Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Arse - Nemesis.

What a peculiar post title eh?

Well it is you see. My arse has stopped me getting out running. The preceding week's Sunday long run ended up with some discomfort in my tail.

Sadly Monday and the discomfort had turned into a stab which manifested its self everytime I put my left foot somewhere.

So really we can now say left arse, and somewhere deep too.

Anyways, sensibly (don't be shocked) I took a couple of days off running and took it easy.

Friday, still not much improvement, some pain, even when walking, but my physio pal tells me another week off and I should be back to running.

So I miss the Famous Grouse race on Sunday, and take some pictures instead.

I've managed a few bike rides, but todays 2 hour bash about in the snow drifts, has made me realise that this too is maybe doing more harm than good.

So I guess that's it for a while with running.

Physio again on Friday.


PS. Some good news, I got the tests back from the Docs today, and apparently, am not going to die of kidney, liver or lung related ailments soon. Though my cholestrol levels leave a bit to be desired.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Mixed Week.

Monday a pleasant steady 5 miles.

A niggling pain in my chest forced me to the doctors on Tuesday. The Doctor was so not impressed with my peak flow reading, that I then had to have lots of blood tests and a visit to the hospital for a chest X-ray.

Not a clue what, if anything is up, but it certainly put me of my stroke for the first part of the week, though I did manage a couple of short sorties. WTF does it take 10-14 days for a digital X-ray to get back to my doctor? Anyways, as I write this it doesn't hurt anymore, so we'll forget all about that unless we hear otherwise.

Thursday I did 10 miles. I slipped and heard my shoulder pop as I tried to slow my progress to the ground. Sore.

Friday, mileage deficit and a shoulder that hurts like hell. 0 miles.

Saturday, a good day. Did fairly well in our club handicap. Pleased that I was able to stay with some of the qiucker runners, at least for a while. Felt fairly strong.

Sunday, a long run over to Edale and back. Felt pretty rubbish all the way round, still ~20 miles not feeling good for the mind, is probably better than a 20 that feels easy.

A bit light on the hills this week, but in spite of the crap start to the week I still ran 40 miles which is where I wanted to be at the end of it.

The plan is for more miles and hills next week.
We'll see eh?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The First Bob Graham Recce.

A definite change in the weather this week, which required some adjustments, mostly mental.

Monday, I'd planned to do some hill reps, but in the end I couldn't persuade myself out into the continual freezing wind blown rain (snow higher up). The half of me that said another rest day was OK won over the one that said I was being lazy and ought to get my arse in gear.

Anyways Tuesday I got out. A steady run out to the foot of Mount Famine. The first ascent and descent I did was up the steepest route possible, which in theory was a good idea, in practice I kept on slipping on the steep tussocks, which may be in part that the Walshes I was wearing have little tread left on them. So once at the bottom I headed up the valley a little towards Dimpus Clough. The climbout of which gave an average gradient of 10% less to the summit. Still 450 feet in 0.4 of a mile (green line on the pic).

Only a short run but I made it out of the house. Also glad to have found a nice line for future reps.

Wednesday when not working, spent eyeing the weather forecast and packing lots of warm clothes for Thursday. More than a moment spent hoping I could keep up with the guys whom I was going to be running with. The forecast of blizzards and 100mph gusts not the weather to be travelling slowly in.

5:19 on Thursday morning I leave the warmth of my bed, and by 6am we're in the car and on our way to the Lakes. Driving is interesting with the heavy rain and winds. My wife informs me I am mental for even considering going for a run in this weather. She is probably right.

I get to the Moot Hall in good time, and by 9:06 we (Bill, Jim and Dave) are off. It soon becomes apparent that I am the one everyone else will be waiting for today. Rather than cane myself to keep up which would hae resulted in implosion, I settle for my pace.

Once above the Skiddaw car park, the wind makes its presence known. It seems the weather forecasters got it right. At the top of Skiddaw, forget running along the ridge, I struggle to stay on my feet.

