Friday, 11 November 2016

Burnley in the height of autumn







A ride from a few weeks ago - home to my mum's 90% off road. 100% enjoyment ride. Precious solo time when you're a mum.

Enjoying GMT



Although I wish it was BST all year long - it turning dark by 4o'clock is just miserable, today I thoroughly enjoyed the autumn / winter commute. My old northern mill town looks splendid with the intense autumn leaves becoming more subtle as everything turns more sparse. The usual grey skies have these little bursts of colour underneath which makes this time of year my favourite.

 We have new people in my office and they are starting to comment on the 'madness' of me still cycling on the bitterly cold days, and the bitterly cold rainy days.  You know how that goes.


I could not stand to be so far removed from nature that I spend my life in climate controlled environments.

I set off out into the day and always long to keep on riding into the day or further into the evening, but work & mum-duty stops me from following my heart's calling these days. So making the most of these few short daily miles (now down to around 6 or 7 depending on the route- a far cry from the 30 miles I used to do) is the bit of the day that keeps me sane and is meditative with the constant rhythm of my pedal strokes. Relishing the only bit of time I get to myself in the day. And often the off-road sections are like my own personal highway - a more direct route into the town centre than the roads, where I'm more likely to see a flurry of deer bouncing past me than see other humans. Until I'm suddenly in the town centre; we're lucky in Burnley to have a greenway that takes us from a lovely wooded riverside track straight into a retail park almost in the town centre.



My evening ride home is far slower now - other than the beam from my bike light, the woods are pitch dark, even though there's an industrial estate alongside much of it. The gradients are barely visible, although I know them well. Clicking up & down the gears as the undulations unfold, who knows what gear you are in.  My eyes scour the leaf stridden path for puddles or patches of thick mud or any stray brambles snaking across the track - I certainly do not relish punctures at this time of year.


Out of the woods on the small stretch through suburbia, I catch glimpses of tv sets through the gaps in living room blinds. The streets are my own as I snake through the avenues up to the crest of the hill avoiding the arterial road. I wouldnt trade those living rooms with my place on my bike for the world.


My final climb is though allotments where I always stop and look back over the town behind me. After this is a short bit on the main road before a fast swooping descent back home. I sit on my garden wall for a good ten minutes cooling down after my 3 mile climb. No stars tonight, just the hint of a moon shape behind the clouds.




Monday, 26 September 2016

Life & Cycles

Having a toddler isn't conducive to blogging or freedom on the tops so much. I have had some wonderful cycling moments in the last few months, but they're fewer & further between, and the monthly club ride I lead is pretty much it in terms of adventure. My commute is down from 30 miles per day to just 6 and yes my cycling fitness has deteriorated but not to the point where I can't enjoy full days out on the hills.

Last week I had my bike burgled from home, but happily the wonderful network of cyclists I know worked their magic and I had a replacement ready for the club ride.
My weekend consisted of a test ride home then a full day out yesterday - a rare 50 mile weekend - much of which on Pennine bridleways.





Blustery autumn
Whips everything 'round.
A grin ear to ear



My playground moorland

Racing from downpours
Rainbow to rainbow


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Escapes of a small wheeled bicycle

Yes I'm still cycling, although no 30 mile daily commute anymore, which is significantly impacting my cycling fitness levels, but upping the general enjoyment when I'm out & about.
Mum duty is taking up much time and thus I've not really had opportunity to blog about rides etc recently, or even about parental cycling experiences.

I have recently splurged and this little delight is just that, delightful to ride and not what I was expecting. Other than off-road club rides & rides with the baby on board, this has been exclusively used for commuting and leisure rides of late. It is a sheer joy. Even the hills are ok with the large chainwheels - there's less wheel to get rolling so climbing is a different experience. I've done a longish day out too which was again, good fun. People often say small wheeled bikes are ok for round town, but I think I'd happily tour on this.







Where else have I been recently, well mostly adventures close to home:

And with the interesting weather we've been having this spring, it's certainly kept me on my toes... and given me chilblains from getting caught out from rapid weather changes!

