Friday, February 29, 2008

HCA: the very short one

It doesn't sound like Peter had a great ride, but he battled round the long route anyway and gets respect for that.

I was still standing around chatting at the start when I noticed a couple of Condor jerseys sneaking off up the road. This was the signal for all and sundry to jump on their bikes in a very disorganised start. Realising that the long hard ride was beyond my ability , I hung back and waited for John Lumb to catch me up. Meanwhile, Sean Smith passed me going the other way after a puncture had delayed his ride out, then not very long after he passed me again - this time going full gas to catch the lead bunch! el Presidente & I led a good group of Star Wheelers along to Elland, only to see those same wheels go away from us up Salterhebble. The lights by the hospital changed against us and that was the last we saw of anyone. This opening section of this route is just too hard to have a hope of staying together. Come on Mr Kay - give us something better next year!

After climbing steadily back up to Wainstalls it was time to cape up for the old road over Top Withens and down to Oxenhope, then a steady ride on to the deserted Dalseman cafe in Gargrave for butties and tea. John is teaching me all he knows about taking it steady and we abandoned the short route at this point and made our own very short route straight back to Keighley, up Ingrow and on to the Pineberry to see how everyone else had got on. JK was there to welcome us and hopefully he'll get the idea that this ride is just too much - it makes the 140 miles of the long North West Passage seem like a walk in the park.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

HCA ride


This is about the last I saw of them untill the Pineberry some 6 hours later. Grimpy and I tried to sneak off from the start outside the Ritz quietly, but unfortunatly by Brookfoot were towing a heafty weight of riders behind us. We stayed at the front till the top of Salterhebble then moved over. Melvin & Damien went through upping the pace by 2mph, they opened a small gap, the followers upped the pace to close the gap and I went off the back. I watched them dissappear in to the distance through Norton Tower & Mount Tabor, they were out of sight by Wainstalls. It began to rain, by Withens it was pouring down. I stopped to cape up and then teamed up with John Lancaster from Hudds Star over Fly Flatts, through Oxenhope, Keighley & Steeton where we caught Peter from the Imps.
Riding along the Aire Valley several riders, riders with reputations such as Dicko and Birdy had been beaten by the weather conditions and were spotted forlornly limping back towards Keighley.
At Crosshills we passed Grimpy, he'd been discarded by the bunch and left by himself at the roadside in the pouring rain with a puncture, it was a sad sight to see the British Champion & Worlds bronze medalist looking so frail and dejected, but I suppose thats what happens in the HCA ride.
We rode together through Gargrave and Hetton to Cracoe where Lanc & Peter happily announced that they had entered the 70 mile route, turned right and left me to plough my lonely furrow towards Kettlewell.
Just after the short climb beyond the Skirfare bridge I saw the lead group heading south at the other side of the dale, they were single file, obviously still giving it big licks and about 15 minutes ahead of me. I had hoped that they may take a comfort stop at Kettlewell (perhaps they had), anyway there was no catching them now.
Through Kettlewell and down to Grassington, Burnsall and Bolton Bridge. By Addingham I was feeling the effects of bonk. I had to engage the granny ring for Cringles, what a relief it was to freewheel down to Silsden. 2pm, Silsden, 5.5 hour time limit = half an hour to get over Robin Hood, Micklethwaite, Cottingley, Sandy Lane and Egypt................more like 3 and a half hours in the state I was in I packed.............limped to the Pineberry where I was too weak to get to the bar, Ian took pity on me and supplied a pint of liquid recovery drink.
I was surprised how fresh Ian and Lumby looked, I'm sure they can't have done all the 85 mile route.
I don't know just how the ride unravelled at the front, I gather from the chat in the pub that Damien sneaked away when Martin punctured near Prune Park but he was chased down by Melvin who took maximum year I hope to be around to see.
Neil and John Doherty finished at about the same time as me, Neil sporting an ear to ear smile having entered the 85 in 6 1/2 but qualifying for the 5 1/2 hour certificate.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

HCA Ride - 23 Feb 08

This Sunday is the regular HCA Reliability Trial organised by John Kay of the Imps and starting 9am PROMPT from The Ritz, Bradford Road, Brighouse. There is a small entry fee of about a pound so bring some small change.

