Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 riding summary

1707 miles

300 more than last year, about the same as 2007 and 1010, about 200 less than 2008 and 2009. Only 11 rides that weren't for commuting or just getting around.

Jan - 113
Feb - 90
Mar - 110
Apr - 115
May - 268
Jun - 140
Jul - 232
Aug - 171
Sep - 108
Oct - 147
Nov - 133
Dec - 70

Rubbish. Again.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Monstercross Fixietwat local autumn ride

I went for a quick monstercross fixietwat nichecore local autumn ride:


There were leaves:

autumnal fixietwat

I got dirty in the Buff:

Me, dirty in the Buff

It's been far too long since my last ride. I need to do this more.

Distance: 27km (map on Strava)
Surface: Road and off-road
Time: 1:30
Weather: Cold and dry. Autumnal.
Bike: Solitude Fixietwat Monstercross (with 42c tyres, 34:16)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Darlington to Swaledale to Hamsterley to Darlington

Sometimes I ride up to Swaledale for a ride. Sometime to Hamsterley. I've been thinking "why not both?" for a while now. Last Wednesday, I finally got around to doing it. It turns out, it's quite far and, if you've not been on a bike for three weeks, it hurts a bit. But it was still fun.

In numbers: 150km with 2200m of climbing; 10 1/4 hours; 1 gear; 7 mini pork pies; 1 punnet of cherries; 2 oat bars; 3l apple juice; 4l water.

Usual route up to Swaledale, then down Fremington Edge, over Surrender Moor and up to Great Pinseat. Down again and up to (almost) Tan Hill before following the Sustrans route via Bowes to Barnard Castle. Up to Woodland from Barney, down the end of the 'new' Hamsterley red route before returning to Woodland and riding home.

My legs felt fine throughout, but my "contact points" suffered. The stitching going around the pad in my shorts probably didn't help this... So, new shorts needed and probably going to get some chamois cream too. My gloves have had it too, so I'm going to invest in a new pair. Also thinking of swapping the oversize bars and stem on my bike for the identical but non-OS set for a bit more vibration reduction. Pondering whether a 29er front wheel with a 2.1" tyre gives more comfort than a 26" wheel with a 2.4" tyre. Long-term, I need a more forgiving fork than the steel On-One.

After 7 mini pork pies you don't want to eat number 8, so I need to find something else for a bit of variety on long rides. The cherries I bought in the Barnard Castle Coop worked, but I need something more robust for rides like Kielder 100.

Annoyingly close to 100 miles.

Distance: 151km (69km Darlington to Tan Hill via bits of Swaledale, 21.9km from Tan Hill to Barnard Castle, 12.7km from Barnard Castle to Woodland, 16.2km from Woodland into/round the forest and back again, and 31.2km back home again)
Surface: Road and off-road
Time: 10:15
Weather: Hot and sunny!
Bike: Inbred SS (with 2.4" tyres on 32:17)

Friday, 20 July 2012

Hamsterley again again again

Another trip up to Hamsterley on Thursday; the fourth in eight days, which is unheard of riding frequency for me. Dropped down (Section 13 then up the Transmission climb and down Transmission, Accelerator, Nitrous) before heading up the road climb out of the forest.

Felt much better than last ride, after a day off on Thursday, and got a mix of fastest or very close to fastest times (for me) on the climbs, and went down the off-road stuff faster than usual too. Turns out, I get faster at riding a bike if I ride a bike; who'd have thought?

Apple juice and pork pie fueling seemed to do the trick. The pies were nice and peppery, but I'm looking forward to trying the ones with apple in next time. A mix of plain, pickle and apple should be good for Kielder100 this year.

There was even enough enough sun to finally start this year's ridiculous cyclist's tan.

Distance: 83km (31km Darlington to Woodland, 20km from Woodland into/round the forest and back again, and 32km back home again)
Surface: Road and off-road
Time: 4:25 (1:45 + 1:10 + 1:30)
Weather: Warm and dry
Bike: Inbred SS (with 2.4″ tyres on 32:17)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Back to Hamsterley

Back up to Hamsterley again on Tuesday. Legs were feeling tired after Monday's ride so I just did three laps of Section 13 and then headed home. Pretty pleased with knocking 12 seconds of my previous best for Section 13, but all the climbs on the way out were slower and overall time on the ride out was much longer

But, despite the forecast, it didn't rain.

Taken Wednesday off to rest, eat and watch Le Tour. Back out again on Thursday...

Distance: 75km (31km Darlington to Woodland, 13km from Woodland into/round the forest and back again, and 31km back home again)
Surface: Road and off-road
Time: 4:20 (1:54 + 0:54+ 1:30)
Weather: Warm and dry
Bike: Inbred SS (with 2.4″ tyres on 32:17)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Darlington – Hamsterley – Darlington again

As last Friday, up to Hamsterley by the usual route. Hit the ‘old new’ trails at Hamsterley (Section 13, Special K, Brain Freeze), then along the Grove Link and climbed direct to the top of the ‘new new’ trails (Transmission, Accelerator, Nitrous) before riding home. Used the road climb out of the forest, instead of the big push up past the DH hut, which is further but ridable.

