Sunday, January 27, 2013

Minipips Birthday Cake.

Minipips had his Birthday yesterday.

Here's the cake I made for him.


We've a few rides planned for this year. In February, we're doing the 60 mile Polocini Winter Sprinter which is local to us. Then at Easter if the weather is reasonable, another UK Coast to Coast, this time using the Reivers route. This will be a tougher proposition than the ride we did along  Hadrian's Cycleway last year.

The biggie  in the summer will be the  Raid Pyrénéen Touriste. A French coast to coast taking in some of the famous cols that we've watched on the Tour de France over the years.790 Kilometres, 28 cols and 16,000 metres of ascent. That'll be a proper adventure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hills and Spills in the Howgills last Summer.

This is an account of a day out we had in July last year, in somewhat autumnal conditions.


We are very fortunate in having some great outdoor loving friends. They are a broad church with varied main sports, but we often get away for a weekend together to do stuff.

On this particular weekend my family and our friends visited the Howgills. We stayed in a fomer school at Fell End just of the A683.

My original plan for the Saturday, was along with a couple of others to recce a fell race route that went over the Howgill Fells, and on Sunday do an easy off road bike ride with Minipips.

Saturday came, and the adult consensus was instead to go for a bike ride. Minipips asked if he could come along.

The route planned was a tough one for grown ups, but I reckoned we could go with them for a while, swerving the rough stuff, and then head back on our own.

From our accomodation, we followed bridleways in a SW direction towards Sedbergh. The going was muddy, and there were plenty of awkward off camber bits. We all fell off lots.

At Sedbergh the two of us rode on from the rest of the group whilst they bought trail food. Organised, we had lots of homemade cake with us.

The riding to Sedbergh, had been fairly flat, but this now changed. First some little road climbs, and then the main event.

The Calf is the highest point in the Howgills at 676 metres and that was where we were bound.

Shortly after we started on it's ascent via the Bram Rigg bridleway, everyone else caught us up. Martin took some photos of us attempting to ride the river crossing, which most had little success at, including me.


Minipips gave it a good go on a better line, and nearly made it.


After the river, the gradient steepened, and soon everyone was pushing their bikes up the grassy hill. Only 2.5 Km to the top now, but with near 500metres of ascent.

Unsurprisingly on this gradient Minipips tired quickly, his bike though lightweight still weighs more than a 1/3 of his body weight.

So initially I tried helping him push his bike whilst pushig mine. Awkward and not particularly efficient.

Then a thought. Why not stick his bike on my pannier rack, and we would both do a bit of pushing.


This worked well and we then made good progress to the summit.

From the Calf we headed N down Bowderdale which may look on the map as if it is innocuous, but wasn't particularly as the ground was sodden. Bog, big stones, and ruts.

Nearing the bottom I could see Minipips was tired,  and I was certainly feeling I'd had a day out.

On reaching the Lune valley we adjourned to a posh pub in Ravenstonedale in our muddy clothes. I guess he could have ridden the last bit back on the road to Fell End, but instead we opted for a lift back in the car.

34 Km and 1000 metres of up. A tough day out.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Derby Cyclo-Cross Under 8 Race.

I'd been chatting to a mate of mine recently who was a pro rider and still is a race winner.

He said it's great what Minipips has been doing, but make sure he doesn't develop into a diesel with no top end. A Super Touriste.

I've thought about this the last couple of weeks, and though I don't really want him to get into the racing thing just yet, I thought it would be interesting to see against his peers how Minipips would fare in "short and fast".

So this Sunday we had a drive down to Derby so he could have a bash at the Cycle Derby Races for Yougsters He would take part in the Under 8 Cyclo-Cross race.

He had a practice ride round the course and thought it easy. All good so far.

As the under 10s lined up, he did too on the other side of the track.

When they set off, he did too, and by the first bend he was just about level with the race leader. A nice little confidence booster.

For his race he got what we thought was a good start position.





When the commissaire said GO though something didn't go to plan. He got a little jostle, and had to unclip. A few seconds were lost before getting clipped back in again.

Pictured here far left, just in frame.


For the rest of the 3 1/2 lap race he had to play catch up, wending his way through traffic.

He finished 5/23 which he was quite pleased with.

