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.

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