Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Mellbreak and 4 others

The proposed route were a double, first off was a five Wainwright route and then a 2 easy Wainwright route just north of the main one.

My morning didn't start well as I have a chest cold and sore throat, but still felt OK. I think if the walk had been the day before I might have posponed it, so we were lucky on that account.

Arriving at Maggies Bridge car park, we set off back up the road to the start of Mellbreak. I have often wanted to climb Mellbreak on it's northern ridge as it looks steep and exciting. However, there was only a few places of excitement and lots of scree to climb. This was my first Dewey this year, I had previously climbed Mellbreak's southern Wainwright top many years ago.

Mellbreaks north ridge, the route is the scree just the right hand side.

After we had bagged the southern top we head back over onto the saddle and dropped down to Mosedale to climb a pathless sided Hen comb. Once bagged, Ross suggested we follow the fence line to Gavel fell, the next Wainwright. On the map the bridleway looked best, but as usual changing a plan once seeing the lay of the land can be a bonus and a short cut.

A view of Honister Pass in the distance.

The weather up to now had been cool, breezy and sometimes sunny. Now it became colder and windy. A slog upto Blake Fell meant at least we were closer to finishing. At the top we decided to split up. Ross was to take on his main objective Burnbank Fell and me on Carling Knott (a Dewey). We met up just before Holme Wood.

The loneliness of a long distance walker, mountainmanjuniour is the spot

Ross sleeping like a ...er, log!

The completed route for me, but Ross bagged the Wainwright Burnbank Fell.

We had both agreed to drop the 2nd route as I had been feeling tired and I have a strange injury to my ankle which I'll investigate further but I think it my be related to my boots innersole.

A slow drive back through Buttermere followed, to the amusement of Japanese tourists on a bus as I had to squeeze my car past their coach. I loved the comment from Ross "Did you see their faces?"....NO, I didn't because I only had 1 inch clearance either side of my car! The last place I wanted to look was up :-0 

It's now Monday morning and I'm coughing my lungs out!!!!

Friday, 15 October 2010

All the ten's

Just a quick update on a me and Mountainmanjunior's walk of the Kentmere round last weekend. Also my apologizes for the lateness as I only had my laptop available and I didn't know my password - LOL

I realised early on that there was 9 Wainwrights in the Kentmere round, but Mountainmanjunior had already bagged High Street, and that 2 Wainwrights (Sallow and Sour Howes) were fairly close. This would have meant a good 10 Wainwrights on the 10th of October (10th month) 2010....Wicked! 

I parked at Troutbeck, just beside the river and next to the church. First thing was I had forgotten how to reset the GPS - DOH. This took at least 1km to rectify. 

As sometimes happens it wasn't easy to spot the top heights of a Wainwright and both Sallows and Sour Hows meant we had passed the tops without realising it. The GPX file does confirm both bagged....phew!

As soon as the Sallows was bagged we started on the Kentmere round going in a clockwise direction. I had elected to go ultra-lightweight and this had the effect of me being fairly easy going up the long ridges of Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick. At the beacon of Thornthwaite Crag we ate some sandwiches sheltering from the wind. Up to now the day was cool and hazy.

Mardale Ill bell was a bit troublesome as we didn't find a path up from our direction, although it was probably there but due to my impatience we cut across rough ground and almost immediately found the top.

A lengthy and rocky ascent lead up to Harter Fell and from there a whole long ridge meant an easy bagging of Kentmere and Shipman Knotts. We had completed the 10 Wainwrights fairly easily and I was feeling quite good and not even tired.

We cut through some right of ways past lovely fields, streams and bridges to Kentmere village itself. Now was our hardest test, the bridle path of Garburn Pass back to Troutbeck. It was littered with small to meduim sized pebbles and stones. It twisted your ankles and strained my knees. The worse was on the descent side and at one point my right knee had a shooting pain. The only course of action was to try and find the smoothest route through.

It was only the Garburn Pass that drained me of energy as we arrived back at the car. A quick energy drink and we set off to travel as far as possible before it got dark. I don't like driving in the dark :-(

The following day only tight Achilles heel and a bit of tiredness showed. I must be fitter then I thought.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Look what I found...pics of suffering!

These are photographs of me on Boltby Bank. Just after I passed the photographer I had to walk the rest of the way - like the other poor soles who tried and failed.

Sorry for the watermarks, I'm too stingy to buy the photos.

Suffering was the game, despite the photos making it look flat, it was very steep.

Almost a golden moment!

OK, I'll get to the point straight away, I missed out on the Gold Award by 12 minutes and 56 seconds! I received a Silver.

Sunday 8th August 2010, the Ryedale Rumble Sportive. I was really looking forward to this to test my hill climbing ability. It was route 2 with 71.1 miles (114.4 km). The 2 main events are the very steep Boltby Bank and Blakey Bank hill climbs.

