Huddersfield Star Wheelers hill climb

 

2013 race report –

Saturday was another two hill climbs promoted by Holme Valley Wheelers (Holme Moss) and Huddersfield Star Wheelers (Jackson Bridge). It was deep in the heartland of Yorkshire hill climb country. As Simon Warren once said in his hill climb book, throw an arrow at a map around this neck of the woods, and you’ll probably land on a decent hill climb. They don’t really do flat roads her, but they do have plenty of 20% gradients.

I’d never ridden either climb before, but was lured up north by the prospect of Holme Moss and the chance to compete in the Granville Sydney Memorial hill climb.

Holme Moss Clouded out

sing-top

Holme Moss in better days.

Next year the Tour de France will be flying up Holme Moss, watched by a global TV audience of millions and 100,000s of spectators by the road side. It was a slightly different set up this weekend, but fundamentally both events do involve cycling up a hill until it hurts really quite a lot.

The Indian summer has well and truly finished. We are now being treated to a very English autumn. It was one of those days where there was a perpetual drizzle. Not ideal conditions for a double hill climb; I came back with a car full of wet stuff. But, they are made of stern stuff up this part of the world. I didn’t see many dns. I guess, if you’re going to do a hill climb, a light drizzle is the least of your concerns.

Unfortunately, Holme Moss is so high up (524m) that the clouds had descended and the thick fog made it unsafe to race. This meant switching to another hill climb course, which was steep and high up, but not sufficiently misty to get lost in the clouds. Fortunately, the reserve hill climb course was just 0.5 miles away (proving the old – throw an arrow at a map and find a hill climb course – theory to be working pretty well)

The drawback of the alternative hill climb course was that it was significantly shorter than Holme Moss. This year I’ve studiously avoided entering any hill climb where the course record is less than 3.30. But, fate wasn’t going to allow me to get away with it. This was, to all intents and purposes a 2 minute hill climb – shorter even than the rake.

2 minute hill climbs just mean you can hurt yourself even more than a long climb, the only saving grace being that it’s over quicker. I didn’t hold back and gave it everything from the start. It was good enough for 2nd place in a time of 2.12. Richard Handley (Rapha CC) showing that chasing Nairo Quintana and Dan Martin up Caerphilly Mountain does wonders for your hill climbing form. He won in a time of 2.06 – not bad for a wiry thin chap like me. Photos at: flamming photography

After a wet and soggy marmite sandwich it was back to the Fleece for a cup of tea, before heading off to the Old Red Lion in Jackson Bridge for part two.

 

jackson-bridge

I don’t know if this photo adequately says how grim, wet, and murky it was in Yorkshire. A perfect day for riding up hills…

Continue Reading →

10

New chain for new climbs

This weekend is 3 new hill climbs. Holme Moss (Holme Valley Wheelers), Jackson Bridge (Granville Sydney Memorial event, Huddersfield Star Wheelers) and Mow Cop (Lyme Racing CC) on Sunday. They all look interesting climbs. I’m hoping the gales in the north are blowing the right way up the hills. The hills may either be slow or very slow depending on the direction of the wind. Holme Moss is one of the highest hill climbs in England at 524m. Next year the Tour de France will pass over Holme Moss, probably with greater fan fare than tomorrow morning. But, it’s all happening up in Yorkshire.

The start sheet for the National Hill climb was published yesterday. I’m off number 174, (14.54) There are a lot of familiar names around. My minute man is ironically Sam Ward who inspired me to do my first hill climb over 20 years ago… 180 riders in total. Roads will be closed. More on Nat Hill climb

With the national championships two weeks away, it’s time to start making the last preparations to bike. (rule no.1 is never leave it to the night before) Last year I spent nearly £1,000 on trying to make the bike lighter. This year I spent nothing and sold the lightweight stem and handlebars, preferring to have some extra money than some 100 grams saving. The only thing I bought this year was the Quark power meter, which broke after four weeks. (Keep your money in your pocket is always a good Yorkshire man’s motto)

new-chain

However, since I’ve had a relatively frugal year of bike components, I did treat myself to a new chain. There are some things which you shouldn’t skimp on a cyclist. Firstly is tyres. Secondly is changing your chain regularly. On my racing bike, I change every 1,000 miles, and always before a big event. You don’t want to lose any power to a worn chain. I don’t usually spend £50 on a chain. But, if there’s ever a time to justify spending £50 on a lightweight chain, this would be it. I bought SRAM because I have snapped a Dura Ace chain doing hill intervals. In other circumstances it may sound cool to say you put down so much power you broke a Dura Ace chain, but if there was ever a time you didn’t want to snap your chain, this would be it.

