Brimham Rocks then West Bay & Back 200 Audax

On 21st July managed to complete the Brimham Rocks 200km Audax and I was not last to finish for the very first time on a 200, thanks really to Steve Myatt & Rodger Holmes of Birdwell Wheelers club (that’s Barnsley to thee) who I kept passing at the cafe checkpoints – and they kept passing me on the road and we finished together.


Fairburn was the starting village and it threw in a complication to start with, road closed so we had to make up a new route arround it, with the result that the front half of the peleton went off on the wrong road, they must have rejoined the route after a small diversion; the one and only advantage of being at the back, you have time (and breath) to talk to the other riders and check the route. After the rolling hills to Kippax I was last, but in sight of the back of the group but by Barwick in Elmet I was on my own, last… until the A64 right then left round Bramham Park when I met a bunch of about a dozen coming towards me, they had overshot and gone on towards Tadcaster and then had to come back & so through Bramham, Clifford and Thorpe Arch I was peddling hard to stay infront of the group.


What a strange part of the world Bramham to Thorp Arch is, the family word we use to describe such a place is “chirpins”. Anyway, so keen was I to stay infront that I got lost in Wetherby and completed my own diversion up the A661 to Spofforth before peddling up a little valley back to the route at Little Ribston. I DO NOT RECOMEND this diversion, the traffic on the A661 is FAST and it must have added half a mile to the route.

Loved the route along the river Nidd in Knaresborough and the riverside cafe thronged with folk and cyclists. This is where I first noticed the guys from Birwell but I decided to follow the couple (John & Philippa Hand) on a tandem out of Knaresborough as Philippa was shouting the route to John from their GPS & so I was confident of not repeating my navigation errors of Wetherby.

This next part was a repeat of my very first Audax, Wiggington 100 earlier in the year, but somehow it was easier following the tandem this time, until the long rise after Ripley when the tandem steadily left me behind and the lads from

Birwell overtook me.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Is that Steve or Rodger or Rodger & Steve? I appologise, I dont know, anyway just in the circle of light in the trees in the skyline is the tandem just before the summit before Smelthouses. Of course I was holding back for the climbs to come.


Then up to How Stean Gorge, lovely place and a nice stop in the tea room, I had an ice lolly (it was hot) and a pot of tea (I was thirsty) and a little lass and friends was celebrating an eighth birthday, they were so well behaved and excited, it was just so pleasant.  I sneaked off whilst the Birdwell lads tucked into beans on toast and the tandem riders were visiting the facilities to meet the back group heading towards the checkpoint just before Ramsgill, no really, this surprised me because I thought they were infront of me after my Wetherby loss of concentration.


Anyway, onwards and upwards litterally.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the bottom of Nought Bank, with two sets of double chevrons, so bottom gear, no, really, absolute bottom gear and plod…plod…plod then just before the curve into the valley with the large stones I hear this hard panting and creak of a plastic bike (sorry carbon fibre) and this bloke in black goes past me dancing away like a very fast thing, but judging by his loud breathing he was in danger of a heart attack. Anyway by the last bend and the final pitch of just a single chevron he was gone and away. Nice hill, I enjoyed it, not too hard and not too long and a great ride to Blubberhouses.


Then a shock, I had not read the map correctly, the hill between Blubberhouses and Otley really is a PENNINE HILL when I thought it was just a small lump, maybe Nought Bank was harder than I realised but I found this: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Askwith Moor harder than I should as it was only a sigle chevron and only about a 300 foot rise,  but the downhill to Otley was worth it, talk about fast and smooth.


So full English Breakfast at the checkpoint cafe in the Riverside Park, complete with sunshine, heat, a brass band playing and a cue for the single loo. We all regrouped, the Birdwell Lads and the tandem for the up and downs of the River Wharfe valley, Kearby Cliff being where the Birdwell Wheeler lads left me behind again.  This time I managed Wetherby OK and was putting down some speed now I had warmed up and was in the flatlands again, when in Wighill… Is that a blue item of clothing in the road, no it’s a cap, it’s a Birdwell Wheelers cap but gone past it, so turned round and picked it up and returned it to its rightful owner at the last checkpoint at Naburn Lock where I had another ice lolley and refilled all my water bottles and sneaked off again infront of the Birdwell Lads whilst they were in the loo.