I was slower down all the descents that last week, but it was very wet, but faster up all the climbs and faster overall. Plan is to do this ride every day this week, so we'll see how that drops away as the week goes on.

The tri bag was great for food; looks dorky but works well.

Food was two litres of apple juice diluted with 2 litres of water, plus four mini pork pies. One pork pie after every hour and drinking steadily throughout seemed to work fine.

Distance: 85km (31km Darlington to Woodland, 23km from Woodland into/round the forest and back again, and 31km back home again)
Surface: Road and off-road
Time: 4:36 (1:38 + 1:27 + 1:31)
Weather: Cold and wet
Bike: Inbred SS (with 2.4″ tyres on 32:17)

Friday, 13 July 2012

Darlington - Hamsterley - Darlington

A rare sunny day and a much-needed bike ride.

Up to Hamsterley by the usual route, but feeling really good on the climbs. Hit the 'old new' trails at Hamsterley (Section 13, Special K, Brain Freeze), then along the Grove Link and found the climb direct to the top of the 'new new' trails (Transmission, Accelerator, Nitrous), and couldn't resist dropping down Section 13 again. All the new stuff is great fun and has held up absolutely brilliantly to all the recent heavy rain; riding at Hamsterley isn't the mudfest it used to be.

I surprised myself with how well I was climbing, as I've not been riding that much recently. Being a few kilos lighter must be helping. It's only 5kg or so, but that makes me about 7% lighter, which must help.

Definitely need to get up to Hamsterley more often; with some early starts, I could do that ride and be home late morning. I need a lot more practice riding off-road before Kielder 100 in a couple of months; climbing fine but slow downhill and my shoulders are sore this morning.

New Camelbak worked well - great to not have to faff about swapping bottles around. With a bottle on the frame, I had best part of four litres of fluid (half apple juice and half water). I think for Kielder I'm going to have to use the dorky tri bag on the frame for eating on the go, as the pack made it hard to reach into jersey pockets. Food was four mini pork pies, eaten roughly one per hour and a handful of chocolate raisins for the ride home. For Kielder, I should be able to steal Trio's tactic of skipping the first water/feed station, and so missing out on the queue and gaining 10 minutes or so, plus a lot of saved overtaking, early on.

Distance: 83km (31km Darlington to Woodland, 20km from Woodland into/round the forest and back again, and 32km back home again)
Surface: Road and off-road
Time: 4:45 (1:42 + 1:38 + 1:25)
Weather: Warm and sunny!
Bike: Inbred SS (with 2.4″ tyres on 32:17)

Monday, 2 July 2012

Newsham Moor bivvy ride

"But what if a fox eats your face?"

Our friend Ann didn't understand why I was going to sleep in a bag in a field on my own. I don't think Sarah did either, but she's used to me doing odd things by now.

So, sit at home and watch Graham Norton on TV, or go for a ride, kip somewhere and ride back again? I loaded up my bike.

Bike loaded with bivvy kit

I've plans for the summer, so this was a chance to test out my new Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag. I say new, but like most bivvy bags it's sat accusingly in the wardrobe not being used for a year or so. It was also a chance for me to see just how terrifying it was to go to sleep along in a field.

It turns out, it's not scary at all, though it is light until very, very late so I alternated between reading a book inside the bag when it rained and watching the clouds blow overhead and the lights coming on in the valley below when it didn't rain.

Bedroom view

I slept on and off through the night. A £7 sleeping bag from Tesco is cheap and light, but not particularly warm, even when wearing a warm jacket and a merino base layer. Not cold enough to make me think about taking a heavier bag next time though.

As well as being light until very late, the sun makes a very early appearance, with the sky starting to get light at about 3:30. I probably only slept for two or three hours altogether.


So, at just after 4am, I packed up and headed home.

Packing up the next morning

Home by six for a couple of hours of coffee and internet before anyone else was up; not a bad way to spend a half a day.

I knew I'd either love or hate bivvying. I think I'm hooked...

Distance: 60km (30km there and 30km back)
Surface: Road
Time: 3:40 riding time, but out of the house for 11 hours
Weather: Warm, windy, a few showers
Bike: Inbred SS (with 2.4″ rear tyre on 32:17)

Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag, with Tesco sleeping bags inside, in a 13l Alpkit Airlock Xtra dry bag and bungied to the bars. Bivvy bag was ace and sleeping bag adequate. Need to get better straps for next time as the bungy only just fit.
Alpkit Wee Airic camping mat carried in a 20l Alpkit Gourdon rucsac, along with warm/spare clothes, water, book, torch and some spare food. This was too heavy; need to look into a frame bag and/or seatpost pack.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Chasing old-me

Chasing down me from years gone by. At the end of April, I'd ridden the shortest distance for that point in the year since records began*.