bar-tape-amateur

how not to do your bar tape. Amateurish effort with cellotape

I also treated myself to a new handlebar tape. I was sold on the packaging which said ‘thin tape with almost zero added weight’ – Those are words that instantly  appeal to any hill climber. ‘Almost zero added weight’ and I’ve bought before you can say ‘how much does it weigh?’

Sometimes at national champs, you see bikes without any handlebar tape at all. Every gram stripped from the bike. There is a certain Zen appeal to a bare, stripped down bike. But, for the Stang, you may be on different parts of the handlebars including the drops. If it only weighs a couple of grams there is greater benefit from having a better grip. It could be cold and wet up in North Yorkshire. There are more important factors than even a few grams of extra weight.

How to change bar tape

2

Rusty bike art

rusty-bike-art

“You are probably thinking that I’m just a rusty old bicycle. But look again and observe carefully I’ve actually been purposely made to look like a rusty bike – a work of art”

– I never thought much to modern art. -It has no soul – just trying to be clever, but actually failing.

My favourite bit on modern art is when some no hoper who knew nothing about art had to pretend that a random rubbish bin was his work of modern art.

It is annoying the number of abandoned rusty bikes in Oxford. It means I can never find a parking space because the bike racks are fully of rusty old bikes which have been there for over a year.

bike-parking-blackwells-2

On the plus side it’s made it to the Oxford deceased bicycles pool

0

The Stang hill climb

The 2013 national hill climb championships was held on the Stang (south side) on 27th October 12pm. The HQ is in Langthwaite (a few miles north west of Reeth). The event is organised by Howard Heighton, Ferryhill Wheelers CC

Event HQ

The CB Inn, Langthwaite, Arkengarthdale Sat Nav. DL11 6EN.
Parking is limited at the HQ. There is parking along the main road and in the car park in the village. Mobile phone reception is limited in the area.

stang-map

Course Description
Start on unclassified road Stang Lane that runs from Langthwaithe towards Barnard Castle. The start is opposite Nothern gate post of entrance to field situated on the East side of unclassified road Stang Lane, leading to Barnard Castle, approximately 100 meters North from Eskeleth Bridge, and just past the turning on the left of the road to Eskeleth. From the start continue North Easterly up the hill to finish at Southern tip of lay-by identified by the County Durham and Welcome to Teesdale sign at the county boundary on the crest of the hill.

The Stang (south side)

  • Distance 2.33 miles,
  • height at top 1,771 feet
  • Elevation gain (833 feet) 253 metres
  • average gradient: 6.83%
  • steepest gradient 18%.
  • Course record: (7.57 Tejvan Pettinger, Sri Chinmoy CT 2013 was – 9.34 – Karl Denton (Blumilk.com) 2012
    • CR women Maryka Sennema Kingston Wheelers CC (9.42) was  11.13 – Lyn Hamel

stang

The Stang is a tough climb with considerable variation in gradient. The hardest section is the first 0.6 miles, where the gradient is constantly above 10% and nudges towards 18%. After 0.75 miles there is the first section of downhill. This will enable you to pick up speed and recover somewhat from the first section.

The middle section is a fairly gentle gradient, and flattens out, with a small downhill towards the end.

However, at around 1.6 miles, the gradient picks up again to around 5-10% for final 1 mile to the line.

The hill requires careful pacing. It is too long to really go flat out at the start, but the steepest section still needs the most effort. The key is to go hard enough on first section to still be strong enough on the remaining 2 miles.

It obviously a climb for gears, and you will be in and out of your big chain-ring.

The hill is quite exposed to the elements which can be either very good (with nice tailwind) but equally if the wind is in the wrong direction, it makes it even tougher.

Traffic is quite light, and I think the road will be closed for the national championships. One thing to be aware of is sheep!

false-flat

One of the false flats

There are a number of ‘false flats’ – you think you’ve made it to the top, but around the corner, you realise there’s further to go.

