Sunday, 31 October 2010

Best Week for a While

I forgot to mention 20 odd miles out to Great Ecc last week,  Cold but sunny and a nice stop at the Courtyard Cafe.

The start of this week was the usual trips to work.  I rode the Pompino for a couple of days, but the lower bar position and lack of gears set my ribs hurting.  Plus I was feeling the effects on the Saturday MTB ride, which was much harder in retrospect than I’d appreciated.  Wednesday I used the Hewitt, much easier.

I’ve been off work since then, as Jayne has half term break.  Thursday we went up to the Lakes with no 2 son to get him a tent for his 18th birthday.  We settled on a MacPac Minaret after getting some very good service and advice from The Epicentre in Ambleside.

I thought I would be on my own for Thirsty Thursday, but Karl called at the last minute and we had our first proper night ride there and back.  The lanes that are so familiar in daylight are suddenly strange and unpredictable.  We came close to overshooting several corners.

Friday was set to be rainy, so it was ‘plumbing day’.  I had several jobs to do, fix a leaky shower, fit an outside tap and replace a washer in the bath to see if that fixed the poor water flow.  First problem – didn’t have a spanner big enough to get the shower valve cover off.  Off to B&Q for a big pipe wrench.  After a bit of swearing and a lot of oomph, the shower was back working.  I thought I’d tackle the ‘easy’ job of the bath washer next.  Second problem – the screw holding the tap top on was stuck fast and I rounded out the head.  I had to drill it out, which took ages.  Once out, the tap gubbins came off easily and I swapped the washer and got it back on quite quickly. Third problem – no water would come out!  After taking it off again, I realised that the mechanism was knackered and would not wind back properly.  So I went back into town to get a new mechanism.  Apparently you can’t buy just the gubbins, you have to get a new pair of tap tops.  Once home, the tap went on easily and water flowed.  Success!  Fourth problem – when I went to turn the hot water supply back on I noticed that the bottom of the airing cupboard was soaking.  The valve to the water heater was leaking and had probably been doing so for a while.  We shut of the heating and water again and called the emergency plumber.  He eventually came and temporarily fixed the problem, but as it was heating, not plumbing could not do a proper job.  It seemed OK, but we left the tray under the valve just in case.  By this time I was fed up of plumbing.

Saturday morning and the tray had water in it, plus there was water dripping from another valve.  We put a call in to the heating engineer, who could come between 12 and 6.  So we went out for a quick 20 miler in the nice sunny weather.  While we were waiting for the heating guy, I fitted the outside tap, not without a little swearing and scuffed knuckles.  The guy eventually came at 4 ish.  Turns out he is the organizer of the local BMX club and a bike fan.  Once he’d replaced four valves and we were waiting for the heating system to refill, I took him to the garage and showed off my bikes.

This morning, Alison, Joe and I headed off to Chipping.  Karl caught up with us at Inglewhite and we got to the Cobbled Corner Cafe quite early, despite the headwind.  The Cafe was in chaos, they’d just had a coachload of walkers leave and a bike club run arrive.  We just ordered coffee and cake otherwise, according to Alison, we would be waiting at least an hour for any hot food.  The wisdom of this advice was soon bourn out by the service to other diners. The ride back was with the wind and much easier.

All in all a pretty good week.

Miles for the week – 119 miles

Mile for the year – 4623 miles



Monday, 25 October 2010

Getting Better

Another short week, but I’m headed in the right direction now.  Monday & Tuesday were lost to work outings.  I rode in Weds to Friday and didn’t hurt too badly.  I’m off the Ibuprofen as well.  No Thirsty Thursday ride, Ian is in California, Karl in Scotland.

Saturday we arranged to go mountain biking.  Something gentle for me and Joe and something not too technical for Simon, as he starts a new job today and didn’t want to bash himself up  for his first day.  We decided to combine two rides and do Cartmel Fells and  Whitbarrow Scar.  In the end there were six of us, me Karl, Alison, Joe, Simon and Tony.  Me, Karl, Simon and Tony were all on P7’s, Simon and Tony on single speeds.

