Twinkly Dave – Mud splattered bicycle and pizza enthusiast Growing old disgracefully

September 26, 2011

Of Restoration through Destruction

Filed under: lunacy - mine,Racing,Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 10:06 pm

Well I’ve been here before, haven’t I. Perched very much on the edge. Hoping I’m balanced as I flow sharply backwards. I’m in the middle of the race and I’m a million miles away. I’m staring at my hand clenched around the wire fence, as footstep after footstep thumps past me and I’m utterly alone in the fells staring at the gravel track winding it’s way from one hillside to the next.

The rain beats down on me as I hang from the fence, blinding me as my glasses fog up, soaking the ground past it’s ability to support my weight, letting it collapse underneath the soles of my shoes, leaving me flapping uselessly around until another racer gives me a helpful shove up the arse. Out on the lonely fellside, the recently refurbished track means I can shift back up in the big ring, glace about me and let the last warmth from the setting sun soothe the hard earned aches and pains in my back.

The first marshalls out on the course fade back into the mist and murk as I start to grimace my way back down Ingleborough. Arms embarrasingly locked as rigid as the chunky seatstays I’m bounced wildly down the hill. Less flow than the water beating me on it’s descent I feel like a shambles. The road can’t come soon enough. I’m not carving round the kinks and corners in the grassy singletrack, I’m pinballing in the slowest way you could imagine. I’m hating it. I need some sort of reprive, something to help remove the damp-through misery I’m starting to feel.

I get it. I drop down underneath the perma-cloud and, as it has done every year, the views across Lancashire burst open around me. The forks judder and protest at my heavy handed, somewhat unnecessary braking and I continue to lurch from one boggy puddle to another, but I sense that I am making some progress, even if I am being massacred as far as position in the race is concerned.
Somewhere far away from any roads, any envious eyes on my back and any timing equipment the fells continue to roll alongside me as I sneak my way between them, chased only by the fading blue of the sky.

As per usual I make up places I’ve grovelled away on the drop down to Cold Cotes, on the road over to the foot of Whernside. I sense I’m further back in the order of the race than I have been in the past and know that another eternity of stumbling steps awaits me. Bike again on shoulder, shoes once again struggling to cope with what they’re being smacked against with little by way of grace I clip clop my way slowly up the steps back into the cloud and up into the signature Whernside Ridge Wind. As before my head is bowed and my fellow combatants become no more than pairs of confused looking cycling shoes, usually stealing past me as I slip and trip towards the second checkpoint.
Hidden amongst what are beginning to feel like My fellsides, my head is again bowed, focussed again on my shoes as I build up the power pushed through the cranks. Continually. For what feels like forever until I barely touching the ground at all. Skimming over it. Scuffing the dust so lightly I begin to glance upwards to check I’m not taking off. Rabbits and hares dart out of the grass to the side of the trail and dart back in shock as I dart past them almost quicker than they can react.

I find I can ride more of the descent than many around me. But my freshly battered shoulder and elbow (don’t go for “one last ride” kids) are singing in discomfort and I find myself grinding and gritching to a halt in the mud a few times as a mixture of pain and a desire to be far away from the middle of a tough morning in a tough race over even tough hills takes over. Long distance stares are called into play to remount the bike and rejoin the fight.

3PeaksCX_CX_140
(Pic by Ed Rollason Photography)

Cresting the top of Salter Fell, long distance stares feel almost compulsary. Unspoilt wilderness welcomes me. Rolling hills, gently swooping rivers, nothing else. No pressure. No worries about how I’m doing. A few more climbs on the trail I’ve chosen. To be ridden at any speed I like. Just mine.

