Monday, 23 March 2015

Shadow of Pendle

We made it out of the house before 12 and drove to Barley for lunch & a short walk. It was heaving with cars and people enjoying the spring sunshine.  Why did we drive... well the Pendle Witch Hopper bus only runs Sundays between April & October and since Frank's too small for bicycle fun yet, without a long walk, it's the only way to get to the base of Pendle at this time of the year.

I think most people were either heading up to the summit or just taking their families for picnics and playground time since our walk to Clarion House (for a 55p pint of tea) was mainly devoid of people.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Obligatory Eclipse Photo...

... plus a surprise pigeon.

Taken whilst also feeding frank, wedged with one arm.

Pennine foot pounding

The cycling dry spell continues for now. But yesterday we managed to make it out of the house & enjoy the sunshine (after two days stuck in a chair pretty much exclusively feeding).
Yet again Frank slept through the whole thing. I tried a different baby carrier that had been handed down to me; quite a complicated one, but possibly slightly better for him whilst Frank is still so small. The Palm & Pond one will be better once he has better neck control.
I saw the first butterfly of the year and loads of rabbits. Spring is springing!


Tuesday, 17 March 2015


Frank John, born eleven days ago and a whopper at 8lbs.

A long induction and labour, and I was pretty spaced out for the subsequent week.

The cycling through pregnancy seemed to stand me in good stead and I'm bouncing back from the pregnancy and birth pretty well.

At three days of age we had our first little walk. Although Frank slept through the whole thing.

At nine days we had a bigger walk around the hills enjoying a beautiful evening. And he slept through the whole of that too.

At day ten I managed 7 miles of walking with the pram into town & up to mum's. But I am taking things easy in between days where I'm due out at appointments.

Seriously missing being out on the bicycle, but at least I'm being kept well & truly occupied!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Hyndburn Cycle Forum

One last bike ride before the birth? Possibly.
Yesterday I had a lovely 21 mile pootle taking the 'scenic' route to Accrington for the inaugural Hyndburn cycle forum. I rode mostly off road on a route that I often commute home on in winter, simply because it's mostly away from traffic (albeit miles further). I'd hit early commuter time on the sole stretch of road, so took advantage of the incredibly ambiguous signage that shows a shared use path by way of a blue circular sign only - at no point can you tell where the bikes are supposed to go, or where (if indeed) it ends. Being full term pregnant can have strange effects on your body when cycling; like the need to stop if you get a twinge or boot in the ribs, so the ambiguous pavement/shared path cycling seemed a logical option (esp as it's 12 minutes of uphill on an A-road). Plus I see people cycling on the pavement here regularly, a clear desire line for pedal power to the business parks in the area. 

The last stretch was canal and disused railway. A guy who looked the spit of John Simm passed me on an old drop-handle steed as I was taking a photo. Anyone know if John Simm cycles? He is from the area & I once saw him having a barny with his girlfriend in the carpark at ASDA, so it wouldn't be out of the realms of possibility that it really was him. He sped by too quickly for me to sneak a photo.

The forum was very well attended which I hadn't expected. Thanks to Alasdair from the local authority for getting the first meeting off the ground.  It was very interesting to hear about the work going on already that I knew nothing of and I'm sure some people would have found initiatives they can tap into for their work.
Hopefully it will pave the way for some joined up work and increased rates of cycle use in the area over the next few years as the East Lancs cycle infrastructure improves and things like the Huncoat Greenway finally get completed (of course that is on the assumption that the government does actually provide the funding that's been indicated).  And I'm hoping to be able to lend some of my time to a couple of groups to lead some rides in the future. Watch this space, as things develop over the year, I'll be letting everyone know.
It was great that there was such positivity within the group about routes that already exist and how they can be fully utilised. The area really has a wealth of off road sections, though many of these require that people are happy to get a bit muddy. Not exactly Dutch standard, but personally as someone who commutes through Hyndburn to get to the office in a borough at the other side, anything that makes my ride feel safer always gets a thumbs up from me. I am by nature most at home riding off road.