The road surface is adequate. But, like most UK roads it’s not a smooth tarmac.

Photos from Climb

near-top

near the top on race day.

Stang start

The start

The start is opposite Northern gate post of entrance to field situated on the East side of unclassified road Stang Lane, leading to Barnard Castle, approximately 100 meters North from Eskeleth Bridge, and just past the turning on the left of the road to Eskeleth.

bottom-steep

The first steep section

Stang

The road narrows – this is the steep bit

tejvan-start

At the start

Stang

Cattle grid was slippy

Stang

Near the end of the steep bit. It got windy from this point.

Stang

The first bit of downhill – a short section of quite steep downhill. Before long drag towards the summit

The Finish

Stang

I believe the finish is just after the black post (with red reflector) by the big puddle of water

finish at Southern tip of lay-by identified by the County Durham and Welcome to Teesdale sign at the county boundary on the crest of the hill.

Stang

Great views from the top

Stang in the sun

There really can be great views from the top

The Stang in the sun

Stang

 

Related

Video of climb

15

Otley CC hill climb

Otley CC was my first hill climb back in the early 1990s. I was an under 16 then, I can’t remember how I did, but it might have been second to last or somewhere like that. In those days we raced up Norwood edge in the morning and East Chevin in the afternoon. But, increased road traffic has meant East Chevin has been swapped for Guise Edge.

This year, 2013, there was a good entry, with a really big turn out from the under 16s. It’s good to see a lot of young riders having a go at hill climbs. It’s seems the club scene is thriving in Yorkshire. There was also a good pocket of spectators at various points on the climb. I also saw two former Otley CC hill climb organisers turning up to support the event.

1-10-11-guise-hill3

First up is Guise Edge. A steep climb out of Pateley Bridge. It runs kind of parallel to Greenhow hill. Greenhow hill is a really tough climb, just a bit too busy for a race.

Guise Edge

  • Distance 0.7 miles
  • Avg Grade 10.6%
  • Max grade – 20%
  • Elev gain 383ft

Guise edge is quieter, though road is a bit narrower. It’s steep to start off and doesn’t relent until last few hundred yards. The weather forecast said there was a strong westerly wind, so I expected a headwind, but, it didn’t feel like that. I was surprised to go quicker than last year, shaving another 0.7 seconds off the course record. Started off in the 39*19 sprocket and kept in there for the hard steep section. Then there is a fast flat bit section as you come to a sharp left hand turn and a short blast to the finish on the moor.

Generally, I’m not so keen on the shorter climbs, but I seem to be going well on the short climbs this year. Perhaps a result of doing many 1 minute intervals – something I’ve never done before. Second was Lee Baldwin of Buxton CC, followed by Matthew Pilkington (Cleveleys RC).

Norwood Edge

2013-view-norwood

  • Distance 1.1 miles
  • Avg Grade 9.3%
  • Max gradient 16%
  • Elev Gain 543ft

Usually, there is a 2 hour gap between the hill climbs, so I rushed off to Norwood edge to begin my warm up. But, once on the rollers, I thought it strange no one else was around. Cycling back over to HQ, I found this year we had a luxurious 3 hour gap in between hill climbs – so plenty of time to have a few homemade flap jacks.

2013-rider-1

2013-rider3

Funnily enough a few years ago (2009), I turned up to Otley CC hill climb expecting their to be a 3 hour time gap, like when I first did it in 1994. I had quite a few cakes in the HQ and wondered why no-one else was eating some lunch. But, I then found out that the gap had been cut to 2 hours from the 1990s. I went up East Chevin with far more cakes in my stomach than I would have liked – not a nice experience…. So  much better to get it the wrong way around this time.

nicola-snowde

Nicola Soden, Champion Systems/Maxgear/BASE womens’ winner (also of the Buxton CC)

I don’t know why but for races which you’ve done many times and / or are local, I don’t always properly read the start sheet. I’d even written down my start times, but my mind was stuck on the idea of a 2 hour gap.

