N2A would feel swooping around on roads like that. An itch that will have to remain unscratched, for now.

It bled into my dreams and my sleep was disturbed by a combination of bike pining and worrying about my arm popping out. An comfortable mix of a mind not at rest.

On the up

Every cloud…

I’m starting to resolve some excitement about this rare opportunity to do a few different things this Autumn (aside from keyhole surgery and six weeks in a sling). There are a few things I can put to my advantage. I’m ‘watching’ my first 3 Peaks since 1994, for a start. I plan to do a bit of filming and make a short piece about a support team for the day. I can do things like ‘drink alcohol’ in September. That will be novel. I may even get to take Lily to some cross country races, or take Elsie to do a cyclocross without it all being a rushed compromise of a day. I can go on my friend Alan’s stag do without feeling guilty… and even attend his wedding in January without going straight there “filthy from the nationals” , as was the original plan.

It’s not all bad. Not by any stretch of the imagination.  But it’s different. I must make a point of keeping a half-full glass. Unless it’s someone else’s round.

* Just on climbs – see here

Summer Holidays 2013 – a Spain of two halves

We tried to combine the needs of parents and children this year – mainly to success.

The first half of the holiday, having flown into Bilbao and driven from the Basque country to Asturias, was a week in the Picos de Europa. The Picos has been on my ‘must see’ list for about 20 years and the wonderful blend of real, rugged mountain stuff and pretty, rural streams, gorges, villages etc. seemed right for a holiday. The accommodation – a couple of miles outside of Potes – was really lovely. Spacious  self-catering agri-tourism and a pool too, to help us cool down after a long morning out and about.   We also enjoyed a trip up the Fuente De cable car and a rather longer-than-eastimated nine mile walk down in the building heat. It was ace though.

Lasting impression, apart from the sheer beauty of the place, was that of a nice mix of tourism / services and proper unspoilt tranquillity. You can get the balance right in some places. Heartily recommended.

So, from the ying to the yang. We needed to go to the beach. That’s why Brits go to Spain, after all.

The 7 hours of driving across a whole load of Spain was a real treat. The topographic changes as we coasted from coast to coast were dramatic, exciting, rewarding, and spectacular. Coast to Coast

Even the girls tolerated the driving quite well, really.

The second week was in an apartment in Tossa de Mar, Costa Blanca. Gorgeous pebbly beaches, impressive waves for the med, lots of swimming, nice pools, friendly campsite, cramped apartment, and lots of wine. It was fun.

Oh, and I grew a beard.

Photos here

Video here

Colne Grand Prix 2013 – Marginal pains

Colne Grand Prix

Last night was my last race for a bit. Colne Grand Prix is a race I have ridden loads over the years. It’s a great race. A very simple town centre criterium on a very simple course. The corners are fast and flowing, and it always has a great atmosphere with the course packed full of people on either side.  I’ve ridden there the last nine years and only missed one, and still felt I had my 2005 podium somewhere in my 43 year old legs if I got it right.

Ice cream Colne

Katie and the girls had come to watch.  That’s a fairly rare thing; the pain of dragging two mildly moaning but very lovely girls to a freezing cold cyclocross course in November is bad enough to put anyone off for life, but a town centre crit on a balmy summer eve is something a bit different. And they had ice creams there. So I had my entourage.

From Casual T to Casualty

The build up to the race was the usual Haygarth chaos. Despite being very well organised (for me), and getting there in plenty of time, on a glorious summer’s evening, I forgot my racing Jersey, so had one together from the rather casual ten-year-old T-shirt I was wearing. What a nana. Actually it didn’t look too bad really.  Okay, it did.  But I was there, I had a number on, and there was a race to be done.

Start of the race – spot the casual guy in the red t-shirt. Photo by Andy Kennedy for British Cycling

 

The race itself was unsurprisingly very fast. Gone are those days when a 3rd cat crit is stop-start or slow. The first ten miles or so averaged 26.5 mph and only started to dip a bit as people settled in. There was no riding off the front on a warm night with little wind, so it was a matter of decompiling the forms and strengths of the riders around me and working out when to move up for the inevitable sprint.

As it worked out, I managed to avoid the inevitable sprint, by being right behind the almost inevitable crash on the final bend. With 250 metres to go, two riders in front of me hit the deck and that was it for me. I lurched over the top / side of them and hit the floor on my good side, but still somehow managed to pop out my bad shoulder.

I Scream Colne

Anyone who’s dislocated one before will identify with the all-consuming pain. I was calm in a way, reassured by knowing what I’d done and that 95% of the pain would be gone once they’d got it put back in in hospital. Panicked, to an extent about what Katie would think of me when she saw me in an ambulance – again. Never easy that stuff. But most of all, upper body movement of any description caused groaning, moaning agony. That needed sorting.