There was a lot of road riding to link up the off road sections, but it was on nice quiet back roads, very unusual in the Lakes.  Lots of climbing though.  The descent from Witherslack Hall was fantastic, just wet and slippy enough to be challenging without being too technical.  I flew down until I came to an enormous dog stood in the middle of the path.  I was the size of a small horse, or at least seemed so as I approached a speed.  Luckily the owner was there and pulled the dog off the trail as the rest came down.  Another long and steep (1 in 4) climb got us up onto Cartmel Fell and another cracking series of downhill double and singletracks.  The last one was a bit tricky with little or no back brake and being a bit timid because of my ribs.  But we made it.  All in all about 25 miles.

Total for the week – 92

Total year to date - 4504

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Another poor week

I’m pretty sure I cracked a rib or two last weekend.  It still hurts to sneeze or cough.  Last week was very hard as I still have a cold.

After the previous weekend’s shenanigans I decided to take it easy riding to work on the Hewitt.  The weather is getting colder but it was largely a fine week.  I rode most days, but got the train home on Thursday as on the same night it was my team’s project celebration meal, my friend Simon’s leaving do and the Sports and Social Committee free beer night.  At the meal several of us were drinking wine and we got through the first bottle quite quickly, so I ordered a second bottle.  Unbeknownst to me, everyone else was driving, so I had most of the second bottle to my self.  I was gone!  A couple of pints with Simon and I was well away.

Saturday was spent at Jayne’s Mum’s.  Sunday we had an easy ride out to Great Ecc.  Neither of us was good, I had my ribs and Jayne was recovering from a cold.  We took it easy, arriving at the cafe at lunchtime.  Soup, cake and tea/coffee later we headed out into a very cold afternoon.  The sun came out just as we got home.

Miles for the week – 86

Miles for year to date – 4412

Still on target for 5000.



Sunday, 10 October 2010

Easy/Hard Week

Its been a fairly easy week mostly.  I’ve got a cold and haven’t been up to riding much.  I rode it Monday to Wednesday, Monday on the Pompino, Tues/Weds on the Hewitt, cos I wasn’t feeling so good.

I was away Thursday and Friday, which was a real shame because we are enjoying a fabulous Indian summer, temps in the high teens and even early 20’s.  I was at VMWare on Friday and had a 260 mile drive home on our wedding anniversary.

Yesterday we had planned an MTB trip.  The original plan was to do the Whinlatter course as Simon is doing this in a Duathlon in a few weeks, but on the day he couldn’t make it.  Instead, we decided to do a long, but not especially technical route out from Keswick, round the back of Blencathra and back up Whitewater Bash and past Skiddaw House.  In the end there was just me, Joe, Karl and Alison.

The weather forecast was good, I only took a short sleeve shirt and a light rain/wind proof.  As we waited for Karl and Alison Skiddaw disappeared into cloud and the temperature dropped a bit.  By the time we got going I was worrying about extra gear.  On the run out to Threlkeld along the railway path, we soon warmed up.  We were in and out of cloud for the rest of the day.  The run up to Blencathra Youth Hostel was wind assisted and not too difficult.  I had a working 22 tooth inner ring so could twiddle up the 1 in 4 climb.  At the top we came upon Paul unloading his bike from his van.  He’d been up the previous day camping in his van and was about to start the same route as us.

Out to Skiddaw House is a great little route, enough up and down and slightly tricky sections to make it interesting but fun and fast.  The really tricky climb had been resurfaced and I shot off up it, only to die as the improved surface gave out.  The others soon passed me, but on the rolling section I caught up again.  The drop down from Skiddaw House to Mosedale and Mungrizedale is a grassy, boggy track interspersed with short rocky sections.  Karl and Paul took off and I chased.  Then I was on the floor, winded and with a big graze on my thigh and a couple of cuts to my knee.  I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I think my front wheel went into a hidden rut and pinged me off.  After that I took it easy for a while, the trail very rutted and boggy in parts.  But I soon got my eye in again and we were flying.  We stopped for lunch at a small clearing, sheltered from the very strong headwind.  After my mishap, Alison was taking things very easily and Paul had to get back, so he headed off on his own.  We followed a while later, whizzing down the gentle valley, the surface a mixture of good gravel track interspersed with occasional jaggedly bed rock sections.  I lead through a section of rocky path which was also a major drainage path, with two or three inches of water.  It was a blast, and I waited at the road junction for the rest.  Eventually Alison appeared, saying Joe had crashed.  In the middle of the wet rock garden section, he had just slid out and crashed down on his right had side.  Even though his elbow pads he had lost a lot of skin on his arm and several bloody spots, his leg was a mess of lost skin.