Once again I make up places on the road section back towards Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Briefly bouyed by a car full to bursting with people cheering me on, offering me anything I need cruising past and providing me with enough cheer to power the next few Big Pedal Strokes past another group of riders. A couple jump on my back wheel and we work together until they break and I drop them. I hit the wet, hardpacked stones on the climb up Pen-y-Ghent and slither my way past rider after rider knowing how I’m dwarfed by the upcoming climb without having to look up at it. Aches and pains matched only by a desire to get to the end I offer what little fight I have to the now gravel trail. Riding becomes walking. Becomes trudging. Becomes barely moving at all.

A sense that I’m willing to let the hills, the race, win begins to grow in sore muscles.

I wait for the people I’ve passed on the road to dance past me again.
A quick look upwards and I spot Dave Haygarth walking back down the trail. It’s no suprise that he’s a mountain ahead of me by this point, but it is a shock to see him not hurtling down the path on nhis bike. His arm is wedged in his jersey and without asking I can already tell what’s wrong. Collarbone. But it’s not going to stop him finishing, in a time that the vast majority of the race would be jealous of even with all their bones in order. He even cracks a, sort of, smile as he jokes that he’s “Done a Dave”.
I offer comiserations and get back to my truding. Walking. Trotting. I’m not broken. I may have forgotten how to do anything other than grimace over the past few hours and wished the race away, but I’m still a part of it and one last push over one more hill might lessen the negative effects I’ve created for myself. I find myself starting to want to race again.
My Trail, now heading definitely back down towards Slaidburn, where I’ve half abandoned the car at the side of the road, tries to catch me out with some tricky rocks sections, testing me, letting me find me desire to stay flat out over the contantly shifting surface while tucked down in the drops, finger poised around unrequired brake levers. Dusk light failing to hide the grin spreading across my face as I realise I’m racing flat out towards my mojo.

Jase passes me as I head towards the summit and promises to get the beers in. Damn right, I think to myself. Beer is required here. Warren is filming the JMC boys as we step past him on our way to the last hilltop check point and I make it quite clear to him that beer is on the cards, before dibbing for the last time on the course, turning round and lurching and jerking my way back down to the finish line. In the afternoon sun worryingly refreshing ale is swigged outside the pub through post race smiles, just as, back at the car, jelly sweets are shovelled down through a wide smile. I’ve not won anything except a solitary ride over a few hills and the chance to get back the desire to push myself, but I’ve not lost anything other than a desire to quit. Good. A poor race ‘result’ but a good result from the race. Somehow.

September 6, 2011

(re)Discovering Adventure

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 1:00 pm

I shovelled down my tea as fast as I could, edging towards the door as I did so, at a pace that would have no doubt got me told off for “getting indigestion” had anyone been around to see.
I crammed the bike into the back of the car as the light of the day began to fade and raced round to Wayne’s house, knocking frantically on the door to se if he was allowed out to play.
He was.
His bike was thrown into the back of the car and we positively legged it with wild eyed enthusiasm past the end of his road and out into the Big Wide World.
It got dark as we made our way to Miller’s Dale in the Peak District and was properly dark by the time we arrived in the car park located next to the start of the Big Scary Night Ride and bounced around with giddy ‘hello’s to everyone else who’d been allowed out to play.

Lights on we shot off into the night, past farms with Devil Dogs, through the Fields of Shit, up tracks with warnings of Certain Death by Big Hole, back down super fast roacky descents that made me feel slightly guilty about suggesting that ‘cross bikes would be fine (until I saw Richpips hurtling down them on his fixie), then further down monsterously rocky drops that made me feel guilty about sugesting that anything other than a full on DH bike would be fine (until I saw Richpips hurtling down them on his fixie).
Once down, we climbed back a long roads with names like “Gore Lane” (really) then back off road up an evil climb up onto Shatton Moor before a sublime little singletrack descent into the back end of beyond and some roads to take us back to the Monsal Trail and it’s haunted tunnels, at 2am 🙂

tunnels

No-one died (though Wayne came close), and several grown men got to act like children, making ghost noises while riding through deserted tunnels in the middle of the night, when they should really have been at home, so the ride was classed as a childish success.

