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

 

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.

When all goes to Plagne – A family ski holiday

The Haygarths were very lucky in 2012 and squeezed in a ski holiday into the New Year on top of two other lovely family breaks in Scotland and Sardinia.

Our first outing as a family onto the slopes has been talked about for years after a massive break from skiing for me (basically, since we had children…!) and finally we were prompted into action when friends Rach and Jon booked their holiday in La Plagne. A lot of the decisions (accommodation, dates) were made for us – we just had to decide if we could afford it and afford (me) the time off work. We did.

There are so many things to remember in any holiday – with young children especially – and I can honestly say every moment was cherished. With a minor thing like Christmas in the way, it felt a bit odd to say the least to do a bit of packing then get in the car and drive 920 miles to the middle of the Haute Savoie.

The journey was wearing but tolerable. A 10pm Eurotunnel crossing meant driving through the night on easy roads. The new Led Zeppelin CD VERY loud in my headphones meant the family slept and I drove the quiet autoroutes focused and entertained. The sun rose as we neared Lake Annecy and the final miles were pretty mind blowing (especially for someone who grew up on watching Stephen Roche!)

The resort, accommodation, weather and tuition were just perfect.  Watching the girls learning to ski was much more simple than predicted – young people just learn without having to consciously do so.  It’s fair to say that Lily was apprehensive about being a beginner at the age of ten when so many more experienced 4 year olds flow about our ankles on the first day, but after one lesson she was snow-ploughing and turning like she’d been at it for ages.  Elsie was just a classic 4 year old on skis. You don’t need to teach her how to turn  you just say ‘follow me’ and she can.  It’s all quite  surreal how it seems to be ‘in us’.

The girls had lessons and the ESF instructors (Vlad and Daniel) were just lovely.  They nurtured and encouraged the girls so well and made us feel very secure.  By the last day we were all skiing together pretty unhindered.  When things got too steep, Elsie held on to my ski poles at my side and we pottered down pretty much anything.

The apartments were great and we had a swimming pool – meaning a lovely relax and play after a day on the slopes. We paid a bit more than we’d have normally done for such luxury but it was a welcome distraction for tired little bodies.

Media

There’s some photos here and a video here – and embedded below

Cyclocross: All of the faff

It’s the National Championships at the weekend, and time to reflect as the season approaches its finale.

Cyclocross is a strange sport. It breeds and harbours obsessives. For a discipline that involves belting around muddy fields, there is an inordinate amount of fine-tuning, preparation and finesse… from the meticulously exact tyre pressures for the conditions in the correct tubulars with the correct tread, to the perfecting of the right line on the course recce at 8am in -2°C. The right clothes, the right food, just enough sleep, the right warm-up… the training, the bike fettling, and even the Dirt Bags to make sure we clean off properly after a play in the mud.

This short road movie is about all of the faff of cyclocross for team mate Alan Dorrington and I as we covered the northern half of England in the final three rounds of British Cycling’s National Trophy series.

Yeah, we raced, too. But that was just for a few minutes every fortnight.

On riding abroad (personal cyclist thoughts on a family Mediterranean holiday)

I need to qualify all this first … It’s about squeezing a bit of cycling into a family holiday for someone keen to be fit. Its not about trying to plan a cycling holiday or trip. The following includes references to on- and off-road cycling but this is all just done on the one bike and two sets of tyres I calculated the best to take with me… A cyclocross bike with road and off road tyres.  Covering both bases. (or so I thought) Continue reading “On riding abroad (personal cyclist thoughts on a family Mediterranean holiday)”

Singletrack Weekender – all rounded fun

I officially proved to myself at the weekend that I’m jack of all trades and master of none at the Singletrack Weekender this Saturday and Sunday. One of those ‘special’ events in the annual cycling calendar for the last four years, I’ve only just managed to actually ride it.

Shimano Classic Weekender  128The weekend comprises of a ‘classic’ trials (5 sections, 2 optional) and a downhill on the Saturday, then a cross country race on Sunday based on how many time penalties you’ve earned yourself on the two Saturday events. In my case, six minutes of penalties were too much for me to make any final impact on the short cross country race on Sunday, but we all had a heck of a laugh throughout the weekend and it comes highly recommended for anyone who rides a mountain bike. Big fun.