It's the end of May and I've caught and passed me from 2007 (by 4 miles), 2009 (by 114 miles) and 2011 (by 113 miles). Take that past-me. I'm actually ahead of June-2011-me by 16 miles already.

2008-me is still 155 miles ahead and June 2008 is the only month I've every passed the 300 mile mark, so I'm not going to catch that me (this month). But 2010-me is only 99 miles ahead and I'm gonna get that me this month.

*2007 (I have spreadsheets)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Singlespeeding Sunny Swaledale Again

Same route as last time, but an hour faster and with added chicken and lentil dahl, an extra litre of apple juice. And swapping the scone for caramel shortcake at Dales Bike Centre.

Plus even hotter and sunnier, with a pig of a headwind all the way home, that wasn't there as a tailwind on the way in. Took some time off most of the Strava segments, partly by better planning of stops, but also by riding those bits harder.

I will take three minutes off my time for Great Pinseat (South Route) to get the KOM.

Distance: 108km (Strava - till Strava decided not to record anymore)
Surface: Road and off-road
Time: 8 hours
Weather: Very hot and sunny
Bike: Inbred SS (with 2.4″ rear tyre on 32:17)

Singlespeeding Sunny Swaledale

Not ridden since the start of April, why not try a big ride and hurt myself? Oh, go on then.

Add in hot weather and it being the first ride since I started on a slow carb diet and let's see what'll happen. Turns out, I can ride quite well on no breakfast, three mini pork pies and a litre of apple juice (water only for the first hour), and a scone at Dales Bike Centre.

Distance: 108km (Strava - till the phone battery died)
Surface: Road and off-road
Time: 9 hours
Weather: Hot and sunny
Bike: Inbred SS (with 2.4″ rear tyre on 32:17)

Monday, 7 May 2012

Chasing History

Totals at the end of April from previous years: 501, 710, 429, 602.5, 483. This year was 428 miles, so the lowest since I started recording in 2005. This is bad.

But, for the first May ever, I've got no coursework to mark and the weekends are looking reasonably unbooked. Time to take the slightly longer way home from work, squeeze in some extra miles and chase the old me of each of the last five years, to beat 'them' at the end of May.

May 2012 miles needed to catch the me from previous years:

  • 2009 me - 154

  • 2011 me - 155

  • 2007 me - 264

  • 2010 me - 366.5

  • 2008 me - 422.5

Which Old Me will I catch?

Quick Darlington Fixietwat Spin

Snook out for a quick spin round the town - Barmpton Gravel, North Park, Black Path, Motorway Bridleway and Baydale Beck - on the Solitude.

  • Fixed rooty singletrack is fun

  • The subtle clip of pedal on root

  • "Mister, your bars are on upside down"

Distance: 15 miles (Strava/map)
Surface: Road and off-road
Time: 1 hours 40 minutes
Weather: Warm and dry
Bike: Solitude Fixietwat (with 2.25" tyres, 34:16)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Ellie's contest-winning writing

Ellie, 8, is very excited about being one of the six stories chosen, from hundreds of entries, to be published in Weevil Weekly magazine. A 200 word story about the Enchanted Forest items:

"Down in the hollows of the willow pond, Hamley the elf, sat down on the red toadstool. I wonder what is inside that secret tree, he wondered. Just then he had an idea, he would wait until the dead of night. Then he would clearly see the creature that lived in this secret tree! So he waited until the dead of night that night, then he checked, there was nobody in. So he waited until the next morning,there was STILL nobody there! So he waited until the dead of, well, you get the idea! But there was still nobody there! So the next day he went for a walk. Then, at about 6 'o' clock he came back. Next he noticed something strange going on. The lights in the secret tree were on! Whilst he had been on his walk, whoever lived there had come back!!! So he never found out who lived in the tree!"

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Long overdue site update

I'm going to attempt to update the Wordpress install. Wish me luck...

Update: it seems to have worked! #phew

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Darlington - 'new' Hamsterley trails - Darlington

I found them by following the Red; I think that might have been the long way round. They're ace.

Rode up there and followed the Red from the DH Cabin to the Grove. Then rode home. I'd have proof on Strava of just how amazingly fast I was, but the app crashed and died and wouldn't come back. I was awesome though. Watch the above video, but imagine it slower. 5 hours and a bit home-to-home.

"Made it to Woodland. Head wind. Slooooow." @11:47
"At Woodland again, on the way home. Ace fun ride!" (pic) @13:39
"Home!" @15:18

Distance: Between 40 and 52 miles (20 miles to Hamsterley, ?ish miles round Hamsterley (the full Red is about 12 miles) and 20 miles home
Surface: Road and off-road
Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Weather: Warm and dry, occasional spits of rain. Windy - badass headwind on the way up
Bike: Inbred SS (with 2.4″ tyres, 32:17)