Thankfully as we descend towards Hare Crag the wind doesn't come with us. There's good visibilty, and route finding is easy, but Bill kindly explains how to find the trod when the clag is down. On to Great Calva and then down to the River Caldew. Bill goes on his own with the water up to his thighs. The rest of us find somewhere slightly less deep and together form a group wedge, and shuffle our way gingerly across. That water was cold.
A steady plod up to Blencathra was spent chatting to Jim about his forthcoming winter round.
At the top we check out the various options for descent, opting for the Doddick Fell route.
The wind nearly had me over a couple of times on the way down, still by the time we get to Threlkeld we were only 15 minutes behind schedule, which considering the weather was OK.

Over the A66 and on to Clough Head. Rain, hail, and wind did not detract from what is a fierce climb. Head down, plod plod plod. With a bit of interest kicking steps in snow to make the summit ridge.

Once at the summit the wind was really doing its thing again. We shold have been able to run from the top, but instead had to make do with staggering at an angle to the oncoming wind to the col. Wild.

Decision time 3pm iirc. A couple more hours of daylight left. Carrying on was an option, though we decide to do the sensible thing. I've been on Helvellyn on less windy days and been blown over, and have heard of others who've been permanently blown away.

So after Calfhow Pike we traverse the hillside to Castle Rock and then down to the A591. A mile or so on the road and onto the King's Head at Thirlspot. 20 miles, 7000' and 2 pints of Hobgoblin.

Ann kindly drove back whilst I slumbered. Once home I ate, and then I ate some more. I'd eaten during the day, but obviously not enough.

Friday a day of rest. I was knackered after Thursday's efforts.

Saturday. My 45th Birthday.
Glorious weather. 8 steady miles briefly visiting the Kinder plateau, still feeling Thursday's day out.

Sunday feeling better a much faster run than usual over 8 miles.

So in spite of a shaky start not a bad week. 42 miles, and well over 12,000 feet of hills. Thursday was fun, and informative as to the actual route, though I think I'll forego epic weather days when checking the route in future. I'll certainly not be embarking on the Bob Graham round in such weather.

I'll probably leave recces up there until spring now. Lots of good stuff to do nearer to home.
Having said that I will be heading up to the Lakes in December for the Tour de Helvellyn which will be a good long day out.

I shall try and resist the temptation to ramp up the mileage and hills much for the next couple of weeks. Consolidation first me thinks.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Round Kinder.

42 miles run and 8600' of hills this week.

Tuesday and Wednesday were relatively short runs.

Thursday's original plan was to drive over to the A628 and to run North to Black Hill, but Lisa's car was grumbling so we opted instead to run from the village round the Kinder plateau.

From hers over Matley Moor, and on to Mill Hill we go. We couldn't see much from there, but as long as we kept a void to our left all was good. In fact we didn't even bother to take the map out. We tried to run the lot though the peat groughs did their best to slow us down. I used my Trail Blazer walking poles for the first time and they helped progress. Lisa referred to them disparagingly with a phrase featuring the words "old man".

Approaching Blackden Brook, I checked over my shoulder and Lisa had disappeared. Odd but no doubt she'd taken a slighty different line through the peat hags, so I carried on. A moment later I checked back again, and still I couldn't see her. I stopped and scanned the area methodically. Nowt.

I legged it back the way I came and soon find her lying motionless on the floor. Interrogation quickly reveals that she has gone over on her ankle big time. I make her see if she can move her foot, and she can, so I know if we're not going to call Mountain rescue, that she better get back on her feet straight away. I give her my "old man" sticks and tell her to head down to the Brook whilst I work out our escape route.

Excellent, we are about as far as we can be from Hayfield, in fact about as far away as we can be from anywhere of note. Edale is around 3 crow miles away, so I take a bearing and we make our way across the plateau, and then down to Edale.

We check the train times at the Station and find that though it is 1:30 the next train won't get us over our side of the hill until 4pm. Public transport eh?

A quick ring round a few friends and we solicit a lift back to Hayfield just in time to get the kids from school. (Thanks Debs)

Lisa reports she has a blue tennis ball on her ankle (last seen yesterday with her own walking stick). :) Not so funny is that it'll be a while until her ankle is better.

Even though we'd only done ~13miles that day, on Friday my legs were sore, so I had the day off.

