Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From Robin
This year's North West Passage ... the very long enema audax across the flatlands of Lancashire, started as it always has with a large group of largely badly dressed cyclists meandering their way along the valley bottom into West Yorkshire, there to find the sun coming through the cold mist. For Yorkshireman Brian this change in the weather was part of the normal cosmic flow of events that pass between the county borders. Nothing remarkable. The gentle ascent from Tod was gently taken, save for Pete would decided to lead one of his main rivals for a top finish into a pot hole, causing said opposition to puncture whilst the cunning retiree from the force pottered on. John had a little dig somewhere toward the top. A sign of things to come later. Burnley was still asleep when we went through, so no abuse from the passing windows of slouch-mouthed family saloons. Barrowford was also asleep, but we woke up a bit on the climb, though a gentleman's pace was maintained throughout, allowing a larger group than normal to drift sedately upon the Naked Man. Cards stamped, save Nigel's, which was requisitioned by the stamper who seemed to have warmed to her bureacratic task with an almost soviet zeal for making the most of paperwork. Booker Brow witnessed another one of John's kicks, setting the singled-out train in motion, with him at front, then Chris who did take a really really long time to come round when being a team mate and all he should have come forward sooner, before the Condor then upped the pace massively ....  for about a second ...  and then dropped off into a far more doable rhythm and we pedalled briskly into Kirby. The burger bar at the bridge was standing in a pool of sunlight so warm and bright that even the feint pall of fat that always surrounds such mobile food outlets seemed almost a spring-like pollination. The people running the burger bar seemed to be practising for the how many operatives can you squeeze into a mobile burger bar competition ... they looked to be five twisting about in the trailer, and none of them were small. They made vegetarians wait until ALL the bacon eaters had been served. Quite right. Pete and Brian re-convened with the group, so we all of us set off to Lancaster on a very smooth run, back into the fog, because of course we were leaving Yorkshire. Then John let loose past Garstang. We kind of hung on. Many of the un-named we'd picked up coming into Lancaster got dropped, and we caught the front group just before Scorton. Pete was getting excited. Front group and all. Though not for too long, as we split up by the Roebuck. John and Chris had finally got fed up of dragging round a flock of tired Condors, so set off a pace leaving us, uncomplaining about being left, though the twins here decided they better start complaining about something, so found themselves suffering from cramp, which gave them ample opportunity to set up a brotherly grumble about the different types you might incur, classified according to a complicated categorization involving location, intensity, duration and shrillness of associated cry of pain. We managed the first hill through to Blackburn without too mucg ado, though I was of course hanging on, keeping quiet, but not as quiet as Brian, who was also hanging on it seemed, though less successfully, as he fell off just after the main raod. We mentioned this to Pete, and how we might wait, but Pete seemed reasonably happy with his reasoning that on no account should Brian be allowed to catch him up because we had the hill coming. Not sure the logic was there in this argument, but it seemed sufficient for Pete, who then put down some speed as though he were back working and had been given permission to sound off his nee naw siren. Even more encouraging for Pete (and I must admit for myself too, and maybe even Nige and the Condor), we found John and Chris by the road side trying to fix a ripped tyre with a discarded lucozade bottle and in time honoured Condor fashion sped past them whooping with delight that the the shoddy VS equipment had held them up. The last hill .. .something with Bets in the title i think ... is not really a hill unless you've 130 miles in your legs and are not that fit and then it is a slog at the top of which lies a dark and lonely inward place the door of which you knock at, get let in, and then accept it is only one way. Luckily, as in all previosu years, the rest of the route is downhill, and, aside from Pete's anxiety to visit the heavenly version of a one way door as he ventured to re-write the give way laws in favour of anything that was old and wearing a condor jersey, we found the end without much actual physical endeavour, which was kind of just as well, given I for one had nothing left to give. It was all worth it of course, because Condor had beaten VS in what will be the only event of the year when the two race head to head. So first and last blood to the blue streak and just goes to show it's always best to hand within the shadow of a VS wheel and then trust to the linguistic coincidence that 'fast' rhymes with 'last' . The ride finished as always with pie, peas and a one way chat with a someone who seemed content just to stare mutely into the middle distance. Oh those audax boys know how to have a good laugh.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Imps Reliability Ride

While we wait for a full report from the North West Passage, I hope to tempt you with details of more fun and frivolity for next weekend.
Janice Saleem has sent us an invite for the now-rebranded "Halifax Imps Reliability Ride".
Starts 08:45 from the Ritz Ballroom in Brighouse.

