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



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