Monday, September 12, 2005

Winter Riding and painful knees!

My leg is killing me today - had a really bad night - woke up loads. Every time I turn over the pain flares up and wakes me. I think I will sleep with my brace on tonight.

On a lighter note - once this has healed - a load of my friends have decided that they will go winter riding with me. It looks like the Peak District this year. Not sure which month - but maybe once this side of Christmas and once the other side. I doubt we will camp this time - expect we will stay in a B&B, YHA or something.

I quite fancy Jacobs ladder in the winter - not sure how difficult it will be.

I think I am going to get a new bike this Christmas - I fancy a Sepcialized Epic Pro (well I really fancy an S-Works - but probably cannot justify spending that amount!!!).

Anyone know any good winter rides in the Peaks?


Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Tour of the Cairngorms - Sep 2005

Recently completed a tour of the Cairngorms. 4 of us rode the 200km trip in 2 and a half days carrying tents, stoves, sleeping bags etc. It was great fun - but I pulled the ligaments in my left knee during the second day and had to ride the rest of the route in agony! Still it was an amazing ride - photos are here: Thanks go to Alistair, Tony and Neil for making the trip what it was.

We are looking at potentially repeating the trip again and just doing it in 25 hours - but with minimum gear to carry.

Next big trip should be the English C2C however. Hopefully in 4 days.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Tour of the Cairngorms - Day 3

Tour of the Cairngorms – Day 3

A warmer night last night – however it was as uncomfortable as hell. I couldn’t get comfortable – my knee was awful and the lump in my back was very uncomfortable. I kept waking up with my face pressed against the side of the tent. Horrible. I strap my knee up in case it is a ligament issue. Pasta for breakfast – bloody horrible! I haven’t done too well for breakfasts, I look around and wow – what a wonderful place to wake up! My knee hurts already – I can see this is going to be a difficult day. I pack up and Tony helps me with my bike.

I start off down the road towards the Linn of Dee ahead of the others – pretty sure that it won’t take them long to catch up. We ride past the smallest youth hostel I have ever seen. The morning light is wonderful. We reach the woods – the start of the trail up to Glen Tilt. It’s a wide track and we start off – eventually reaching White Bridge and there find a number of what appear to be first time DoEers out wild camping.

Another river crossing and jibes to Tony – “How many more river crossings today Tony?” as he has the map. Then a bog, and a comment from Tony “It’s not a river – it’s a bog!”. We are all in a good mood – even me – although I am in a lot of pain. I have two painkillers left – next time I must bring more!

The track deteriorates – becomes rocky single-track. Probably great without Panniers – I can see that Al is loving it. It becomes very exposed as we enter Glen Tilt and start to head down. It is quite beautiful – but my leg is killing me and I am scared of heights! I walk an awful lot of it. The guys – to their credit – do not get annoyed with me – which is amazing considering how much slower I am. Eventually we reach the bridge at the falls. The track widens and I start to ride.

The climbs really hurt now – I am almost in tears on some of them. Al falls off in front of me – while turning around to look at a potential photo opportunity. Nothing damaged – we both take a photo and eat a sausage roll. This truly is a beautiful part of the world. The slog down is done one legged in the main – my left leg has become so painful that I am unable to put any power through it. Now I am peddling with just one leg – I speed up! We ride into the station to see the Pullman arrive and all the sightseers are getting off to be greated by four sorry looking muddy individuals.

Hands are shaken and bikes packed – a quick pint in the pub and that’s it. Even though my leg is on fire – I am sorry to be finishing. What a great three days.

It turns out that I have torn the ligaments in my left knee – so I am pretty lucky to have finished the ride at all.

One thing that made this ride for me was the people that I rode with. Tony Chaplin, Neil Sinclair and Alistair Biggin. These guys were great – very supportive – and always waited for me.

Thanks guys.

What’s next? :-)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Tour of the Cairngorms - Day 2

Tour of the Cairngorms – Day 2

It was a cold night last night. I had to put on all my extra clothes just to keep warm – there is no way that the rating on this sleeping bag is correct! The tent is very claustrophobic – there is hardly any room to move and it doesn’t feel long enough – my bag touches the end. I wonder how it would fare in a wind? I get up and start to pack. Breakfast is one of the Rita breakfasts – it’s horrible – oats and fruit in a fruit juice sauce. Bleuch! Neil and Al are having porridge. This may be a better idea in future. We are joined by Tony’s friend today – who even comes complete with a pannier to make us feel better!

As we start – it is crisp – Al has his extra base layers on for the cold and I am wearing my Gortex shell to keep the chill away. The sky lightens to a red glow – and we ride up some lovely wide wild track. Tony, his friend and Neil all ride off ahead – they are obviously feeling good today. We stop to take off the extra layers and the midges strike! My goodness they are terrible today – my legs are bitten to pieces quicker than I have ever seen before – and the bites will last for over a week! I stop to take photos of Al riding up the track – and once again get bitten.