Saturday I needed a big run to get the miles up. So again, though this time alone I headed for the Kinder Plateau. This time mindful of what can happen in remote places I instruct Ann of route and times in case things go wrong.

A contrast to Thursday, Saturday is a still sunny day. I make good progress and feel strong most of the way round. Though the bogs were getting tiresome towards the end. I should have got up a bit earlier so I didn't have to finish in the dark, but otherwise a top day out. 19 miles and 3700'

Looking forward to heading up to the Lakes on Thursday for my first Bob Graham recce of legs 1 and 2.

Monday, November 1, 2010

BG training week 1.

I think it's more or less a week since I decide it was game on, so, if only to poke my self in to action, every now and then, I'll put some facts up here and observations on them, to keep me motivated.

Conventional wisdom says build up slowly ie increase total mileage by 10% a week. So as I did 22 miles last week on my recent return to running, it was only right that I did loads more this week.


I enjoy pushing myself, and I know that the BG is going to be a push. So a harder week to evaluate my weaknesses was in order.

7000' of hills this week and 38 miles.

I could have done more - Good. The running thing was OK, slow but I can do that for a few hours already. 3 1/2 hours my longest outing this week.

Bad- my shonky knees. My knees pain me on the bike, walking with a sack, and running. Bleugh.

So my knees are definitely going to be my weakness, especially descending. So I've done two things, one started some quad exercises and also ordered some Mountain King Trail Blazer Poles.

For sure that if my upper body can assist me in getting round via some stick things then I'm up for that. Plus i've seen some people fast descending using them, so if I get on with them and can master the technique.... well we'll see.

I've had a day off today.

Back to it tomorrow, and loving the shitty weather and darkness, which is somewhat odd for me at this time of the year.

Pictures to be resumed soon, my memory card for my GF1 fell to pieces the other day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What would Bob Graham do?

I had a plan for next year which involved my return to 24 hour mountain bike racing. I've always liked competing solo and endurance is the only high card I will ever hold.

24 hour bike racing, I like it but the same old courses no longer hold a real appeal.

Thursday: We go and reccy a fell running race with navigation. 2-3hrs. Rain, mist, concentration and pain from trying to make swift progress. I haven't run for ages, I tried hard.
So contented from the sortie, that I run another 4 miles that evening with my fell running club (who I've drank far more beers, than I've ever run miles with).
I hobbled for a couple of days after.

Sunday: Race day, (I'd reccied checkpoints #2 and #3 on Thursday).
I find #1 easily, who knows what possesed me next. I traverse far too high, I completely miss #2 and #3.

I can see nothing, it is pissing with rain, my navigation is obviously not A1, and I am slow. I remember 30yrs ago atop Rossett Gill crying in similar circumstances, and it bringing me no more salvation than it would today.

OK time for home? Nah, I have cheese scones I made yesterday and jellybabies.

On to #4 then #5. Down now to #2 and #3, then back up to #6. So much time lost. Rain, wind, bog, cold, thirsty.

#7 and #8 were easy, and the weather calmed a bit. #9 would have been easy to find for a navigator, maybe, I was crap it took me ages to work out where I was.

Anyways ~4 hours on my own getting lost, falling over, and eventually finding the checkpoints. The penultimate finisher. Tired but not too much considering the night of beer and dancing the night before. Probably 12 miles and 3500' .

And I have run twice since. Forsaking my bike. What's occurring?

Right, I'm crap at fast running, and I haven't run regularly for years, and would like to tell you how I did wonderous things back in the day, but the reality is I've mostly been a smoking, beer drinking type who fits exercise in amongst partying.

So without more ado I'll announce I'm going to do the Bob Graham Round next year.

62 ish miles and 27,000' of ascent and descent. Hills I know well, hills I've not visited for a long time and some I've never visited.

Loads of training to do, (27 miles and 8000' this week). Looking forward to trips to the lakes with like minded peeps to reccy it all.

It's going to be scary, it's going to be painful, I'll learn to read a map properly, but for sure it's going to be more fun than training for, and riding round a muddy field for 24 hours.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sometimes Takes Pictures Instead.

Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross 2010-1

Last year I rode the Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross, this year I didn't.

I've avoided racing this year, my race mojo was not with me.

