Brompton World Championships – I’ve got an entry!

brompton2Well, after not much to tell I’ve entered an event, got an entry and now have something to train for….

The Brompton World Championships!

My Brompton has been a little underused for about a year and needs a little TLC but I think this event might get me back riding it regularly. So if you see a green Brompton being ridden like its been stolen around Stafford…. that will be me training for July’s event.



Cancer Research – Holly’s Challenge

My Daughter Holly will be raising money for Cancer Research this week – read her story below.

I will be climbing the 15 highest Wainwrights in the May holiday in memory of Sue Hawker, who lost her battle earlier this year. We are doing this because Sue loved to walk, loved the Lakes, loved to go on adventures, but she also took me up my first Munro when I was 3 months old. Sue lived in the Lake District and loved the fells and the May holiday was her traditional walking holiday week.

This will be a big challenge for me, as, although I am an outdoorsy, adventure girl, I was 12 in March, and I have never done any of the Lakes peaks. The challenge of climbing the 15 highest mountains is a little scary!!

All of the money I raise will go towards cancer research because we all want to be able to beat cancer.

Somerset MBO – Quantocks

wpid-wp-1415224006446.jpegA chance to ride a mountain bike orienteering event on my old home turf of the Quantocks, mixed with a weekend catching up with the family and a visit to Bridgwater Carnival was a perfect end to the half term holidays.
Bridgwater Carnival was fab, awesome huge articulated ‘floats’ interdisbersed with mad individuals in costumes, the odd majorettes band and of course a bit of wind, rain and the waft of sizzling sausages. I am not sure standing in the cold for 3 hours was the best preparation for a Mountainbike event but we had a great night. For those that don’t know about the Somerset carnival season, more info here

wpid-wp-1415224608910.jpegThe next morning dawned wet windy and with mist and cloud hugging the Quantock hills as I drove to the event, wipers lashing the screen. After a catchup with old faces and some general phaff about what to wear I rode the 20 mins to the top of the hill to the start.The clouds and rain had cleared to give fantastic views in all directions.wpid-wp-1415227540519.jpeg

wpid-wp-1415224660638.jpegEven with the rain stopped there was standing water everywhere and lots of slippery slimy red mud. On the way to #1 I lost the front end of the bike and soon found myself in a slowmotion superman dive into a muddy puddle. In a way it spead me up for the day as already being cold and soaked I didnt mess about from then on!

I knew the key to the event was to pick a route which kept climb to a minimum. As I splashed through the mud I suddenly picked a route from the map that worked and went for it….

wpid-wp-1415227939584.jpegMy legs are still struggling with 3 hours, the climb up to the top from my last checkpoint was narrow, steep and slippery, all too soon I was off and walking, craving some food… The minutes ticked away and it was only some bravery and a full suspension bike on the last decent that meant I only lost 20 points being 10 mins late.

However a smile soon formed itself on my face as I downloaded in third place

Thanks to somerset Mbo for an excellent event. Results and report here…

Dark and White – end of summer 2014 MTB Lane orienteering


photoArriving home from Cortina d‘Amprezzo late on Thursday night with a bike in bits, it was always going to be a rush to get to Matlock for 6pm to do an MTB Orienteering event, but as the last of the season and with my back in good shape, it seemed to be the right thing to do.
Of course starting late in September means finishing in the dark so off I went with lights a’flashing on the two hour score which this time would only be on the dense steep lane network that runs North West from Matlock towards Chesterfield, no tracks or paths.
My legs were a little tired and the full suspension bike not really the right tool for the job but I had a great time whizzing around the lanes, seeing parts of the Peak District the tourist would never see.
I tried to be clever with the navigation in the middle of the event, avoiding a load of climb but at present I am just not fit enough to pull off a routechoice like that so in the end a slightly disappointing result after a good start to the ride. Still, there were lovely views to the South as the darkness descended but soon as my legs began to tire the rain came out of nowhere and just chucked it down, leaving me feeling very soggy and cold at the finish, glad I didn’t have to find any more bits of red and white tape in the gloom.
The rain chucking it down and stopping for chips in Matlock Bath on the way home brought back memories of Slalom Canoe training in the Mid-noughties, happy days.


