Monday, 2 April 2012

Hollingworth....again...

This post a day late...

Woke up late today so I didn't get out till 10am. The bike club was doing a car assisted run from Garstang and as I don't have a car, I can't go. A bike club that requires the use of a car...the irony.
It looked like it was going to be a warm day so shorts and long sleeve jersey were worn again.
I'd printed out a series of maps using Bike Route Toaster ( http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Default.aspx ) last night with a planned route that included a cycle path from Heywood to Smithy Bridge, around Hollingworth Lake, along the Pennine Bridleway back to the lake, up to Bacup and home again. Certain events transpired to cause a change of plan on the second half of the ride.
I followed the route across the tops through Ainsworth and through Bury town center. I turned off Bury & Rochdale Old Road to pass Queens Park and took the canal cycleway just off Edinburgh Way. I followed that to Smithy Bridge. The cycle path wasn't pretty to say the least. There was rubbish everywhere and even on the banks of the canal too. It was horrible. Plenty of geese and ducks though. The path itself was ok. Fairly smooth, but some parts going under bridges were narrow, cobbled at times and a few went around sharp bends. Not wanting a bath, I got off and walked.
About halfway along the trail, I decided it was warm enough for short sleeves so thats wha happened. A Tesco strawberry flavoured cereal bar was munched too. There were quite a few walkers about and one elderly lady said to her husband that I should have a bell. I said excuse me to warn them I was coming up behind them. Maybe I'll refit the bell tomorrow. Clearly some people prefer to be scared shitless from some eejit ringing his bell as loud a s possible on a quiet lane. Oh well.
Hollingworth Lake was busy as hell and trying to cycle past people who couldn't make up their mind as too which way they were walking required lots of patience. The crunch came at the pavilion cafe on the south side of the lake. I locked up the bike and went inside to order a coffee. There was only one lady there with her son and her dad. Not content with changing her mind several times over what drinks to get and helped by her son, she went on to order full meals for all 3 of them. I'd already been stood waiting 5 minutes by this time and lost my patience. I walked out, unlocked the bike and set off again in the hope that I'd find another coffee stop somewhere. I didn't succeed.
I got onto the PennineBridleway and to be honest, I began to wonder where the hell I was. The maps I had lacked detail and that left me guessing which way and when to turn left or right. The long sleeved jersey was put back on and another Tesco chew bar was scoffed. After a longish and gruelling sharp climb, I stopped at the top to ask a mountain biker for help on the location problem. He was almost as clueless as me thanks to the maps crudeness. He did assure me though that as long as I stayed on the trail, it would lead me to what I hoped was the road I was looking for. I set off and took the ride pretty damn carefully...it was a mountain bike trail and much more bumpy than I had anticipated.
Mountain Biking on a Touring Bike!
 A wrong turn to the left had me at a dead end at a golf course and I had to turn back. This is when I noticed a horrible crunching sound in the lower gears each time I put a bit more pressure on the pedals. I never did find out what it was but it seems to have quietened down. I found the road I was after and after outrunning some teenage muppit who passed me doing a wheelie, I got on with the job of getting home. By now it had become more of a job than a day out as getting lost, bike problems, pesky teenagers, a sore arse and ever worsening weather had ruined the day and my mood was spoiled.
A little past where I turned off for Queenspark, I decided to park up on the footpath and put my tights and windproof on. I was freezing and my backside needed the additional padding that the tights provided. I had already decided to skip the scenic route into and home from Bacup and chose the easier ride that brought me here a couple times before.
Going through Bolton, I overtook another dude on a mountain bike and was promptly honked at by a car behind. As she passed, I waved. Then another car passed and the passenger shouted "Get back in line nobhead!". He got the finger response. Bradford Street is plenty wide enough for a bike and car to share it without being cramped. The wind had also gained in strength as usual and was now pissing me off as I struggled to do 10mph on the flats. I got home around 3.30pm.
Todays stats...
4.28 hours to cover 42.50 miles averaging 9.5mph and hitting 29.1mph.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Another Trip to Hollingworth Lake