Two days, and not all that much sleep later. Jase and I headed back out at Daft o’clock to have another go at our Daft Ride. armed this time with a vague idea of where we were going, a snazzy GPs system that would tell us where we were and a couple more years of Big Long Rides in our legs we had high hopes of getting further than last time.
Just like last time, the first handful of miles (well, 17 actually) were uber fast and on the road. Past Centre Parcs (are those fences to keep us out…or the holiday makers in?), through Pooley Bridge and along the ace track that leads down to Sandwick, followed by the uber-technical (and slow going, but still worth it) shoreline singletrack.

ullswater

Bursting out of the end of the tricky lakeside trail we grovelled our way up onto High Street for the first Mountain Top of the day (and my first bit of 3 Peaks Cyclocross training, with a bike on my shoulder), where Jase nearly got blown off the hill, before thundering back down through Staveley and aong the A6 to an almost deserted despite it being a Bank Holiday Monday in the Lake District valley that led us under the M6 and along the side of the Howgills to Sedburgh.

high-street

A bit of lunch was scoffed in Sedburgh (time marches on at a rapid rate during these rides) before spinning our way up over The Calf to the cheers of onlooking walkers (nice) and beginning the always full on descent along Bowderdale.

Several miles of unbroken, technical in places, deserted singletrack later we popped out on a road, positively flew over Crosby Garrett fell (the scene of a near murder-by-cows last time) before taking an age to get to Appleby where we refilled bottles for the ‘final’ part of the ride up into the Pennines.

A bit more road took us over to Dufton and the third monsterous climb of the day up to High Cup Nick. Lots of portage on the ascent ate away at the time we didn’t really have to waste and brought our ’12 hours into the ride’ mood down, but the view from the top, looking back down the valley more than made up for it.

High Cup Nick

As the light started to weaken we road across the moors, hoping to make it to the road leading to Garrigill before needing lights. The Pennine Way was mostly rideable so we hit the tarmac by Cow Green Reservoir just as it got officially dark, but decided to stay on the roads rather than ride back over Cross Fell for the first time ever in the middle of the night.
It turned out to be bloody far on the road, far enough for my GPS to run out of power (to give it it’s dues, it navigated us round for over 15 hours, whichis pretty impressive), leaving our route planning down to my vague recollection of where the cars were and which direction they were in. It was not a ‘fun’ ending to the ride, but did seem stragely fitting in an ‘epic’ sense.

darkness

We’d not finished the ride (we will though, one day), but had got a lot further than last time. Over 160 miles in fact, with over 17000ft of climbing. Which made for some pretty ace looking atate on the GPS:

stats

A few days and some frantic recovery later another adventure took place: the Kielder 100. Some proper organisation this time round saw us staying in a static caravan this year, which was much more pleasant than last year’s uncomfortable night in a pop up tent, as the rain thundered down and meant we yawned our way onto the start line in a slightly better moods than a year ago.

The insane ‘neutralised’ start was as mad as ever, followed by the always-full flat out first few miles, this time through rim deep mud and grit making seeing anything in front of you difficult. I let the lead group go off after half an hour or so and decided to settle down into my own rhythm, while tryng to ignore the horrid sraping sounds the constantly wet brakes were making.
Behind me, hundreds of starters were succumbing to the conditions as bikes wore out and the non-stop rain took it’s toll. After 30 or so miles I found myself totally alone in the seemingly endless forests around Kielder and didn’t see another rider until after the food stop at Newcastleton, who I rode with briefly before once again heading out into the wilds on my own.
It was great. Cold, wet, gritty and great. I might not have been thinking so at the time, but it was.
As the miles ticked by the bike started to develop some big issues with chainsuck, leaving me without the use of the middle ring and having to ‘soft pedal’ while in the granny ring, but I made it back over to the finish in a decent enough time to get me in the top ten, which (given how knackered I as after the Daft Ride a few days previous) was all I could hope for.

I’m all adventured out now!

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