Saturday, 30 March 2013

Soldiering on.

My foot and ankle problems have pretty much ruled out any fell running but I have managed to get to Parkrun a couple of times. The first time at Bolton I had a good ding dong with Stubbsy which forced me to push a bit harder than I was really up to, to be honest. Shockingly slow time but not a surprise. 20:57. It killed me but I swear I nearly got overtaken by a glacier at one point! Anyway, it keeps me ticking over and there's a club championship based on age and %. You'd have thought that Parkrun really wasn't my thing but I have to say that they are a really good, well organised event and get people out running. I'm a bit evangelical about it now and have been encouraging Laughing Dave to have a go - he's done 2 now - and Dave Billi too - er, not quite as successful with that one!
The bike riding is keeping me sane. I've been riding to work 3 - 4 times a week and trying to get out every Sunday when the weather has been good enough. The snow has been bloody amazing. We've had some properly heavy falls. Crap for mountain biking in but fun to trot round in.
Anyway here's some pics.
The other Saturday I went out for a run on t'moors with Cath and Livsey and various mutts. It was great!
Me looking happy:

And Paul and Cath following on behind:
Sundays bike ride was scuppered so I organised another run this time with Livsey and Dave Billi. Similar fun.  We came down the farm lane behind the Chinese and it was full of snow! It must have been about 4 to 5' deep. We ended up running along the dry stone walls!
Midweek I finally persuaded our Will to actually ride his bike seeing as we are going to SSEC in about a fortnight. We rode round a very icy Entwistle Res (I binned it and smacked my poor arthritic kneecap) and then we repaired to the Strawbury Duck for refreshments.
It was a ride of firsts for Will - the first time he'd ridden his bike this year (!!!), and the first time he's got a round in! ;0) Needless to say he really enjoyed it. It was only a short ride and slow due to the conditions but he did ok, really. He will die on his ass in Spain though.
Seeing as I've been enjoying riding to work on the Fort crosser with slicks on I decided to have a ride on my todd yesterday (Good Friday) over Rivi. I passed a sign at Belmont that said Road Closed. Yeah,yeah, I thought. Whatever. And on I carried. It started getting a bit dodgy up on the tops with some snow drifted onto the road and some icy patches. Not too bad. I carried on and reached the big descent towards Rivi. The road was cleared with some massive piles of snow next to the road. It was such a bright clear day that I had to stop to take a pic.

I caught up the couple in the photograph round the corner as they had stopped at the bloody big drift of snow completely blocking the road. Doh! There was a bloke advising us to turn back as the road was filled for quite a distance. Hmm, sod that I thought and, shouldering the bike, I climbed up the drift and made my way to the back way to the Barn. it was pretty busy with bikers and walkers. Bolton Mountain Rescue had a stand there so I went over and had a word with Head Honcho Garry Rhodes for a bit before riding on. I had considered riding all the way to the Toby and back through Pickup Bank but I was so hungry I sacked it and came back via Roman Rd. Lovely ride of just shy of 38 miles.
Today (Good Saturday - hey, if I'm not in work it's good m'kay?) I rode over to Parkrun with Cath and Paul , ran and then rode back. God, it felt hard running! I managed to take 21 seconds of my last (rubbish) time so I was pretty pleased with 20:36. Cath did ok and the riding was good tri training for her.
I'm far from fit but I'm making the best of what I can do at the moment. As long as I can get out then I'm happy and will put up with the aches and pains afterwards.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