Though I've just remembered I competed in the Summer Polaris with my friend Lisa and we won 3rd mixed vet. OK, so I've not ridden many races.

As usual in the couple of weeks before entries open for the 3 peaks I get reminders of the entry date, so I can't say I missed the cut off for entering. However I decided that though of course I could get round, that I wouldn't be able to improve on my PB, so instead it was better to let someone else who'd challenge themself, have my place.

This was not my only reason though. I really fancied covering this race with my camera. With the bonus that someone was paying me to do so.

Like riding in the race, I knew some proper preparation would be needed. The first thing I did was to look and see where those who had gone before had shot their pictures from. From this I learned that there were lots of pictures out there, and that there were some good shots taken from the majority of easily accesible places. Hmm.

So with my race knowledge I can think of a few places which might be good spots which don't seem to have been covered. Only thing is they're nowhere near each other. Hmm again.

Next how to get about? I could ride a bike on some bits, but along with my cameras, lenses etc on my back, I'd be too slow on the steep bits, and anyway I'd never keep up with the action.

So after much gazing at the map I decided on a route along with some useful tips from 3 peaks guru Dave, though more of that in a bit.

Now I'd decided on where I was shooting, I had to work out what shots I was planning on doing, where the light would be, and ergo what stuff I'd need to achieve that.

Most of my sport photographic work recently has been the sort where if the shot isn't spot on, I can give the shot another go ("can you ride that again please"). In a race situation this isn't an option. So I spent a couple of hours working out some custom camera and corresponding flash settings.

I knew there would be no time for faffing.

So race day, somewhat fuzzy after an evening spent with multiple former race winner Fred Salmon and friends in the Helwith Bridge Inn, we drive to the turn off for Simon Fell and I set off up Simon Fell.

I've got fell shoes on my feet - good. A rucksack weighing 10kg on my back - bad.

For those who don't know Simon Fell is steep, for those who do know and have carried a bike up there, it didn't feel that much easier not carrying one. Anyways, I didn't need to race up there I'd got a 30 minute start on the peloton from Helwith Bridge. Once I'd made it to Rawnsleys Leap I set up my stuff, and 10 minutes later Rob Jebb arrived and I took my first shot. A few more clicks of the shutter, resisting the temptation to stay there longer and I legged it.

Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross 2010-7

Onwards towards Ingleborough summit in a jogging style, stopping occasionally to grab a few more shots. So far so good.

Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross 2010-18

From the summit I retraced my steps and took the footpath down to the Hill Inn. This seemed weird, I was supposed to be taking pictures of a race, and yet I couldn't see any cyclists. Running as fast as my unfit legs can take me, I soon see some riders on the road. I was thankful that I hadn't missed them all. Once with the riders again, a few more shots, and on to the feed station at the bottom of Whernside.

Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross 2010-29

More pictures bagged and I have a route choice decision to make. Original planning had suggested that heading up Whernside was a good idea, my schedule now some way down suggested it wasn't.

So again I leave the race course and traverse the base of Whernside to the Ribblehead viaduct, running though my legs were starting to ache. 'Twas a good plan I've got back some time relative to the riders. More photography, and we jump into the car (Ann is driving) and over to Horton in Ribblesdale.

Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross 2010-35

Gridlock. We aint going nowhere. So back out of the car to capture a few more riders before the car horn going 'beep' signals that Ann's made the junction.

Sandwich and Coke downed, I'm hanging out of the car window to get a few more shots. Never tried that before. Fun.

Next destination Horton Scar Lane, it's a popular spot always with race spectators, and on Sunday no less so. There's a great atmosphere as the fast riders descend the hill and the slower fight their way up. Some great pictures of grafting riders faces.

Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross 2010-45

Not long spent there and finally it was time to return to Helwith Bridge to capture the aftermath, and of course to catch up with friends.

A fun day out on the Three Peaks. To race or not next year, we'll see.

There's a slideshow of a few of the pictures on flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishcyclingphotos/sets/72157625043763522/show/

All the rest can be found here.

Postcript, my legs still ache after all that running.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Can I Come Riding With You?

Four months since I posted anything, I have been out on my bike, but have been either too busy or lazy to write anything on here.

