Monday, May 9, 2011

Lots of cycling and no walking (blog)


Well since the start of the year I have managed to cover 2125 miles on my bike. This puts me in first place in the Merlyn Cup. I have managed this by my commute to work and also some longer rides on my days off. The shortest way to work gives round trip of 17.5 miles, however I have now managed to make it a 32 mile round trip. This I am enjoying doing as I can put in 50
Mins of hard effort and try to get a higher average speed each day. The longer rides that I have done have included two sportives, firstly the Lakeland Loop on 10/04 and then the Bay Dash on 17/04. The Lakeland Loop is a 69 mile route starting and finishing at the New Dungeon Ghyll in the Langdales. The route takes in some great lake district climbs with the hardest climb coming after 58 miles, this being Hardknot Pass. The weather was perfect for the event and meant for a fun day out. My finish time was 5:01:30 which put me about 180th out of 600 so very happy with that for my first ever sportive.
The following Sunday was the Bay Dash, this is a 63 mile ride from Halton army camp out to Cark in Cartmel, coming back over the climb of Tow Top. This ride took me 3:30:45 which was the fourth fastest time of the day so extremely happy.

I finished work this morning and I am now not back in until 4th June. The plan now is the TGO Challenge, I leave for this on Thursday morning on the 9.06 train to Glasgow. I will be walking wit Nat again, this will be our 3rd crossing, and we will meet up with Peter Molenaar in Aviemore and walk to the coast together. I will give a more detailed route from the train on Thursday and try to update a few times on route.
Gear review section
Montane Superfly XT Jacket

I bought this coat back in January from . The customer service from these guys was good, keeping me up to date with the progress of the order. The coat itself is a hard shell waterproof jacket made from Event fabric. The coat has two large chest pockets and then two lower pockets at waist height. The problem with these lower pockets is that they are unusable when wearing a rucksack as the hip belt covers them. The hood on the jacket is very good, it is very adjustable for wearing with or without a helmet. Overall I am very happy with this purchase as it performs it's main task, keeping me dry, very well. I would recommend this.

Thanks for reading.


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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lake District (blog)

Hello everyone.

It has been a while since I last wrote anything however I have had a busy few days so I thought that I would keep you up to date. Peter the Dutchman came over on Wednesday and we went up to the Lake District. A shopping trip to Ambleside was the first order of business and I managed to buy my self a new 150 weight long sleeve Icebreaker base layer. I like it a lot as it is nice and light and also quite warm. Peter was very impressed with the new light weight Paramo clothing particularly the Quito jacket and Velez light weight trousers, however the Quito jacket only came in Orange or Green which is not what he wanted and the trousers do not have the option of a long leg length so did not fit correctly. Peter did manage to buy a new rucksack saving 1.5kg off the weight of his old one, and also a new pair of inov8 light weight sandals for river crossings.
Then we went off to Elterwater to the YHA there, this is quite a nice little hostel that is relatively cheap, also in the village is a lovely pub called The Brittania. The food and beer here is very good highly recommend, and surprise surprise this is where Nat found us when she arrived at 21:30 after a long drive up from London.
Thursday was the day we had planned for our walk, and what a good walk it was. From the village follow the path that crosses Slater bridge in Little Langdale, then around to Greenburn beck and onto the ridge overlooking Wrynose pass. From here it was onto the summit of Great Carrs, Swirrel How, Coniston old man and then back to Swirrel How for a walk down the Prison Band and a descent back into Greenburn and then to the Three Shires pub for a well earned beer.
Today was a day for a bike ride. I have a cyclosportive planned for mid April thy goes over a few Lakeland passes, with this in mind I thought that a ride from Skelwith Bridge to Eskdale green and back again would be good practice. This meant a route taking in both Wrynose and Hardknot passes in both directions. The journey up Wrynose from Little Langdale is the hard way and I was definitely feeling it by the time I got to the top. At the summit I had a couple if cars behind me who had been there since the bridge so I pulled over to let them overtake, this is when one of the cars stopped an this big bloke got out and came towards me, I thought he was going to hit me for holding him up, I could not have further from the truth. He extended his arm and said he wanted to shake my hand as I had done so well, it dis not feel like I had done well as I was shattered. The descent and climb of the easy side of Hardknot went well an this just left the descent of Hardknot and a return journey to worry about. On the way down, just after the twin hairpins if you know it, my front brake stopped working and the rear brake started to overheat and loose efficiency. This led to a very scary attempt to stop without hurting myself. 15 mins later and front brake adjusted so that it worked well I was able to carry on. The ascent of Hardknot from Eskdale is great, a hard steep start then a gradual climb before the 30% grade finish. It's the twin hairpin bends when you start to feel it, but the whole ascent only lasts for 15 minuets so it is not too bad.
That's it from me today, thanks for reading.