But they overtook me between Hambleton & Hillam only for me to go past them when the phone call from the wife had to be answered by one of them which meant unwrapping the phone from the plastic bag which meant them stopping leaving me in the lead again, but in Fairburn we regrouped to cross the line together to relieve the boredem of the organisers who were waiting outside the hall for the last riders. The tandem and the last group I did not see at the finish hall as I had to leave, but the final refreshment of cold rice pudding and tin of fruit salad was truely wonderful, thank you John Radford for a great ride.


So whats next, well after a weekend off from Audax I’m going to do the Salisbury to Bridport west Bay 200 on Sunday using my sister for B&B, then the week after I’m doing the Peak District Phil & Friends Sportive  followed by the climax the summer  with the Mildenhall 300 (I hope it really is flat!), yup, I’ve never cycled 180 miles in a day, I think I’m ready…


Then maybe two final 200s to be considered in September Daves Dales Tour from Richmond for my birthday and the Ralph Cross on the 14th as suggested by Barbara.


I’ll let you know how it goes



Housing Bubble – and Audax UK

OK, I cant think of a link between my title phrases so this blog is in two parts.


George Osbourne worries me, that is the UK Treasury Minister. His party believes that people vote for people who increase the value of their homes that they own and so has enacted policies to encourage mortgage lending on secured assets which has resulted in an increase in property values.  From high in the Pennines I observe

  1. No housing shortage, I dont see people living in tents, caravans or converted containers up here. – plenty to buy & rent.
  2. Banks & Building Societies seem to want to only lend on secured property as they carry a low risk, but the price increase bubble is going to cause a collapse of those asset values and here we go again with the banks creating risk from their belief in property being low risk.
  3. You cant export a house, well not one with foundations in the UK – and I feel that the only way out of this slow depression is for us to make things and export them.
  4. Exporters in the main can only borrow in order to finance exports on those secured assets with foundations in the ground. This stops businesses operating from leasehold premises from responding to demand by borrowing.
  5. Houses are not ecconomic assets, they dont enable you to create wealth, they only enable those that have wealth to store that wealth and take it out of the ecconomy which could instead be creating wealth from trade and commerce.


I have done two audax 200kilometer rides since my last blog

Knockerdown 200km from Macclesfield.  It is very hot climbing up the Roaches and if you look hard you can just make out another audax rider in front. I never caught him again as he just pulled away from me, but the 4 guys behind me made me feel more confident I can do this!


Then a pleasant ride along the tops to the control at the red campervan in the Manifold Valley. Water, water & more water taken on with a little cake.Image

passed a place in need of some decoration, think the maintenance man couldn’t get over the hill (did I mention the climbing in this audax?)


and on towards Carsington Water where started meeting people doing the 100km version of the audax. This bit was hot and busy & was glad to get to Bakewell for a nice pub lunch ( full works ) sat out on the pavement watching the other audax riders grab a bite and rush off . I waited until the carnival brass band had gone past, with the Carnival Queen in close attendance to go on to the 2nd half of the ride. I enjoyed the 2nd half more than the first, Millersdale being delightful, as is its bike hire tea hut (more refreshments), Through Chelmorton & its medieval field layouts up onto the Tissington trail which was fast, but hot. Loads of farm activity with haymaking and the smell of July was, well, nice.

Down this mucky lane to Parwich


but then the climb out of Dovedale to Wetton took it out of me as it was so hot – back to the red van mixed in with the 100km finishers and then plod off north to go through Flash & Allgreave. Evening was drawing in and it started to cool and I really enjoyed the Longnor – Flash ridge with its hump and bumps and walls of tarmac to climb and in one place a bored bullock asleep on the tarmac right on the steepest part. Loved the downhill into Macclesfield, and yes I was last to the finish being the 11th rider.  Full marks, great route

Then this weekend I did the permanent Fleet Moss 200Km Audax of Reid Anderson – Halifax to Hawes & back via Settle & Burnley

This turned out to be even hotter than the Knockerdown and I was truely tired by the time I got to Todmorden – but I did it in 12 hours 5 minutes. 

Lots of riders out – this one only came past me cause I had stopped to take the photo on the way in to Starbotton – can you see the heat in the photo?