He's lots to learn if he wants to do better at races. There were some talented kids there today.

 All in good time though. We'll stick with sometimes "spriniting for signs" for now.

We stayed for a bit to watch the older kids racing. Nice to see a fellow Hayfield resident taking the U12 win.

PS. I found out afterwards that it was OK for younger kids to ride in older age categories at this event (though they wouldn't get prizes). This would have meant he could have ridden in more than one race, which would have given him more race experience, and made the drive more worthwhile.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Ride with the Big Boys.

Since the #festive500 we've not done much on the bikes other than one visit to the local skate park, to try out Minipips new mountain bike.

Today we went for a ride with some of my mates from Marple, them on mountain bikes, and us on our cross bikes.

Here's the obligatory group ride puncture picture.


Oh, and the title for this post should really read big boys, and a girl (sorry Jane).

Julian was our guide for the day, and he showed us lots of trails that neither Minipips or I had been on before.

I wasn't sure if Minipips would be able to keep up with the pace, but he did just fine. He was unused to the ride a bit then regroup (and have a chat) vibe of the ride, and was heard to say at one point "less chatting, more riding" to much amusement from the others.

He had his first major off in a while riding down some earth and wood steps. One of the steps was a good deal bigger than the others, and he gracefully went over the bars before landing on his helmet. Slightly shaken, he was soon back on his bike, and took a little more care when we encountered some other steps later in the ride.

Our route took us to just South of Hyde before heading up the only real hill of the day, Werneth Low.

Here's Minipips just before the summit.


Thanks Karl for giving the boy a drink. (we always seem to forget something)


From there we headed back to Marple, then chucked the bikes in the back of the car before heading to the Polocini Cafe for  refreshments.

30K today in the sunshine on Strava.

Tomorrow all being well Minipips is going to his first proper cyclo-cross race down in Derby.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rapha #festive500 Round Up.

Well it's New Years Day here, and we've not been out on our bikes today, and it hasn't rained either.

We had a New Years Eve party last night, and we both made it to the end of that too.

Minipips and I set out on our attempt at the #festive500 prepared to give it a go, but not knowing if he would make it or not, which made it a proper adventure.

Day 1 turned into a mini epic for Minipips as his hands got cold and wet. It took him a good while in the cafe in Buxton for him to stop shivering. I thought he wouldn't want to do any more after that.

The importance of having exactly the right kit had been shown. Next day we put a pair of washing up gloves over his full finger cycling gloves which made the rest of the riding shiver free.



Other Kit Minipips wore were, a thin base layer, fleece jumper, thick windproof cycling Jacket, a buff round his neck, topped with a waterproof jacket. For his bottom half he wore padded full length legs, waterproof overtrousers, sealskinz socks and overshoes. On his head either a cotton cycling cap, or a fleece hat. Not all, but most of his kit came from Decathlon, which does good quality reasonably priced kids cycling stuff.

Whenever we were on the road we had flashing front and rear light which were helmet mounted.

Lots of people asked what he had in his bar bag. The answer, apart from jelly babies, a Terra Nova Superlite Bothy in case it all went pear shaped. Hypothermia is always a possibility this time of year, if there's an enforced stop.

I've found this a great bit of kit if the weather is less than pleasant for keeping Minipips toasty warm. Thankfully we didn't need to use it.

Below when we were marshalling at a recent fell race.


The weather though never clement throughout the eight days, never became that bad that Minipips wanted to pack it in. Ice or Snow, would however have been very different though.

The plan was to ride everyday doing fairly equal distances. However we managed a longest day of 95Km and a shortest one of 43Km.

Riding on the road as an adult is stressful enough this time of year, and managing a 7 year old on the road is more so. When on the road Minipips always rides just in front of me, with me slightly nearer the middle of the road.

I did my best to do lots of our mileage off road, then road safety is not an issue. The down side, is that progress is slower.

I have to thank my Wife and Daughter for putting up with wet clothes on every radiator for the week, picking us up from random places, and obviously not seeing very much of us. Most days we were out for all the hours of daylight.

We both really enjoyed the ride,though  next year's #festive500 will be without us, as we'll be spending time doing the family thing

Thanks to all our tweeter friends and blog followers for encouraging us on our way.

Happy New Year.