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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stuff and nonsense

Well it has been a quiet week, not much happening at all. I have hopefully sent off my final route plan for the TGOC, this year We have Alvar and Ann as out vetters and as usual there comments and corrections are very useful. I have included a link on the side of the page to a small sheet which in the fullness of time will show a brief route plan and also distance and ascent for each day.

Maths joke now. There are 10 types of people in this world.
Those that understand binary and those that don't.

No bike rides this week, excluding the usual commute, so nothing much to say on that front. I have yet to finish work on the modifications to the old bike, it will run at the moment as a single speed as I have not re-cabled the rear derailleur yet or set the front derailleur up either. I plan to finish that this weekend if the weather is nice, but not so nice that I can go out for a ride. As we go to press I am about 200 miles ahead in the Merlyn cup I hope to extend that lead to about 500 by the time the TGOC comes around as I will have nearly three weeks of from cycling and do not want to fall behind like last year.

I have also rediscovered the wonder that is E-Bay. I have been selling surplus outdoor gear that is now too large for me. A couple of waterproof jackets have now gone and this has given me enough money to purchase a new waterproof that fits (yippee). I went for a Montane Superfly XT, I know all you super light weight gear freaks will be shaking your heads and the Paramo lovers will be tutting, but I have always found Montane gear to strike the right balance for me between weight and performance, and let's face it, it could be two weeks of god awful rain and wind in Scotland so a good rain coat is essential.

Not sure if I have mentioned this in an earlier blog but a bloke called Peter Molenaar is coming over from Dutchland in March for a few days if walking and gear shopping in the Lake District. I met Peter in Ryvoan bothy on a very wet and windy day in 2009, we were both on the TGOC. We met up again latter the next day and walked together to Ballater. Then on TGOC 2010 we bumped into each other again just outside Mar lodge and again walked together for a few days over to Clova and then Tarfside. This year we have actually planned to meet up half way across in Aviemore and walk to the coast as a threesome from there, which should be nice. Any way in March he is coming over and as he has never been to the Lakes before I was trying to think of a good walk that would show off the area at it's beat. Any ideas?

That's enough for now.

Bye bye


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Sunday, January 23, 2011

TGOC Planned

Well that's it another weekend over and hopefully the bulk of the planning completed. We have decided to start at Lochailort and then work our way across to Roybridge and then Aviemore. Hopefully arriving in Aviemore on the Thursday to meet up with Peter who is a buddy from our previous challenges. Then the three of us will walk together over the Cairngorms to Breamar then Ballater and on to the coast. There will be no stop at Tarfside this year as we want to finish further north. The plan I think is to stay accommodation in Roybridge, Aviemore, Ballater and camp or bothy the rest. Overall I am very happy with this plan and will report back when I have done the more detailed planning on the computer.

This weekend there was also a couple of walks completed. The walk on Saturday was from Hathersage up onto Stanage edge and then Burbage with a short loop back to Hathersage. This was shorter than I would have liked to have done, however the weather was not the best so it was ok. Today we walked from the village of Litton down Cressbrook Dale to pickup the Monsal Trail, at the Monsal viaduct we headed south west and looped around and eventually ended up at Litton Mill where it was a short walk back to the village. This was a really nice walk through lovely steep sided valleys with a fantastic little brew stop at Cressbrook Mill.
I am now on the train on the way home.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Buxton walking and TGO Challenge planning (blog)