St John’s Ambulance were there and were ace. But they did run out of Entonox (gas and air!) after I’d relaxed my muscles for 15 mins or so. That was a bummer. When I eventually got to Blackburn Royal Infirmary and waited 20 minutes for some more Entonox, I was borderline passing out. Not being dramatic, just consumed by pain. Temporary pain though. Lordy, did I tote on that stuff when they got me some. It was amazing. I heard echos and weird reverberations, spoke jibberish, and saw in tunnels. But it relieved it.

X-Ray-ted words

They have to X-Ray you when they do these things. It’s easy and cynical to say they just have to follow procedure and it delays the process, but obviously they need to know what’s what, even after two prior dislocations of that shoulder. I was in for a bit of a surprise though.  I knew they’d have to move me somewhat in my wheelchair to get the pictures they wanted, but after three blurry attempts to get the right angle, they leant me over in such a painful pose that something went click. I gurgled out some intense swearing, then took in so much gas that I could barely see straight. Only two minutes later did I realise that by moving me, the sonographer had accidentally manoeuvred my shoulder back in. I could have kissed her. But I didn’t.  I was sweaty and half bloodied. And she was probably not that interested in me, to be fair. Don’t blame her.

Home Tweet Home

We all rolled in to the house rather late last night.  Priority was to get 5 year old Elsie tucked up after an excitingly late night for her – and Lily too – but Katie and I stayed up and chatted for a while. It didn’t seem right to go to bed – we were a bit buzzing. And I wanted to tweet about it. First things first. But it was only a few polite tweets, then bed.

Marginal pains.

It could be seen as a snap, spur-of-the-moment  decision, but with some clarity I’ve decided to do all I can as quickly as I can do get the Labral Repair surgery (link) done that I’ve been put on a waiting list for. I’m not prepared to put myself in any more risk positions until my body is fixed.  The potential advantage of carrying on until the op was highlighted to me last night as very marginal, if indeed of any advantage at all. Towel thrown in.

It’ll be very strange in so many ways to not be training for the 3 peaks this year. The first event without a Haygarth in it for 20 years, with my brother Phil absent, too. But I’m very clear that it’s the right decision and that I will come back strong and enthusiastic. I’m quite looking forward to the idea of watching the race, in a way. A whole cross season out will be hard to deal with too, but there will be more in 2014.

Codeine brings relief

I’ve written a bit before here about how mountain biking is a lovely antidote to the routine of training for road and cyclocross racing.  It’s a busy life and with a lot to pack in (read:compromise), a direct consequence is that bike time is training or racing time.  I tend to ride criteriums in the summer but have had the nice distraction of a few summer ‘cross races this season.  Still, in many ways, it’s much the same deal. You have an hour or so to train, so it’s outside, 3-4 seconds of warm-up, then go “gggrrrrrrraaaaaaaaarrrrrrggghhhhhhhhhh” (or something similar) for an hour, back home, in the shower, back to work / children / those other things.

So it is mountain biking that brings me my distraction and the highest pleasure-per-effort levels. No average speeds to chase, not much worry about headwinds, traffic, etc. There’s a great simplicity to it, and if you’re not in a rush, it brings some lovely warm rewards.

on one codeine 2So… when a good morning is put in the diary for a good ride and catch-up with close friend Matthew, I intend to make the most of it. If I’m going for leisure, relaxation and fun on the bike, then let’s do this properly. Step into the light, On One Codeine.

This leisure-centre of a bicycle is still in its prototype stage but built with “big stuff” in mind, it was always going to be a very fun ride at the rather mature but still fun Gisburn Forest bike trails. Many of the formerly great bits at Gisburn are a bit fatigued these days, and with trail centres’ tendencies to attract funding for new stuff (rather than unattractive maintenance of old stuff), the bumpy bits are a bit bumpier and rockier than you might like them.

With 29″ wheels and the gigantic, Smorgasbord tyres thicker than a circular Yorkie, 128mm of rear travel and about that up front, the Codeine was not going to struggle with any amount of gnarl that you wanted to throw at it. And if it did, you just drop the seatpost. I’m not an expert with full suspension bikes and have only ridden a couple, but it was obvious that this is a tank of a bike. Crashing it would be tricky, in a way. Its rather Brantish 31.8mm stem means that it flicks about much better than a 67° head angle bike should. All this fun / soft / bouncy stuff comes at a cost, of course, and climbing is for the patient. You stay in one position and the bike just goes uphill. It’s a bit like a ski lift. With all that traction going on, you don’t have to pick your line, but you’ll need to not be in any sort of rush. You can spend the time still going ‘wow’ from the previous descent.

No Production date is currently planned‘, so the one I was kindly lent by On One is going to illude you, for now, if you want one. But in the middle of a busy, racing, training life, Codeine brought me a remedy from an ailment I didn’t realise I had.