City Cross Halifax

My amazing lucky ticket and race entry winning streak continued when I managed to win 2 entries to City Cross.  The event was originally to be held at a disused mill in Halifax and the organisers had created an urban cyclocross race through the building and its surroundings. It looked pretty cool (if a little scary), sadly the owners pulled permission to use it at the 11th hour and so the race was hurriedly relocated to ‘Old Shroggs tip’. Which was where myself and Paul Livsey (the inevitable beneficiary of the other entry) found ourselves on a chilly Sunday morning.
Once we’d extracted ourselves from the chaos of the parking, we had a bit of a mooch. It seemed very well organised with stands selling bike goodies and several food stalls. The course looked a bit more challenging than your standard cx one, with a stiff muddy carry followed by a cobbley plummet – more of which later – and a section where you were pelted with cabbage leaves by small children. Er, yes...
The format of the race was that it was split into various heats, called motos, depending on which category you were racing in. I was in Vets whilst Paul had opted for Novice. Seeing as it was a fun event and I am far from being in any sort of racing form I decided to ride round in my lurid lime and orange underpants that some of you may still be mentally scarred from seeing in an article about a Singlespeed race. They raised a few laughs (and eyebrows) amongst the rest of the guys in my heat as we lined up for the off.

I’d had a bit of a warm up by cycling up and down the bloody big road climb next to the event but my poor body wasn’t really ready for the stupidly fast start and I was getting overtaken on both sides straight away. I dug in and finally started to get going about a third of the way round the first lap.  The course started on the flat and then went through a  sandtrap, across a very muddy field before going through ‘Kowbell Alley’ (people jangling cowbells at you, basically) and then up a steep scaffold ramp before heading to the climb and descent I mentioned earlier. My first lap went ok, apart from the heart attack inducing pace. My second lap, however, was where I had an ‘incident’. I’d struggled up the muddy climb with the bike on my back and then leapt back on to whiz down the cobbles. I think it was a combination of a few factors that led, literally, to my downfall. My tyres were packed with mud, they were at too high a pressure and  the cobbles were now polished by lots of wheels going over them.
I had what they call in the trade a ‘low side’. I slammed down on my side taking most of the impact on my left forearm and lower leg. I was very aware of my bike grinding down the hill in front of me. It felt like it went on for ages. As you do in these situations I jumped up and got back on. I was in some pain though and I’d started to leak a bit of claret. Which is why I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to have objects hurled at me by a baying mass of knee high would be assassins. As well as cabbage leaves they had been armed with marshmallows.  I always thought that marshmallows were lovely soft things. Not the one that hit me in the face! I suspect that the charming little tyke in question had enterprisingly pushed stones into his ammunition.

Hence me shouting through gritted teeth ‘Ooof! You little b******!’ and waving my fist. I later saw a photograph of me on twitter with the text ‘Mr Sparkle just before he began swearing at little children’. Hey, it hurt ok?!

The crash had knocked the wind out of my sails and I struggled round for another lap but my heart wasn’t in it now. I had hoped to qualify for the next round by finishing in the top 50% of my class but it wasn’t to be. Anyway it was soon time for Paul to be off so I contented myself with sticking some extra layers on and began filling the sleeve of my waterproof up with blood. There had been a bit of a crash leaving a kid with a suspected broken collar bone so the course had to be changed while they dragged him off. Paul got to ride on a slightly shorter course but it was still pretty challenging, I thought. He did very well too and managed to qualify for the next round. Ultimately though we decided to head for home. There had been a lot of delays throughout the racing and the afternoon was drawing on. I wasn’t too unhappy when Paul said he was ready to go. We chucked our muddy (and rather battered in my case) bikes in the motor and made for the right side of the Pennines.

Apart from the crash I’d quite enjoyed it. It was an interesting set up and there was plenty to see. You were right next to the racing and the event drew a good crowd of spectators and a lot of participants. I think I might have had to have a good think about entering if I hadn’t won the entries as it would have cost us £20 each and we only got 20 minutes of racing as it turned out. All in all though, it was an interesting trip out. Well done to the organisers and sponsors. I later discovered that me and my underpants had briefly (see what I did there?) featured in an ITV Yorkshire report of the event.
Video here. Me at 8 seconds and here. Me at 2 mins 7 seconds. And my ass here at 11 seconds!