Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Today was the traditional Rough Stuff Fellowship festive walk and we couldnt have asked for a better day at Rivington in the West Pennine Moors.  How many days in a row has it rained for? And how many more to come?? Today was beautiful, even some blue in the sky.

There was much discussion of tandem exploits from Ken & Dot - sounds like the raleighs that the Tandem Club run are great fun.  So even more cycling trip plans for 2013 - at this rate I wont be able to fit them all in.  Do I ever need those school holidays back!!! March will have rides every day of Easter for the RSF AGM.  April has a couple of days up near Coniston and in the middle of Wales. May's RSF family friendly camping trip is up near Penrith (which sadly clashes with the tandem club's Loire Valley trip). All that before Spring is out. Hopefully next year wont be quite as wet as 2012 so we might get some more use out of the tent.
Following the walk, we rejoined those who had chosen to cycle and enjoyed food and brass band music.

What with all the cycling penned in for the new year, I'd best make the most of a restful christmas and new year.

Very best wishes to you all and thanks to all the fellow cyclists that have made this last year so memorable and enjoyable.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Brilliant week of excellent winter rides

December is always such a sociable month. Meets with friends, colleagues & cycling groups. Usually by the time January comes about, I'm ready for a rest.
This December is no exception - in fact as life goes on, I end up with more & more December events.  The fact that I no longer get school holidays is just bobbins - I could have all of December off work & fill it up.

This week has been a brilliant cycling week inspite of the bitter cold weather we've had. And I now realise just how un-aerodynamic reindeer are!

The Long Causeway
My cousin was home from Wales last weekend, so I convinced her to come for a leisurely saturday ride to Hebden Bridge. She has an old heavy 90s mountain bike with low gear ratios which made the road ride over the Pennines challenging.

The views were spectacular after the snow earlier in the week - the hills salt & peppered with left over white stuff.  It was beautiful and after that initial warming climb, you can really enjoy the views before you start the cold descent to the valley bottom.
Stoodley Pike

 The sky was dramatic! Stunning. And it was delightful having some solo girly company on the ride. We lunched & then caught the train back as Roz had no lights on her bike.

click for full size. Amazing skies

I took Tuesday & Thursday off work to enjoy some Rough Stuff trips.
After a ride at 8am in minus 5 degrees to the meet point, my hands felt like a sledgehammer had trashed them.
sunrise over Alcincoates Park, Colne


I contemplated going home - but after I'd warmed up and got chatting with the guys, I donned an extra pair under my ski gloves and we headed along  the frozen canal towards Yorkshire. Ducks and swans skated about and it was picture perfect. The muddy fields were frozen solid in most places which made for a very bumpy and unforgiving ride between the canal and the disused railway.

The last few miles were on the busy A59 before enjoying the road into Carleton, which happily was closed to motor traffic whilst diggers had made an impassable hole. It meant we could cycle 3/4 abreast, chat, not worry about cars and look out at the beautiful hills in this pretty spot.
We joined with the Yorkshire Rough Stuff faction for their festive lunch. I met some new faces & caught up with riders I'd not seen in many months. The lunch passed far too fast before we had to set off back.
Because it was just so cold, I took very few photos, but two pairs of gloves did just about save me from agony.
Pendle Hill & Blacko Tower at sunset

Thursdays forecast predicted slightly warmer weather, so after surviving the ride on Tues, I set off with a big smile for a ride in the Ribble Valley.  Clitheroe was bathed in winter morning sunshine as we set off. Over the River Ribble and into Waddington for our first brew stop. It is chocolate box picturesque here.
Pendle Hill from the base of Bradford Fell

We started to climb up and by the time we reached Bradford Fell there was nothing, but thick freezing fog. It was like being on an alien landscape - the muddy ground was solid and interspersed with frozen, glacier-like puddles, which made any actual cycling nigh on impossible.
Frozen puddles

Freezing fog
At least walking was warmer than riding. It was bitter up on those tops - much colder than I'd expected. I felt like I was on an Arctic expedition.
Brian's group shot

another of Brian's photos

We pushed our bikes for miles, I thought the lunchstop would never arrive. It eventually did at about 2o'clock. Hot soup, hot tea. It thawed my hands, but not my feet.

We cycled the last few miles on the road back into Clitheroe riding into a beautiful misty sunset... but trying to beat the sunset, we didnt stop to take any photos.

Thursday night was a really good bike maintenance course through work. Really useful - I now know I can change a back wheel puncture no problemo. Easy tips on changing your brakes and other useful tips from the people at Go Velo.  If you get the chance to go on the course, I recommend it. They also do cycling classes for all levels too.
a winter's night in Pendle Witch country

Saturday was a day off the bike, but in one of our lovely Cycling Cities, Lancaster. I've only ever really peddled through Lancaster before so exploring the centre and the castle was really interesting. Next time I'm in the area on my bike, I'll take an extra hour or two to pop into the centre again. Very picturesque and with some interesting shops; my favourite being a tea & coffee merchants that felt like stepping back into Victorian times. 

Lancaster Castle

Sunday was the highlight of the week. We took the tandem over to Liverpool to ride to Alder Hey Children's Hospital to deliver Christmas presents to the children who are in over the holidays. A couple of hundred cyclists in santa outfits, with the odd other costume cycled through the city to car toots and waves and cheers. It was lovely and for the first time this year I got that festive feeling.

Brrr hunched up from the cold
There was a sergeant major keeping us all in check in his parade boots. I didn't know a human being could shout so loudly!!
There were four tandems in all and we chatted to a lovely couple who regaled us with their tandeming exploits over the years.

After warming up at the hospital with brews and choccies, we all made our own way back. Even though there was just Stephen (santa) & myself (a red nosed reindeer) cycling, we still got lots of waves and children looking in awe. It was lovely.
My antlers were far from aerodynamic - any slight gust of wind pushed against them. Thankfully my skills at plaiting my hair around them kept them in place.
We pushed the bike back through the centre to have a quick look. It's 13 years since I last visited Liverpool & a lot has changed since then. Looking forward to the new year for a proper trip back there to explore the fine historical city, admire the old & new architecture and hopefully utilise the cycling Liverpool map that Dug donated to us.

What a fantastic cycling week it's been!

Saturday, 8 December 2012


Brrrr it's getting cold. Having nasty Raynauld's has diminished my cycling miles for the last few weeks.  I'm trying ginko biloba out - apparently that helps extremity circulation - fingers crossed. Going to invest in some scuba neoprene socks too I think.
But I have managed some miles and have some lovely festive rides with the Rough Stuffers & a Christmas charity ride to keep me peddling up to Christmas.

We took the tandem out to Rivington to see how it coped on those big hills. We peddled up every one no problem at all. Very impressed indeed. Normally I'm off roading round that area, so it was nice to go a different route and find a lovely viewing area before the roller coaster descent.

After some snow this week, my cousin & I peddled out over the Pennines into Yorkshire for some lunch. Dramatic skies made for beautiful views. Thankfully the roads were all clear of ice so it was a carefree ride.
It was certainly colder over the border. After a wander round Hebden Bridge and a quick shop to try some beers brewed locally at Cragg Vale's Little Valley Brewery, we got the train home. I'll be sampling my IPA & Stephen will be trying the mild tomorrow.

Also started walking a bit more now it's cold - generates less breeze! ;-)