Monday, 31 March 2008


the clocks have sprung for spring and this is 7.30pm:

so it's definitly time for the last one. i saved it for the end of winter; just like i always save a little bit of christmas for the end of winter, because january and february are long, lean times and somehow all that festivity never seems to do much more than underline the endlessness of the later, longer quarter of the year. a week's perfectly timed holiday awaits; the work is done, the email is off, the batteries are charged and the bike is loaded. may it be a long one.

Saturday, 29 March 2008


so, today has been like christmas, knocks on the door all day - mostly work stuff, but also a big box of GDR equipment from the lovely people at Snow & Rock... and then these arrived:

cue several very excited laps of the kitchen before i dared risk handling sharp implements.

s o e x c i t e d !

thirty thirty zero

so, eleven was the stopping point, not just of the challenge but of the winter. prior to commencement i had embarked on the rest week that marked the end of the big volume miles for this year. it is a well known fact that rest weeks are when you will get sick, if you have overdone it (well it's meant to be if, with me it's usually when...). i overdid it so much that it took the whole rest week and another week of still feeling inexplicably tired and not really doing very much and then i got sick. ha. cease all activity, 'just' sleeping, daytime tv, no energy to be bored or even really worry about the shrinking legs, 'just' two weeks and the healing is done.

the first ride back was glorious, not least because it confirmed that less is more (a lesson i am apt to forget), my legs were still there and i hadn't missed spring, at all - rain sleet hail snow sleet gales, repeat.

unfortunately now every time i stick my nose out the door i am greeted with an endless procession of these big fat bulldozer clouds, rolling in on a north-westerly and full of weather that doesn't rain so much as torrent down out of the sky taking all the colour with it.

still, rivers for trails means no tyre tracks and hence all the super-local-super-cheek is currently fair game and i've ridden every day this week without really thinking about it and with a fat grin on my face. lovely.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Weather beaten

Rode last night with Amy. As tough as we are, we are not tougher than Mother Nature. Hail, sideways rain and blasting winds. Out on the moors, it became near impossible to keep going, common sense prevailed at some point and we got back to the road. We pedalled against the wind downhill. Soaked to the skin, numb hands, shoes full of water. The Black Dog at Belmont was a welcome sight as we finally made it to our patiently waiting other halves. Much needed good food and beer soon had Amy deciding that actually the weather hadn't been that bad, and what a good ride it had been, I think I'll need to get some rose tints fitted to my riding glasses before I can agree with her.


Wednesday, 19 March 2008

A whisper

While lurking on the Singletrack blog I caught a whisper of news that some extra places were available for SSUK 08 I fired off a quick email to the race organisers, and I'm in! So 44 days to transform myself into either a race whippet or a girl who can hold her beer. Training needed either way!


Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Jamie knows nothing!

Jamie Oliver TV adverts about hot cross buns meaning winter is over, ha, that's what I say! Get up here and ride the rolling roads of the West Pennines. The first 15 minutes of todays ride was dry the rest of it was wet, cold and some more wet. My toes went numb (I have scrounged some overshoes for my next ride). A tad over 20 miles of this was enough so we headed to the safety of Amy's house where I had to borrow dry clothes and glug hot tea. Thanks to Ali for rustling up lovely plates of warming pasta. Apparently I do this for fun!


Monday, 10 March 2008

six seven eight nine and ten

six - harveys run via cheeky trails
seven - the annual excursion to yorkshire for a beasting, which turned out to be rather fun thanks to a Pace 305, good friends and great fish'n'chips
eight - frenetic woodland tech, far beyond my current limits and only broadening the grin
nine - easing stiff driving legs with a spin between hailstorm and sunset
ten - the only let-down - 60 minutes and 27 seconds on the turbo because i was justifiably too scared to ride outside with bits of fence and rooftop whizzing about the village...


Sunday, 9 March 2008


A lot of singlespeed crunching and pushing uphill to Peel Tower. The reward of the nice bit of riding from there over the moors was stolen away by a series of punctures, a lack of planning to bring enough spare tubes and an impending menacing weather front. Ride abandoned. I have however discovered I can run alongside my bike at quite a pace over a surprising distance if I think my car ride back to my dinner depends on it.


Friday, 7 March 2008


Rode this morning and it was a struggle. I didn't seem to have the energy and the legs for the climbs and I didn't seem to have the nerve for the descents. This made for a lot of frustration and more pushing than I would normally do.


Wednesday, 5 March 2008


just a spin, shifting snot... forgot that proper recovery weeks of doing bugger all* leave me with the fidgets like nothing else. gngnnh.


*yes, i am aware that 10 hours of riding a week is not actually bugger all but it's all relative, isn't it...

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Cake, shopping and giggling.

