Time keeps marching on through the mid season lull (a rather odd scenario where all the races I’m interested in happen either in the spring or autumn (or mid winter!), leaving the long hot summer days* free to mess about). So, what have I been up to.
An opportunity to take a bloke from Guam, over here to compete in the Olympics reared it’s head a couple of weeks ago, so a plan to take him to one of the Manchester Midweek Madness races for a bit of training was hastily formed. He cried off sick right at the last moment, but the idea of a nice thursday evening thrash seemed too good to miss, so I headed over to the race anyway and was rewarded with an hour of lung out, flat out close racing on a pan-flat but highly enjoyable course. Lots of singletrack and loads of overtaking/getting overtaken/reovertaking/neck and neck through the trees fun was had. A mis shift from the smaller to larger chainring on the final run in may have cost me a couple of places (we’ll never know ) but I ended up 8th/68, wheezing and grinning. May have to do the last round too!
The continual rain and repeated flooding of everywhere off road nearby has kept the MTBing down to a minimum this summer. The prospect of every ride destroying another drivechain, while containing nothng more than slowly grovelling round in miserable hub deep slop isn’t al that appealing really, it’s OK in the winter (in fact in a strange way it’s part of the fun) but frankly if the summer’s going to be rubbish I’ll stick to the road!
The Bowland Badass a few weeks back had rekindled my enjoyment of fighting my way up climbs on the road bike and thundering back down the other side, so when I saw, on Strava (yes, I’ve relapsed and am back ‘using’ again!) a challenge by Rapha to climb as much as the Tour de France does in a week, I was well up for it.
The Rapha Rising Challenge was wonderfully simple in design; the Tour climbs 6800-odd meters in a week, so that’s what anyone who took up the challenge had to do. From the off and as expected, a few people went out to massage their egos by riding the whole amount in one go, usually just going up and down the same mountain over and over again for a whole day. “How very dull” I thought to myself and instantly decided that I’d invoke a “no hill twice on a ride” rule for myself. I also decided to keep the rides to what I consider “my” hills – I don’t mean that in some sort of arrogant (and misplaced) ‘I’m the best’ way, just places I ride and enjoy riding all the time, this meant that the overall distance would be higher (I may have a few hills nearby, but it’s certainly not the Alps!), but that was fine.
I could probably have completed the challenge in two rides without going OTT like the hill repeating dullards, but some concern about the state of a bridge halfway round the ride I had planned to finish with (last time I’d ridden over it the guard rails on either side were coated in debris, from where the river underneath had flooded and flowed straight over the top of it. Given how much more rain there’d been since then I wasn’t even sure it was still there!) meant a smaller ride in between saw me hit and continue past 6800 metres on my third ride.
A weekend to myself straight after saw me decide to carry on picking up the climbing slightly further afield over in Calderdale and the Dales leaving me, at the end of the Challenge period, 131st out of 9320 entrants worldwide. Not bad, considering my biggest hill is only a Cat3 and I was stuck in work for most of the week!
More road riding went on last week, slowly but surely getting back into the swing of training for the 3 Peaks cyclocross and Relentless24 in a couple on months while not overloading the legs too much with Sleepless in the Saddle taking place this weekend. This year I’m racing it in a pair with Jase, though truth be told I don’t think either of us are particularly relishing the prospect of another mud fest! Oh well, it’ll be nice to get away for the weekend and have a laugh whatever the weather…
*By which I mean “miserable cold, rainy grimace fests”