The day started off a bit like my Richmond 3 dales ride in June. I felt groggy and tired by the time I reached the start venue, the magnificent Ampleforth College, situated between Thirsk and Helmsley. What a place! To compare this school with my old comprehensive is like comparing a penthouse to a mud hut, it truly is. Next time I'll take a photo, because the entrance we used was almost a straight mile uphill to the splendid collage sitting halfway up a hill. 

Once I set off I was by myself for much of the way until Boltby Bank 20 miles further on. the route profile was deceiving and there was many up and down hills shown only as bumps on the map. So, arriving at Boltby bank I got a shock of my life. I can only describe it as a sheer vertical cliff face LOL. I got half way up and finally jumped off exhausted, but not before passing the event photographer. All that hill training and I still had to walk 50 metres to the top!!!

A steep descent from the top of Boltby was tricky as was the ford at the bottom, to which a girl fell in. The long uphill drag from there was leg burning especially after Boltby. 

By now, my stomach was hurting, I seemed to have cramp or a stitch. It felt very uncomfortable. I soon realised it might be the change of food and drink I was using. Reading many articles I decided to try a new way of continuing with my energy levels when cycling. Simply put, I took too much food and too much energy drinks. 

At Helmsley, again I took too long at the feed station. The next 5 miles was going was fairly fast as I was on a main A170 road. Once off the A170 a series of complicated minor and farm track roads made way for Blakely Bank. Even from a distance I could see this was long and just as steep as Boltby. I struggled on. Stopped and rested, struggled on and then just as other cyclists did, got off and walked.

Hell burned into legs.

Strangely, walking up probably saved a lot of energy because at the top I was very fast over Blakely ridge down to Hutton-le-Hole then then next feedstation. There, I ditched all my energy drinks and filled up with fresh plain water and GOD did it feel much better. Over the next hour my stomach ache went and I was more convinced more then ever it was the energy drink giving me jip.

The last hour and a bit I felt good, a bit tired and leg achy, but cycling at a constant speed. I was very surprised I was catching up with other cyclists who looked completely Fooked. The last 1 mile into Ampleforth College is cruel and the finishing line is on a shallow hill.

So. My finishing time was 05:14:56. Not bad and almost within my predicted time.

What did I learn and what did I do wrong? Mostly learned that 25% hills and cycling are harder then 8 hours walking in Scotland LOL

My bike is a Cyclocross bike and the gearing was simply under geared.  The lowest my gear inches are 36 front cog and 25 rear cog = 38 gear inches. Compare this to a compact geared road bike of 34 front/27 rear = 33.1 gear inches. So, a new road bike specific for hilly sportives might be handy. Or, a new 12-27 rear cassette would be my cheapest option this would make it 36/27 = 35.2 gear inches. 

Energy food and drink is great in principle, but it does seem to upset my stomach. I'm pretty certain now that I have to find my tipping point where I can ride with just plain water. I think that may be at 30 miles before food intake replenishes lost energy. If so, then most sportives have feed stations within this 30 mile zone. So, I need to know exactly how much water to take and a spare energy gell and a few jelly babies as emergency food. 

Clothing, well this is the second sportive it's been spot on. Only cycling shorts and top. No rain jackets or windproofs. The cycling shoes are great and have loads of air vents - absolutely no sweaty feet.

Next ride is possibly the Cumberland challenge in September. This is over 100 miles and apart from a 1 major climb it's mostly rolling. But i may need a "babysitter" as it'll be an all day ride.

I feel a bit tired, but no sore knees or stiff legs, and could if needed cycle another 50 miler. Next year, I'll be blazing for Gold Award standard in every event.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

That's much better - NorthernRock Cyclone

So, this is my second Sportive...well many regard the NortherRock Cyclone not as a true Sportive bike ride but a fun ride, however,  it was still a test and a very good test at that.

Two weeks ago I did the Richmond 3 Dales which at 53 miles over the Pennines was a tough bike ride. The Cyclone was 63 miles long over probably a slightly harder route. Both routes were tough, but I think the Cyclone just edged it and not because of the extra 10 miles. One only truly real problem part in the 3 dales was the hairpins on the Stang road. The cyclone had the Ryal hills which was hard but I was fitter and had more energy.

So, let's compare times. 

  • Richmond 3 dales 53 miles: 04:26:56 fastest speed: 38 mph
  • Cyclone 63 miles: 04:29:02  fastest speed: 44.1 mph

Immediately you can see how poorly I did the 3 Dales in. I had learned a lot just from 1 race. The Cyclone was rode with minimum clothing (shirt, very thin windproof, shorts, socks and shoes) I carried nothing in case it rained. I therefore felt fresher and lighter.