A great downhill through the southern part of the Abernethy Forest leads to yet another river crossing. I take my shoes and socks off for this one as it is early – and I dried them all out last night! I really don’t know why I bothered – the next one we try and ride and I get soaked! So does Al! A couple more crossings follow and some great singletrack lead us to the col above the Braes of Abernethy. I fall off my bike here after hitting a large rock that I simply didn’t see. I twist my right ankle – but more importantly (although it didn’t feel like it at the time) my left knee twists as well.

A decent, another river crossing – lead us eventually to the road up to Tomintoul and a lunch break at the cafĂ© there. Bacon sarnies all round – and in hindsight – not enough slow release calories. Tea, cake and a brush with the local grumpy shopkeeper and we are off up the hill. Tony’s mate turns back at this point – leaving us to our own devices. We slog up the tarmac road after passing some very fine iron gates. We can hear the gunfire of the guys on the hill – grouse shooting. My left knee is hurting now and I know I have a problem. I don’t say anything yet as I hope it may work itself out – but when we accidentally cross the river and have to backtrack – I am in so much pain that I take some of the painkillers in my pack. It doesn’t help. I am worried that it is my cartilage – my other knee had a similar problem from playing hockey when I was younger.

The head wind is terrible – and after a long spell at the front – Al runs out of energy, We find him round the corner sitting down – exhausted. I take the lead and ignore the pain. Probably a pretty stupid thing to do in hindsight – but there we go – it gets us up towards Inchrory and the lodge there. What a lovely lodge. Tony is far behind – I am amazed that I have dropped him – given my knee pain, but all is revealed when he arrives. It turns out that when he broke his chain yesterday ( at the campsite!!!) – it was put on incorrectly. Minor repairs follow – and Tony is off! I am at the back now – and that is the way it stays.

The scenery all merges into a blur as my left knee is in agony. I tell the guys as we pass the Loch Builg where we were originally going to overnight – that I only have about two hours left in me – that’s all. We cycle on. Al is worried – we need to get over the Culardoch which stands in front of us at 900m and if we stay this side and my leg freezes then we are in big trouble as we are now in the middle of nowhere.

We meet a couple of mountain bike riders coming the other way – who say the climb is not that bad! I guess they had never ridden with panniers! I start pushing up the climb – there is no chance of riding with this weight. Al is always in fron and goes on to cycle up the latter half of the climb – a very impressive feat. Tony just keeps going – I overtake Neil – I didn’t realise it but he was exhausted.

At the top there is heather in cages and a weather station. Very weird! The descent is manic and I get a puncture. Neil rides by – which I think is strange. Takes me ages to change my tyre – left knee knackered! I can see Al riding back to check on me – thanks Al. Neil apologised – he was a mess! Not enough cals consumed and he had started shaking! Nothing like digesting muscle to make a mess of you!

We eventually get to the campsite in Braemar to find a Games going on. Its madness here – so we decide to push on and ride up the road. I am nearly in tears – my knee is on fire. We eventually decide to wild camp down by the river opposite Mar Lodge – next to the Victoria bridge. I am so knackered I do not even notice the big lump in the ground when I put my tent up. No sleep for me! I crawl into my bag – leaving the others drinking whisky that Neil purchased earlier in the day. I eat two meals and feel broken!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Tour of the Cairngorms - Day 1

Tour of the Cairngorms – Day 1

My bike was very heavy as we cycled down the main street of Blair Athol after leaving the cars at the train station first thing in the morning of the 2nd September. The start was an early road ride along the B8079 and eventually onto a dedicated cycle track just past Calvine after our first navigation error – and it wasn’t going to be our last! We eventually turn off the track and cross the A9, we headed into the wilds along a landrover track past Dalnacardoch lodge North, and it wasn’t long before we felt totally alone – not another sole in sight. We stop at the bridge crossing the Edendon Water and take the obligatory photo of Al being daft – every trip has one! A quick jump across the river further up after yet another navigation error – led us to a singletrack by Loch au Duin. The singletrack is amazing – however we are seriously hampered by the panniers. Only Al with his rucksack seems to be able to fully enjoy it – although I also suspect that this is because he is a lot fitter too! We cross the river just after the Loch – Tony and myself just wade across as the river is pretty deep – and we had read the route description that tells you about getting wet feet! Al and Neil try to keep dry feet! Tony and myself sit on the other side laughing!

Lunch is after yet another river crossing at Lochan a Ghaorra. I pump some water through the water filter – but everyone else just takes it direct from the River. Tony makes a brew on his MSR – and it tastes great. There is something about tea brewed outside after hard work! Alistair and Neil both make pasta for lunch – mine consists of pork pie, salami type sausages and peanuts. In the afternoon I feel fully energised – it is referred to as pork pie powered!

We end up crossing a foul smelling bog just after Feshiebridge – I end up going in up to my thighs – and my shorts are now rust covered. We decide to try to make the campsite after this. Alistair is quite annoyed as he also ended up with wet feet! The ride after the bog however is great. Through the forest both myself and Al feel much better and could have carried on – we were enjoying the ride so much. We stop at the campsite – and arrive before the two mountain bikers that had overtaken us earlier in the day – I guess we must have taken a short cut with the route through the bog! Tents up and we manage a shower! Hand-driers are used to dry wet socks and shoes.