Then to Buckden and a bacon sausage and egg bun in’t cafe, good to see them so organised for the Tour De France 2014, Holmfirth meanwhile seem to be holding their breath for someone to give them permission, but not out here in the sticks!


Then up the “easy” side of Fleet Moss which was mostly being driven by motorbikes. Nice hill, no horrors until…


you come to the downhill to Hawes when the ground just falls away and the road seems verticle down. With paragliders above and 4 cyclists pushing up (how wise, peddling in that heat up that slope!) on, on down fast into the pub in Hawes for a swift pint of Theakston’s ale and then onto what was the hardest part of the ride for me, into the SW breeze which had picked up because of the sun combined with the climb out of Hawes over to Ribblehead started to turn me to jelly. Thank god for Settle and the Londis there, ice-cream and bottled water saved me & then through the lovely lanes to Waddington, only got lost once too!


Took this photo ’cause I like the brass band tune “Slaidburn” and some of my mothers side ancestors come from Sawley & Bolton by Bowland.  Whalley was teaming and then into the hustle and bustle of Burnley & the hot road up to above Rose Hill on the A646, but then joy of joys, through the valley was blowing a strong evening cool tail wind which blew me to Halifax & the finish.

Saturday & Ron Kitching CTC Sportive from York


Blakey Bank (just a 1:5 gradient)

Being a Member in Practice of CIMA I am required to achieve an annual level of professional development maintained every year. To this end CIMA put on an annual MIP conference in Oxfordshire on a Friday & Saturday in a posh hotel – very nice & very expensive, complete with an Annual General Meeting of MIP’s and a black tie evening meal with 150 accountants – I shall say no more.

For the last three years it has clashed on the Saturday with the CTC Ron Kitching  cycling Sportive, so I have attended the Friday bash with CIMA then at 5.30pm set off for Yorkshire, slept in my own bed and set off for York at 6.30am, cause some things are just too important to miss.

Having had my fill of Marketing and Selling guff/puff with CIMA the Ron Kitching is serious stuff – 50 or 100 miles from York to North Yorkshire Moors and back via two village hall refreshment stops run by the W.I. These stops are the real reason for doing this ride, the Marton Ladies food is a real treat at £2.50 for a real tea (i.e. boiled kettle & a teapot) and 3 cakes of your choice, although the Fadmoor village W.I. provided tea, scones and biscuits for free – there was less of a spread there with the tables not quite so groaning.

There were maybe 60 odd of us at the start at 8.00am at Huntington School 6th form common room. We clocked on and set off with the wind going to the north. The quick boys are out of sight by the Earswick A1237 roundabout and by Nunnington I’m on my own with the odd pair or singleton passing me right up to Fadmoor village hall, where the Hull Barracuda Triathlon team caught me up, they must have been late starters.

After a very pleasant (but sweaty) stop for tea and cake I set off for the the decission point just before Lowna, do you go right & uphill over the moor for the short route, or left with a gentle climb to Low Mill? For the previous two years I have cycling with people and gone right (short), this year on my own I went left & reached the bottom of Blakey Bank where the group of Barracuda’s went up past me like a train up the 1:5 – see picture in sunshine just after they had gone round the corner.

A single Barracuda however found it hard & although she came past me on Blakey Bank by Castleton I had caught her back up & I felt good, but soon came my downfall… Here I admit to an unintentional cheat by me, you see no one had told me that the route had been changed for the year, so at Duck Bridge I expected a turn right but there were no signs, so I carried on east to Houlsyke, still with no CTC signs so I turned round and went back to Duck Bridge to climb up past Danby Castle (complete with a wedding party with a highland war piper) and up to the 1350ft summit via Little Fryup valley. The wind in the face was incredible and I discovered that my Bike had a whistle from the frame somewhere as well as aeolian hums from the spokes.

Down to Rosedale in rain and as I had had enough wind and rain I ignored the main climb up the Chimney and went down the valley to Appleton Le-Moors then I picked up the route again through Great Barugh & on to Thornton Le-Clay and through Strensall Camp. I’d only seen two cyclists since the Marton W.I. stop and was chugging along thinking there was only a couple of miles left when the Barracuda Triathlon Club train came past me at a hell of a lick. They beat me by maybe 5 mins, and there were the two guys who had stormed off the front at the start of the ride, one of whom was Italian and had come over just to climb the Chimney (some people are mad and foreign! – me I’m just mad.)