Some Photos I took here on Flickr: Saturday | Sunday and a video below from Saturday’s trial and downhill

Shimano Singletrack Classic Weekends 2012 (Day 1) from Dave Haygarth on Vimeo.

Mum’s birthday

Popped up to have some lunch with mum on Sunday – for her 71st birthday today. Lovely but brief visit. Went out to Kitridding Farm for some smashing lunch and then went for a play on the new play equipment in Kirkby Lonsdale. I made a short film too – was in the mood.

I had a fit.

Retul Bike Fitting

I’m 42 and had my first fit yesterday. You might think it’s young to have your first fit. For me, it’s about 26 years later than it ought to have been.

With a mix of health problems cropping up over the last year or so from bad backs to kidney stones to even more bad backs, I took it on myself to see a Chinese Physiotherapist recommended by Alan (crossjunkie). The experience was quite enlightening (aside from the fact that she told me I had a very very weak kidney pulse – prophetic, to say the least, a few days before my diagnosis). One of the major things that Leslie (she herself isn’t Chinese… but the practice is!) mentioned was assumption that I had my bike all fitting me well and I’d been measured up, etc. Time to fess up… I hadn’t. Ever. Been fitted for a bike. Ever.

Time to call Brant.

I’d seen a promotional video about Planet X’s Retul fitting service and decided the time had come for me to arrange a session… ‘just in case’ anything I’d been doing for the last 25 years or so was a bit wrong.

I had indeed been doing things a bit wrong. Well… a bit more than a bit actually.

I called my bike sugar daddy Brant to see if I could book a fitting.

Planet X ShopI’d just taken delivery of a very very handsome Planet X N2A bike so with the brand new bike only a couple of rides old I headed down to Rotherham. Aside from the fitting itself, this whole things was a real treat. Kid in a sweet factory. You get the picture. This is a big shop and a bigger warehouse. Mmmmmmm! The fact that I’ve been riding for Planet X for six months or so but never made the time to get down to their place was playing on my mind, so the fitting made the perfect opportunity.

Last Fit

I was greeted by Chris Last – Planet X’s soigneur and an experienced cyclist who took me through the Retul process amidst a mass of fairly untamed cycling chit chat from both our mouthes. Chris’ experience of local riders over the last few years overlapped a bit of my time in Sheffield in the early 90s and it was great to chat away whilst simultaneously finding out my bike was pretty hilariously adjusted.  Watching a stick man of myself on the screen, live, is a strange enough experience, but watching a cramped up one made it very plain to my eyes that something wasn’t really right.  Through an hour or so of careful adjustment, bit by bit, we corrected all those bad angles, until everything fell within the right tolerances.   New bike or no new bike, I had been riding a saddle that was 35mm too low and it seems I had been for quite some time.  Talk about having a fit.  Shocking, mildly embarrassing (but I’m bigger than that and I can take it), and all in all a bit of a revelation.

So… one day later, I gave the bike a really good kicking yesterday for 90 mins and over a couple of big climbs in a bloody headwind and crappy drizzle. All held up really well and if I could summarize the change I’d say that I feel like I’m getting the sort of power down that I would have done in the past by standing up. Makes sense really.

What a tit

So once you’ve all stopped laughing at my “discovery”, spare a thought for how this bodes for someone who has suffered from lower back pain. Watch out… here I come.  The final word goes to a certain person I know who commented:  “It’s a bit like when I went to get myself properly measured for a bra in my mid 30s.  I’d been wearing a 36C – then I found out I was actually a 32F”.   The minor details count, but the big details count more.

Video below of the experience and if you like my soundtrack you can hear it in full here

Four Play

“Eeeeehh they all grow up too fast don’t they?”, etc. etc.

Elsie turned four yesterday, much to our amazement and mild mourning of an era in our house starting to end.  She’s our littlest one and she’s pretty much out of pre-school-dom now, and it’s exciting and fun but does make one feel ever so slightly melancholy.

But come what may it’s an achievement worth celebrating. There are many occasions in the last few years when I’d thought she could never get to the age of four without some period in prison.  🙂

She’s certainly living life to the full and making every minute count – a lesson to us all. Happy Birthday, Elsie.

We opted for a smallish get together with a few friends rather than the full troupe from nursery, and were gifted the kind of weather you can only dream of for a party.

I made a film (below or here) – with help from the lovely version of Summertime by Jim Hall and Pat Metheney – and took a few photos here on Flickr.

Happy days.