Monday, 23 May 2011

Scotland Trip

Karl and Alison have a place in Moniaive in Scotland.  Its about 150 miles from here by the most direct route.  We decided to cycle up there.  The plan was to ride to Alison’s Mum’s in Arnside on Thursday afternoon, Arnside to Penrith on Friday, to Moniaive on Saturday and then to Lockerbie to get a train home.  Then Karl and I both had to work till five on Thursday so we decided that he would drive up and drop me on the way so I could ride a bit of the route.

I packed on Tuesday which was fortunate because I spent two hours on Wednesday night bailing out the scout hut where the main water supply had burst off the stopcock.  We bailed about 700 gallons of water.

Karl picked me up on Thursday and drove me up to Milnethorpe.  I rode the 5 or so miles along the estuary to Arnside.

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Friday dawned wet and windy.  The wind fortunately was a tail wind and the rain not too heavy.  Karl had planned a route on quiet roads through Milnethorpe, bypassing Kendal, then up over Shap and down into Penrith.  We were soon out on the back lanes.

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Alison’s chain came off.

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We stopped by this…

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The weather cleared a bit, but it wasn’t great.  The scenery was stunning though and we rode all the way to the bottom of the Shap climb on roads like this.

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The climb up Shap was made easier by the howling tail wind but it was still a long slog up to 1350 feet.

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The rain started again on the way back down.  The stopped in Shap village for something to eat and a warm drink, then off again to skirt round the Lake District fells.  Haweswater is the easternmost lake.

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Round the edge of the Lowther estate…

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And into Penrith for 46 hilly miles.

The forecast for Saturday was heavy rain and windy.  The wind was there, but the rain stayed off til the afternoon. We headed out of Penrith heading first for Carlisle.  It was mostly flat or down hill into Carlisle.  We got a bit turned around in Carlisle but eventually got back out to quiet lanes at Rockcliffe.

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We crossed into Scotland at Gretna, which is famous for people eloping there to get married under Scottish law.

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We stopped to get supplies, thinking we still had 70 miles to go to Moniaive.  At the rate we were going it would be a late finish.  The next section was down tghe coast of the Solway Firth heading to Dumfries.  It was more into the wind than we had been up til now and the wind was really whipping in off the sea.  We ate our butties sheltering in an old churchyard.

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After lunch the rain started.  And didn’t stop all the rest of the ride.  Fortunately Karl had mis-programed his Garmin and included a number of little circular loops when he’d tried to move off the main roads.  That meant we had much less distance to go.  We stopped in Dumfries for makings for tea and set off cold and wet for the last 20 miles.  We eventually rolled into Moniaive just before six having done 80 miles for the day.  After a quick shower and turning the heating up to max, I made chicken dijonaise for tea.

Next morning was bright and sunny.  This is the view from the garden…

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By the time we were ready to set off the rain had returned

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Miraculously the wind had turned and was still a tailwind despite us now running 90 degrees to the previous day.

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We got to Lockerbie in plenty of time to catch the train back.  The original plan had been to go to Preston and ride home from there, but Karl had left his car at Arnside, so we got off at Oxenholme.  The sun was shining and the wind had dropped, but it wasn’t to last.  We were soon being lashed by stinging rain.  The final drop into Arnside was  back along the narrow hedge lined lanes.

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You can see the road steaming. 

We eventually got back to the car after about 45 miles.  It was a fantastic trip despite the weather.

Total miles for the trip was about 170.

Miles for the week 208

Year to date 2190.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Very Poor Riding Week

I’ve done very little this week.  On the plus side I’ve still got a job.  I had to go down to Bristol Tuesday/Wednesday.  I did go for a run for the first time in ages while I was there, but it isn’t riding miles.

This weekend was forecast sunshine and showers.  We were looking after Simon’s dog while Simon and family went to Harlech to do the triathlon.  We decided to rebuild the shed.  The shed started life as a 8’ x 10’ potting shed 15 years ago.  Since then it has been dismantled, moved, cut down, rebuilt and moved again several times.  A few weeks ago we got another 8’ x 10’ shed through freecycle.  It wasn't in great shape but gave us enough wood to rebuild several sheds.