Mountain Bike Dolomiti

DSC_2839A family holiday taking bikes to Cortina d’Ampezzo brought an unexpected day pass for a big ride whilst Holly and Cath had a day relaxing with books, shopping and ‘Going Ape’

Strangely my back issues didn’t figure in my thoughts on planning a mega route combining a few of the marked MTB trails north of the town, which I think must mean I am finally nearly there with my rehab…
All the routes start with a blast up the cycle track that runs past Cortina on an old railway line, including a lit tunnel! I then forked off onto the first climb of the day on the ‘MTB no. 10 route’ up to a pass at Forc Lerosa. The climb just went on and on, getting steeper and steeper until I had eventually to get off for a few bends as I couldn’t keep the front wheel on the ground! Eventually after a short level section in the high meadows the track cascaded back down the mountain to join the MTB no.12/13 route up the main valley to Rifugio Sennes.
I really struggled on this climb, running out of food and water eventually limping into the Rifugio and downing a huge plate of Goulash and Dumplings before heading off towards my next huge decent.
The hairpins on the way down into Rifugio Pederu were amazing and just went on and on, culminating in a final very steep paved series of switch backs which left my brakes ticking as they cooled at the bottom. There then followed another monumental climb up to Rifugo Fanes where I sampled yet more home cooking ( not sure they appreciated my smelly attire at this point) before tackling the final 100m or so of climb up to the final col above.
From here it was mostly downhill, kms and kms of it, firstly through meadow pastures before diving into woodland, down and down.
I finally came out back on the main cycle path back into Cortina exhausted as it began to rain, realizing I had just done over 5 hours on the bike, 60km and 2700 metres of climbing and my back didn’t hurt a bit.
The Whyte E5 was the perfect tool for this trip, soaking up the bumps on the descents but the pro-pedal and front fork lockout keeping things under control on the climbs.
An amazing day, up there in my top 5 of best rides ever I think.

Cycling on Lantau – Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a bonkers place, and to be honest the mad rush of the high rise, completely crammed with people gives me the eebie-jeebies. So with a weekend to recover from jetlag on a business trip and with a whole week of high pressure M+ Museum BIM meetings (what I do for a living, BIM – Building Information Modelling Consultancy) ahead of me I decided to see what biking opportunities there were in the New Territories (the more rural islands that surround Hong Kong Island)
I got some advice from some local expats and did a fair bit of Googling which resulted in catching the ferry across to the Island of Lantau (where the new Hong Kong Airport is) to the village of Mui Wo and hiring a bike from the “Friendly Bicycle Shop”
From what I can tell, you need a permit to use the official mountain bike tracks on Lantau and that they are not quite what a UK rider would expect, (either perfect concrete tracks or almost un-ridable) and the permits take a couple of weeks to get hold of, so I just decided to stay on the roads, head out along the coast and see how far I got.
The first thing to point out is that although no that hot – 30ish, the humidity was horrendous, with any activity at all resulting in rivers of sweat falling from my nose and chin….
The roads were great, well surfaced and lots of up and down and in a silly sort of way similar to Arran in Scotland (except for the heat and vegetation). There is very little traffic except for buses and coaches. The drivers were very good at giving lots of room, unless they came across me around a blind bend and there was a bus coming the other way, so I, after one near miss, used my ears and made sure I wasn’t on a blind corner when the buses were approaching.
I stopped for some lunch at a seaside cafe and then carried on with the intention of riding up to the ‘Big Buddha’ at Ngong Ping
The climb was punishing, particularly in the midday sun and to be honest I nearly binned it, lack or water and food taking its toll. Eventually I rolled into the surreal world of the theme parked tourist trap which is Ngong Ping 360 at the top of the cable car. I downed two ice creams and a couple of cans of coke, took in the view and then headed off back down the mountain.
I had a bit of time to spare before the bike had to be back at the hire company so took the MTB track back around to Mui Wo from Pui O Wan. This track was great in places, bringing me right into the rural idol that still can be found, including water buffalo mooching about.
All too soon I was back at the ‘Friendly Bike Shop’ to hand back the bike and then try and find some air conditioning for the journey back to HK Island.


Dark and White Summer Series 2014

Stodge is back! well fingers crossed.

