Dales Delight 200k Audax

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

The Dales Delight 200k audax packs 4 AAA points into its 125 miles, starting in Lancashire, and running through the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria. ¬†As seems usual with an Andy Corless event it’s full of hills!

I spotted a few regulars at the start, including the usual mad ones who seem to think it’s sensible to ride to and from a 200k 4AAA as clearly it isn’t long enough on its own – hello Peter ūüėČ

The weather was very chilly at the start but clear, with the sun pushing through, and it remained so for the whole day.  A bit of a wind was blowing from NW to SE which made some of the riding a bit tougher than it needed.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

10,705ft ascent

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Once off the A59 the route was absolutely superb. ¬†Hats off to Andy for that – for 20 or 30 mile stretches I didn’t see a car – and the countryside and scenery was superb. ¬†The only problem was the hills! ¬†There were some real beasts. ¬†Buttertubs from the North side (8/10 in the 100 climbs book), Fleet Moss from Hawes (9/10 in the 100 climbs book) and several other bumps like Newby Head to-boot.

I did think I was a reasonable climber but every so often you get put very firmly in your place. ¬†On a climb that was somewhere between 15% and 20% over 3 miles a guy went past me and put about a mile into me. ¬†He went past like I was stood still (I almost was!) but he didn’t seem to be struggling that much, whereas I was weaving about and gasping for breath! ¬†So there’s clearly still work to do for me.¬†On that note, this time last year I’d earned 4.5 AAA points and had done 45,967ft of climbing at the end of March 2011. ¬†This year I’ve earned 10.75 AAA points, and up to the 18th March 2012 I’ve done 72,621ft, and I’ve still got two weeks to go! I guess I need to start working on rate of climb now.

My HR strap was playing up somewhat – seemingly slipping out of position on the big climbs meaning my HR was in the 130’s whilst I was gasping away – so the average HR and calorie total will be off slightly.

Controls were pretty good – I did end up on my backside on the stone floor of one when my cleats slipped – and Andy popped up from time to time taking photos, so I look forward to those!

All in all, a really great day Рvery tough but very rewarding.  Chapeau to Andy.

Ride Stats : 127miles in 8hrs 45mins @ 14.4mph.  10,705ft ascent.  Average HR 144bpm, 7088kcals used

Strava ride here

Evil Fairy Rainbow Stars*

For me, the weather this weekend has been perfect cycling weather.  Some people prefer it cooler but I love cycling when the sun is out and the breeze is flat-to-non-existent.

Ade's Road Cycling BlogSaturday is my usual rest day but the weather was so perfect that I couldn’t resist and decided to head out for a blast round my usual 32 mile training route. ¬†I’ve been doing this route for 2 years and yesterday I did it in a personal best of 1hr 45m, which is nearly an hour quicker than I was 2 years ago. ¬†I was feeling pretty strong so decided to attack the hills and get up them as fast as I could. ¬†The result was an average spped of 18.1mph which I was pretty pleased with.

Today I drove to the picnic site at Barley in Lancashire to meet Martin and Graeme and do a route plotted by Graeme.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

4,569ft ascent


The route took us up Waddington Fell and out towards Bowland, stopping in Dunsop Bridge at Puddleduck’s for coffee and cake. ¬†Then down to Longridge before swinging left towards Clitheroe and back to Barley. ¬†I have to say that the weather was beautiful and on days like this there is nowhere better to be than in the English countryside.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the past week I’ve been up Waddington Fell twice and the Nick o’ Pendle from both sides. ¬†So much for thinking I wasn’t doing enough hills a few weeks back! ¬†It was a really enjoyable day, with a great route plotted by Graeme and great company. ¬†Absolutely loved it.

Ride Stats

Saturday : 32 miles in 1hr 45m @ 18.1mph, 1,849ft of ascent.  142bpm average HR and 1,413kcals

Sunday : 49 miles in 3hrs 40m @ 13.4mph, 4,569ft of ascent.  120bpm average HR and 2,477kcals

*You may be wondering about the title of this post. ¬†Apparently, at the end of last weeks audax, Martin was so tired near the finish that he started hallucinating. ¬†He described seeing different coloured fairies who would wave their wands and shoot rainbow stars at him. ¬†When the stars hit him they drained his energy. ¬†All I can say is who needs drugs when you can get the same effect from doing an audax! ¬†Maybe Martin should do some more and start designing computer games too…

Hills, hills, hills…

The mind is both a wonderful thing and a terrible thing. ¬†During last weeks Bowland Forest audax my mind had convinced me that I was struggling more on the hills, that I was not as fast and that I was more tired. ¬†One of the advantages of being a data geek like me is that you can actually take a subjective view like that and use some data to analyse it. ¬†So I did. ¬†Up until the end of May last year I did 2,428 miles and 94,659ft of climbing. ¬†Using a not-really-very-scientific-formula, that works out at around 39ft of climb per mile ridden. ¬†The equivalent period this year sees me having done 3,146 miles and 101,729ft of climbing – or around 32ft per mile. ¬†That would tally with me focusing more on quicker rides than hilly rides. ¬†But there’s not much in it – certainly not enough to worry about.