Now, as you know, Brighouse is at the centre of the turning universe as far as members of the Condor are concerned and is our spiritual home. I'd happily guide any uninitiated western riders living in, say, Hebden Bridge (Steve) or Cragg Vale (Peter) or even Booth (Robin) to the gates of these Elysian fields so that they may better experience the joy, nay exultation, that is Brighouse and its pinacle of architectural enlightenment - a.k.a. The Ritz Ballroom, just off the roundabout next to Tesco.

I'm hoping for another slow and steady ride on the short course of usually 60 miles or so whilst the racing lads can hammer each other in a repeat performance of last weekend on the long one (usually 80 miles) on whatever develish course JK has laid out for us this year.

"The short one"

Peter has just given a great account of the long NW Passage, so here is a suitably shortened account of the short version.

Paul Gower and Ian from the Condor joined forces with Paul Hickey and Neil Dyson from the Imps plus another three or four others from parts hereabouts to form a sociable peleton. Setting off at the leisurely hour of 9am and even at a correspondingly leisurely pace, Paul H soon had us on the front of a big bunch of riders drawn from the 70 or so starters. We waived goodbye to Criss Crossland and fellow CTC-ers on the outskirts of Rochdale and settled into a steady rhythm of 14 to 15 mph which was to persist all day.

Maybe a dozen or so escaped up the road the Blacko climb and we happily let them go, although the majority were content to sit in behind Neil and Hickey still doing sterling work on the front. Gisburn fell just under 40 miles from the start and was time for a spot of elevenses in the cafe at the other end of the village - leaving the main bunch to continue on their way. This proved a good move. By the time we got to the control at Waddington cafe many of these guys were still waiting in the queue to be served, whilst we quickly had our cards stamped and set off again.

Owd Betts has never been easier for me. Usually I'm on my knees by this stage but this time round conversation didn't pause all the way to the top. The descent into Rochdale and a final bit of routefinding through those delightful streets saw us safely back at the pub for around 3pm. Plenty of time for a pint and the rather small portion of pie and peas (but I can't argue since it was free - included in the bargain admission price of £4). In fact we were just starting on a second round of drinks when the fast lads rolled in looking rather tired and pale in some cases, unless your name was Andy, Martin or Brian each of whom looked as if they had just stepped out of a car rather than ridden 200K. Brian's new non-training regime seems to be paying huge dividends!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

NW Passage Etcetera

First of all congratulations to Jonny Perry who recently took the Condor strip to bronze medal place in the Over 16's Category of the English Schools Cycling Association National Cyclo-Cross Championships (watch out Grimpy that Condor Off-Road Trophy could be slipping from your grasp).

The two pictures above were taken at the Langsett Reservoir on the Snake Pass run on the 10th of Feb. As you can see the weather was spot on, I had hoped to get at least one photo of a bunch (or flock) of Condors summitting the Snake but it seems that the lead bunch didn't have time to wait for the photographer. It's a shame that the Heptonstall Hurriers section can't find their way to a Brighuse start, they missed what may be a once in a lifetime experience of a motor vehicle free sunny Sunday on the Snake (road closed due to land-slip) to top it all there was even a slight tail wind on the ascent from Ladybower, we flew up with wings on our wheels staying together for 75% of the climb untill the big guns came out with Damian forcing the pace but unable to shed Dougie and Brian. They were too far ahead for your reporter to see who took the points but I managed to catch them up in the queue at the cafe in Glossop. After refreshments; expecting the peloton want to return to Yorkshire via Holme Moss, I attempted to say my goodbyes intending to ride home at a nice steady pace, by myself, via Stalybridge, Saddleworth and Buckstones. Unfortunatly for me this wasn't allowed, it became apparant that everyone else decided that they would like to check out Stalybridge. I rode myself into the ground but couldn'd keep in contact, I gave up trying and settled down to potter along alone. My heart sank when on approaching Greenfield I saw that they'd stopped to wait for me. I yo-yo'd on and off till Denshaw when, of course, the inevetable happened. Damian attacked very early, Brian responded, I went off the back, the last I saw Dougie appeared to be hanging on up the Gully, they had a gap on Martin who had a gap on Nigel. I pottered on alone to Buckstones Moss where Damian, Dougie and Martin were waiting, obviously intending to beat me up through Outlane and Rastrick. NO THANKS! I thought and turned left down to West Vale, tail between my legs.