Halifax Imperial Wheelers

Would like to invite you to join them for


Annual Early Season Reliability Ride

(Formerly run as the HCA ride)

Taking place on

Sunday 28th February, 2010

Start Point: The Ritz Ballroom, Brighouse

Finish Point: The Pineberry Inn, Mountain, Queensbury

Meet at 8.45am for 9.00am start

Choose between 50/60 mile or 75/80 mile ride

Entry Fee of £1.00 per person payable on the day in exchange for a route sheet

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Latest News - Grimpy to join Team Sky?

Grimpy at BC Champions Night, Saturday the 20th Feb with Dave Brailsford and Sir Chris Hoy
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quantocks, Quarks and quite a lot of cycling...

Hello all,

Time for another update from the other side of the Pennines....

I've now started track racing with the Monday night ACT league, did my first night last week. I was encouraged by a good performance in the Devil takes the hindmost and the scratch race. I'll keep you all posted on how that's going!

Before Christmas we had a few days out in the lakes. I've now tackled Wrynose and Hardknotts (admittedly not in sequence at the end of a 130 mile sportive..).
We started our January training in earnest with 3 days in Bristol. Some amazing riding in the Quantock hills and Exmoor with some silly racing around thrown in for good measure. We're doing regular chain gangs with the Manchester Wheelers 2/3 times a week which makes for a good mid week leg-breaker.

I've built myself a fixed-wheel commute out of some old bits I had knocking around and some bargains off eBay (Thanks to Dave Grant for the retro Campagnolo cranks!). Might pop some pictures up at some point. Hasn't fallen to pieces yet...

The Easter break is coming up in about a month or so. I'm looking forward to some riding with the "flock" to get a break from the Physics and murderous bus drivers!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Ride Report 14/2/10