But me being me I decided to do a few hills this weekend.  I warmed up on Saturday with a quick 32 miler including The Rake Рwhich you can find on page 126 of the excellent 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs book by Simon Warren.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Saturday - 32 miles and 2000ft of climbing

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Can you spot The Rake?

The weather was grey and overcast with wet roads but little or no rain. ¬†The surface of The Rake is broken and difficult at the best of times but it was glistening with the wet, rainbow spectrum of spilt petrol/diesel/oil. ¬†Picking a line was difficult, with my bike wheel spinning on occasion and I reached the top with a higher heart-rate than I expected and feeling it in my legs. ¬†I must have been right, I thought, I’ve not done enough hills. ¬†But on analysis of the data I found that the probable reason was that I had gone up the hill about 1mph faster than my previous two rides on this loop. ¬†That doesn’t sound much but over a mile of climbing including 20%+ gradients it’s enough! ¬†And overall I knocked 5 minutes off my previous best time for the ride.

Today I decided to go north again but heading over to Hebden Bridge – which if you like flat riding would be your version of cycling hell.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

There was a stiff wind this morning and the route took in a mixture of short, sharp climbs, like Widdop, and long gradual climbs, like Cragg Vale.  Something for everyone!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Sunday - 76 miles and 6,339ft of climbing

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Anyway, my legs felt very heavy today. ¬†My time and average speed wasn’t particularly good. ¬†I’ve noticed some riders who struggle to maintain a pace in a group but post some fantastic averages when out on their own. ¬†I’m the complete opposite. ¬†I need company to motivate me to go faster – on my own I just settle for “comfortable”.

Overall though I’m pleased with the rides, and I think it shows the value of recording data so you can test your subjective thinking and get to the real story.

Ride Stats:

Saturday : 32 miles in 1hr 54m at 16.7mph average.  2,000ft of climbing, 1,591kcals and average HR of 146bpm

Sunday : 76 miles in 5hrs 24m at 14.1mph average. 6,339ft of climbing, 4,167kcals and average HR of 139bpm




Rufford Loop

Went out on my own this morning and decided to ride to Rufford.  I picked a route that headed north through Ainsworth, Tottington and Affetside and then up towards Edgworth.  Just before Edgeworth I needed to divert my route as I appear to have chosen an off-road track by mistake.  That added a mile or so and a cheeky hill.  My next route diversion was near Belmont.  Despite road closed signs I followed the Garmin and ended up at the back of Belmont with nowhere to go, so needed to about-face and head a different way through Belmont and up the climb and descent to Rivington.  Turning right I headed through Chorley Рland of the roundabouts Рand then west towards Southport, riding through those lovely roads around Croxton.

I stopped for refreshments at Fettlers Wharf at Rufford Marina. ¬†To the chap I tried to help with his Garmin, if you’ve found your way here then this is the page you should look at.

Heading back I threaded myself through lots of back lanes and country roads until I hit more urban roads in Standish and then Horwich, and finally through Bolton and back home.

3611ft of ascent

Overall a lumpy ride with a fairly flat middle. ¬†The weather couldn’t make it’s mind up. ¬†During the ride I had my waterproof jacket on, my lights on because of low cloud/mist, my sunglasses on sleeves rolled up and finally I raced a sudden downpour home, getting beaten by about 2 minutes!

Ride Stats : 67.5 miles in 4hrs 21 mins @ 15.5mph average.  3611ft of climbing, 3269 kcals of energy and average HR of 137bpm

Climbing The Rake from @100Climbs – Some Thoughts on Climbing

I decided that my route this morning would take in The Rake, which I’ve written about before. ¬†It’s in the 100 Greatest Climbs book and coupled with the rest of my ride up Grane Road is part of a shortish hilly loop I like to do from time to time.