It's now the weekend that I have been looking forward too for quite a while now. It is the TGO Challenge planning / walking in the Peak district time. I have decided to get the train down to Buxton and then a bus to the little village of Litton where we have a cottage booked. There will be five of us this weekend, my TGOC buddy Natasha, her partner Paul and a couple of their colleagues
Will and Richard. I have met all of these before and they a good bunch.
So here I am now on my second of three trains this one to Manchester Piccadilly. It is an hours journey and there is no heating or toilets on the train. It feels about minus 5 sat here and I have to sit next to an obnoxious woman who has told me 5 times that she has a first class ticket but is slumming it in cattle class because it is warmer. Do us all a favour and bog off back to first class. The plus side is that I have managed to buy a coffee on the train so all is not woe.
I will keep you up to date over the weekend about our planned route.
Went for a really nice bike ride on Wednesday after nights. I had a few hours in bed got up at lunch time and went out to Knott End. Th weather was perfect, sunny hardly any wind and warm enough to get out in shorts and a short sleeve top. It was just great. I managed 43 miles at an average of 17.5 mph so I was very happy with that. The other us side is that for the first time this year I am leading the Merlyn Cup, I have just over a 10 mile lead from Robert. No doubt he will be out this weekend and retake the lead, but it's nice to be out there for a day or two.

My Wiggo cycling top.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bike upgrade/repair (blog)

Well it was reasonable weather today so I decided this afternoon to try and replace all the running gear on the old bike. I had a new bottom bracket, crankset, rear cassette, rear derailleur, chain, and rear gear cable. The front derailleur was only changed last year.

Getting all the old gear off the bike proved to be the hardest part of the task. The pedals would not come off the crank arms, the crank would not come off the bottom bracket and then this would not come off the frame, well not without fighting every step of the way. Eventually I managed to strip it all down apart from the pedal on the left hand side which seems to be seized solid (I will take to work to use a vice when on nights). So then I had a pile if old parts like this.

The rebuild then started with the BB going in with a generous coating of anti seize on the threads, the crankset next then the rear cassette, derailleur and chain. I have now run out of time / light for today so the cable and the final set up will have to wait until next week. Here's hoping that we get no snow as I will be using the bike for work all weekend.

All the fitted components are looking good.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter walking (blog)

Yesterday I went for a walk with Simon in the lake district. We originally planned to park at Scales and do Sharp edge, however when we arrived there the weather was very poor. This meant a different walk was called for, so we went round to Glenridding and the weather was looking a lot better. The walk then became a nice plod up to the base of the north side of Catstye Cam. We then scrambled / climbed up the north side to the summit. A quick lunch just of the summit led us the to drop down to Swirrel edge, thus was a lovely icy winter ridge to walk along. The photo below is me on Swirrel edge. Onto the summit plateau of Helvellyn where the sun came out. On the summit there were plenty of other walkers out enjoying the winter conditions, including 4 lads running in shorts, brave fools. A brief stop to take some photos and then the descent via Striding edge. Striding edge was just a treat to walk on in crampons, most of the rocks were covered in a nice layer of ice which gave perfect conditions for the scramble. After Striding edge we continued onto Birkside moor and then glissaded (Bum slide) down the snow gullies. An easy finish into Glenridding back to the car and then a beer at the Eagle and Child in Stavely capped off a great day. The only down aide if the day was that my sore right ankle is still hurting whilst going up or down no pain when walking on the flat, not sure what I have done or how to fix it, I have stopped running to give it some rest.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy new year (cycling blog)

Well folks happy new year.
The old year finished with crowning of a new Merlyn Cup cycling champion, Andrew won with a total of 3481 miles for the year. Robert was second with 3475 and I came in third with 3171. Until I had the mechanical problems before Christmas I was hoping to have covered 3400 by the end of the year so still would have been third.

So new year, new Merlyn Cup. I went out today and covered 60 miles including the hill at strawberry bank, Cumbria. I could tell that I had not done any big bike rides for a few weeks as my legs were aching for the last 10 miles. Still a good start to the year as last January I only covered 180 miles all month.
There were a few problems today first I got a puncture after only 5 miles, new inner tube fitted and back on the road. Second I think that I had a tight link on the chain which caught on the derailleur causing minor damage to the chain. So a link was taken out at Bowland Bridge. This is where I noticed that the rear rim looked like it has a small deformation on it. This may have been caused by the over-tightening of a spoke when I had one fitted back in the summer. So it looks like I will have to buy a new rim, bummer.
Does anyone know somewhere in north Lancs or south lakes that supplies 700c rims suitable for disk brakes on a cyclocross bike.
Speak again soon.


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