After dismantling the old shed, we started on the rebuild.  The idea was to cut two more feet from the width and get rid of any rotten bits, replacing them with stuff from the donor shed.


By close of play Saturday I had the base and two sides done.

Sunday was very wet, but we needed to crack on to get stuff under cover.  So we worked through the rain.


Eventually it was done


I was knackered.  My thighs and hamstrings were killing me.  I could barely walk on Monday.  I’m slowly getting back to normal.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Home Again

we got back from the Isle of Man on Monday completely knackered.  We’d done fewer miles than last year but it seemed much harder, probably due to the phenomenal wind.

Tuesday Jayne and I went for a short 24 mile spin, very slow and easy.  The wind was still strong, but we could coast down the slight drop from Roseacre that we had to pedal hard down the day before.  Usually the tandem will coast down at 20-25mph.  Shown how strong the wind was.

Wednesday and Friday were normal ride to work days.  Thursday we found out if we still have jobs, fortunately I still do.

We’ve had a fairly lazy weekend, I felt I needed a weekend off, so nothing yesterday and just 10 or so miles today.

Total for the week – 104 (including 40 from Monday I recorded last posting)


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Isle of Man

After killing Jayne on the Sunday, I killed myself on Monday.  Ian asked if I fancied a spin, he wasn’t feeling too good and didn’t want to do any big hills.  I decided to take my recently rebuilt Ribble.  I’m glad I did – 52 miles in three hours, big ring all the way out to CafĂ© de Lune, Scorton and back.  I was knackered.

Our 2nd annual trip to the Isle of Man was planned for Friday and Nic and Elizabeth had expressed a desire to ride out with Jayne and I earlier than the rest, to meet them at or on the way to Conder Green.  I rang Nic Thursday morning to confirm details and he said he was off in the afternoon did we fancy a ride. After a bit of humming and hawing, Jayne said yes and we headed of for a windy 25 miles out to St Anne’s, via the deli for some chorizo that they were cooking Friday night, and on to the Villa for a quick pint.

Friday morning we set out later than planned, Jayne and I on the tandem, Nic carrying most of Elizabeth’s gear and Elizabeth on her ancient but reliable Austrian MTB.

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We were caught up by the rest at Little Eccleston and headed out into the increasingly strong wind to the cafe.  Unfortunately it was closed til 12 for the Royal Wedding.  Then the proprietor came out and said she’d be open in 10 mins, so we waited.  And waited. IOM2011 007

Eventually we decided we should press on to the ferry just in case.  We stopped in Lancaster to grab comestibles then on to Heysham.  Once again first passengers on.  It was interesting and amusing to watch the ferry crew loading new cars destined for Isle of Man garages.  They flew on, not sure if I would ever buy a car over there after watching them.

The ferry crossing was the usual 4 hours of beer, food and boredom.IOM2011 008

Eventually, we got to the house on the island at about 7 and Nic and Elizabeth cooked up a fantastic Spanish dish of peppers tomatoes chorizo and poached eggs.  Washed down with plenty of wine, we were setup for day two of our trip.

Saturday dawned with clear blue skies, warm sun and 40mph winds.  It set the tone for the weekend.  We headed of on a circuitous route to Peel.  On the first steep climb, Jemima was dropped.  When she finally got to the top it was to heap abuse on her husband.  She couldn’t change into her small chainring.  After some joint faffing, we realised that the extra bottle cage Graham had fitted for the trip was stopping the front mech from moving far enough.  Removing it, we discovered another botch of Graham’s.  While fitting the bottle cage, he had cross threaded the bolt, breaking the boss and making it turn freely in the seat tube.  His only recourse had been to saw off the bolt head and secure the cage with glue!

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After that, we had a fairly easy drop down into Peel.  This is a small picturesque town with a large castle guarding the harbour.IOM2011 015

It was exceptionally windy, the tandem was blown over.  Some of us had fish and chips, others had locally caught and smoked mackerel sandwiches.  We also met up with a couple from Frodsham on Hewitt’s like Karl’s.  They recommended that we go to Niarbyl as it was quite pretty. 