Above photo's were taken in the Spring Inn at the end of last Saturdays North West Passage. As you can see the Heptonstall Hurriers section of the Condor have adopted their own team kit going for the fashionable all black look, even managing to frown for the camera in order to maintain their all black doom and gloom but as hard as nails image.
Ideal weather once again for this West Pennine epic but the event was somewhat marred by Damian crashing at the roundabout just before Nelson. However he picked himself up, dusted himself down and started all over again. That true but rare gentleman Dougie waited to ride with Damian who's pride was fortunatly hurt more than his body or his bike. At the time of the crash the bunch was still over 50 strong (95 starters). Damian and myself had been on the front , I was trying to keep the pace nice and steady so as not to start the Blacko climb over to Guisburn already tired (it had taken me most of the week to recover from the Snake run). Pendle Forest riders led us through the back streets of Nelson and to the foot of the Blacko climb. I was 2 or 3 back from the front at the start of the climb but it wasn't long before a succession of riders went past including Robin, Steve, Melvin, Brian and Martin (Cleminson). I was comfortable sat with the Pendle Forest riders and with the memories of the previous week still etched in my mind I decided not to over exert myself so early in the event. Martin (Croft) came to ride with me but it was soon apparant the the Pendle lads were riding as if they were on a club run and not in an important race (I mean by that a normal club run, not a Condor club run). So Martin and I took off up the road and rode together to the first check at Settle. The rest of our lads were still there so we waited for Robin to go for a number 2 and set off. Damian and Dougie came in to Settle just as we were about to leave, Martin Croft stayed with them at the cafe and we went up the road leaving Robin sat on the throne in the ladies in the Naked Man (in my own defence I must add that I had no idea he wasn't with us). Andy Marshall had joined us at Settle having ridden up from Bradford and he, Melvin and Brian were to powerhouses behind a superfast leg up to Kirby Lonsdale where we partook in bacon butties and mugs of tea at Devils Bridge caravan. I was rather surprised that the Damian group didn't catch us up here but I later heard that they took refreshments at Settle. We were averaging 19mph at this point and continued a good pace, riding in a disciplined manner, each pair doing 15 to 20 minutes each on the front down the Lune Valley through Lancaster to Scorton where we had 15to20 minutes re-fueling. The good team work continued through Longridge, Ribchester and over Oswaldtwistle Moors, all enjoying the early spring sun as we sped past riders on their way to completing the 120k route. Inevitably our group of happy cyclists split up as we hit that much talked about and feared climb of Owd Betts. Also inevitably it was me who went off the pace first but it was good to watch Steve and then Melvin also lose contact. I don't know who was the strongest at the summit but I'd guess at it being Andy with Brian not far behind. Bob Johnson from VC167 was also in there, he's the current holder of the Audax UK halfwheeling trophy so perhaps he stuck one on, I don't know, they were too far awayfor me to see. I caught Steve just before the summit, he was glad to se me, he had'nt clue where he was going (or even where he was). Steve and I finished just a minute or two behind the main group at 4pm having averaged about 18.5 mph for the 131 miles.
Don't forget, 8.45am outside the Ritz in Brighouse next Sunday for the HCA Reliability Ride.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Last Sunday/Next Sunday