When it all goes wrong – an apology to my brother.

After more than 3 weeks of reflection, all I really know is that, sometimes, very small things happen that have very big consequences.

To set the scene, simply put, it’s a day of joy and fun.  I don’t get much time to spend in close quarters with my brother, Phil. Acting from my own selfishness and attempts to put that right, I’d planned a mini trip away, where we’d meet with my cousin, Adrian, for a rare treat of time together.  A few beers, an evening in a hotel, a decent breakfast, and a great bike ride. An amalgamation of simple pleasures combining to make a rare treat.

Man down.

When Phil fell from his bike and hit the ground, he hit it hard. Nobody knew what happened and nobody ever will.  He was concussed and his own memory of the incident does not exist.  Sandwiched between Adrian and I on an innocuous and pretty harmless part of the track at Llandegla, his fall wasn’t seen by either of us – out of our lines of vision. As such, we only have the consequences to dwell upon.  Phil’s fall  shattered his clavicle and broke two of his ribs.

The immediate few days after obviously brought him significant pain and discomfort, loss of sleep and probably a lot of anxiety from the loss of consciousness and feeling of vulnerability this presents. It’s the longer term consequences that are probably causing me as much distress as Phil at the moment. I feel I’ve been instrumental in a knock-back in Phil’s life.

Long term prognosis?

Whether Phil gets back on a mountain bike or tackles anything with some similar risk attached is probably the furthest thing from his mind now.  He faces eight weeks in a sling whilst his clavicle gets a chance to knit together helped by the titanium plate they have put in. That cuts across family holiday time, his work, his family time… a temporary but major disability.

Yes – Phil’s an adult and a very capable cyclist, but without my having the idea, we simply wouldn’t have been there.

If, for whatever reason, and however well justified, Phil decided in future to maybe not ride that race or make that trip, or not to ski, to run down a fell… all those little things that need confidence, then I will be whatever the next step up from regretful is.  That’s because these are the little things that define my own life.  The little extras around the edge of the life stuff. The bits that can make a day remarkable.

Broken Helmet

A broken helmet and torn clothing can be replaced. Bones generally do heal.  Even those rare chances to have fun with one’s brother and cousin can be rearranged and refactored into busy lives.  But I’m so worried that knocked-back that can-do confidence,

Yes, the impact on Anne an Phil’s children, and other inconveniences are immeasurable here and those things prey on me.

Sorry.

Phil, I’m just feeling sorry it turned bad.

Half full.

I’m not sure whether this is a half-empty or half full thing, but Phil, you’ve either been very lucky or very unlucky.  It could have gone so much worse and please let’s not dwell on that. On the other hand, it could have just been a great day out, and could have been finished by a great gig in Lancaster later that evening. Let’s just assume that you were lucky. That we were lucky.

You’ve spent some brief time sidelined from your busy life – and I know you’ve said that it’s been actually quite welcome, too. Small mercies.

I wish you a full and speedier recovery than anyone thinks is possible.

Scarface Claw

Lily’s Gone to the Dogs

Pesky Husky

It’s normal for a ten year old to have a bit of love for animals.  Lily’s always been very enthusiastic about dogs, big cats, and horses in particular.  They’re definitely her thing.  You can feel the enthusiasm glowing from her when near animals, and it demonstrates itself quite a lot when you try and chat to her about them (and generally get corrected on your inaccuracies – quite disturbing at times)

For her Christmas present (2012!) her treat was to go on a husky ‘sledding’ trip.  It was the end of May before we and the weather finally both got our acts together, and we went to a great place called Pesky Husky in Staintondale, just north of Scarborough.  The sun shone for seemingly the first time all year, and the trip was just a delight.

Video here

We tagged along to the the trip, a couple of days over half-term staying in Hartlepool – where Katie was born and brought up.  It was great to share some of her old memories and places, particularly in such lovely weather.  A trip up Roseberry Topping, a morning at the beach in Saltburn, as well as a trip to Robin Hood’s bay and round Ward Jackson Park in Hartlepool itself.

Photos here

 

Elsie’s 5th

Elsie's Fifth Birthday

Another year older… my littlest girl enjoyed her 5th birthday on 24th May.  The last day before half term, Elsie’s return home from school was a double-treat, and we shared a great day with close Grandparents and a few local friends.

The day was slightly early for the first batch of spring weather (I’m writing this a couple of weeks after – bad dad), so the idyllic spring party on the lawn didn’t really happen.  It was lovely to have everyone round though, as usual!

Things of note this year:

  • ‘Brave’ is very big at the moment in Elsie’s life
  • A decent scooter with pneumatic tyres is a good present for people who live on bumpy lanes

Photos here

Strava: The film

Strava KoM

I recently wrote about a love hate relationship with Strava.  The app that bikes back doesn’t want to go away.