Anyway today I'm going to write about my riding partner for most of the summer.

He's not been riding long, probably just over a year since he first threw his leg over the bike and made a few pedal revolutions, before the bike threw him off. A few tears were shed, he picked himself and the bike up and tried again. Never once throwing in the towel. Frustrating those early days, though perseverance quickly paid off. Soon we were riding a few slow miles, but eventually made it as far as the next metropolis (New Mills).

Need For Speed

Anyway at the beginning of the summer hols he decided he wanted to go and do some "proper" riding. So along with his 3 year the elder sister we went on a 12 mile loop, which is steady away in terms of technical ability, mostly towpath type surface, but like most rides round here takes in some steep hills. He rode 90% of it no problem, and pushed his bike up the rest. One of our running/riding friends with similar aged kids, described the ride as child cruelty. :)
Back at home he was buzzing, and asking what was next.

"OK, let's go and do some proper mountain biking" I say, and he says "cool".

A steady ride down the Sett Valley trail, then up Sitch Lane (steep), left up past Barking Dog Farm and we're into off road proper, loose and rocky and he just rides on. A couple of pushed bits, but importantly he gets down the loose rocky descents, with only a couple of crashes. Oh, he does crash and cry, but after we check for major blood loss and breakages, he always gets straight up, and gets back on the bike. Next we skirt Lantern Pike, and he modulates those brakes down the loose sketchy descent no problem. Wow. Back down the road and then to home. Not a long ride, but plenty of technical challenges especially if you consider those little 20" wheels.

Later that evening "When are we going out next"?

The Tissington Trail is a disused railway line that runs from near Buxton, down to Ashbourne. More or less flat, and 17 miles in length. I reckoned the kids would have no problem riding down to Ashbourne, and as a long shot, would even make it back. Transport home was arranged in case of sense of humour failure en route.

We parked the car near the start at bang on midday, and South we rode.
An early cafe stop at Parsley Hey, and then jelly babies fuelled the other 15 miles to Ashbourne.
In the cafe they asked if the kids wanted kids portions of beans toast and chips. Err no thanks, they'll eat the adult portions, and they did.

So I asked if they wanted to ride back, and they said yes. Slow now, especially on the slight hills, but amazingly my lad was having little trouble keeping up with his sister. At 8pm as we pulled up to the car my phone rang. My wife wanted to know where we wanted rescuing from. Tom shouted "we don't need rescuing, we're on the way home".

That evening at 9:30 Tom, sat like Buddha in front of the TV, obviously tired, he asked with enthusiasm in his voice "Are we going riding tomorrow"? Me, "No, I need a rest day".

The week after we went to the Lakes. A couple of 10-15 mile rides, and 3 back to back loops of the Whinlatter blue route. Very little pushing now, the boy is getting strong, if I can ride it sat down in granny ring and 3rd sprocket, he can grunt up it no problem.

He did wipe out quite spectacularly on one corner at Whinlatter resulting in a big scratch on his face. Everytime someone asked how he'd got it, and lots did, he said it was a scratch he'd got in a sword fight.

This weekend he came out on his first grown up group ride, from Hope up the Roman road, on to Hope Cross down, Jaggers and on to Edale, there we opted for the cafe and a train ride to New Mills before bombing back down the trail to home, as the others continued up some more big hills.

Out again the day after, rode all the way up Highgate Road without stopping, every weekend I see adults pushing up there, and then a couple of hours of offroad splashing through every puddle possible, which seems to be one of his favourite bits.

All that riding has taken some toll on his bike, so we spent a rainy day this week fixing up his bike this week. Swapping out some heavy junk (500gm handlebars anyone?), and adding some better stuff UN72 BB and an XT front mech to stop the chain jumping off.

The Fettler

He really likes the whole thing, and even scary jumps and stuff. I hope he doesn't break me when he's older.


If the weather is reasonable at half term, we will be somewhere on the Coast to coast, shame there's not time to fit it in before the end of this summer's holidays, and most likely LeJog next summer.

Anyways I've had a fantastic summer's riding, and I think Tom has too.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Peregrine Perambulations.

