Saturday, 18 February 2017

Catch up

Reading Mark's recent updates has prompted me to write a few things down for no other reason than I do occasionally enjoy looking back over these posts and reminiscing over what we've been up to.

Me and Mark trotting up to Two Lads with the Lostock lot on their mince pie run 2015

I didn't really do many events last year, other things in my life took over. I got the hump with the Ben Nevis race since they spurned my usual advances, it had become a yearly ritual sending my form off on the day they were released - last year would have been my tenth consecutive race. I was a bit upset when I checked the entries ready for booking what has become our annual weekend away in Fort William to discover I hadn't got in.

I mailed the organiser during that week only to receive a somewhat curt response telling me I was on the reserve list; I didn't hear from him again. I doubt they'll miss me being there from now on.

I fancied a go at the Fred Whitton again, it being long enough since the last time I did it for the memories of how punishing it is to have faded. I didn't get into that either! Beginning to feel a bit paranoid I had one last try at entering an event and got in the Etape Du Dales instead which is the weekend after the Fred. So early last year most of my spare time was mainly spent spinning on the turbo trainer and cycling progressively longer routes around Hertfordshire in sometimes dire weather.

A couple of weeks after getting the Etape entry the Fred Whitton organiser mailed me to say they had a place for me if I wanted it! I now had the tough decision over whether to do the Fred, Etape or both. I decided to do the Fred Whitton then see how I felt during the following week.

On the climb in the Causey Pike race. Paul Dobson was hiding with his camera (thanks Paul!)
Thinking back the only fell race I did last year was Causey Pike in March, a great little race from a lovely part of Cumbria. I had a good run but my lack of descending showed; partly from going face first in the long grass coming off the top and also from the state of my legs during the following 3 or 4 days!

Great fun on the descent, this was what destroyed my legs

After the race I rode the loop over Whinlatter and Newlands in the late afternoon sunshine
My Fred Whitton was a bit of a nightmare, I started a bit later than I'd hoped then as I was climbing Kirkstone an ambulance passed with its siren on. Heading down the other side at 40+ mph I had to brake sharply to avoid a cyclist in front who had seen what I hadn't - the now stationary ambulance and marshals in the road, just as I slowed to a crawl my front tyre blew. Some bloke had hit the wall; he was already in the ambulance but his bike was ruined. My rims were red hot as I changed my inner tube and I was now slightly concerned about making the cutoff that I was vaguely aware of. I needn't have worried, though my bottle had now gone (metaphorically) and all the steep descents from then on had me arse-clenching and once or twice actually unclipping and tip-toeing down. I got round anyway, even though I had to walk Honister and most of Wrynose but was spent at the finish - I don't think I drank or ate enough, it was unusually warm if I remember rightly.

 I felt ok during that week so the following Sunday saw me in the Yorkshire Dales for what ended up being a much better ride than the week before. I loved it; though again there were a few descents where I just couldn't descend like I usually do. The road was bad in a few places with road closures but it was a great route overall and showed me a few places in the Dales I hadn't seen before, finishing much stronger than the previous week.

My only other trip to the lakes was with Mark for a trot round the Langdale route towards the end of May. This was a good day out and a nice short break from all the diy I was deeply engrossed in.

Mark just after we left the car

Posing looking over the Scafell range
That was the last time I was in Cumbria. I'm hoping to get up there more often this year since most of the work I've been doing at home is now done (don't tell the wife I said that). Mark's been trying to persuade me to do some of that orienteering thing and in turn I've been trying to get him to do a traverse so I can tag along.

We stayed in a nice part of Scotland towards the end of last year; in the Cairngorms where I hadn't been before. Had a few good runs there and was really pleased to get out with my eldest son plus my eldest daughter's boyfriend who seemed to enjoy themselves and once or twice had me feeling like an old goat trying to keep up!

The boys on their way up Cairngorm mountain
On top of Cairngorm. It was quite cold up there, not somewhere for hanging around too long
So hopefully niggles permitting I'm hoping to do a few more events this year, or at least head up north more than I did last year and spend some time outdoors with friends.