The next detail I changed was the very start of the day, breakfast. I ate much more and had a sandwich just before the start. I also introduced energy foods and drinks during the ride. Because Morrisons is less then 1/2 mile from my house, I just bought Lucazade gel and Lucazade glucose tablets. I must say they worked a treat and will continue to use them. I still don't like energy bars with nuts in them as they make my mouth dry and I can have problems with stuck nuts in my teeth and throat. I also tried a a small caffeine drink called "Voltz"  which is 40p from my local cheap supermarket and that perked me up near the end of the race.

Bikewise, everything was the same as the 3 dales. I still think my 25 mm tyres are probably more confortable then the 23mm Lugano tyres I used but I have been impressed with how tough and uncut the Lugano's have been in 200 miles.

Again, my time was spoilt by spending too much time at the feed stations. This time there was 2 feed/timing stations. My bike's computer showed my complete time as 04:13:02, so I spent just over 15 minutes in the stations in total.

Overall I am extremely happy at the time. I'm pretty certain next year I will get under 4 hours easily. Next is the Ryedale Rumble in the North Yorkshire Moors. This sportive is 71 miles long (again I'm chickening out of the 100 miler). I have a projected time of under 5 hours.

If all goes according to plan I will then apply for the Cumberland Challenge and that's the full 100 mile route. Estimated time for that is 8 hours....gulp!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Loneliness of a long distance bike ride.

Photo from a professional photographer who sells prints to clients on races. As you can see I'm struggling just before Tann Hill. (sorry about the copyright watermark, but I ain't buying the photo with a face like that!)

Done my first Biking Sportive last Saturday and now I've almost recovered 3 days later. I've trained fairly regular, but only recently fairly hard on local hills. So, it was a HUGE disappointment to be 50 minutes over my estimated time for the 53 mile race. 

The Richmond Cycling Clubs 3 dales Sportive is 53 miles over the North Yorkshire Dales involving challenging climbs of the Stang and Tann Hill. There was also 2 other races, 80 miles and 100 miles for those elite riders with hard arses and massive thighs!

I woke up early so as to arrive at Richmond before 08:00am, however, I felt really tired and lethargic by the time I did arrive. After registration and setting up my bike I started with heavy legs and feeling uncomfortable.  The weather forecast had predicted heavy rain, but it was slight drizzle and warm. I wore a long thermal shirt, a cycling shirt and waterproof bike jacket. This made me overcook straight away on the first steep climb and this was within the first mile!

The next big wrong was going fast down a steep bank and missing the left turn signs! This lost me 10 minutes as i backtracked, and I wasn't the only one to have got slightly lost as well.

By the 15 mile mark I was very hot and had no chance to cool off until the first feeding station at Keld at the 30 mile mark. So digging in deep to climb the very steep ascent of The Stang was very tiring. I had trained really well on hills this steep and had no problem, but this just seemed too much and finally I give up, got off the bike and pushed it up!

The decent was fast and furious, I reached 38mph on the tight twisting single tracked road. Had it not been for cars coming the other way, I'd probably have gotten 40.

A long gradual pull up to Tann Hill Pub was sapping in strength and will power. By the time I got to the top I knew I was about 30 minutes behind schedule. The downhill section from Tann Hill to Keld feeding station was into a head wind and still required pedaling hard.

At the feeding and timing station, my plan was to fill with water and get out fast, but I stayed and had a sausage roll and a few jaffa cakes (free of course so it was tempting) and stayed for 10 minutes. At this point I took off my thermal shirt and immediately felt better cooled. The last 23 miles was much much better and only the last 5 miles did I start to run out of energy.

So the time of 4hours 27 minutes was just under 1 hour more then expected. Very disappointing. As this was my first Sportive, the lessons learned were as follows:

  • I wore too much clothing, best to harden myself up to cold and damp.
  • The 23mm racing tyres I used were too thin, I need to use my usual 25mm tyres.
  • Learn the course, probably by biking it a week before hand.
  • Have a sleep in the car before the race to take the edge off the tiredness.
  • I took too many tools, inner tubes, first aid etc. Lighten up next time.
  • Pedal harder!

OK, so next is the Northern Rock Cyclone friendly at 63 miles. Projected time is 4 Hours. 

I now fancy a bash at the Cumbrian Sportive in August.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

OK, as promised...crap photos of Jake

Just some photos I took this afternoon. However technical problems meant I soon had to return home. The SPD pedals completely FROZE and I wasn't able to clip in because both the cleats and pedals were blocked by ice!

I've even thought about looking for a North-East sportive rides of around 50 miles in length to keep fit and strong. So, the Richmond 3 Dales ride is a looking good if I can get the courage up ;-)

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Hello 2010 - meet my new friend...Jake the Snake

Yep, I bought a new bike. A beautiful blue Kona Jake the Snake cyclocross.

And yes as usual, on the first ride I got 2 punctures due to the soft cyclocross tyres rubbers. So, I'm going to have to buy some Schwalbe marathon plus tyres that should protect the delicate inner tubes from the glass.

Picture and possible video to follow ;-)