I wasn't sure whether or not I was gonna go out today, but did in the end anyway.
After a fair bit of arsing about sorting out banana sammiches, snack food and a map (which was useless and didn't use anyway) I finally got out the door at around 10.30am with a fairly heavy bike. Why was it heavy? Well, despite the weather forcast for a warm sunny day with no rain and because I can, I packed a few extra layers of clothing into the panniers just in case. And I had the new bar bag with me today to test it out and that had stuff in it too.
One thing I noticed about this bike when I first got it was that the steering was really really quick. Too quick for my liking in fact. I had this idea that maybe Dawes made it that way so that when front panniers and a bar bag were fitted, the bike was still fairly sharp handling despite the weight slowing everything down. That idea was proven somewhat today because the bike was still pretty nippy and seemed to glide along effortlessly despite the weight. That might have been down to the tailwind though...
I took the main roads into Bury as I didn't want to get home too late and tried the cycleway next to Peel Way again. Again it wasn't clearly marked and I ended up doing a U-turn and had to climb a bunch of steps through a tunnel to the outskirts of the town center. From there I carried on along the same B-road route to Hollingworth Lake that I took last time. Got to the park / play area at about 12.30pm and had an ice-cream and banana sammiches while sitting at a park bench.
The sun was shining and it could have been warm except the friggin wind was blowing cold and I was freezing my tits off when I got going again at 1pm. I followed the trail around the lake avoiding the endless walkers, runners, dogs and everything else that somehow failed to notice the noise as the freehub clicked, tyres crunched and bits got knocked about in the panniers....bloody iPod wearers. I sometimes wear an iPod myself, but I'm fully aware of my surroundings unlike some of the muppits I passed today.
I managed to find my way home again along the same route I took getting here although my arse was getting increasingly sore. I noticed a public footpath sign on a farm track leading from the main road so turned off and cycled along it till I was out of sight of traffic and passers by. Here I stripped off and changed into some fresh and much cooler shorts. I immediately felt better but was a bit worried about being caught in my birthday suit. Being watched by the sheep in the neighbouring field also felt a bit...odd.
Back on the road with a still sore bum but not as bad as it was I headed for Bolton town centre.
As I got to the outskirts near the motorway, I bumped into Nick. He'd just been to the bike shop to replace his handlebar from the crash yesterday and apart from scuffed knees, he seemed ok.
The wind had been blowing against me since Littleborough and was increasing in strength as each mile passed. By the time I got to Bolton trainstation I was literally cursing it and shaking from cold. I was happy when I got home just after 3pm.
Todays stats...
3.20 hours to do 36.17 miles averaging 10.8 mph and maxing out at 30.2 mph. The odo just passed the 800 mile mark at 803.7 miles.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

B-Ride to Catforth

What a day! After yet another sleepless night, I set off at 9am to meet the club at the Beehive and cycled there along the trail as usual, but this time in the sun!
13 riders, the most we've seen in a long time, set off for Catforth at 9.30am and again I managed to keep up with everyone else. I had plenty of energy today.
Most of the ride there was along bloody A-roads again until we got to Preston and although the sun was shining, it just wasn't that warm. So the long sleeve jersey was on most of the day with the sleeves pulled up...gotta get a suntan somehow right?
The cafe was off a quiet country lane and very easy to miss but quite nice. A pot of tea and beans on toast were ordered. It took about 10 mins before that order was taken. It was about anohter 15 mins till the tea came and I'd drank 3 cups before the beans on toast arrived. There was no tea left by this time. At least it was warm. A bunch of us went outside to sit in the sun for a while and I got to talking to a guy called Ian.
After getting back into Preston and past the Marina, part of the group split and headed off to Bolton through Belmont (hilly). Ian must have taken his eye off the ball while waving bye to them and ploughed into a steel bollard. He was right behind me and I guess my panniers may have blocked them from his vision. He was ok but his bike took a bashing. It looked like the left hand shift unit had a busted trigger and the rear derailleur hanger was bent. Peter did his best to straighten it but Ian's choice of gears was much more limited and those that worked were a bit noisy. It must have drove him nuts hearing them clink over because it certainly got on my nerves after a while. With that and the fact that some of the guys were taking their time going through corners and roundabouts, I lost my patience and speed to the front of the group where I stayed as long as I could.
The roads from Preston were all quiet back roads and farm tracks, different from last time and much nicer. We stopped on a motorway bridge for a breather and the long sleeve jersey was packed into the pannier as it was nice and warm now. My arse was also pretty damn sore at this point, although not as bad as usual...these cheapo Decathlon shorts are actually quite good!
After another bunch of miles the group split again, some following Peter towards Walkden and the rest of us following Ken to Bolton. Our group split again leaving just Ken, Nick and myself going to Bolton through Horwich. Nick took a handlebar superman stylee flying lesson after a car turned into his path. He was ok but for a couple of scrapes and a sore arm and the bike seemed ok too. He was lucky.
I turned off for the cycleway at the Beehive and got home around 4.15pm. Quite a good day really :)
Todays stats...
4.55 hours to cover 59.50 miles averaging 12 mph and maxing at 25.8 mph.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

More Sun?

