Saturday, 14 January 2012

There and Back

I had a truncated drinking session on Thursday night in the hope that I would be fit for the Denby Dale challenge and did actually feel better than I usually did on Friday morning feeling as a result. It was a clear, crisp sunny day, absolutely perfect for our venture. George texted and said he was running late which was just as well because I was too. I was just about ready when he turned up and we loaded our gear on my rack and set off at about 1045, off through Aspull and on to the A6 towards Manchester. From there it was a fairly complicated route through Prestwich, Chadderton, Middleton and Oldham. We had each printed out a map showing the route and it was a bit of a nuisance stopping every now and then to check the route which is something I will need to sort out.

Saddleworth Awaits

We made our way through Oldham and then faced the 300m plus climb up onto the infamous Saddleworth Moor. I managed it in the "granny gears" but George only had 12 gears. He had to stop once so it was a very brave effort by the lad. We met Steve on the top and descended into Holmfirth and after a couple more climbs eventually made it to the delightful village of Denby Dale, a total of 79.5km. We should have gone round the block to make it up to 80km which is about 50 miles. It was great to see Maggie at the door cheering us in with her pinny on. We had a really special evening, catching up and chatting about old times over a few pints of Wharfebank Tether in the local and then back for a tremendous meal with nice wine and a malt whisky to finish off.
Last of the summer
 wine country

Needless to say we were a bit fuzzy this morning (Saturday) but we got our breakfast down us and Steve drove us to the place he had met us the day before and we set off again, this time down the 5.4km slope into Saddleworth which was a bit hairy because there were bits of ice and frost around where the sun hadn't been able to get at it. It was an uneventful ride back and I was stiffening up badly near the end but we made it. It was about 62km coming back which is just less than 40 miles. So that's two long rides on consecutive days with a moderate and then a severe hangover. I'm feeling OK at the moment but I think there may be a bit of stiffness tomorrow and maybe thereafter. We'll see.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A Taxing Test

I can't believe I haven't blogged since last Friday. Where does the time go? Sound familiar?

The problem is that people have now got over Christmas and started thinking about doing things to their houses. Builders are back at work and have started knocking walls down and concrete batching plants have decided to move a few silos around. The outcome of this is that I have been quite busy this week. I also need to make my online tax submission by the end of the month which is a nuisance. I have done a bit but there is much more to do.

The weather hasn't been bad so I have managed to get out every other day and do a bit. On Tuesday I cycled up to a place called Sweatshop in Chorley which specialises in running shoes and other sporting equipment. They carry out a "gait assessment" and recommend appropriate trainers for runners. They also measure the bottom of your feet and check arches etc and provide tailor-made orthotics (insoles) which they say can help prevent or relieve lower limb problems. I bought a pair of trainers and a pair of insoles which I am wearing now. The jury is still out, so far.

I am ready for my first "shakedown" over to Denby Dale tomorrow, where they make proper pies. Can't wait. The weather will be fine apparently but a bit cold. Cold has never been a problem as long as it is dry. Cycling does really keep you warm, honest. The excellent news is that my old mate George is getting off his big fat wobbly bottom and he will be accompanying me so we'll have a laugh. The plan is that we will stop at Oldham or thereabouts for a snack and phone our host Steve who will then set off from base camp and hopefully meet us near Holmfirth, if we can get over Saddleworth Moor that is. We'll have to take it very easy and save some energy because we are returning West the next day. That will be quite a test doing such a long ride on consecutive days but it's got to be done. George is not soft. He's bringing a train timetable. My sleeping bag and mat have now arrived but no panniers. I rang the store and they are out of stock. Fortunately I don't need to carry much stuff  but I wanted to have a go with them on and see how it went.

I will be sending out beacons and recording the route on so we can be tracked if anyone has any doubts about our real mission.