Turns out I had chopped off 10 miles by turning at Duck Bridge as I should have gone on to Egton Bridge, so I had done my 89 miles in 7.5 hours whereas the fast guys had done 100 miles in 7.25 hours.

I am pleased I did the ride, upset I lost the ride route and shortcut the ride & myself and determined to climb the Rosedale Chimney next year & do more than 100 miles by way of compensation.  I also hope that the American girl who was waiting at the Marton tea stop for her “tall guy on a Giant”, she having done the short and he doing the long finally managed to contact him. I think he couldn’t feel the vibration and hear the ringtone for the wind and rain on the top of the moors. At least my route had climbed higher than the CTC’s route on the way back from Little Fryup.

My First Audax, second & third

At the ripe old age of 55 you would think I would have got over that teenage fear of making a fool of myself; as I am aware that the people I admire and like out there in the world are those that seem to have no fear of being seen as fools and so are free to try new things and share with people.  Me, I have been silent on my blogs since March after mentioning fitness and Audax.


So I bought a new bike from Trycycling of Kirkburton, a Dawes Ultra Galaxy tourer with short headset and disk brakes. Why that bike? It has a Brooks saddle (leather and comfortable over long distances), I’ve had one before but it’s frame size was just a little to big for me, this one at 53cm fits me like a glove, steel frame again for comfort. What does comfort mean to me, well it means that after 100 miles you can still think of doing another 100 miles tomorrow. Cost me £1,799.99 in April 2013.


I entered for my first Audax, two weeks after the bike purchase, the Wiggy 100, about 56 miles from Wiggington (north of York) to Brimham Rocks via Ripley Castle, Ripon and Boroughbridge. There were over 30 starters and one admitted to it being her first audax too. Hill out of Ripley Castle to Brimham Rocks did register but I WAS NOT LAST TO FINISH, but tired. Put Bike back in car and drove home happy in the knowledge that I had completed before 2 Holme Valley Wheelers.


This encouraged me to enter a proper audax at 200km, The Yellowbelly, a dead flat Lincolnshire jaunt. So I did my “Big One” training ride, 49 miles via Holme Moss, Glossop & Snake Pass, Ladybower and over Strines and Gilbert Hill to home (Easy, no problems) the weekend before the Yellowbelly; no problem on climbing Ewden Bank so that was a good feeling. Drove the car to the village hall and set off on the peal of the village church bell. Soon I was at the back sharing the ride with a bloke who was celebrating his 80th birthday, which put my efforts into perspective! but I dropped him when he had a flat tyre in the first 10 miles.  This went out over the ridge near Cranwell, out round Sleaford to Tattersall, out to the Wainfleets near the coast and back via Horncastle & just south of Lincoln back to the start. Head winds yes and again not last to finish from a field of about 30 – so,so confident and proof of fitness now at a level of I’d say A out of AAA.


Now entered the Barmouth Boulevard in Wales, 200km with 3,500 metres climbing from Corwen to Harlech via lake Bala then down the coast to Barmouth and then inland to Dolgellau and back to Corwen. Needed to get fitter so did my Bolsterstone 2 hills ride (Tinkers and Ewden Bank via Bolsterstine) and “The Biggest One” ride, about 96 miles, Holme Moss, Glossop, Chuffing Chinley, Chunley & Chapel on the Chuff, Striding Edge, Edale,  Winnats Pass, Wormhill to Millers dale, Hassop, Hathersage, Strines & this time Ewden Bank “got” me [I had to stop for a breather] and Gilbert Hill to home.


To the Barmouth Boulevard I camped in Carrog and cycled to the start (2.5 miles?) 3 people were doing my variant of the ride via Dolgellau & the A470 and 9 did the harder  Bwlch Y Groes route. Weather was perfect, sunny, no wind (much), set off at 8am and finished well last over an hour after the previous guys at about 9.20pm after a lovely sunset and seeing so many bluebells and hearing cuckoos all day. Tired, had a pint in the Royal Oak and cycled back to the campsite along the A5 feeling on top of the world.


