Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Set out on a hilly 55km route from home (Almscliffe Crag, Beckwithshaw, Pennypot lane, the Golfballs at Menwith Hill, Darley, Blubberhouses, Timble, Fewston, across Swinsty reservoir, Leathly and home along the river).
5 minutes into the cycle, on the hill into North Rigton, my front derailleur, the one I had taken to a mechanic to be 'fixed' 2 weeks ago, stopped working.
The chain wouldn't move down to the small chain ring, I couldn't get up the hill.
This annoyed me more than it should, pretty much flung my bike up onto the grass verge.

My recovery from Sunday's 120km cycle was definitely not complete - my legs were tired and I was tired.
I should have stayed home with my feet up, watching Houses under the Hammer, instead I was standing at the side of a road, 2km into a hilly route, with a bike stuck in its hard gear because the mechanic hadn't changed the derailleur when he should have changed the bloody derailleur to avoid this exact bloody situation happening, which is the reason I took it to him in the first place, mutter, mutter, bitch, bitch.
Should I abandon the route? Cycle over to Otley for a new fd? Cycle the whole route using one ring? Which ring? I took a second to get perspective, tugged at the gear cable and the chain fell onto the small ring.
I cycled up to North Rigton, turned left for the Crag.
My mood was shot, my body really was still very tired.
I was disappointed. I wanted to have recovered by now. I hadn't, this meant I wasn't superhuman. 
I was instead a woman who had turned 40 and only started cycling. What did I expect? 
3km into a 55km hilly route and I hated hills, what was I doing here? I'm supposed to be on holiday.
Up to Pennypot lane I went, trundling along, with lead in my legs. 

For anyone out this way tempted to cycle along the tdf route going along the A59, don't - it's an awful road, loads of cars going really fast and loads of drain covers in your path. 
When the tdf passes, they'll have the road closed off and I guess work will be done on those drain covers.
Take Pennypot Lane, it's completely different, much quieter and tree covered, plus you get a bit if a War of the Worlds vibe when you reach the Wind farm and the Menwith Hill Golfballs.

By Darley and Blubberhouses, tugging at the gear cable whilst cycling had stopped working, I had to manually take the chain off the big ring and drop it onto the smaller one.
Another 20km of hills to go on only the small ring.
I ate my cereal bar.
I got home.
I will not go out again on a hilly route with a broken front derailleur again.

Lubricate the springs in your derailleurs, see that spring in the middle of the photo.
I cleaned and lubricated everything on my bike reguarly except this (I didn't know you had to), not lubricating the spring has caused it to seize up.
Lesson 103 of 409 in bike maintenance learnt.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

118km with Otley Boys

My first spin out with Otley CC. I got to the market clock quicker than I thought. Eager beaver. 8.55am and there was me and a few others. 9.15am and there were 30 odd cyclists, all splitting off into different groups. No other women in my group unfortunately. My group had 11 and me, mixed ages, from 18 to Ken at 74, who set the pace of 23kmh for the full 110km to and from Otley.
What an amazing day cycling, possibly one of the best routes I've cycled so far. Some steep climbs alright, the Yorkshire Dales aren't flat, but nothing too awful, I didn't need to stop anyway.
Home - Otley, back of Ilkley, Bolton Abbey, beautiful run to Burnsall. We avoided all the main roads, the smaller roads we took were perfect. The buildings and landscapes we passed were unreal.
Tea and toasted tea cakes at Burnsall, not a single scone and jam was asked for and all but one guy ordered tea instead of coffee.
Another noted difference, the group locked their bikes together at the coffee/ tea stop, something I haven't seen done in Ireland - yet.
At Burnsall some of the group went home, our group dropped from 12 to just 6.
We set off to Buckden via Kettlewell where I knew my mum and dad were going to be looking round the annual Scarecrow festival.
I scanned the crowds but didn't see them. The scarecrows were creatively brilliant, I would have liked to have stopped for 5 mins, but there was cycling to be done and we ploughed on through.

At Buckden we stopped again for lunch/ coffee then headed back to Otley via another coffee stop at Bolton Abbey.
The boys were great company.
I loved their broad Yorkshire accents, their friendliness and easiness. They were very welcoming to me as a newcomer.
I'd recommend this route to everyone.
I smiled at the new club call I heard, 'Sloppeh' means you're about to cycle through some wet cow dung.
A handy call since John, the leader, cycled through some a few years ago, slipped and broke his right shoulder bone.
My first cycle out with Otley was the longest I've ever cycled - it wasn't even a sportive and I cycled nearly 120km. I cycled quite a bit slower than usual and I think that's the trick for long distances at my level of fitness.
When I left the boys in Otley I powered it home, not sure why - maybe just because I was still able and felt the need to zap every bit of energy left in me.
At a point where I'd already cycled 115km I knew there was a strava segment going along the river at Castley, crazily I decided I'd give it a go, I still had some energy - I got 4th out of 62.
The cycle today alone made bringing my bike over worthwhile, I loved every minute.

