The Edale Skyline is one of those iconic races in the Peak District, one that is on the hit list of many local fell runners. Renowned for being tough at 21 miles with around 4500ft of ascent over heath, bog, rocky outcrops, grassy paths and woodland trails. Being held in March weather conditions are notoriously challenging. Rain, fog and freezing conditions often lead to many dnf’s and tales of hypothermia from a couple of years ago were now infamous. Henceforth after entering this year’s race I was feeling somewhat apprehensive.
Upon waking on the morning of the race, weather conditions couldn’t have been better. Clear blue skies and sunshine graced our drive over to Edale and race HQ. We parked up and collected our numbers and chips and walked up to the start field and the other assembled Harriers and runners. As with every fell race, the atmosphere was relaxed…
Despite the first part of this blog being about collisions and keeping safe at the most vulnerable parts of our cycling journeys, hopefully you will come out the other side of this edition of the Safer Cycling blog with a large amount of positivity, so grab a coffee, and maybe even a slice of cake and read on. Oh this blog is a little on the large side, we tried to make it smaller but I’m sure you’ll agree everything that’s in there is necessary, there’s no padding for effect, so in hindsight might want to make it two slices of cake……
Yet another near miss as a driver pulls across the path of the cyclist
When we started the Safer Cycling concept we needed some direction, something on which we could concentrate our efforts to best see results for the work we wanted to do, our core…
I also took part in the Round Sheffield Run for my second time this year. It’s an excellent event, perhaps the best sporting even on the calendar because the social side of it is massive. If you haven’t done it then you really should consider having a go in 2017. I’m quite certain I’ll be back. Anyway, here is an excellent, funny and honest account of the run from Lucy Marris.
Reading this is optional. Could be a time-vampire, but then again, so is daytime TV. Scrolling down to look at photos also an option. If you are hardcore, then this account is a bit like a TV box set binge, just so you know. Maybe get some Pringles in just to be on the safe side.
Digested read: I like the RSR. It is even more fun in fancy dress.
Magic Realism I think it’s called. That is, the acceptance that magic can exist in a rational world (not that the world feels particularly rational right now, but let’s not go there). It might of course be false memory syndrome or just general common or garden personal delusion, but when I think of the Round Sheffield Run (RSR) I just feel a little warm wave of happiness pass through me as I take the opportunity to indulge in some temporary…
I wanted to be brief but failed, sorry. There’s lots more non-racing bits that I have left out but needless to say we have had a cracking three day holiday.
I guess we all love cycling and the thought of three days cycling in a new part of the country is going to be a thrill. If you layer 4 stages of tough racing over the top of that then you have pretty much the perfect bank holiday imaginable, if you happen to be in the Black Country, and a cyclist. This is exactly what I have just been through along with Andrew Sedgewick (Langsett Cycles RT) and Rob Fowler (Rutland CC).
Stage 1 is a 5k prologue which starts straight up a pretty tough hill. A prologue of this length is a bit like a hill climb and you have to attack all of it from the beginning. Andy was the first Rutlander to go assuring us that he hates prologues. Admitting that he free-wheeled on some of the descents gave us a clue why a normally awesome rider finished mid table with Rob and me not too far behind. The winner of stage 1 was Kris Zentek from Team Chronomaster with a stunning time of 6:44.
Once the results were in and we’d had some food it was straight into stage 2. This was 66k of rolling countryside with some tough digs, rain and hail. Andy punctured early on and was then given a defective replacement wheel which he then had to swap. This meant he was too far back to get back on the group. Terrible bit of bad luck for Andy but he remained positive. A break got away which the yellow jersey holder, Rob and I failed to get in and they stayed away to the end. Rob finished the best of us in 10th with me a couple of places behind and losing a second to him. Stage 2 winner was Craig Battersby from Team Chronomaster.
Day 2 presented us with stage 3 and the longest 88km stage with 1,300 metres of climbing. Both Rob and I were active in attacks and spending time at the sharp end of the field. Andy was climbing well and picked up 9 points in the KOM competition which led him to make a long break with Martin Smith for the final but he was still feeling the after-effects of a recent illness and couldn’t quite get there. Once again, Rob showed his strength and pulled up the final climb and took yet more seconds off me. Stage 3 meant another change in the yellow jersey and this time it went to local club rider Mark Corbett from Worcester St John who had soloed away and had a 2 second margin over Craig.
When the third and final day started the field had shrunk from 39 to 31 with a whole bunch of riders packing in. Rutland never pack and we all left the hotel bright eyed and bushy trailed and eager to start. Well, not really – we were all exhausted but we were ready to race. Andy’s exuberance to score in the KOM competition caught the eyes of some of his competitors and he had been reported for crossing a double white line on stage 3. This seemed most un-sporting and those of you who know Andy will vouch for his riding ability and race craft. Anyway, undaunted we pulled up to the start and once out of the neutralised zone everything got up to race pace with Worcester St John looking in trouble. Andy got away on the first big loop and with Martin Smith and was then joined by Rob. They sped away from the bunch and got on to the first climb. This put Andy into some difficulty and nobody was more surprised than me when I saw him ahead being caught by the bunch. Rob stayed away and must have been pushing the pedals hard because it wasn’t until the 3rd climb before he was caught by the yellow jersey holder whereas I had been spat out the back, as predicted by my team mates earlier in the race. The overall winner was Craig Battersby who, with his team, managed to get back in charge and took a well-deserved win. Rob picked up 5 KOM points and finished 15 in stage 4 and 14th overall.
It felt a privilege to race and ride with this great bunch of vets and Rutland CC riders. Rutland CC has had winners in this race before with Simon Keeton and Darren Otter and I am sure Rutland riders will be collecting a trophies again in Great Whitley.
