OK, so, since racing at Pimbo I’ve been all over the place. Got a few nice long rides in, including a semi off-road sportive over in Bowland, which was nice. Riding ‘cross bikes away from the race scene is always fun, especially if the countryside is suitably epic. As such, a follow up ‘cross ride over in Calderdale, as organised by Emma, with even more hills and even tougher off road sections seemed appropriate. If you’ve not done the Green Jersey’s “Gravel Rush” or the equally ace “Clifcross”, I can recommend them both.

Obviously both were ridden to/from to get the miles up into triple figures :)

The “almost a tradition now” Battle on the Beach went Not Well. I didn’t run fast enough at the start and saw the gap to the front group slowly, almost hideously, open up in front of me as the fast guys pulled away from the gaggle of riders I was in. I tried to fling myself off the front of the group, using riders falling back from the fast group to leapfrog further and further towards it but the empty space ended up being just too far, so I had to drop back into the 2nd group across the sands.
I got myself all worked up as a result, pushing too hard through the sandy singletrack to try and make up places, until I, inevitably, overcooked it and crashed out, twisting/cracking my finger in the process hard enough to not be able to hold onto the bars. DNF :(
Luckily, Pembrey is a nice enough place to spend a weekend even without the race, so I treated it like a little holiday. Semi-win.

Phil and I headed up to Scotland to meet up with Jase, Guy and Sam on their fundraising mega-daft-ride from Coast to Coast to Coast to Coast. Although they were too far behind schedule to play out on the trails at Ae forest as we’d planned, we still managed to tag along as they hot footed it along the A75 to get to the ferry on time. It was a pretty grim ride TBH, we rode over to Castle Douglas, got fed up of being cold and wet (it was bucketing down by this point)said goodbye/good luck and rode back to the campervan to warm up.
From there we drove over to Kielder forest to take part in the first “Dirty Reiver 200″ – a 200km, mostly off road, not race (race), through some of the best deserted countryside this little island has to offer. It was a great day out. Plenty of ups and downs, well stocked feed stations if you weren’t racing (because it wasn’t a race) and FREE BEER at the finish. We span round in a decent (but mildly irritating) 9hrs 4mins. I’ll be going again next time, definitely. Everyone I spoke to seemed to have enjoyed it (and it was great to see so many people I know from racing, not racing, and generally bike related stupidity all in one place, all able to push themselves on a real ‘one day adventure race’. Highly recommended. :)

That done, last Sunday had me back on the road bike for another road race. More lumpy than the Pimbo course I had high hopes for a break getting away this time, so stayed up near the front as much as possible. If I’m being honest I knew I was sitting out in the wind more than I should have been, but it was fun trying to split the pack by pushing the pace along and no-one seemed to be able to stay away for long – a couple of people went for solo escapes, but never opened up gaps big enough to get out of sight – so I hoped the pace would break up the group on it’s own.

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Pic by Ellen Isherwood

I thought the race was 50 miles, so got thoroughly caught out when we finished after 37. I realised we weren’t doing another lap halfway round when a few guys started flinging themselves up the road looking for the win. I tried jumping off the front to catch them, got halfway between the remainder of the bunch and the leader and was very sharply reminded by my legs that most of my drink and the energy gel I’d been saving for later were still unused in my bottle/jersey pocket. I ended up rolling over the line in 15th still wishing for another lap. Ah well. Maybe a few attempts to get away in the next race or two eh? :)