Road ride today with friends, 58 miles. A fab food stop, really good cake. 2 bike shops visited for a little spend (mmmm new road shoes). So much giggling it bordered on hysteria at times. Top day out. I'm a bit tired now though.



i spend a lot of bike time hauling junk.

on mondays (or what passes for them) i carry all the clothing and accoutrements required for a week at work twenty-five miles along the coast - usually a three or four kilo load. on equivalent fridays i drag it all home again. in between times there are parts to ferry from one place of work to another, laundry to shuffle when the washing machine breaks down and ride gear for before/after work rides on other bikes, food shopping to collect and library books/mail to deposit on my way through town, and all the odds and ends like phone, diary, tools, ipod, lock, etc that congregate unseen in dark corners conspiring to add another kilo to the load.

all this schlepping has finally worn out my old, prized, beloved timbuk2. the lining, though not pierced in any place that i can see, is no longer waterproof. the clasp doesn't clasp properly anymore. the whole bag smells like wet dog in the rain. that bag is part of me. my left shoulder and left abs are a different shape to the right, just because i've carried everything off the left shoulder for five years. putting it on is the tightest hug and sometimes when the weather is very cold or very wet i'll carry it anyway even though the items i actually need to take with me would easily fit into my pockets, just to get the snug warmth shining through my back, to know that the little reflective tabs are fluttering out behind me in the darkness and like the eyes on a butterfly making me seem bigger and tougher than i really am.

hauling junk gets me down. it makes hill climbs hard. it rules out any fun stuff like, er, intervals. and sometimes if i don't pack the bag right and there's some unspecified object digging into my ribs all the way to or from wherever it is i'm going no matter how much i snap and jerk the bag about trying to shake it loose, it can mess things up to the point where i want to sling the whole lot into the middle of the a27 and watch it be flattened by the 700 coastway sled.

but the ability to remain self-sufficient, to exist within my own physical limits, is heartening. i don't own a car. i could have done with one tonight grinding my way slowly up the hill out of town against a northerly wind, with a heavy load and tired legs from too much yoga and a bit of a sore throat that may or may not be a cold in waiting. but then i would have been parked in the traffic jam i was carefully picking my way along.

the fact that the human brain can adapt to the size of an object that alters its proportions (in this case, one full timbuk2 topped off with a new ergon bd-2 strapped untidily to the top, its stiff harness sticking out above my left shoulder at transit wing mirror height making me six inches wider) and judge clearances accordingly without any apparent difficulty is amazing. likewise the human body's ability to still carry weight despite years of machine dependance. read some of the iditarod reports. start with jill homer. and carry your own stuff to work.


Monday, 3 March 2008


more recovery. three hours of dismal frigid grey aching tedium. but i quit my job too, in preperation for the summer, so that's an up. i think...


'er indoors

At a time when everyone else seems to be getting back out into the patchy outbreaks of Spring sunshine I seem to be spending more time inside. Years spent in gyms in pursuit of well-developed rowing thighs (aim achieved some years ago thanks - now will someone tell me how to get rid of them?) gave me a healthy aversion to the places. But needs (or knees) must and the gym allows me to do the sort if intensive work that, once I stopped pretending I didn't need to, really helps my badly put together joints.

The only trouble is that I seem not to be able to let it lie. Once the required hour on the cross trainer and all the physio exercises were complete, yesterday I couldn't help wandering over to the Concept 2 rower. Or Ergo as we used to call it when, pre- lifestyle makeover, it was a bolted together instrument of torture that sat in the corner of the rowing club with the special aroma of sweaty towelling (yes really) shorts. It couldn't hurt to try could it? Oh, that's interesting I can still achieve the same sort of power output, hmmm.... how does that work over 2000m then? I'll just go on a bit longer and a bit.... you can see where this is going to end can't you? But you know what? I reckon with some training I could get close to my old personal (twenty years ago) best.

Slippery slope and self-delusion not pictured.


Sunday, 2 March 2008


a 'proper' 63 minute recovery ride. confess i dawdled to make it count. lambs and primroses shivering in the wintry wind, the last of the christmas cake and tea for afters. strange mix of seasons.


Mow Cop

Mow Cop is a big hill, part of the Cheshire Cat Cyclosportive route. It's a 1 in 4 gradient. It's a tough climb. Thanks to Amy for persuading me to go and ride it in the sunshine and thanks to John for being our tour guide for the day. (Oh OK then I'll admit it I did have to pause part way up but I didn't resort to off and pushing).


Saturday, 1 March 2008


30/30 timely arrives to drag me out of this hole.

home from work, still chewing wasps climbing the last hill to home, riding not being the salve it has been. caught by a barn owl, finally full grown and looming huge in the dusk, hunting between hedge, field and ditch ahead, alongside, behind and ahead once more, unconcerned by my presence, utterly enchanting.

later sit on the doorstep for a while, watch the sky, feel the breeze. quiet. i like it here.