On Norwood Edge, I typically do better, preferring the longer climb. Though this year my time was 4.56, a bit slower than the past two years. Perhaps it was a slower day. Unfortunately, my power meter is broken after only three weeks use so I’ve no way of knowing. James Gullen (Team Hope Factory Racing) was just 6 seconds behind. James is built for the longer climbs and is very fast. I think my time up Norwood edge when I was 15 was something like 6.50. The idea of going under 5 minutes seemed impossible in those days.

2013-finish-line

The finish at Norwood Edge

Back at the HQ I had a few more flapjacks (some very tasty homemade cakes) and received my first place prize courtesy of the Otley CC and sponsors Team Chevin and MAS design. There was a good family atmosphere with quite a few under 16s getting their prizes.. I even learnt not to place a carbon fibre bike on metal railings.

Results

PosRiderCluboverallN2N3Notes
1
Tejvan Pettinger
Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team
08:20.2
3:23.8
4:56.4
Senior
2
James Gullen
Team Hope Factory Racing
08:32.4
3:30.3
5:02.1
Senior
3
Lee Baldwin
Buxton CC
08:36.3
3:27.9
5:08.4
Senior
4
Matthew Pilkington
Cleveleys RC
08:46.6
3:29.4
5:17.2
Senior
5
Kieran Savage
Seacroft Wheelers
09:46.0
3:59.0
5:47.0
Junior
6
Julian Varley
Harrogate Nova CC
09:46.9
4:02.9
5:44.0
Junior
7
Robert Ormrod
Ilkley CC
09:49.7
4:00.0
5:49.7
Senior
8
Alastair Kay
Herbalife-Leisure Lakes Bikes.com
09:54.7
4:17.0
5:37.7
Senior
9
Rob Shields
GS Metro
09:59.5
4:00.5
5:59.0
Senior
10
Ben Lane
GS Metro
10:00.9
4:03.9
5:57.0
Veteran
11
Archie Cross
Yorkshire Road Club
10:01.8
4:00.0
6:01.8
Senior
12
Eugene Cross
Yorkshire Road Club
10:20.9
4:13.6
6:07.3
Under 16
13
Martin Gostling
Ilkley CC
10:25.5
4:13.2
6:12.3
Senior
14
James Falconer
Ferryhill Wheelers/Mountain High
10:31.7
4:11.6
6:20.1
Junior
15
Joe Varga
City RC (Hull)
10:41.5
4:25.2
6:16.3
Under 16
16
Paolo Nistri
C2CC – SCU
10:42.9
4:15.0
6:27.9
Senior
17
Oliver Leonard
Cyclesense CC
10:51.3
4:22.5
6:28.8
Senior
18
Cian O’Leary
Base2Race Bikeshack
10:58.3
4:23.6
6:34.7
Senior
19
Aaron Tonks
Ribble Valley CRC
11:01.7
4:27.6
6:34.1
Veteran
20
Daniel Kubon
Birdwell Wheelers
11:05.8
4:33.4
6:32.4
Senior
21
Tom Garnett
Ilkley CC
11:07.3
4:25.7
6:41.6
Under 16
22
Tom Cullen
Otley Cycle Club chevincycles.com
11:11.8
4:31.4
6:40.4
Under 16
23
Michael Brown
Birdwell Wheelers
11:16.4
4:24.8
6:51.6
Senior
24
John Garnett
Ilkley CC
11:34.2
4:42.3
6:51.9
Veteran
25
Paul Brierley
Huddersfield Road Club Salamander Fabrications
11:36.3
4:50.5
6:45.8
Veteran
26
Sam Wilson
Mike Vaughan Cycles
11:38.6
4:46.9
6:51.7
Junior
27
James Pike
Ilkley CC
11:40.2
4:48.4
6:51.8
Under 16
28
Will Morgan
Fibrax-Wrexham RC
11:49.2
4:44.0
7:05.2
Junior
29
Nicola Soden
Champion Systems/Maxgear/BASE
11:53.1
4:51.1
7:02.0
Lady
30
Stuart Newbould
Otley Cycle Club chevincycles.com
12:00.8
4:45.9
7:14.9
Veteran
31
Ruaridh Mon-Williams
Ilkley CC
12:02.4
4:52.3
7:10.1
Under 16
32
Huw Spacey
Boneshakers RT
12:07.6
4:52.9
7:14.7
Veteran
33
Christopher Stokes
Otley Cycle Club chevincycles.com
12:12.1
5:08.9
7:03.2
Junior
34
Max McMurdo
Otley Cycle Club chevincycles.com
12:34.6
5:10.9
7:23.7
Under 16
35
Dawn Sherrin
GS Metro
13:07.5
5:22.7
7:44.8
Veteran Lady
36
David Soutar
Otley Cycle Club chevincycles.com
13:40.7
5:38.5
8:02.2
Under 16
37
Luke Burke
Otley Cycle Club chevincycles.com
14:16.9
6:19.4
7:57.5
Under 16
38
Greg Jessop
Ilkley CC
14:59.6
5:56.4
9:03.2
Veteran
39
Alastair Veitch
Otley Cycle Club chevincycles.com
15:07.3
6:08.3
8:59.0
Veteran
40
Sophie English
Otley Cycle Club chevincycles.com
15:37.0
6:29.3
9:07.7
Under 16 Lady
41
James Veitch
Otley Cycle Club chevincycles.com
15:44.0
6:37.7
9:06.3
Under 16
42
Joe Howcroft
Otley Cycle Club chevincycles.com
16:18.8
6:31.4
9:47.4
Under 16
1001
Lee Speight
Pedalsport CC
4:44.9
DNS APOL
6

