Love/Hate Relationship: The Mary Towneley Loop

Cannondale Flash Carbon 29er

It’s one of those rides. One of those ‘have to do it every so often’ rides. One that you look forward to and dread in equal measure. The Mary Towneley Loop is a 44 mile extension to the Pennine Bridleway and is a doorstep challenge for me, living 4.5 miles from the route itself. It’s too long to do in all but the brightest and longest summer evenings but it’s not quite a day long ride. It’s hard, but at times very rewarding, and you always seem to come out of it much fitter than when you start it. With c. 6,000 feet of climbing it’s bound to be. I love doing it, but I really hate it too.

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Selfless devotion to family

Sometimes in life it’s time to stop doing what you enjoy, and pay some dedicated time to other family members.

With young families, my brother in law Simon and I get very little time together and no quality time to speak of in the last couple of years. With his birthday fast approaching, I decided to redress this by trying to get some good face-time together as a little treat to him. Continue reading “Selfless devotion to family”

Golf Ball Fell Race 2010

That didn’t quite go according to plan. Not that there was much of a plan… but I got a bit of a shock in a race. You usually get them in sport once or twice per year, but it was a hard lesson to me that you can’t just drop into a fell race for the first time in a few months and expect to perform. Add to that a nice relaxing holiday with only a few ‘get me by’ bike rides, and no running at all for 16 days, and looking back, I was heading for a kicking.

The Golf Ball race is a deceptively tough short race. The terrain gets steadily harder to run on under foot and the long, runnable climb that culminates five minutes from the finish isn’t kind to you if you’re on the rivet. Still, I’ve done it five times now and that was my worst result – a minute or so slower than the previous worst, and some four minutes slower than my fastest in 2005.

The graphs here show some clues as to where I faltered, but basically fresh legs at the start were pushed too fast too quickly and they hit me back hard about half way through the race. I was in 11th or 12th place and thought I could hang on and lose 2 or 3 places, but I’d forgotten how hard the last climb was, and I got savaged by plenty of people very quickly.

Anyway – with just over 5 weeks to the 3 peaks cyclocross now it’s just about enough time to turn a fairly good base fitness into the right sort of form and speed, but I’m leaving things tight, and don’t want any nasty hiccups now in the next few weeks.

The unlikely adrenaline hub of the world: Rossendale, Lancashire

In a way, it’s a strange discovery; one of those little unpredictable things that happen in life. As a cyclist who’s done a bit of everything on a bike, and still would do if he had time, I’ve found myself refining my cycling to niches and events that present realistic but challenging goals. I expect quite a lot out of myself from my cyclocross racing, and when push comes to shove, it’s my primary thing, but those other things that happen – the bits that fall roughly between February and September – have taken an unexpected turn recently – something mailnly down to where I live. Continue reading “The unlikely adrenaline hub of the world: Rossendale, Lancashire”

Ronde van Oost Lancashire 2010

It’s been a fun day – I don’t do much social bike riding in a busy life but when I do, I want the rides to be like today’s in inaugural Ronde van Oost Lancashire. Billed (roughly) as a local answer to my favourite classic the Tour of Flanders (or “Ronde van Vlaanderen” in Flemish), the Tour of East Lancashire set out to mimic, amitate, and at times outdo the Flemish classic .

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February half term in Peebles – again

If ever there was a good sign that a holiday works, it is that you do it again. There’s a good mix of the things that seem to add up to a good little holiday for the Haygaths at the Peebles Hydro hotel. Too pricey for a full week, but just within the realms of decadence for three nights in Feb half term (especially with three nights for the price of two!).

It was a similar recipe to last year’s holiday there – but different in many ways as Elsie has doubled in age in that short year. Continue reading “February half term in Peebles – again”

Bread of Heaven

It’s a simple formula that’s bound to win every time. Putting gentlemen together in a mountain area for a couple of days is just about all it takes. Other holidays or excursions have various frills around the edges, but the basic raw ingredients of a good bunch of fellows and a load of stunning upland are what it takes to make the bread of Heaven.

And so it was, last Saturday morning at c. 10am, I met up with Phil, Gareth, Adrian, John, Peter, Simon, Rob, Richard, Stephen, Sam and Jim for a walk in the Aran mounains, a strangely under-visited non-honey pot corner of Snowdonia. What followed for the rest of Saturday and Sunday was fairly predictable in places (the tone of the banter), hugely Broken Specterunpredictable in others (Gareth’s near-fatal near-head near-injury). Sitting down to eat well deserved and well-shaken lunches on top of hills was on the agenda; breathtaking cloud inversions and Broken Specters were possibly less easy to foresee.

… but that is the nature. If we got together every year for a walking weekend (and we have done for ten years running now) and everything went too much to a formula, it’d be fine. The unpredictables; those surprise views, the sudden outpouring of hymns in Welsh Male Voice choir stylee, the bizarre, twisted concepts that can arise from meandering conversations – those bits are the spreads to the bread.

A wonderful weekend; fine fellows all, and just a great opportunity to spend special time with great people. Until next year…

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Luge champs

The last bike ride of my thirties

So this is the end of my thirties. Today. That’s it after today – tomorrow, I’m middle-aged. Hurrah! (well – did you think I’d be bothered??)

In more of an attempt to wangle a good day out than anything else, Matthew invited me to a day’s leave Mountain biking, well in advance of today (largely because of a technical glut of annual leave he had to take) so when the snow came back earlier this week, we both knew we were in for fun.

We met up in Holcombe at 9:15 this morning and what followed was one of those very memorable outdoor trips. I’ve been out in the snow a bit lately on the road bike, cross bike and even on the Mountain Bike, but have obviously avoided full on open fell riding – simply because there just hasn’t been the time (all the other rides could be done under the guise of ‘training’ or getting the children to school / nursury). Today’s ride was in the name of adventure and fun. It certainly lived up to that.

The fact that we covered a total of 18 miles in 3 hrs of riding sums it up really. What amounts to a good healthy walking pace on most summer days was a pretty full on MTB adventure round Holcombe and Entwhistle in what varied between hard-packed icy snow (at best) and foot deep snow-wading and bike carrying in the cold midwinter sunshine.

The ride was fun, and was topped off by a lovely few pints at the Shoulder of Mutton and a sarnie with chips, before a quick shower and then a chance to pick Lily up from school (on the trailer bike) and an hour or so of sledging, later on.

I hope my forties are this good. Stay tuned.

Mobile crappy photos below

Three Peaks Cyclocross 2009

Well that was lots of fun and very satisfying. I’ve ridden every three peaks cyclocross now since 1995 and apart from a broken seatpost in 1999 about 3 miles into the race, I’ve completed them all.

But today was the sweetest for me. The last three events have been exceptionally good to me with not many issues on the gruelling 37 mile race, but today in particular was my smoothest ever 3 peaks race. No crashes, no cramps, no mechanicals, and only one puncture that was only three minutes from my support crew at Ribblehead and a welcome bike change. Continue reading “Three Peaks Cyclocross 2009”

Gisburn Forest Mountinbike Trails… now with added fun.

I managed to finally get to ride most of the best bits (I think) of the new MTB trails at Gisburn Forest last night. I must say I was impressed. I’d be primed / appetite whetted by a combination of Matthew, some photos by Andy Rushforth, and a blog post by Dave Powell.

I headed up last night because I decided to take a mental break from racing for a couple of weeks. Thursday night’s Preston crit night so I wanted to ‘do something’ other than racing. On a nice clear, calm evening, Gisburn made sense. Continue reading “Gisburn Forest Mountinbike Trails… now with added fun.”