I started mountain bike orienteering with Dark & White Summer series events in the Peak District back in 2006/7, I still remember my first event, my new bike’s front brake failed on a decent and the climb back up to Teggs Nose showed me I wasn’t used to proper hills, but I loved it.
I managed 3 of this years summer series on consecutive Wednesday nights in June and July.
Week 1 was from a new venue on the outskirts of Southern Sheffield and used the hilly area down to Chesterfield including Ramsley Moor. I took it very easy, coming in early and not biting off more than I could chew, loving just being out. I did find it hard getting back into navigating on an OS map again, overshooting a track on the way to my first control and misreading the faintly printed contours on the next resulting in some route choice muppetry and extra climb.
Still it was great to finish in one piece with fantastic views and of course great to natter to friends I’ve not seen for the best part of 3 years.
Week 2 was from another new location for me – the highest village in England – Flash! Just south of Buxton – firstly a quick plug for the Flash Stores – top cake and pasty’s!
DSC_2075I was a little braver on this event, which took me on lots of terrain I knew between Flash and Macc Forest and some I didn’t to the south. I ended up having to work really hard on the climb back up to Flash, finishing just inside the 2 hour time limit. My back had to endure some pretty rough tracks though which worried me a little but it seemed to cope OK. The views on the drive home were simply gorgeous and I vowed the following week to do something I had been meaning to do for years – drive my spitfire to and from the next event.

So Week 3 saw me zooming up from Ashbourne over the Peaks in my old 1977 spitfire with the Whyte E5 tied on the back, in the late morning sunshine. After parking in New Mills and a quick shuttle into Manchester for a business meeting it was over to Hayfield for the last round of the summer series. Filled with confidence after the first two rounds and no real issues with my back I put in a bit more effort and loved every minute of being back working reasonably hard on climbs, trying to pick clever route-choices and hooning it down narrow lanes, enjoying the hedge-rush at 60kph. I finished a little early keeping the red mist at bay and not trying to go for one last control and then enjoyed a fantastic drive back over the Peak District in the setting sun.
Thanks to Dark and White for a great welcome back – cant wait for the night events later this year and of course the 3 hour winter series.


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Forest of Bowland, Gisburn and the Hornby Rd

DSC_1620At the last minute this spring bank holiday weekend, we found ourselves looking for something to do, somewhere in the mountains or on the coast, an active 3 days, but where? After an evening of searching we eventually found 3 beds in a Youth Hostel in Slaidburn, in the heart of the Forest of Bowland. Its an area we have not been to before, always drawn by its more famous cousins, the Yorkshire Dales, the Pennines or the Lake District

The Youth Hostel is basic and fairly old school but warm with great showers and an open fire, a proper youth hostel!  Or first morning was just up the road at Gisburn forest when there are a number of MTB routes, graded for difficulty Blue, Red and Black. The red route riding was fairly tough at times and certainly on the darker side of red. The riding though is only half the story with fantastic long views to the moors beyond and great ribbons of singletrack following streams with carpets of bluebells and other wild flowers.DSC_1715

There is a recently opened visitor hub at Gisburn and the Forest Den Cafe at the Stephen Park Centre, is a  great teashop too!

We spent the afternoon down in Clitheroe, mooching around the castle, and having a dip in the pool before returning to Slaidburn to eat in the excellent pub opposite the YHA, the Hark to Bounty

The next day we ventured over to walk up & over Ingleborough from ChapelLe Dale down into Horton in Ribblesdale before coming back to Slaidburn to soak up the atmosphere of the end of the village May Queen festival, bathed in sunshire.

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On the last day our plan was to ride as a family up over the middle of the Forest of Bowland on the Hornby Road, an ancient packhorse track and Roman road. It starts just out of Slaidburn and finishes over in Wray, usefully near a great teashop, Bridgehouse Farm.

The ride up out of Slaidburn is pretty steep, on the road and eventually on the track. Amazingly Holly (now 11) managed nearly all the climb on her 24 inch Isla Bike. Only the roughness of the track defeated her, and again and again she got back on and managed to get up bits I am sure many adults would be off and pushing on… a proud dad.

Once the climb is out of the way and you pass the watershed the track slowly descends  for miles and treats you to amazing views all the way, firstly across the moorland of Bowland and then far reaching out to the 3 peaks of the Dales, Whernside, Ingleborough  and Pen-y-Ghent.

There is one brutal road climb just before the drop down into Wray, but its soon over and the cake in Bridge House Farm more than makes up for it.

A very beautiful area, few tourists and great riding.