This weeks pic: Pete on the beat - keeping the backstreets of Hipperholme safe 1980 style

Well I’m not sure it was quite the LSD run I had in mind (more LFD, anyway, that’s how it seemed to me). It was great though to see such a good turnout, I’d heard that no one seemed interested this year but that wasn’t the case last Sunday. For those who wer’nt there, 10 turned up for my suggested steady ‘hours in the saddle’ NON-high-end-speed-training ride.
There was a strong, cold, south easterly wind blowing so instead of going up to Halton Gill and over Silverdale that astute thinker and tactician Melvin suggested turning left at the duck pond, through Hetton to Malham. I always find the undulations between Winterburn and Calton difficult and last Sunday was no exception, however we re-grouped in Airton and pottered over to Malham.
Ian an myself decided not to join in the battle for the polka dot jersey and instead enjoyed the sight of young Jonny haring up the Cove Road with the pack in panic, desperately chasing this embryo Pantani. I don’t know who took the KoM points but I saw a young man who before long will be dictating the pace at will.
Melvin had got it right of course and we enjoyed a tail wind over Tennent Gill to Darnbrook. Ian and I chose to enjoy the scenery over Nab End with its wonderful views over Cowside Beck to Yew Cougar Scar. This caused us to lose contact but we assumed that re-grouping would occur at the green in Arncliffe. However our thoughts had obviously not communicated with the sharp end and they were nowhere to be seen so we followed the time-honoured cyclists route turning left in Arncliffe to ride to Kilnsey on the back lane via Hawkswick. Lack of tyre tracks on the road soon told us that the others had chosen the faster but busier road at the other side of the dale. We re-grouped once we reached the Wharfedale road, it was hard on the front into the strong headwind but Richard and Jonny pulled us along to Cracoe Café, with Dougie making a last dash bid for glory.
After (in fact I was still chewing the last bit) one of the best bacon & egg butties in the Dales, Steve announced that he had promised to be home for about 1o’clock. As it was now 12.45 I thought he was joking but the pace he set into the wind to Skipton and then down Airedale suggested that he was running scared. I’d no computer on the bike but I’m told we were averaging evens all the way, which, to anyone who knows just how strong that wind was, is impressive to say the least. Mel again showed his tactical nous by turning off to Embsey. Dougie tried to do some work at the front which resulted in him overexerting himself and being dropped, and, as traditionally happens on Condor clubruns, left to battle the headwind alone. That dark horse Damian did a bit on the front (and off the front), we know he’s fitter than he has been for years, it was obvious that, whilst he is riding strongly, he had no intention of giving us lesser riders a free tow - he had bigger fish to fry at the other side of Keighley.
I accidentally found myself at the front when we singled out to go through Keighley. The pace must have been pretty slow but no one else was interested in the view from the front so I stayed there untill Ingrow Station. Ian and Jonny abandoned at this juncture, their work done for the day.
The tension and anticipation then exploded; we got to those potholes by the pub opposite the Chippy and Damian put the hammer down, earlier than I had expected, but his out of the saddle effort took him clear, only Steve had an effective response and even he looked to be on elastic. Nigel and Martin pulled away from me and Richard but their chance of glory had gone. I was surprised to see Richard drop back a bit, obviously the distance was getting to him. Damian and Steve disappeared into the distance, I don’t know which of them ended up asserting their superiority but I was informed by a reliable 3rd party they were still locked in battle approaching the finishing line.
So much for long steady distance, they hav’nt quite got the hang of it yet. We are going to try again next Sunday meeting at Brighouse 9am for the Snake Pass. Langsett & Strines first unless there’s a strong easterly in which case we’ll go via Holme Moss & Glossop hitting the Snake with a tail wind. We must try harder to stay together and to slow down whilst going up hills.
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