Horseshoe Pass

Horseshoe pass (Bwlch yr Oernant) is a 4 mile climb in North Wales near Wrexham, averaging 5% – climbing 311 metres to finish at 1,200 ft (404m).  It’s a challenging hill climb, with a few steeper sections of up to 12%. On a good day, it provides a beautiful backdrop for a hill climb.

horse-shoe-pass

As it name suggests, there is a 180 degree horseshoe curve towards the top. This means that you can see the road snaking up above you as you climb. It also means you’re likely to face a mixture of headwinds and tailwinds on different parts of the climb.

horse-shoe-pass

view from the top, horseshoe pass cut into the mountain

2013 race

20-percent-side

20% sign is misleading – it’s more like 10%

I’d been racing the previous day in Otley, and was grateful for a later start. It’s a fair drive from Menston. But, I arrived in decent time and warmed up at the top of the climb, by the popular Ponderosa Cafe. Horseshoe pass and the cafe is also very popular with the motorbiking fraternity. There was no shortage of reviving engines to drown out the relatively quiet whir of the bicycle on the rollers. Often CTT ban rollers near houses because they are too noisy for residents. Motorbikes and the boy racers revving their Ford motor cars must annoy a few local residents.

Fortunately, it was a pleasant day. Quite warm, sunny, just a fresh breeze. But, I imagine you’re not always greeted with this conditions up on top of horseshoe pass. Even though it was quite mild, I put on leg warmers and a winter jacket for the long descent. It’s quite a fast descent, though there are some sweeping corners so you have to take care. The descent could be quite chilly on the wrong day.

The hill climb course doesn’t start quite at the bottom. It misses out a few metres of climbing, starting just before the Britannia inn on your left, and it finishes before the top.

  • Distance 2.4 miles
  • average gradient 6.3 %
  • Max gradient – 12%
  • elev gain – 232 metres Continue Reading →
8

Loading up the training

The general theory of cycle training is going through periods of high load – where you stretch your efforts, then allowing a period of recovery to allow the training stress to translate into improved performance. I can’t claim any particular strong record in knowing how to peak for a particular event. But, I assume the general principle is to train hard  and then allow a tapering period in the last two weeks. It means these first two weeks of October are pretty high intensity. I’ve been trying to get a lot of intervals in this week. Plus the training effect of races at the weekend. The last two weeks of October will then begin a gradual decline in duration of training, though still keeping some high intensity efforts.

1-10-11-guise-hill-bend

This weekend is another hill climb double. Firstly on Saturday, it’s back to my old club Otley CC for their double hill climb header on Guise Hill (Pateley Bridge) and Norwood Edge.  I first did this hill climb over 20 years ago. But, in those days I was more interested in the Sunday club runs than efforts of 5 mins. In fact my first couple of hill climb entries, managed to put me off hill climbs for the next 13 years…

On Sunday, it’s a new hill climb for me – Horseshoe pass, organised by Wrexham CC. I’ve never seen the climb before. But, 3 miles at a constant average gradient of 5.5% ticks quite a few boxes for me. With a course record of just over 9 minutes (set by James Dobbin), it is very similar in length and duration to this year’s national championship on the Stang.