Otley Market Square Sunday morning, 8.58am.

Great to see girls at a young age out with their road bikes - Integrated shifters too!

Coffee stop, Wharfe View tea rooms Burnsall, North Yorkshire

Yorkshire cyclists don't do scones and jam - it's all Tea and toasted tea cakes. The tea cakes are much lighter and way nicer than Scones, much lighter on the stomach and easier to cycle on.

I asked for a toasted teacake in the coffee shop at Roundwood, Wicklow - she had no idea what one was, neither did any of the cycling group.

Heading on towards Grassington, North Yorkshire. John Robb pictured.

John Robb (2013 Otley kit) and Ken Hodgson (1987 Otley kit)

2nd stop - lunch time, Buckden, North Yorkshire.

Buckden, North Yorkshire.

Edit - Oct 2013, Much saddened to hear that John Robb (2nd left) died suddenly from a heart attack, only a couple of months after this trip. He was so welcoming to me as a new member and wanted to stop here specifically to show me this view, his favourite in the world he said.

John's favourite view, looking over Burnsall.

Cycling back home.

One of the guys on the group was pretty tired, so John suggested we stop for another coffee at Bolton Abbey.

Ken, Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire.


Here's the route, I left it 'open' so anyone can download it to their garmin

If you get to Skuff Road, which overlooks Burnsall - offer up your thoughts to John and hope he's enjoying the view. Rest in Peace John.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

No broken bones, but a cut tyre

Chatty Taxi driver arrived at 4.10am, bang on time, 25 mins later we were at Dublin airport.
It was heaving with Spanish students taking their yellow backpacks home.
Me, I was taking my bike home in a big clear plastic bag.
I checked my luggage in at the Ryanair desk, it weighed 16kg. 
I avoided eye contact, she avoided eye contact, nothing was said, neither of us wanted hassle at this time in the morning.
She let me off the excess weight and I thought she was the bees knees.
I mentioned the two CO2 canisters I was carrying, I asked was it ok to put them in my check in luggage? Her eyes glazed, she didn't really seem to know, she said it was fine.
She didn't check if I'd removed the pedals from the bike, deflated the tyres, turned in the handlebars, it all seemed very relaxed. 
An LBA sticker was printed, she put it on the plastic bag and told me to take my bike over to the oversized baggage section.

The woman at the oversized baggage section was equally as relaxed - a far cry from all the stress and hassle I had imagined I was going to get.
Again, she didn't check the tyres, handlebars, but she did check the pedals and was happy I had already removed them.
I asked if it was necessary and she said it was.
The bike was raised up and off it went through the metal tunnels.

Somewhere between this metal tunnel and Leeds my bike took a knock, unfortunately enough of a knock to put a hole in the back tyre killing both tyre and tube.
Shame because everything else had gone so smoothly.
I don't think it was down to the baggage handlers, I think at some point the wheel got bashed in the metal tunnels and because I had deflated the tyres, there was no protection.

I talked to one of the baggage handlers in Leeds, asked him if he had a bike how would he pack it for a flight? 
'Probably in a see through bag, we're more careful with anything we can see is fragile, a bike in a box is likely to get thrown around'. 
When I got to the baggage area in Leeds, someone had lovingly placed my bike against a pillar instead of letting it go round and round on the conveyor belt.
I was touched.
I went straight over, took it in my arms and gave it a big hug 'Hello you'.
In reality I walked over, removed my bike from its bag, took the foam padding off the frame, and gave it the once over, ready for a scream of horror as I ran a finger along a cracked frame.
There were no screams, it was all fine, no scratches, no cracks, no nothing.
Just a dead tyre and tube.

I rang Chevin cycles in Otley when I got home, they didn't stock my tyres - Conti GP4000s. I tried Crosstrax in Adel, they had loads - but £45 each.
Somehow through me telling them how much cheaper they were on Wiggle, and the story of my bike being damaged at the airport, the guy being nice gave me a deal.
2 x GP4000s tyres and 2 conti race tubes for £77 including fitting the new tube and tyre onto my back wheel.

I put the wheel back on my bike, went out for a little ride to check everything was ok, it was. 

