Friday, 27 December 2013

Boxing Day Cycling

I'm getting to grips with Do It Yourself Audax rides. And with the niggles that seem to crop up. First I plot in Memory Map, then I do the Google Man walking distances. Then when I ride the route and pull the tracklog data off... the distances never tally & of course the elevations are never on mark (but that seems a universal issue & I'm too lazy to count contours).

Coal Clough windfarm, Long Causeway

Yesterday I decided to have a go at my second short hilly ride after thoroughly enjoying the first a couple of weeks ago.
Later this year I'd like to do some of the hilly 100 / 150k calendar rides, but I'm building up to that. That distance on a non-hilly ride is a piece of pie, but I'm a slow hill climber (I'm really an off road rider - so low gear & chill out going up), so I need to get my legs in gear for a faster pace. Doing short hilly rides seems a sensible option & there are no shortage of hills where I live.

Google Man had tallied the most direct routes at 53.5kms, but the tracklog was a mere 49.8. It probably wont count. Which will be the second duff DIY route I've done (the first was a gps problem when it lost signal).

In any case, it was a lovely Boxing Day ride. I probably should have rested with the cold I have, but I'd have hated missing out on a beautiful day.  The first six miles were hard as I warmed up, but the rest was lovely and the massive thumbs up from a German couple driving past me on a steep hairpin gave me an extra big smile as I continued climbing.

And of course, I got to cycle past where my Dad's ashes were scattered. He'd usually drag me over this way on very cold boxing days when I was growing up, so it's always nice to relive that tradition.

Widdop Reservoir

That road in the distance snaking past that tree- that's where I'm heading. Very deep valley just below with one of the toughest inclines I can think of... thankfully it's quite short.

Thursden Valley

I wont be making the Rapha Festive 500 this year. Right now, my nose is a tap and I'm living off vapour rub & I'm not a martyr to cycle in gale force winds either (well not on road anyway).
So time to spend a couple of days tucked up, vegging out & watching cartoons. Hopefully I'll be fine for the club ride on Sunday. 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

ARGH Road redesign / narrowing / pinch point roll outs?

Over the last few months whilst commuting to & from work - some works were going on which I've discovered are pinch points where the pavement is now curved out into the road to reduce the width of the road presumably to make a shorter crossing distance for pedestrians (this particular stretch, although residential is 40mph). The road previously had a semi-decent painted cycle lane that was between parked cars & the flow of traffic (never ideal, but at least it was away from the door zone).  Now the road is narrow, these pedestrian areas are often hidden by parked cars - as are the posts with hi-viz strips for cars to see them. This is forcing cyclists into the flow of traffic when approaching these areas.

Since getting irritated at this happening on the ONLY road connecting my home town with where I work (other than the motorway), I have noticed that this seems to be happening on the majority of arterial roads within the region. I can only assume this is being rolled out as a standard road feature country wide.  The roads in question are usually A roads that are jammed with parked cars and now this additional road clutter which is making it much more stressful both cycling & actually when I drive - and I am both a confident cyclist and driver (I cycle over 5000 miles per year).

I dont recall reading any consultation about these road redesigns and certainly nothing has been mentioned about them at the County Cycle Forum. Which begs the question - why on earth are authorities doing this? Surely if it is for pedestrian safety they should be looking at stopping traffic with crossings or reducing road speeds rather than making cars weave along roads and forcing cyclists into incredibly vulnerable positions on these roads, which are all narrowed by parked cars and pedestrian refuges and are now even narrower.

I've been commuting by bike regularly for over five years now and this year I have noticed that I feel much more vulnerable than previously by the way that the roads are being used. Near passes, more left hooks than ever before and I am having to commute early & early in a morning and much later in an evening to avoid heavy traffic. So these road changes are really unwelcome. Has anybody else noticed this and is there anything that can be done to undo this?

Sometimes I just feel like sacking off the cycle commute. But my bank balance and waistline would suffer. As would my off road hill climbing legs.
Feeling frustrated. And like my personal choice to not pollute on my way to work is being forced away from me. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

New roads, new smiles

The last few months have pretty much been dominated by long days at work meaning virtually all my cycling has been commuting in the dark at both ends of the day.  My road commute is grim. Unavoidable A-roads (the off road route is not suitable this time of year). I think grim commutes dominating life can make you forget how much you love cycling.

Recently I've taken a reduction in hours at work - I get one day off per fortnight so I can spend the day with my mum. And the last two freedom days I've enjoyed leisurely cycling from Stephen's back home after the morning rush hour traffic has dissipated. Last time I took the most direct route, which is usually pretty dull and busy, but I found myself enjoying a quite ride in the sunshine.

So today, I chose a longer, hillier route on roads I'd never been on before in my life.  When you've lived in the same place your whole life, there's something wonderful about discovering new roads and seeing familiar places from a different perspective.

 I smiled the whole way. And happily this seemed to make many motorists smile too. As I was enjoying a fast descent towards Whalley, an older gentleman beamed back at me from his delivery truck. Being up on the open moors is a wonderful feeling and I hope everyone was enjoying the beautiful day as much as me.

I extended the ride by riding around Pendle rather than through Padiham. Familiar roads, but good ones! Back Lane is usually devoid of cars and after the initial double chevron climb, once you're up  there you ride along a ridge, meaning no tough climbs, just speed and the wind rushing by.

I ventured through Higham village for the first time in my life (usually I leave the ridge at another point) - very pretty and I must visit the pub for grub there sometime soon.

The last stretch was mainly in town traffic, which did stifle the smile a little, but I sped through and was in the park and back home in time for lunch.

22.2 miles, 2630ft of ascent, almost no flat  - which is why living in the Pennines is amazing!