The competition is strong with Richard Handley, Rapha CC (fresh from a top 15 placing in the Tour of Britain), and former national champions – Matt Clinton and James Dobbin on the 120 strong startsheet.

As much as you can for a hill climb, I’m kind of looking forward to them.

1

Sean Yates – it’s all about the bike | Review

sean-yates-it-s-all-about-the-bikeSean Yates was a hard man of old school pro-cycling. Coming from the British based scene, Yates made that very difficult route from domestic amateur to full time continental pro. In a long and distinguished career, he became the third British person to wear the yellow jersey and a time trial stage in the Tour de France and Vuelta Espagne. After retiring as a pro, Sean continued to race on the domestic scene and also moved into management – from the chaotic McCartney team to the brave new world of Team Sky.

Some points from reading the book.

  • It is revealing into the mindset and attitude that Yates’ had to life and cycling. You get an overwhelming impression that this is a guy willing and able to repeatedly drive himself into the ground. Although there’s no firm link, you do wonder the extent to which his health problems are related to the intensity he was willing to put into riding the bike.
  • As you might expect, Yates just avoids the whole issue of doping. I don’t think it’s mentioned even once. He’s loyal to Lance Armstrong and in the best traditions of the old school omerta leaves the drug issue well alone. Personally, I feel rather detached from this. I’m so full of doping confessions, doping reports, doping books e.t.c. I didn’t expect Yates to have anything revelatory to say. It is kind of the elephant in the room, but that’s Yates and the era of pro cycling.
  • It does come across as part confessional. For example, on one page, you are reading how Yates went for a ramp test and produced the best wattage figures since Eddy Merckx, and on the next page he confesses to turning his grass brown because he would urinate out his window. Confessions may have their place, but perhaps the confession box is a better place than you’re autobiography. A couple of times I felt like saying ‘just a bit too much information, Yatesy’
  • On the plus side you feel you are reading quite an open and honest account. There isn’t really a side to Yates, he does tell it like he is.
  • Another good feature of the book is simply the fact that Yates has been at the heart of procycling for the past 30 years. He may have been mostly a domestique, but he was racing alongside the greats of the era from Stephen Roche, Sean Kelly and Robert Millar. I particularly liked the insights into Robert Millar. Continue Reading →
1

My early bikes

The last post on the traditional British club run made me want to look for a photo of the old Reynolds 501 I used to ride. In digging through photo albums, I found a few of my early bikes and my introduction into cycling

tejvan-on-tricycle

Apparantely, this is me, aged 3 (I guess it’s all downhill from age 3) I don’t remember this bike at all. I think I once rode this bike down the stairs by mistake. Fortunately, I don’t remember that incident either; though my mother seems to think it is amusing to share that story with everyone who comes to visit.

My next bike was a bmx, though I can’t find a photo. I think it was on a bmx I learnt to ride a bike. Funnily enough as a young child I didn’t like cycling at all. I remember at school having an opportunity to get my cycling proficiency badge. But, I said I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t cycle. I think I was about the only one in the whole school who never passed their cycling proficiency test! Continue Reading →

1

The traditional British club run

I began cycling in the early 1990s, aged about 14. After a few rides on my own, I was invited by a friend, Sam Ward, to join Otley CC and take part in their Sunday rides. The club would meet every Sunday at 9am by the butter cross market in the centre of Otley.

4-cyclists-lancashire-rain

In those days cycling was a much smaller sport, it was more on the fringe of society. So to see 60 plus cyclists sitting around Otley town centre made quite an impression. Joining a cycling club was pretty exciting for a young keen cyclist. It made you feel part of something, a nice change from ploughing a lonely furrow. Everyone looked as though they were wizened cyclists with plush bikes and years of experience. I assumed that everyone would be ridiculously fit and fast after training for the past 20 + years. I was nervous about getting dropped so, initially joined the ‘slow group’. After a few weeks I made the jump to the intermediates, and then after a few months I graduated to the ‘A’ Group led by Jack. However, I never made the jump to the fourth group. The fourth group were called the ‘fast’ group and were comprised of guys who would spend all summer racing. They looked suitably fast and I was too intimidated to ever consider joining the guys who raced. I assumed it would be 25mph all the way to the tea shop, I didn’t want to embarrass myself by making people wait on the climbs. So I stuck with the older men and women in the A group. We may not have been fast, but we did clock up the miles!