Toaday started and finished nice, warm and sunny. It was weird. We're not supposd to have sun and warmth in the UK, it's illegal.
Alot of A-group riders turned up today but not so many B-groupers, only Ray, Steve the new guy and me. Shorts were the order of the day and almost everyone was wearing them.
The route on the list was Waddington, but as Ray didn't know how to get there, Bon Apetit was chosen instead. Ray took the usual route that Peter uses but going through Brindle, we followed narrow side roads and farm tracks. Quite nice actually and by now we were in short sleeves, excellent!
A coffee and sausage barm was scoffed at the cafe.
Going back home was less fun. It was rushed and boring. Rough A-roads had me struggling to keep the bike above 10mph and before long, thanks to mashing the pedals for endless miles, my knee started playing up. A risky lane swap by Ray as he failed to check behind him almost had him squished by a car and I was almost squished myself on a mini roundabout because I took the wrong lane.
I turned off at the Beehive and followed the cycle route home and got through the front door just before 2pm. Way too early and had it not been for the knee and sore arse I'd have gone a few miles more to make the most of the day. What a waste.
Stats for today...
3.18 hours to cover 40.55 miles averaging 12.2 mph and hitting 31.5mph.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

First Trip to JJ's Diner

Posting this a day late as I was in a rotten mood yesterday, although nothing to do with the ride...

Last night had me waking at 4am and soaked in sweat thanks to crashing glucose levels.
I had the stem flipped over and tyres pumped up to 90psi and got to the Crofters at 9.10am. Peter was already there waiting. We discussed our wonky knees. Ken turned up 5 mins later and then two other guys arrived, John and Gavin I think. We set off at 9.30am.
Going up Bradshaw Road, John and Gavin shot off like bullets, Peter was a couple feet in front of me and Ken was falling further and further behind every time I checked the mirror. At the top, a few minutes had passed before he caught up and there he decided that he'd turn around and go home. I don't think he was feeling well. Peter said this was the first climb. How many more did we have to go?
Another series of climbs lead to another short stop in Ramsbottom and from there it was onto Rawtenstall's Tesco for a toilet break. Peter asked how my knee was coping which wasn't actually giving me any trouble today so far. His on the other hand was starting to bother him again.
The next bit of the ride is a bit hazy as I literally can't remember how far we travelled from one point to the next, but suffice to say, we turned left off the main road into a series of backroads, passing a picturesque estate where the stream flowed around and through it and onto a bugger of a hill. It wasn't all that steep, but it did seem to go on forever. The views were gorgeous to say the least. At one point I was becoming way too hot and stopped to take off the tights and waterproof. A few minutes later as I neared the top of the hill, I saw John or Gavin riding back to find me and Peter wasn't far behind them. Oops.
A left turn and it was downhill for a couple of miles to JJ's Diner at about 11.30am. I could have easily hit 35mph on some sections but Peter was being cautious and frequent braking followed as I didn't want to overshoot any upcoming turn-offs. The lower speeds also helped to stop me almost freezing...I was wishing I'd kept the tights and waterproof on going downhill.
All but one of us ordered beans on toast and tea's all round. Tea's were almost finished by the time lunch was served and Peter and I had another brew. Whilst not cold, the cafe wasn't exactly warm either and just as I had I finished my second tea and started warming up a bit it was time to go again. I went outside and started putting on my waterproof and it hit me. I hadn't paid for my lunch! Ack! Back in again and nobody seemed to notice, although there was some confusion as the lady who ran the place was waiting for the fourth member of our group (me) to pay before she could take an order from the cyclist who just wandered in through the door (also me). Oops! Mess sorted and we were off again.
More climbing was the order of the day and even the downhills had to pedalled to keep up momentum, headwinds......grrr! Peter was a man on a mission and the pace was relentless. I had earlier mashed the pedals to catch him and John and didn't have time to check behind me, so when we stopped at some traffic lights near Tesco for a break, I was surprised to be asked where Gavin was. He caught up a few minutes later saying he fell behind. The pace carried on back to Ramsbottom where the group split. John and Gavin went their route, Rivington was mentioned I think and Peter and I went ours back to Bolton. On the outskirts of the town centre, Peter left to go home via Moses Gate Park and I plodded on through town and home by Spa Road as usual.