I even managed a joint 2nd/62 women on a segment near home, not bad for being up since 3am.

My bike in its CTC bag, Dublin airport 5am

Going into the Oversize Baggage machine - I think this is where it got a knock to the tyre

Leeds Airport, the baggage handlers had kindly leaned my bike against a pillar

All fine except for the flat back tyre and inner tube - not great if you wanted to cycle away from the airport

The tyre was grazed like this on both sides

Cut tyre and cut innertube

Crosstrax in Adel nr Leeds, fitted new tyre and inner tube (at Wiggle prices) and gave me coffee whilst I waited

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Packing bag in CTC bag for Ryanair flight

I'm packing my bike up so it's ready for its first experience flying Ryanair Dublin to Leeds.
Got my CTC bag, my pipe lagging to wrap around the frame, I'm going to deflate the tyres, turn the handlebars in and remove the pedals.

This video is a good one for reminding me which way the wrench goes.
15mm at the ready.

My ingenious solution for getting the bike into the CTC bag (€13 from Wiggle)

Pipe lagging from Homebase (€5)

Old milk carton to protect rear deraileur
Changed the flimsy milk carton for my helmet, much better protection.
Fingers crossed it makes it to the other side unscathed.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Nangor Rd with a headwind

Took a little 30k spin out after work this evening, didn't realise how windy it was until I headed up Longmile Rd.
Nangor Rd was awful, shame because I really felt like sprinting along, had to make do with pootling.
Quite impressed that I had energy for anything after the 100k on Saturday, it's a nice feeling to feel like you're getting fitter.

Here's some pics from Lucan.

That illy sign is a good coffee shop to park your bike and get a coffee, I think it's just called the Tea shop

Stagg Cycles, Lucan. I bought some arm warmers passing by here in March, they were too big and fell down to my wrists all along Strawberry beds, I took them back having lost the receipt and he gave me a refund no problem. Lucan cycling club start all their spins from here I think.

River Liffey heading into Dublin from Wicklow.

Top of Barnhill which I raced up tonight trying to practice my hillskillz. When I've got to the top before there's just been a big gap to this field, now there's containers. 'They're potatoes in those containers' I thought, so I stopped and took a look.

Potatoe, bike, field, Monday evening sunshine.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Goodbye Celeste

Testament to Celeste and all she's done for Orwell women's cycling, about 40 women turned up this morning for a one off 'goodbye Celeste' Orwell 100k.
Women from the beginners group, 'it's not a race' section and even some of the girls from 'it is actually a race' turned up.

The route was hilly, you can't get to the Sally gap without climbing hills. The worst was Calary hill (the long hill), going towards Calary.
My 2nd time climbing this hill, my second time having to stop midway. 
I mistakenly thought I was near the top and started to push myself with energy to spare, I was great, this way easier than I remembered, but I wasn't even half way up.
My breathing went, my temperature was way up and I was dizzy, the layby beckoned me in and I sat on a rock watching the girls I had just ovrtaken slowly and calmly sail on up and by without stopping.

Despite this set back, this route was way easier than cycling to the Sally gap via Blessington, you miss out the big R759 incline up to the summit.
It was a good route, I enjoyed it.
I spent a lot of the day cycling with the girls from the beginner group, not sure when we'd realistically all be cycling together again.
It made for a slow but social cycle, I usually don't like cycling slowly, I get frustrated and feel that chatting should be left for coffee stops, but today was different. 
I also cycled with Celeste when I got a chance, it would definitely be a while til I cycled with her again.
I have no photos from the cycle, but some of the girls put some great photos on fb, cool to have  so many women cyclists taking over the hippy cafe in Laragh.

One of the Siobhan's (there were 3 on the cycle) had brought Celeste a present back from Switzerland - a cow bell, which Celsete wore for the rest of the cycle.
We instructed her to tell her new American cycling crew that all women in Orwell wore cowbells, each with their own unique tone, a way of knowing who's around without looking.

Oh gee, those Irish sure are funny.

She'll be missed when she's gone, her new cycling club is very lucky to have her.
A great one for organising and pulling people together.

I've only been with the club since Summer but the amount of work Celeste's put into encouraging beginner women to start cycling is obvious.
I for one am very grateful, the beginner 6 week group was a stepping stone myself and 30 other women needed.
Thanks Celeste.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Tour of Kilkenny 110km

Kilkenny's flat right?
If you weren't going up a hill, you were quickly coming down one, to go back up one, to come back down one.
Beautiful scenery, but this route for me was a killer.
Louise and Celesete managed it no problemo.