It may not have been the longest Sunday run this year but it was without doubt the hardest. A reasonable turn out considering the twin distractions of Valentines Day and the start of the Half Term Holidays saw Sean and Niall, John D & Tommo, Myself & Brian, Grimpy and, making his first appearance on a Sunday run Steve Cavell.
Brian & Sean led us at a sensible pace to Keighley where we were joined by Melvin and Steve Barker. JD & Chris took over at the front from Keighley; the pace quickened. I was sat in second in line with Niall hoping that once we got to Silsden they would pull over so Niall and myself could dictate a more reasonable pace over Cringles. I never got the chance to put that into play, they were pulling away even before we got through Silsden, I wasn't able to stop a gap opening, Niall stayed on, Sean & Mel jumped across from behind me.
I was relieved when no one else jumped across fearing that I was about to spend most of the day chasing alone. It was far too early in the day to screw myself in an attempt to close the gap, staying comfortable and saving a bit for later in the day was obviously the best tactic especially as I wasn't alone.
Steve and I were tapping on at the front, about 100m behind the main peloton when I glanced round and saw that Steve Cavell had completely disappeared and Grimpy, even though he had his best cyclo-cross tyres on, was losing contact. Not wanting the run to completely disintegrate so early in the day I kept pulling Steve back by his jersey to give Grimpy the chance to get back on.
Once at the summit they were waiting for us at the junction where Mel had the bright idea of making our way to Bolton Bridge via Draughton rather than the usual route through Addingham. Had my brain been working a little quicker I would have said what a good idea it was and then gone by myself via Addingham giving myself a chance to attack the climb up the A59 to Kexgill in front of the big hitters and then have a gentle potter towards Thruscross Reservoir.
However what did happen is that they set off like an express train over the icy surfaced undulations of Draughton Moor, me at the back on elastic and; sadly, Grimpy, shown no mercy, was left to fend for himself, not to be seen again that day.
As everyone knows the hardest part of the climb up to Kexgill is the first bit from the end of Beamsley Lane but John, Chris, Mel & the Smiths didn't appear to notice the steepness of the incline. I told Brian that I would see him at the cafe but whether by choice or necessity I don't know, he dropped off the back with me and we shared to effort. Steve Barker was the next to drop off so I put in an effort and got onto his wheel. We slipped into a comfortable routine, I took them on a couple of minor diversions just to add a little more interest to the day but they didn't even say thank you. We had slipped into a comfortable rhythm happy in the knowledge that we wouldn't have to get out of breath again this side of Burnsall. That was not to be, they had caught Nigel up at Kexgill (he'd set off from his in-laws in Ilkley), he had told them off for leaving us and made them stop and wait (yeah, great, thanks Nige). We more or less stayed together then to Burnsall Cafe where we found Ian looking pleased with himself, having set off late (again) and gone straight to Burnsall over his favourite climb, Eastby Brow.
Now I had suggested that if the weather was kind and we were feeling fit and keen we could consider coming home via Thorpe, Gargrave, Elslack, Black Lane Ends and the Herders. Never in my wildest dreams did I think there was anyone other than me was daft enough to do this route on a cold icy day in the middle of February during the hardest winter in living memory. My bluff was called. As we rode through Hetton towards Gargrave I thought surely someone is going to tell me that this is just a joke and we are really going to go home straight through Keighley.
No one cracked. We got to the junction at Broughton, Brian mumbled something (I'm not sure what he said, but I know what he was thinking) and turned left and rode off alone. The Herders being my suggestion, I hadn't the bottle to go with him. It went a bit quiet towards Elslack, people were stoking up on gels and chocolate. The climb from Elslack up to Pinhaw is never easy and the damp, greasy surface made it worse than usual. I was relieved that I wasn't the first to go off the back, that dubious honour went to Steve who in recent weeks has spent more time in the gym than on the bike - was it Eddy Merckx whose three top training tips were - (1) Ride the bike. (2) Ride the bike. (3) Ride the bike.
Ian then slipped back a little, then me, Ian came up to me and we continued together. I could see that Nigel was continuing his recent return to form and was up there with his brother setting the pace before he slipped back slightly just before the top. I don't know why I had expected them to stop and wait at the junction but they didn't, although when Ian and I managed eventually to get back on I was assured that they had been riding slowly to allow us to catch up. Not slow enough however as we didn't see Steve again (I suspect it won't be long before he gets his revenge).
Up the drag to Black Lane Ends Ian disappeared out of the back and that was that, no prisoners were being taken.
The start of the Herders wasn't too bad but I did lose contact when it got steeper, Nigel then drifted off the back as did Niall who had been riding very strong all day but was now feeling the distance. We regrouped over the top with Sean dropping back to look after Niall.
The next big obstacle was from the reservoir at Stanbury over Penistone Hill. Chris attempted to be the first cyclist ever to climb this hill on the big ring; I'm sorry to have to report that he failed. It was up the Dog & Gun climb the for John, Chris, Mel and me. Chris and Mel at the front and me dropping off the back. John started to come back to me, I told him not to wait for me, he said he wasn't, he was going flat out. Mel turned off at the D&G and I followed Chris & John from a distance of 50 or 60 yards over the cutting eventually getting back on their wheel at Queensbury for a welcome freewheel home.

PS sorry about the length of this report

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sunday 14th February

Most of the usuals out again last Sunday for the Silverdale run plus Mick Collins and Andy Garling making their debut. Robin & Steve failed to show, hope they wern't slacking, its a bit early to taper for the NW Passage. I lost my nerve a little on the black ice over the tops but it didn't appear to bother anyone else - must be my age. Lumby almost timed it right, having parked his car in Keighley and setting off ahead of the bunch with the intention of getting to the cafe ahead of us he almost achieved his aim but once he was spotted on the road between Stainforth and Settle his fate was sealed as the big guns hauled him in.

This coming Sunday its the same time & place, 9am at Denholmgate with the intention of going over Cringles to Bolton Bridge then up to the top of Kexgill where left to West End and on to Duck Street and Greenhow, left towards Grassington but turning left again just after Dibbles Bridge to Hartlington and Burnsall Cafe. We can decide at the cafe whether to come home either via the Spring into the Dales route of perhaps if the weather is being kind and we're feeling good(very unlikely on both counts) to Gargrave, Laneshaw Bridge & The Herders.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Condors National Champ

Congratulations to John who yesterday again took the gold medal in the National Cyclo-Cross Championships
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sunday 7th Feb & Club Dinner pics

A good time was had by all at The Condor Road Club 60th Annual Dinner & Prize Presentation.
It is intended to do the Silverdale run this Sunday but as I write snow is once again creating a winter wonderland so if we meet as usual at Denholmgate at 9am we may have to revise the destination.