So now I’m confident I can do any 200km the UK had to offer and will do some permanents as well as enter some events in the Audax calander, next weekend is the Huddersfield CTC Tri-Vets ride, 100 miles on the flat and then I’m in the 100 mile Ron Kitching challenge ride the weekend after that – this time I am going to do the long version as I recon I’m now AA fit.


Havnt picked the next Audax as Mel will want a holiday somewhere and with her new pedelec bike we can start cycling together again.

Cycling update

Well my last blog was full of bravado, but since 4th March it has been so cold that for a fair weather cyclist I havent got out of bed, until this morning.  Here I am sat at my desk, Friday afternoon with my thigh muscles complaining watching it rain which it has done all day.  But (oh what good grammar) when I looked out at the world through the bedroom curtains at 5.50am it wasnt raining and the snow had vanished, so off I went for my standard before breakfast ride – just over 12.5 miles with a mere 905 ft climbing.

It took me 1 hour 17 minutes and I had to get off on the very last pitch of Tinkers Hill, about 5 yards short of the electricity pole  before the Tinkers Monument house because I’m so unfit.  In 2011 it had been warmish and I had managed many miles by this time in March, getting to the top of Tinkers to watch the sunrise over Barnsley (so poetic a sight).  This year, about 200 ft above my house the roads have been frozen all day and we have had snow lying behind the walls for weeks. Riding with any oomph over ice on a road bike is a no no as if you put any wellie into the back wheel it can slide off sideways and leave you standing, or sucking a graze.

Today was good as it (a) didn’t rain (b) was above freezing (c) there were patches of ice on the road but all were avoidable. The windmills were roaring and going round fast, yet I didn’t seem to come across the usual head wind when grinding my way towards Carlecotes from Millhouse Green, but so slow! I need to take off about 15 minutes before the summer.

I rate myself in the AAA+ to FFF- scale of fitness at about F+, I have an underlying fitness from cycling and walking last year and I do have a defined muscle structure on my legs, but  there is not much muscle there when it is called for.

So in 2013 so far I’ve done 54 miles and climbed 3,697 ft acording to my Magellan GPS on my old Peugeot, looking forward to Tri Vets 100 with CTC in June and the Ron Kitchen from York full 100 rather than the wimpish 60 miler that I have done twice before. Audax I hear you ask? well I’m just reading the magazine at the moment.

UK Civil Servants & failure

I heard a comment from some authority figure on’t radio this morning that has moved me to comment.
She said with absolute belief and sincerity that of course civil servants had sacrificed a lot by joining the civil service as they would be paid far more in the private sector for their work. – I paraphrase
This, to put it mildly is absurd because the private sector does not reward failure and nor does it support averageness for very long either. Both failure and mediocre performance, it would appear, are pre requisites of any person looking at our current UK Civil Servants.
I have been reading the proposals for the Universal Credit system, both the payroll and self employed systems as outlined are sure to fail (in my opinion). I predict there is going to be a huge growth in black market in the UK as a direct consequence, and the administration of such a system is not in within the abilities of the people currently working and advising within the HMRC and other Civil Servant areas.
We shall see…

Hills by bike and foot

Ups and Downs dominate my life over the last month.

The UK economy continues to look to me to be in a depression that the “People in the Know” of  London continue to completely miss, the BBC keeps feeding us with the word “surprising” when the statistics show further inflation, more part time work, less activity in manufacturing and construction – yet if you look out of the window up in the north (where it is boring and slow) by ‘eck its grim. The Conservatives have never heard oy Keynes, maybe in about 3 years time we can get someone in the Treasury who knows what 110% means and get rid of the little lost boy of no.11 Downing Street who appears stretched at about 34% of what I would expect of someone in his role.


More downhill; Out with the lads and lass of the CTC last night on a Tuesday night cycle with the formal title “Farnley Tyas” which set off from Somerset Bridge and tried to avoid Farnley Tyas until it was dark. Going down the hill following the red bike lights, or even maybe overtaking some, was thrilling. Well done to Alan for leading such a ride. Off on a tangent, in these parts it seems to me more sensible to measure rides by the height climbed according to the GPS rather than the horizontal miles covered, so last night was a ride of just over 2,400 feet.