We carried on climbing back over the low northern fells until we got back to the bottom of Whitewater Dash.  Here we had a choice of either off road over the Dash, Skiddaw House and a fantastic downhill, or on the very scenic road back to Keswick.  We chose the off road route and set off up the valley.  The wind howled down making a hard climb impossible.  It was demoralising, Alison wanted to turn back, but the great descent later urged us on.  We struggled on, it has incredibly hard.  We were met by some guys from the North East who we’d seen earlier in the day.  Once up to the Dash proper, the gradient eased and Skiddaw gave us some respite from the wind, we plodded on up.  The clatter down to the stream was brilliant, Karl tried and failed to cross the stream, Joe and I succeeded.  The Geordie guys didn’t try apart from one on a Ti hard tail, who came a cropper mid stream.  Up the last hill to Skiddaw House got us back into the late evening  sunshine.  From here it is mostly down hill through  some fantastic double and single track.  The final stream crossing felt a bit rough, I had a pinch flat.  After quick tube change we carried on down the final twisty bermed drop into Keswick.  My brakes were really acting up and I took it fairly easily. 

A long ride, 30 miles and 7 hours.  We talked very little on the way home.  My ribs were hurting.  After a bath and a beer I counted two cuts on my left leg, plus serious grazes to my left thigh, and two gashes on my right leg that I didn't even know I’d done.  I thought it was mud at first.  Today my ribs really hurt and my cough has got worse, aggravating the rib pain.  We had an easy day today, cleaning the bikes and doing some easy maintenance.

Total for the week – 71 miles

Total for year to date – 4326



Sunday, 3 October 2010

Wet & Windy

The weather has turned wet and windy.  Typical Autumn weather here, with fronts coming in off the sea.  I rode to work Monday to Wednesday through some horrid weather.  Thursday my boss was up so I had to drive in, it was the nicest day of the week by far.

Friday I had started to go down with a cold, so I drove again.  So very poor road miles this week.

We did get out today and do some mountain biking.  I have finally got the P7 back on the road.  Karl gave me some cranks, but unfortunately they were octalink and the BB he had was too wide.  The local bike shop didn’t have one and reckoned on two weeks to get one in.  I did a quick trawl of the on line shops, Wiggle didn’t have them, Evans were special order £40, SJS were similar, but Chain Reaction had one for £5 including postage.  It arrived Wednesday and was soon fitted.  I had a spin up and down the road yesterday and everything seemed fine.  This morning, the ride out from Staveley was OK then at Ings, we turned up hill and I dropped into the granny ring.  Immediate chain suck, with the chain coming round and jamming in the front mech.  They are old rings, but didn’t seem too worn.  I was wrong.  Under heavy load the granny sucked constantly, the middle caught a bit but was useable.  I was stuck in the middle ring for the rest of the ride.  It was a wet day.  When the path leading to the stream crossing is under deeper water than the stream, you know its wet.  The P7 was great though, climbing was easy, apart from being stuck in middle.  I was pretty please with my fitness as well.  Despite having a cold and no low gears I rode practically everything, just some of the steeper, wetter rocks beating me.  On the downs, I wasn’t as fast as Ian (on his new Ibis Mojo SL) or Mark, but kept up with Joe and Karl OK.

We were filthy when we finished.  We hosed the bikes and ourselves down at Wheelbase, then I went in for a shower.  I still need a bath!

Miles for the week – 57

Total for the year – 4255