1864ft ascent

The Rake is in Ramsbottom. ¬†As you cross the main A676 onto Carr Street the road starts to rise. ¬†You have maybe a hundred yards grace and then you are into a 19% gradient. ¬†That’s relatively short and as the road dog-legs left at the Rose and Crown pub onto Tanners Street the gradient settles down to the mere teens giving you a bit of a breather! ¬†It then flattens further still as Tanners Street gently arcs to the right. ¬†These are narrow residential roads and are not in the greatest state of repair but so far I’ve been lucky and not met any cars on them. ¬†At this point you’re probably thinking “is that it?” but then round the


apex of the arc you spot the sign. ¬†The sign that says 25% on it! ¬†And you realise you’re not done yet. ¬†Turning slightly right you find yourself on Rawson’s Rake. ¬†It’s steepness is a bit like one of those roads Wily Coyote paints on a cliff to trap the Roadrunner. ¬†As well as that there are two things you notice. ¬†One is how bad the surface is, which makes it even harder as you need to be aware of your line rather than just head down and grind. ¬†The¬†second is the fact there is a handrail for pedestrians! ¬†The rake runs out into Chapel Lane and gradient drops down below 20% again.

As opposed to my heart-rate which carried on at quite high¬†rate for some time! ¬†The climb is over when you reach the junction with¬†Helmshore Road, at which point a passing cyclist simply nodded at me and said “Well done!”


Mark’s cycling blog contained some great technical and scientific tips for hill climbing in this post here. ¬†Here are some non-scientific tips that have helped me actually enjoy hills

  1. Practice, practice, practice! ¬†The only way to get better at hills is to ride them. ¬†I hear lots of people say that they aren’t good at hills and they avoid them. ¬†Find yourself a hilly circuit and do it regularly. ¬†You will get better, and it will benefit all your riding.
  2. It’s all in the mind. ¬†Half the battle with hills is in your head if you ask me. ¬†Mow Cop, for example, defeats lots of riders before they’ve even tried it. ¬†They watch the video, listen to the stories and mentally they are beaten before they start. ¬†Be mentally strong and think positive. ¬†Your body will keep going for quite a while after your head is telling you to jack it.
  3. Go at your own pace. ¬†Don’t be suckered into racing people if you don’t want to.
  4. Smoothly does it.  Gear changes, cadence, changing riding position Рdo them smoothly and as efficiently as possible.  Your aim is to lose as little energy as possible.
  5. Use the terrain. ¬†If there’s a down before an up then use the momentum – don’t bleed energy yourself by changing gear too early, but do it smoothly as your momentum starts to stall.
  6. Cadence – try to keep a good cadence or you will hurt your knees.

Ride stats : 32 miles in 2hrs 4m @ 15.4mph average.  Total climb 1864ft, energy 1574kcals and average HR 136bpm.




Last Ride of 2010

Just back from a brilliant last ride of 2010 with some of the guys from North Cheshire Clarion. 8 of us started off, with 3 peeling off after 10 or so miles.  The rest of us headed north to Fettlers Wharf at Rufford Marina for a well earned coffee

Training Nutrition

There were a few hills here and there and I was pleased that I was getting up them feeling relatively good.

1547ft of ascent

The ride back from the cafe was a fair bit quicker than the one out. ¬†We’d averaged about 14.4mph out and 16.4mph coming back and it felt really good to be travelling at a decent rate again. ¬†Giles led the ride from the front superbly keeping up a cracking pace. ¬†The only hitch on the way back was when Martin’s front brake¬†caliper¬†flew off, so after strapping it up we made him ride on his own behind us just in case (only kidding!).

My bike was making some funny grating noises which I hope was own to the dirt and muck everywhere – cleaned it when I got home just to be on the safe side.

That’s me done for 2010 and it was a really good ride to wind up the year with. ¬†Thanks to all who were out.

Ride stats : 48 miles in 3hrs 7 mins @ 15.4mph.  1547ft of climbing, average HR 138bpm and 2343kcals energy used

Back on 2 Wheels!


Finally the ice and snow has started to melt and I managed to get back out on my bike again this morning.  I decided to stick to mainly A roads and after the last few days of excess a relatively short distance too.  I went about as far north as I really dared through Bury and then turning towards Rochdale through Edenfield and Norden.

The roads were still full of ice/slush at the kerbs so riding further out was a necessity. ¬†It’s also clear that the sustained ice and cold weather has further damaged the roads much like the cold weather in January – plenty of potholes and new cracks to dodge.

1265ft of ascent

I must admit that I was blowing a bit, and my HR was certainly higher than it should have been, especially during the first 14 miles or so which is pretty much one long climb.  Overall I used 1,608kcals of energy, which is about a tenth of what I have consumed over the last 3 days or so!

However, I arrived back with a massive grin on my face. ¬†Even though it was raining it was great to get back out there and just cycle for cycling’s sake.

Got back and decided to clean my bike. ¬†Hose pipe was frozen so I used a watering can. ¬†It’s now drying in front of the radiator – much to my wife’s annoyance.

Ride stats : 28 miles in 1hr 51 mins @ 15.2mph average.  1265ft of ascent and 1,608kcals of energy used

-6¬į Celsius!

