Friday, 27 November 2009

carrot and stick

The week begins on Friday. I am knackered. After four days of being away with work I want to ride quite badly. It's raining. Or it could be sleeting. Whatever: it's definitely freezing. Actually, perhaps I don't want to ride so badly. But I should.


Bring forth the carrot:
(Tempting as it is to dive beneath a duvet of pastry and hop-fuzzed warmth 'til spring, that's not going to help. This challenging a tea requires equally arduous miles to earn it. I know this to be fact.)

...and the stick:
(Yes, the weather has been spectacularly bad of late but also it's been just plain spectacular. Something like this is waiting every time I leave the house. Awesome.)

Place carrot on table, keep stick in mind. Endure origamiesque layering protocol. Unhook road bike. Head for the hills. Climb. Climb more. Descend. Climb again. Sunset over Bacup looks f***ing lovely (excuse the language, if you've been there you'll understand why Bacup deserves nothing better and if you haven't - don't be tempted). Return at dusk. Lights on, walking on stumps, fumbling for keys with uselessly numb hands. Unlayer, rewarm, shower whilst oven heats house and pie heats soul.

Job done.


Thursday, 19 November 2009

The High Life (in the High Peak)

How amazing is winter riding in the High Peak?

Staying with The Wife, The Husband and The Arthur for the weekend was already going to be a pleasure (think amazing food, an open fire, underfloor heating and a lot of banter) but when we set off for our Sunday ride, which had The Wife hopping up and down with excitement ("you'll love it, it's amazing, there's this bit with this drop and then this other bit with this rocky section and...") we had no idea how gorgeous the next 3 hours of our life would be.

I've ridden in the High Peak a few times. Admittedly mostly at night. But I'd never been here

or seen this

or seen The Boy ride so well before:

I tend to restrict my riding to trail centres in the winter. No longer. I'm moving North.


Friday, 13 November 2009

All good

Sometimes it's about riding hard. Elbows in, breathless, screaming muscles, making that climb, adrenaline pumping, stomach rising, no dabbing, nailing that descent. And sometimes, it isn't. Sometimes it's rolling up the leg of your jeans and pootling to the shops for smoothies to have with a loved one. It's all riding. It's all good.

Friday, 6 November 2009


On Sunday in the Lake District it rained. All night Saturday and all day Sunday. I was doing a 5hr adventure race with a friend (who recently produced The Arthur but is still fit as a fiddle). We set off on the run, feet splashing down the tarmac lane and then mud oozing through the mesh in our trainers as we turned up hill on the muddy bridleway.

Steady, slippery rocks, lethal roots. "This'd be fun to ride", I'd say.

2hrs later we jumped on our bikes and wheeled them over the churned up field before slinging a leg over the saddle and pedalling hard up through the village to try and warm up (pancake in mouth). A strong climb up a gravelling bridleway got the blood flowing and saw was our first experience of the River Cumbria.

All of Cumbria was a river.

Every bridleway had a few inches of white tumbling water frothing over it, rushing down the hillside. Some steeper hills had become waterfalls and it was like night riding, not being able to quite see where the obstacles were. Weight back, heels down, let the bike bump over the invisible rocks. Feel your feet hard back on the pedals, socks full of water. Gorgeous technical, rocky descents, dancing over slimey roots and popping the bike around steep, rutted corners. Through the water.

Shooting hard along a flat bridleway the puddles got deeper and deeper. The description for the checkpoint was 'stream crossing' but how could we know? Everywhere was under water. Ploughing hard through a deep puddle, the ground suddenly sunk away and I was up to my hips, still pedalling, giggling. Sue screaming at me with a big grin on her face. Then 'whoosh'. the bike swept away and I slid off on my side into the water. I watched my bike tyres float up to the surface and get stuck in a bank to our left, caught by the torrent that was coming from the right, down the hillside... the stream! We found our checkpoint and hurried on through to get back before our time limit was up.