For me a cycling event is not a “challenge” unless I’m unsure if I can actually finish it, that’s the point of a challenge right? It has to be personally challenging. Many sportives pick a route of similar length to a cycling club’s Sunday ride and give you a medal at the end. Now to many that is a challenge (everybody is different, lets not get elitist here) but I have enough confidence in my abilities to know that I could finish an 80 or 100mile (160km) route even if it has a lot of climbing. The Dragon Ride offered something I found truly challenging, the longest single day route; the Dragon Devil offering 189 miles (305km) with something like 4000m of climbing. Now I don’t know about you, but that sounded pretty daunting. That would be one sportive medal I would be proud to earn.
This is probably my favourite ride, not just in the Peak District, but probably in England. I like to think of it as a ride through the quiet back roads of the White Peak, the mainly Limestone valleys of the South and West of the National Park. I love a single track road with grass growing out of the middle, I love the deserted lanes where Sheep and Ramblers are the main traffic problem. In one of the most visited National Parks in the UK it is still possible to feel in the middle of nowhere and do some pretty amazing riding too. Continue reading
Waterproof and breathable, the holy grail of outdoor sports clothing. It’s something that’s claimed when marketing most technical clothing, but it’s always a trade off between the two. Just how breathable or how waterproof do things need to be to be classified as just that? What we really want is something that’s as waterproof as a hardshell jacket, and as breathable as a normal cycling top. But that’s just fantasy right? Well maybe not anymore… Continue reading
It has become increasingly apparent over the last few years, that Yorkshire is a bit special when it comes to cycling. Having grown up in the North York Moors National Park, I have to say that I did just find the relentless and ridiculously steep hills quite hard work. It is only now, as a passionate and travelled cyclist, that I appreciate how unique the terrain is back in North Yorkshire.
I have put together a little route as a great introduction to North Yorkshire cycling. Download the file for your Garmin (other navigation systems are available) from the links below. Continue reading
As I approached the blind corner I get out of the saddle, kicking a bit harder to help me up the hill that lay around the bend. With a car tucked in tightly behind me, waiting impatiently for a clear road, I heard a loud ping from behind me. Nowhere to stop and check, I glance down: Garmin and lights, still there; saddle bag, in place. In the light of the car headlights I see my wheel weaving wildly beneath me. Another spoke gone, the third one in 5 weeks. These wheels are done! Damn it, this cheap winter bike is becoming a bit “Triggers Broom”*.
There will be no awards for me saving money. I’ve only just replaced the frame! Now I’m looking at a new set of wheels. It’s a fixed wheel winter hack; nothing to go wrong they tell me. Except so far the frame has snapped, the chain and sprockets have worn out and the rear wheel has had enough. So apart from that, and few punctures; yeah apart from all that it’s been very reliable. And with a list like that, you will be asking the same question as they did about Trigger’s broom: “So how is it the same broom(bike) then?”
The forecast temperature doesn’t always tell the whole story; wind and wind direction, clouds, sun, freezing fog, humidity and rain can all affect the “feels like” temperature on a long ride. Often it’s fingers and toes that suffer in the cold and I lose the ability to brake and change gears, but sometimes I overdress and experience the “boil in the bag” effect. With too few pockets to contain an unwanted layer what am I supposed to do? Eat it? Tie it round my neck like a super hero’s cape? In short it’s a true skill to get the kit right every time, and the more I buy the more choices I have to make. On a short ride I can tolerate the discomfort, but I’ve had an idea about how to “design” longer winter rides to optimise my clothing for the day’s conditions, let me explain… Continue reading
If you had to show one of your oldest cycling friends one route to show off the best of your local National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, what would you include? It had better be good to make it worth them travelling over for, and there had better be some cake stops and a pub lunch! Hills bring stunning views and descents, and we’d want some tight twisting descents as well as epic fully tucked charges. This varied route through the North of the Peak District National Park is littered with reservoirs and takes in what could arguably be one of the best bits of tarmac in the whole country: Tarmac initially laid for the Tour De France Grand Depart (but with the entire 16km section of Mortimer road now being freshly laid and unbelievably smooth). Continue reading
I must admit that it’s been a while since I’ve really pushed a bike to its limits. As I do most of my riding on public roads the greasy damp tarmac and diesel spills have caught me out far too many times. The result of which has left my confidence in cornering traction, more often than not, on the cautious side. So I jumped at the chance to improve these now rusty skills by attending a British Cycling coached road racing skills session. I’d forgotten how good it feels to be more in tune with the bike, feeling the way the bike reacts as tyres grip firmly on the fresh clean tarmac. Continue reading
Cycling and the weather; the endless worry of a cyclist. Finding those precious hours of optimum (or just about acceptable) conditions to get out and feel the sensation of speed. The effortless tail wind, flattering your ability, on that sun soaked morning before returning home to errands and reality. Weather can make your day, or break your sprit. If you’ve ever had to change gear with the other hand because your fingers have stopped working, numbed through cold and rain, then you’ll know how important it is to be prepared for what the weather has in store. Continue reading
Winter Cycling Requires Motivation
Staying motivated over the winter months has to be the hardest thing as a UK cyclist. When it’s cold, windy and normally raining it’s so easy to just put off your riding time and sink into a nice warm and comfortable lack of training rut. Often the promise of a session on the turbo trainer becomes a reason not to join friends on that cold morning ride, and if you don’t enjoy the turbo trainer sessions your riding time slowly reduces to almost nothing. Continue reading
The infamous Chimney bank, often referred to as the steepest or joint steepest road in England (Not Wales they have a steeper 40% climb). The internet is full of comments about chains snapping on the way up and professional cyclists having to walk up it during the tour of Britain/milk race. If you’re oblivious to all this there is no ignoring the very obvious sign at the top warning of a “Dangerous Hill” and politely requesting that cyclists dismount to descend it. There is however no direct warning about cycling up it, the sign stating that it is a 1 in 3 hill should be warning enough to most. Continue reading
I’ve always had more than one commuting route. I used to let some traffic lights decide if I should turn left and go through the smaller roads, or straight on along the busy but more direct main road. With fresh legs on a direct route I challenge myself to hit the rolling hills as fast as possible; the feeling of nausea as I crest the most challenging hills now a familiar feeling so soon after my morning bowl of porridge. By the tail end of the week the overwhelming feeling is the disappointment I feel when my legs complain about the aching and my will power gives in, changing down a gear to make it easier. “It’s a recovery ride” I tell myself. But cycling doesn’t just have to just be about speed and suffering, whatever happened to fun and adventure? Continue reading