To be honest, from what I had heard from other club members, I thought this ride was going to be a nightmare. It certainly wasn't easy, but it wasn't the leg destroyer I'd imagined either.
My hands didn't suffer much today so flipping the stem did its job however, these shorts by Tenn really suck. The padding just doesn't work at all and I'd say even aggravates the soreness problem. Some folk seem to like them. Each to their own I guess.

Yesterdays stats...
3.45 hours to do 42.09 miles averaging 11.1 mph and hitting 33.2 mph.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Scarisbrick in the Sun!

Today was awesome!
I set off at 8.30am and grabbed my last £5 from the cash machine at Tesco then met the guys at the town hall. Peter, Mark, Ray, Chris and I set off in the sunshine with Tony and some other A-group riders following till we got to the Beehive where we picked up Ken. Tony and co went off on their own ride.
It was the usual A-Roads until we passed Horwich and then it was mostly all quiet country lanes for the rest of the day. One particular eejit had managed to bury his/her car into a fairly hefty gate post and as a result, the road was closed by the police. We started to worry that we'd have to find another way around. A few cyclists coming back down the road told us we could go through but had to walk past the accident scene due to oil and diesel everywhere. Phew!
I didn't have much trouble keeping up with the guys today and for a few miles, I was even at the front following Peters directions. I'd put an extra heavy lashing of E45 cream today as I knew it would be a long ride and it certainly helped. My arse wasn't hurting so much today! Although the hands were sore. Too much weight on the bars I think, so gonna have to flip the stem around again. Grr! One day I'll get this bike right!
Mark noticed a problem with his bike before we got to the cafe and decided to leave it and fix it later.
Beans on toast was devoured by nearly everyone and we set off again. Later on we decided to go for another cup of tea and that took us to Delph Watersports. We sat in the sun and damn well loved it. It was warm enough for me to pack away the long sleeve jersey into the pannier and ride short sleeved till we got into Adlington. The next hill to the motorway bridge was called "Heart Attack Hill" by Peter and with good reason...it was steep. Not as bad as going up the downhill bit on Rivington Road though in my opinion.
Peters chain was a bit squeaky when we got to the top so he borrowed a bit of oil from me, yes I keep some in the panniers. Rainy days when they turn bad can wash alot of it off so if I can carry spare, I will :)
Ken and I took the Bolton route home while everyone else followed the A6 back to wherever they lived.
The knee started giving me trouble after the 40 mile mark and riding home despite the knee support was increasingly painful. I hate this knee!
I followed the Middlebrook Cycleway back home after leaving Ken at the Beehive and got through the front door at 3.50pm. Damn nice day!
Todays stats...
5.06 hours to do 61.80 miles averaging 12 mph and hitting 27.6 mph.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Misty

Another day of feeling down in the dumps, so me and bike went out again. I went along Blackburn Road and onto Egerton Road via Longworth Lane where it got foggy at the top. Winter Hill was barely visable.
Up Rivington Road was crawled along at less than 4mph and I plonked nore air into the rear tyre at the carpark a little past Wards Reservoir. It had lost a good 20psi. No wonder it felt slow. The Signal jacket was put on and I carried on to the top and was soon zooming along hitting the rollercoaster bit at around 20mph.
I'd changed thr rear brake pads last night and sanded them a bit so that helped when I braked at the top of the downhill bit before pedalling like bejezus and hitting near 35mph at the little bridge. Quiet roads today helped with the speeding. More pedal mashing followed as I passed the Village Green Tearoom. I wouldv'e stopped for a bite but money is tight so it was skipped. Rivington Lane was followed at a more leisurely pace and Chorley New Road took me to the Middlebrook Cycleway which took me home for 2:10pm. I'd set off at 11:30am.
I didn't have the bump the bike down the stairs setting off or carry it up them when I got back as they've fixed the lift! Woohoo!
Stats for today...
1.51 hours to do 18.94 miles averaging 10.1 mph and hitting 34.6 mph.