Some try to sue them, love, some hate, but it’s not quite like Marmite – as we all seem to love and hate it a little bit. A little bit like real racing, we love it when it goes well. We hate getting beaten.

But perhaps most significantly, it does seem to change the way the more competitive-minded of us go about our training rides.  Even on a nice day.  So the other week, I made a short film.

Can be watched in HD here.

Time Trialling: Ten Years Gone

Circuit of the Dales

It’s almost exactly ten years since my last time trial. I had ups and downs in my against-the-clock racing between the ages of 17 and 33, but on an April Sunday in 2003, I rode the local Hilly Time Trial (the now defunct Circuit of Holcombe) and didn’t realise quite how long I’d be hanging my time trialling wheels for.

Ten Years After: I’m going Home

A lot have changed in that ten years; fairly obviously, I guess.  Now ten-year-old Lily was literally a babe in arms then.  Cycling-wise, I’ve also had a bit of a late thirties flourish in cyclo-cross, in my own relative terms, and ten full years off time trialling I must admit I’d started to get a wee bit intrigued about how it all would feel again to ride against the clock…. so I entered a race that had always taken my fancy – for several years – the Circuit of the Dales.  Reasonably steeped in history (since about 1980), it’s a tough course and an event that takes place within spitting distance of Kirkby Lonsdale (where mum lives) and Ingleton (where Katie’s parents live).  It’s also, dare  I say it, within eye shot of three rather special ‘peaks’ of the Yorkshire Dales.  If I was going to time trial again, it may as well be a special one.

Surprise, surprise, there was little fun to be had.  Despite the spring finally turning up just in time and that nagging easterly wind finally taking a break, even in chilly spring sun (1°C at the start) it still felt pretty heavy weather.  A ‘big push on the back’ start at the top end of Ingleton gives you such flattery for five miles or so to Tunstall.  It’s downhill, and I think I even sensed a tailwind… but those things never last.  The psychological damage kicked in at Greta Bridge, where you start climbing the Lune Valley.  For ages.  The roads feel like ‘I should be doing 25mph’ but the actually are ‘I’m struggling to do 21mph’ roads.  Luckily, a few rises and falls make this bearable, and changes in rhythm are welcome in this sort of a race (well, for me).

It’s a real relief to start the first ‘real’ climb, from Sedbergh over Garsdale Head.  Not that I’m a climber (especially a stone over my September weight) but it’s nice to have something to get your teeth into other than energy-sapping should-try-harder drags and false flats. Though the climb lasted 29 minutes, it was a reasonably ‘fast’ climb (I rode the 800 feet of climbing and 9.8 miles at an average of 18.9mph), but it was a climb. You knew where you stood. You had to ride uphill. That was less psychological torture than the Lune Valley.

The uppy downy descent to Hawes is basically one long anticipation of what’s to come.  With only 1,000 feet of climbing over 6 miles, the drag over to Ingleton is rarely steep, but tired legs make it that much worse. I rode a lot with a heart rate monitor in my former time trialling days in the 90s, abd today it was of really good use.  It’s so hard to go too hard for a bit (then pay) or lose focus and let the effort drop, 2 and a bit hours into racing flat out, but riding on your HRMs guide is really useful on drags like that.

I’m going home, to see my babe

It was nice to see a few people out chivvying me along… Phil, Angus and Mum predictably chanting ‘Good Boy’ near Casterton and Middleton, and Katie with Jean and the girls at Ribblehead, but strangely, on an innocuous streth of hell, almost 1,400 feet up, it was warm to get a shout from photographer Adrian Nicholls of SportSunday – out getting a few photos in a remote spot.  That was near the crest of the final climb (not to be sniffed at and higher than any Lakeland pass!) and an ‘I’ve made it’ moment – with only 6 or so miles of mainly downhill left.

So is there anything I learned? Would I do it again? Am I going back to being a tester?

Well, no, in a word.  I knew it was going to be very tough.  It was very tough.  My finishing place – about 39th from 140 was nothing to write home about. I know how to improve that and frankly aren’t that bothered about the dedication it needs.  I’d much rather relish putting training into something I could raise my arms aloft for.  I’m a tart.  I’m driven by ‘event’, by ‘occasion’, and by the sounds of spectators, in a strange way.  Time trialling doesn’t provide any of that.  That’s not a criticism of time trialling – it’s a criticism of me, and what makes me tick. Put another way, I don’t have the legs for it….! But, crikey, what a stunning part of the world to suffer in.  Give me that over a dual carriageway and a fast time any day.

Thanks to my brother Phil, Nephew Angus, and to Ady Nicholls and his ace people at SportSunday for the photos.

GPS Here on Strava: Circuit of the Dales