They weren’t wrong.  It was at the end of a very steep hill though.

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You could just make out the coast of Ireland.  honest its in this picture.

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It was a slog back up to the main road.  And straight into the wind.  On the map there looked like a short cut, but it was not marked as a proper road and we weren’t sure we’d get through.  At the start of the road it was marked as a dead end, but there was a parking and picnic sign as well.  We gave it a try.  At first it was a narrow road into a steep sided valley, then it became a path, then singletrack and we started to worry.  However, after a mile or so it turned back to a narrow, roughly tarmacked road through the trees.  It was very pretty and sheltered from the wind.

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Soon though, it climbed back out if the head of the valley and into the full strength of the wind.  It was very hard work to get to the old lead mines at the top.

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From here we retraced our steps from the morning, only to be confronted by a closed road.  There was a junior cycle race on and the detour would take us miles out of our way.  We waited.  Ian began to fret over cooking the evenings meal, a moussaka.  Eventually the road was opened and we headed home.  It was a gruelling battle into the wind all the way.  Hills that seemed inconsequential that morning had us in the granny ring.  The faster guys headed off to get tea ready and we limped in behind.

Our reward for 40 miles of slog was buck fizz!

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Then lashings of wine and moussaka.  Followed by apple pie.

Sunday was once again sunny and windy.  The previous days effort were telling and Jamima decided not to ride, as did Nic and Elizabeth.  The ride out on Friday had been Elizabeth’s longest ride since childhood and she was concerned about getting home on the Monday.  Jayne and I also decided not to go with the main group, who decided to head out to the Calf of Man.  We thought a smaller trip round to Laxey and back might be a better bet.  On the map there looked to be a route from near the back of the house to a reservoir and then on to the Laxey road via a public byway.  When we got to the reservoir then route was a footpath.  We decided to give it a go anyway as it was only a mile to the byway.  We pushed some but road most of the way to the end of the path, only to be face with this on the byway.

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Not rideable at all.  I pushed for a further mile or so to the road, which fortunately had been relayed recently and was super smooth.

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The lumpy stuff in the distance isn’t all sea, some of it is the Lake District.

A fast drop took us to the edge of Laxey and an exceptionally steep descent into the town.  We only just managed to keep upright and brake had enough.  At the Laxey wheel we saw that as National Trust members we could get in for free.  Unfortunately our membership cards had expired the day before and we didn’t have our new ones.  So we headed down into town to look at the remains of the lead ore processing plant.

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It had its own wheel, all the mine workings and associated industry had been water powered as there was no natural coal on the island and few trees.  It was quite a pretty place for a former heavy industrial landscape.

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From there we headed down to Laxey Harbour where we met Nic and Elizabeth, who had come out by train.  They were heading up Snaefel on the railway, but stopped long enough for a pint and something to eat.

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Then it was home again on the rolling main road.  We had to walk the last steep bit.  Once back to the house we realised there was no wine or beer, so I borrowed Jemima’s bike and went down the steep hill into town.  Coming back up with 6 bottles of wine and 12 bottles of beer was hard work.

The others had been out to the Calf, but realising the time and the strength of the wind, got the steam train back to Douglas and stopped for a well earned pint.

By special request Jemima had made vegetarian chilli and a sort of Eaton mess, which was wolfed down with little ceremony.  We had to pack that night as we had an early start for the 8:45 ferry the next day.

Monday came too soon and at 6:45 we were dressed and breakfasting.  After tidying up, Karl and a few others headed into town to get us booked on the ferry.  we stayed and tried to stuff all the wine bottles into the recycling bin.  Eventually we all headed out to regroup at the ferry.  The uneventful crossing was punctuated by endless rolling news reports from Pakistan. 

We got back to England and finally got some benefit from the wind, getting tailwinds from Lancaster pretty much all the way home.  we tried several times to stop for ice cream but everywhere was really busy.  we had to press on as several people had long drives and train journeys to get home in time for work on Tuesday.

In all another great weekend of cycling and friendship.  Hopefully we can do it again next year.



Miles for week – 220

Total – 1835