It's not all been just pedalling either, I've donned the backpack and done some stomping to discover new local views I dont usually see from my wheeled exploits.






Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Beautiful Buttermere

Back in October we enjoyed a brief family cycling trip at Buttermere. It only ended up being one day of riding on account of the weather, but it was a lovely ride indeed. Being out of season, the sole road that snakes through the valley was quiet. We left the hostel and headed towards Honister Pass with a marvelous tailwid. Before the head of the valley, we veered off the road to enjoy our first spot of bridleway riding around Buttermere itself. 

Although the road had been quiet, there were plenty of walkers but that was no problem. Lots of jokes about whether we were going to cycle up over Scarth Gap.... not today!


We were round the lake in no time, but it was an ideal time to stop for some food, warmth & to give Frank some time off the bike. The early lunch stop coincided with a bit of rain so it was ideal.

After lunch the next section was on road heading west. The road was lovely with beautiful views, mostly gentle hills and very little traffic.


We flew past Crummockwater and at the junction took the south turn towards Loweswater. A few more undulations and one or two sharp inclines (harder with a baby on the front making you lean back so as not to bash your chin), but still completely rideable. Here we were on part of the original C2C route which really made me want to see more of that long distance route another time.
At the far end of Loweswater was a lovely bridleway that skirted the woods and again had stunning views. This was much quieter than the path around Buttermere, although even shorter.

 We had a pint & crisp stop at the popular Kirkstile Inn. Frank had a bottle & crawl about before our return journey.

Just over the River Cocker, we took the second bridleway to the right which took us through a lovely wood and cut out a massive corner on the road. It was a fair climb at the start & with pine needles on the floor and no nobbly tyres, I pushed for a few yards. After this it was rideable again all the way back to the road and our return to the hostel.
The loop had been around 18 miles and was brilliant. Without a little one in tow, you could easily blast round this in half a day, but it was nice taking our time and enjoying leisurely stops too.
If I hadn't had a baby on the bike, I'd have added an extra off road loop on around Mosser which would have added a fair bit of climbing.  I'll be back to do that. 
A gpx of the whole route I'd like to do can be foud here http://www.rsf.org.uk/2015-04-27-13-59-52/gpx-downloads/category/1-cumbria-the-lakes.html - it's easy to see how to cut the loop out when you view it on the map. 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Easing back into work

I'll be back at work full swing in a couple of weeks. Up til then I'm using some 'keep in touch' days to get back into the routine. I managed to arrange childcare to enjoy my trusty off road commute recently. It's probably a year since I was last up on that moor & it felt so good to be riding it again... and hoping that fracking doesn't come here & ruin the place forever.

I've heard some off road cyclists comment that they think its better than all those pesky windfarms... since the wells require underground infrastructure, wells moving from place to place, trucks coming & going dozens per day & hazardous waste water containment areas, I certainly think those pesky windfarms are preferable.



I've also enjoyed some fun cycling too. Some club members were riding the Leeds Liverpool in its entirety. I joined them for a short section of it; Greenberfield to Gargrave. After leaving the towpath I took the hilly route home via Broughton, Elslack & eventually found a section of the Pennine Bridleway to Wycoller that I'd not done before- lovely, but far too many gates to stop for... in some cases, they were completely unnecessary. I always forget what a long pull up it is from Gargrave to the tops and even though Wycoller is less than 45mins riding time to home, I had to stop to get some food- I was feeling it!









And I've also ridden Darwen's Winter Hill down to Brindle & a loop round the Fylde before the annual illuminations cycle in the last week... alas I left my camera at my cousin's in Somerset, so don't have any pictures to share.
But Mick did take some shots...


And September is another month full of cycling as its the South Pennine Walk & Ride festival, so I have another 8ish rides to lead this month plus maybe attending some others that club members are putting on. The prospect of mum duty, being back in work & cycling so much in September is a little intimidating & I think I've probably planned to stretch myself too far.



So perhaps I'll save my journey into hammock camping for another time...



Monday, 17 August 2015

Family Picnic Riding


Enjoying the last bits of maternity leave before I'm back in the office.