Rules of the road

One golden rule drummed into me from an early age, is make sure you have mudguards in winter, otherwise you’re at the back! I remember spending hours trying to fit these old fashioned fiddly mudguards with nuts and bolts, a far cry from todays clip on mudguards. Not everything is golden about the past. I only had one bike in those days – a good old Reynolds 501 frame costing £200 from Ellis Briggs in Shipley. It probably weighed a ton, but I never gave a passing thought to the weight of components in those days. It had drop handlebars and I knew that made me a ‘proper’ cyclist!

roady-through-countryside

Apart from mudguards in winter, there weren’t really any rules about club runs, but there were some general principles. Firstly, no-body would get dropped. If someone was slow on the hills, we would always wait. I remember one occasion, when some young lads tacked onto the club run, but they didn’t realise how far we were going. I think they got confused between group B and group A. One poor boy was suffering like anything – 40 miles from home. But, the group leaders made sure we got them home, even if it meant averaging 11mph all the way home, pushing the young boy up the climb and giving him some jam sandwiches.

That camaraderie was a special feature of the club runs. I remember one winter club run and my hands were freezing. I kept shoving my hands up my jersey, blowing on them, everything to try and keep them from freezing. An older member saw my plight and just took off his gloves and gave them to me for the ride. I didn’t even know him. But, I really appreciated the gloves.

15mph all day.

Needless to say there was never any half-wheeling or attacking on a club run. It was all at a sensible pace, without any competitive spirit. Once or twice a year there would be ‘reliability rides’ usually 50 miles in 3 hours. But, generally we would average 15mph for a days riding. But to do 100 miles, would still take 8 hours because any club run invariably involved 2 or 3 cafe stops. With more time for a good chat. Perhaps people had more time, but we would think of nothing to leaving the house at 9am and get back at 5pm.

Miles, more miles

2-riders-

Sunday club runs were gloriously unconcerned with modern training methods of intervals and heart rate zones, not to speak of meaningless GPS segments. It was all about miles and enjoying the cycling. The thing I most enjoyed about the club runs were doing huge distances that I would never have considered possible on my own. Each club run became an opportunity to go further than before. I remember after some club runs returning home utterly exhausted. The last incline of the day Otley to Menston (Ellar Ghyll) may have been only 20 metres elevation gain, but I would often do it at walking pace because I was totally spent after cycling 100 miles. The sense of achievement was really quite something. I loved that feeling of tiredness. To replicate it, I would probably have to take a long break from cycling and then do a 100 mile ride with relatively little training. My only regret was not doing the famous Morecambe 150 mile ride. I was always put off by distance, but I think I could have done it.

In summer, our group leader – mile muncher Jack – would sometimes start the A group off at 8am, so we could go even further. This would enable us to make exotic locations like Muker in Swaledale, Sedbergh in Dentdale. Memorable rides.

Yorkshire Dales

halton-gill-2-cyclists

Another aspect of the Otley CC club runs which were so appealing was we were in a very fortunate location. The Yorkshire Dales were within easy reach. Every ride was in beautiful surroundings which encouraged the touring mindset.

Cycling two abreast

1-abreast-york

The 1990s weren’t exactly the halcyon days of the 1950s when bicycles outnumbered cars 100 to 1. But, I don’t remember much conflict with cars. On Sundays, the roads seemed fairly quite. We would always seek out the quietest roads and for most of the time were able to cycle two abreast. If a car got stuck behind, someone would shout, ‘car up’ and we would single out allowing the car to pass. There were probably a few impatient drivers, but nothing I can particularly remember. It seemed quite easy to co-exist with other cars. You definitely felt a greater sense of security riding in a pack of 8-10 riders. I always followed the leadership of the older members, but we always seemed considerate to other road users. Sundays were a popular day for other club runs and we would often bump into other clubs going out for their ride, like Airedale Olympic and Harrogate Nova. Continue Reading →

16