It was a tad on the chilly side as I left my house, loaded my bike stuff into the car and drove over to Warrington for the North Cheshire Clarion Sunday Club run. ¬†In fact, the outside temperature gauge in the car recorded -6¬įC. ¬†I thought I was dressed for it as I was wearing base layer, thermal t-shirt, road jersey and windtex jacket, along with thermal socks and overshoes on my feet and two pairs of gloves on my hands. ¬†I also was wearing a thermal cap, buff, cycling cap and helmet. ¬†And I was freezing!

Road to Rufford

By the time we reached the cafe at Rufford Marina I could not feel my toes and my fingers were so cold it was painful going over any bumps in the road.  The drink in my bottle had frozen at the bottom and was like a slushy at the top.

Simple winter fare

The roads were (perhaps understandably) quiet, and they were relative safe.  That said, any water on them had iced over so it still needed a little bit more care and attention.

The cafe was very welcome allowing us to warm up, get a nice hot cup of coffee and some medicinal food to get us going again.

The route back went up Parbold hill and via Upholland which introduced a couple of cheeky hills just to get the old heartbeat up a bit.  In fact, they were very welcome because they warmed me up a treat.

1,724ft of ascent

Gradients - Parbold - 10.2%, Upholland - 12.7%

Eight other hardy souls braved the cold, and only the one puncture today, so well done to those riders – a bit of a change from the recent 20-odd riders turning out.

Ride stats : 49.2 miles, 3hrs 21m @ 14.7mph average.  Average HR 122bpm, 2040kcals used

Forest of Bowland – Cold!

Really cold morning today but I had decided to give my hilly LEJOG training route from the summer another go.  The route takes in the Ribble Valley and the Forest of Bowland and some serious hills

5,100ft of ascent

My favourite hills

  • Hallgate Hill – coming out of Newton in Bowland there is a short but sharp Hill on the B6478. ¬†It looks worse than it is as it’s dead straight and carved out of the countryside. ¬†It’s maybe only a half mile long but ¬†the Garmin was showing 20% up it.
  • Heading towards Cow Ark is a similar hill. ¬†You crest one hill and come round a corner and it’s there. ¬†It looks like a ski-slope and is again dead straight and cuts through a pine wood. ¬†Mentally you see it and start to have doubts. ¬†The Garmin was showing 22%
  • Jeffrey Hill. ¬†Near Thornley Hall, as you cycle parallel to a large hill you are wondering how you are going to get over it as it is right next to you and very steep. ¬†And then you turn right onto Jeffrey Hill straight up it. ¬†It’s about a mile long and starts with a long straight 20%+ gradient. ¬†It’s pretty tough for the first third of a mile and then it doglegs right and eases slightly to about 12%, again running parallel to the hill. ¬†To your right now is a superb view across the valley but then you hairpin left onto the final stretch. ¬†The hairpin is okay if you take it on the wrong side of the road. ¬†If a car is coming down the apex must be pushing 30%+!

Anyway, feet and fingers like ice but a nice ride nonetheless

Ride Stats : 79 miles @ 14.1mph – 5hrs 36m, 5100ft of climbing and 4113kcals used


Perfect Autumn Day

Sunday club run with North Cheshire Clarion. ¬†One of those perfect autumn days today – freezing cold but bright and sunny – I think the word is crisp. ¬†Twenty-odd turned out so we split into 2 groups to make it manageable. ¬†The predicted decrease in numbers over the winter doesn’t seem to be materialising!

A rare northern ride up to the Chapel Tea Rooms at Rivington took in the odd hill or two!

2469ft of ascent - 10% was the highest gradient

The route took us through sprawling urban roads which called for very tight group riding.  With club runs attracting more and more newcomers this can often be a challenge but today it worked brilliantly well, with good communication up and down the line, and sensible close order riding.  We were soon out into the sticks with the clear air offering some stunning views.

Had an enormous slice of Victoria Sponge at the tea rooms, whilst an elderly gentleman played the piano in the background. ¬†It’s a charming place and has the feel of those tea rooms you see in films from the 40’s and 50’s.

One for the ladies...

You can see other photos of the tea-room in the flickr feed to the right.

The route back took us through some of the less salubrious areas of Lancashire and near to the finish a complete tool in a blue Renault Clio veered across the white line and drove at us beeping his horn before swerving back onto the right side of the road. ¬†It was no accident as I could see his big, round, ugly face grinning whilst his passenger was laughing. ¬†Clearly a comedy genius in those parts and probably got mummy/penis issues too. ¬†I’m delighted that my hard-earned taxes probably paid for his car and petrol. ¬†My only concern really is that people like that are allowed to breed.

Still, it didn’t ruin a brilliant ride so thanks to all the riders for making it an enjoyable day.

Ride stats : 49.35miles, 3hrs 24 mins @ 14.5mph. 2469ft ascent and 2428kcals used