Singular  Peregrine on the PBW

Courtesy of STW classifieds, I find myself the owner of a Singular Peregrine frame and fork which was the plan B tourer choice after the Fargo. Mostly built with stuff I had already, though I did shell out for some Titec H-Bars which looked like they'd give two or three different hand positions.

It's inaugural trip this weekend was a plan B. The original plan being a family camping trip, though kids having just recovered from a bug and an atrocious weather forecast meant that the night before the depart, I was planning something a bit more challenging, as they'd elected to stay at home.

So thirty minutes with tracklogs mapping, and the original twenty six mile two dayer has been extended to nearer one hundred miles, with most of it off road.

A not particularly early depart on Good Friday, I headed out into the forecast rain. A couple of minutes from mine, and it's uphill, and so it continues on up to South Head. Thankfully my road cassette coupled with the XT chainset gave me a low enough gear to ride the lot. I thought that I'd most likely have to push up from the Roych, but I gave it a go, and to my surprise got all the way to the top of the cobbles, not a given on a bike without a load. Soon after though, the pushing commenced, which is damn awkward with panniers. At Rushup Edge I checked my watch, and it was clear that this was going to be a long day. The extra weight certainly made my progress slow.

From Rushup and I leave the Dark Peak grit trails that I know well and head into limestone country that I visit rarely. The skinny cyclo-cross tyres slog through the muddy grass well enough, but slither all over when coming into contact with the wet limestone. Still I stay upright mostly with only one unplanned bike dismount all day.

At about 3pm I stopped to brew a cup of tea and eat. The water took that long to boil (as I hadn't turned the stove up full), that I was colder after my warming brew, than when I'd first stopped. Fail. Of course as I was colder, it was no surprise that this was when the rain started really hammering down. The next three hours were pretty miserable really. Slow going because of the muddy bridleways, wet and cold. I was greatful when I got on to the Tissington Trail at Parsley Hay. At last the going was good. Even better I soon came upon an old railway works hut. I got inside, brewed a pot of tea (properly this time) and scoffed some food. I squeezed the water out of my waterproof gloves, and warmed them over the stove for a while. I noted also that my other waterproofs were not. Wet feet and damp clothes, but then I'd been in the rain for eight hours, so wouldn't expect much else. This time the food and drink had done their stuff, and I felt somehat revived. Now of course the rain stopped, and after a short while the sun even made an appearance. I really enjoyed this next section, some ace views, and no one else around. Riding in the big ring more often than not I was soon in Ashbourne. Some cash from the bank, then I backtracked to a campsite near Tissington. I just managed to get my tent up before it went dark. Some nine and a half hours on the bike that day. Supper cooked and eaten, it was time for beer.

Back on the bike I headed to the nearest pub. Friday night 9:30 pm I open the pubs door. Two people at the bar stared at me in a what are you doing here kind of way. I ask "Are you open?", to which they in unison reply "yes". I enter. Next an ear grating screech akin to a smoke alarm needing a new battery, then the same again. opposite the bar there is a cage with a parrot in it. £3.10 later and I have a pint of Black Sheep. Knackered I try and find a comfy seat, instead I settle on a bench seat with a vertical back and a sort of dado rail at it's top which sticks out nicely into my shoulder blades. Ten minutes later and those two people, were again the only two people in the pub.

Back on the bike I head to pub number two. On arrival, I check through the window before entry. Promising, there must have been twenty people in there, some of them are even smiling. Phew. A few beers later and I am in need of sleep.

A most pleasant nights sleep was had in my new "ladies" sleeping bag (1/2 the price of the men's one). In fact such a good nights sleep that I wasn't away until 10:30am next day. An easier day than the previous. For starters it wasn't raining, and for the most part the trails were quick under tyre. A fair bit of (quiet) road too, so 6 hours got me back to Hayfield.

I'm really pleased with the Singular Peregrine's performance. The bar bag and the panniers worked well together, and though obviously handling was different, the bike still handled really well through the rough stuff. Oh and if you are thinking what has he got in all those bags, well the answer is exactly the same amount of stuff less two lenses and a camera that I am taking with me when I go to the Icelandic interior in the summer for a few weeks on a picture taking mission. I'll be swapping the CX tyres for some Marathon XR ones though :)