The implausible and seemingly impossible delights of running continue. Believe it or not, I wasn’t going to do a post this week. Thought my reader might be bored and have something better to do, but then you know how it is. ‘Events, my friend, events…‘
Glorious Graves, providing a perfect parkrun party for their fourth anniversary. Despite a week horribilis, parkrun will party on, possibly even newly appreciated and newly reborn! Well, we can live in hope…
The forecast for today was actually snow at one point. However, on waking, no snow was in evidence, in fact it was looking nice out. Deceptively so. I broke with tradition and decided that my luminous lime green Sheffield half marathon finishers T-shirt should get an outing. Just so you know, this will for sure be its only ever outing, as it is profoundly unflattering even by my standards! I was…
As the cyclocross season draws to an end there is a lot being said and written about the inevitability of disc brakes coming to everyone. Part of the problem, for me, is that I have seen no evidence to show that disc brakes are superior to rim brakes. There is, perhaps, just one argument that holds water and that is “frame clearance”. After struggling in a couple of CX races towards the end of this season I realise that part of my problem was the gathering of lots of mud around the canti brakes and the frame. This didn’t seem to be a problem to those riding discs. However, the rest of the season I was just fine with my braking setup. This is an excellent article on the subject
One of my goals this year was based on running. I had competed in the Percy Pud 10k twice before in 2013 and 2014 getting progressively closer to the ‘sub-40’ so, can you guess it..? My goal this year was to go sub 40 minutes in the only 10k running race I have ever competed in. It’s been my best year for running and I have already run twice the 2014 distance record of 367km and notched up a little over 800km. This has included a half marathon, a few fell races, 2 OMM lites, the OMM and several more parkruns but also more fell running in general as training. The goal always seemed achievable but I knew it needed some additional and specific training, a race day strategy and a lot of determination.
When the day came I felt woefully under prepared. After picking up an ankle injury during the OMM I was unable to run for the first two weeks of November. This left me with the race day strategy and determination to fall back on. The strategy was to find the 40 minute pacer and stick to his shoulder like glue until about 6km and then move away from him. This was all working fine until about 8km when I could really feel the lack of preparation knowing away at my tired legs. With only 500 metres to go the 40min pacer over-took me at, what felt like, the speed of a bullet. I realised that this is where the determination now took over and quickly adapted my pace to overtake him. The last 500m of the Percy Pud are up a relentless incline and I could see the timer already on 39mins counting inevitably onwards. My legs were completely destroyed by this stage and my breath was coming in hurried and giant gasps. The 40min pacer started to shout “last 30 seconds—-head up—-go for it” and ordered me over the line.
I made it with a gun time of 39:59 and a chip time of 39:53. The relief and the reward were instantaneous and welcome beyond anything else at that moment.
Lessons learnt include:
Set a goal
Create a plan that is multi faceted
Stick to the plan as much as possible
Now I still need to complete a parkrun in sub 19 which I hope is still achievable this year.
This pretty much captures my thoughts on the matter of disc brakes on road bikes. I will accept, because I’ve been told often enough by people who MTB, that they have revolutionised mountain biking but this is road biking we’re talking about.
The UCI Rules Committee announced that professional teams will be allowed to use disc brakes in all races for 2016. “We think this will help cyclists at all levels spend more money,” said committee chairman Snookie van der Sluit in a press release.
“There is a significant need for disc brakes among manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers in every market segment,” said van der Sluit. “And disc brakes allow them to meet the need for more customer expenditures, which is a key component in making cycling even less affordable as a sport or recreational activity while simultaneously accelerating the twin trends of planned obsolescence and product incompatibility.”
Reactions in the cycling world were generally positive. “I don’t give two fucks what we ride, all my shit’s free,” said Fabian Cancellara when asked about the rule change.
Mike Sinyard, president of Specialized, was equally enthusiastic. “I’d definitely give two fucks, probably even ten,”…
Sunday was the fantastic Peak RC’s Cyclocross race in Sheffield at the Outdoor Activity Centre. I mean that Peak RC is fantastic and their race is also equally great, of course.
I was hoping to be riding on my newly acquired FMB Super Mud tyres but unfortunately my glue had gone off so I wasn’t able to get them on in time. Instead, I was riding with some cheap-as-chips Continental Twisters which were surprisingly grippy in the testing terrain. This new found grip did not stop me thinking I was going to die every time I went down hill or came across some mud but they were a lot better than the Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres I have been using. The Schwalbies are fine for general purpose but, for me, no good in the mud. They simply don’t clear themselves.
I succumbed to peer pressure and entered the Senior race as an MV45. This gave me 1 hour in the saddle which was, I thought, better value for money than the 40 mins for the vets. It was hard but massively enjoyable despite the freezing cold, the slippery conditions and my lousy CX technique. Still, it’s another race in the bag and great experience.
I’m still waiting for the official results to be corrected. They put me 98th position but I actually came 70. The results are here.
I am really grateful to Sam Taylor for this photograph. It seems to really capture the day for me.
Thanks to the support and quality of the Open University I am now a graduate. Not only does this qualify me for pretty much every job I’ve had in the last 20 years it also crowns the achievement of taking on the challenge in the first place. It’s been a long, arduous and challenging journey but it has also been extremely rewarding. The day was really special to share with Delia (my wife) and my parents, who probably never thought they would see me graduate. It was made even more special by Martin Bean being present for the graduation ceremony. Martin and I were closely involved in building the relationship between the Open University and Microsoft and it was partly because of this work and his inspiration that made me think this is something I should do. It was a complete coincidence that Martin was being presented with an award by the OU on the same day as me. It was fantastic to catch up with him and shake his had on the stage.
Here is my graduation photo as I met the Pro Chancellor.