The meeting finished at 8 and by then there was some rain. Mac, hat, scarf donned I enjoyed the tail wind that pushed me along the main road back home. I happily discovered that (as discussed with someone in the parks team) a gate into the cemetery had been left open meaning I could enjoy a traffic free climb away from a truly horrible junction. Alas as I was repositioning my off-road light, I hit the only pot hole in the cemetery full on. Ouch! Luckily, my beaten up Raleigh has bomb proof wheels and the angled stem tends to soak up anything like that very nicely. Another off-road park stretch later and I was enjoying a brew at mum's.

It feels very weird that cycling is still the easiest way to get around. I can't walk very far anymore and can only go at snails pace, but give me my bike and pregnancy suddenly has little effect on my mobility.  It reminds me of someone in the cycling club who has trouble with his feet; he's unable to walk far and has a disabled badge for when he's in town etc. but he pulls his bike from his car and is leading rides for the rest of us.
I wonder how many people with mobility problems would even consider that a bicycle could be the answer to them being more independently mobile - probably not many. I know it wouldn't work for all, but I'm sure a significant number of people's lives could be transformed if they tried it out.

And here for a laugh is me feeling well & truly fed up with being pregnant; well a massive bump attached to a 5'1'' tall, 7.5 stone dripping wet person makes you feel like this.  Thanks husband for this gem.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Nowt New Here (yet)

Still no sign of childbirth starting. Just getting a larger bump and less able to walk. But happily the bicycle is still fine for riding a couple of miles a day.
So I ventured to the tip, my mum's and the sorting office yesterday. Spring is in the air somewhere (I've seen snowdrop proof), but the route I took continued to look wintry.

(So grey in real life that I filtered the pic to add some depth to it)

The waiting continues.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Full term adventure

I was off to a Cyclenation meeting yesterday afternoon in Hebden Bridge, so since it's just over the hill, I decided I would give myself plenty of time to ride the over. Only one significant climb (about 600ft in 2 miles) and the rest is just bimbling around on the tops before a cracking descent through Hardcastle Craggs.

I got to the top of the first climb to discover my camera batteries were flat, so only had my phone to take photos. Not great, but better than nowt. 

My first breather and a drink- I stood up, stretched and drank as two cyclists rolled past me, said 'hello,' complimented my non-stop climb up the series of chevrons (which I'd not takled since June on the day I found out I was pregnant), then both promptly stopped when they noticed my bump.

After a quick chat, they were on their way and I admired the view some more. The road up here had some icy patches left, so I took care and enjoyed as much freewheeling as I could and was passed by one other cyclist (getting overtaken is something I've had to get accustomed to whilst pregnant).

The misty skies began to clear up as I rolled alongside the shore of Widdop Reservoir.

I turned at the track for Walshaw & Lancashire Moor and wheeled right past the sign saying 'no mountain bikes'... after all I was not on a mountain bike.
I've never ventured up to the reservoirs here before, but I'd planned this as my picnic lunch stop. The service road was still snowy with some very slippery ice patches, so I went slow and dismounted to walk at a couple of treacherous points. I had the place to myself and found a nice dry, clean wooden style to perch on for my lunch.

From the hamlet of Walshaw it was all downhill into Hardcastle Craggs and to say it was a cold day, there were loads of people walking in the woods. I even had to queue in the cafe to pick up a slice of Yorkshire curd tart to take home with me.
By the time I'd reached the bottom of the hill my toes were chilly. I had also arrived in good time, so sat in the quare listening to a busker play some lovely classical guitar for a while.

After the meeting and a quick tonic water in Trades (who were delightfully playing The Timewarp (film version)), I got the train back home.

A lovely 15 miles in total with 2200ft of ascent (2400ft of descent). It felt wonderful being back over in Calderdale enjoying one of my favourite rides. Who knows when I'll next be able to get out, full-term is just a tedious waiting game. Everyone is telling me to take it easy & enjoy the rest, which I know is very sensible, but the back of my mind is wondering if each cycling adventure will be the last one for a while.