Also this month I dragged my youngest son up 4 Munro’s and 2 Corbett’s and various other tops at the west end of Loch Monar, that was climbing by the end of day 4 of just over 16,000 feet and whats more only one night of midges. Managed not to get bitten but landed up breathing them in, in eyes, ears and eating those that died in the cooking. First weekend Munro trip for 5 years, lets hope I get more in soon… Anyway that’s why I joined the LDWA this year, although not managed to get out with them yetImage


We sold our house and moved into rented, this is a downsizing exercise so of course its bigger than South View Cottage, our old home. It has a 7/8ths acre garden which is on a gradient of about 1 in 1.

It was all built in the 1980’s by a couple who were obviously plantsmen. The garden had gone to seed over the last 5 years of renting but we are pulling it round, mostly by pruning, cutting back and weeding. One day this summer it will be warm and dry enough for us to plant out the bedding that has been ready for months.

The Cacti & Succulents are out in the open with only the African succulent Pachypodium really suffering from the wet & cold – it hasn’t flowered this year and has few leaves compared to its vigorous growth and flowering it used to do in South View greenhouse. I was always unsure if the plants got the right spectrum of light through the horticultural glass of the greenhouse but having them outside in the oh so wet spring/summer has shown me that the increase in sunlight they must have had has not made up for the dry warmth they lost.
We have rooted out a mass of Laurel bushes to replace them with seeded lawn on a terrace for a clothes drying area. The grass has loved the wet and the drying area is  in full operational mode. At above 700 foot in the Pennines most days the clothes dry in the wind, so by more luck than judgement you can get a non raining patch in the day and generate more ironing!

This year decided not to do the Phil Liggett challenge so that I can get a weekend of Munro & Corbett climbing in Scotland. Instead trained and set off to do the Ron Kitchen challenge out of York CTC meeting in June. I was confident I had the legs for the 100 mile (long) version and had two strong cyclists from Huddersfield CTC with me but by the time we got to the route split  just below Gillamoor we had all had enough and by unanimous decision we took the short route (65 miles) back to York. Amazing how wind and rain can defeat you.

Anyway – chin up and keep doing the before breakfast cycles (on http://www.mapmyride) and I might manage to get below 12st4lb this summer & get up the zigzag from Holmebridge past the Vineyard to Cook’s Study

Fukushima & radiation risk

Experts have been known to point out the cost in lives of oil extraction and coal mining is greater than those lost from nuclear energy disasters. Coal miners, oil extractors & refiners all do dangerous work and to some extent their remuneration will have an element for the level of risk that they take – If you include insurance and benefit payments to the family in the remuneration package in the event of a disaster.

It is my understanding that there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation, background radiation kills a certain number of people all the time, which can be statistically determined for each areas background radiation. Any increase in that background radiation will kill more people, so any release of radiation from any nuclear instalation will kill people, eventually. Most of these deaths will occur to familys who receive no remuneration from the polluter or state as the link is too tenuous to absolutly proove.

So there will be two types of death at Fukushima, those who will (I hope they will anyway as they are very brave) be affected now, on the plant trying their utmost to contain all this and who can expect to be remunerated in a proper fashion, and the second type of death from people with no economic benefit from their death – unlike coal miners and oil workers.

On an unrelated point I heard the UK Government science advisor state that more radiation exposure came from a CT scan than from Fukushima. I thought this disengenuos becasue a CT scan is a discreet event in ones life and has an event horizon – it will end. Background radiation is there all the time and in the nature of half life behavoir affect a population as a whole ratherthan one person at a time.

Ok – I admit I have a degree in material science, so not quite as qualified as the UK Government advisor but beware people who are ecconomical with information, they may mislead

Phil Liggett Challenge

At 52 I decided to enter an organised cycling event for the first time ever.

The Phil Liggett challenge almost passes my door as it goes through to Holmfirth – so I signed up & persuaded my son Euan to also sign up for the short route.

Two weeks ago we did the route for the first time.  I was exhausted & barely got home.

Yesterday I did a shorter version (no Edale, down Winnatts pass instead) & across Strines & miss out Stannington & Bradfield.  This time I managed not to get off & push anywhere & averaged 9.9 miles an hour, even though the wild raspberries are hanging over the road in great banks – very tempting; so I am going to do it!

I am hoping for a time of 7 hours. Euan is expecting to do it under 5.  I am praying for not too much sunshine, a cooler day please.

I suspect I may be the slowest person out there, never mind – I will do it.