Sunday, 29 June 2014

PDMRO bike ride

The jersey
Ok, so its not really a race report,  -and its not like I just cycled 250km in a day like a friend, but it was an epic enough day for me to think about writing a blog, and taught me a couple of things about mindset.

The basic premise is that it is the 50th Birthday of the Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation (PDMRO), and as such, someone thought that a bike ride starting at one base, and visiting all the others would be a really good idea. Several versions of the route followed, ranging from a 250+km monster to the final route, which was about 145km. Further than I've ever been on a bike in a single day by quite a long way.

Despite it originally being destined as a race, it was decided that everyone should go at pretty much their own pace, and just see what happens.
Representatives from all the teams in the PDMRO rocked up at Oldhams base, with Woodhead arriving some 40 mins late as they had got their transport van stuck between 2 stone walls on the way and had to winch it out with a landy. (any donations of t-cut to Woodhead would most probably be gratefully received).

A few bits of toast, a cup of tea, and a whole load of faff later, we set out about 50 mins late, out of the Oldham base at Upper mill, straight up the hill to the Isle of Skye road. 35 or so cyclists of varying ability from people on TT bikes and deep section wheels to cyclocross bikes, to people just out for a "nice" day.
The long drag of a hill, made a bit less pleasant by the fact the promised drizzle had come. It was proper grim as we hacked our way up the hill, and by the time we had reached half way up, a group of about 8 of us had got such a long distance in front of the rest of the group that when we convened for a quick chat at the top, it was decided that we could either stand and wait on an exposed road in rubbish weather conditions, or we could press on in a small group to Woodhead base. I was surprised at the speed we had got up there, and was a little concerned that we might have burnt a few too many matches too quickly... Angie can ride all day, so no concern there, Al is a complete machine, and has no pain threshold... I was much more worried about the state of my legs and whether they would last the rest of the 80 miles or so.

Anyhow, we decided on the latter course of action, and got going.

As we went on, the drizzle got heavier, my glasses got so much residual water on them I couldn't see out, so had to take them off, we were all wearing all the clothes we had brought with us, and we were expending energy just to keep warm. I was very very glad of my raceblade mudguards. Unfortunately I was the only one with any type of guards, so if I was behind someone else road dirt and water and goodness knows what got flicked up at me. Enough of that - to the front.

We hammered down into Holmfirth, and 4 of us, Al, Angie (both from Glossop) and Dave (from Kinder) somehow managed to lose the other gaggle of riders through the traffic of Holmfirth, and made our way up the hill to Hade Edge, and into Woodhead base, where a warm welcome was extended to us. Cups of tea, coffee, cake and general happiness were very much appreciated as us cold and soggy riders came in.
Despite this, we didn't stay for long, with legs starting to seize up from not pedaling, so we climbed back on into the drizzle, and on our way out, passed another load of PDMRO riders just coming into the base, including Matt, our team leader, and Paul the Dog handler - good effort, all the Glossop MRT members were accounted for. Next stop, Holme Moss. Still raining, and we shot down the back roads to Holmbridge, hung a left, and very soon made our way up and over the Moss, Al showing his strength by grinding out some ridiculous gear for the vast majority of the hill. At the top, in an ill advised sprint for the line, my rear guard fell off and got tangled in the back wheel, so I lost the lunge for the top to Dave from Kinder.
It took a bit of time for me to get the bike back in working order, and I noticed that I really didn't have a
Glossop Base
whole lot of brake block left on the back wheel.

Still, we blasted off down the hill toward the main road, and over into Glossop, working well as a 4. Although there were some massive puddles on the road, the weather appeared to be brightening up somewhat. Along the reservoirs, and into Glossop, to a huge welcome from our team, again, we were plied with cake and tea. Apparently it hadn't been raining at all in Glossop, so a couple of us changed their sodden clothing for dry stuff which was stashed in base, and pretty soon we were going up over Chunal. Al and someone else had set off before me and Angie, so we launched up the road in swift pursuit.
My gears were skipping all over the place, which was somewhat annoying, evidently I hadn't quite fixed my bike perfectly on the top of Holme Moss - so figured I'd do something about it when we got to Kinder's base in Hayfield.
We overtook Al near the top of Chunal, and as we all crested the hill, I changed gear, and there was an almighty crunch as something drastic happened to my rear mech.
No pedalling, and I freewheeled to the bottom of the hill thinking I might be able to sort something out, waving the others on ahead. I would either fix it, and catch them up, or it would be so knackered that I couldn't carry on.

This bike be Borked. 
At the bottom of the hill, I got into a layby and assessed the damage. My mech hanger had snapped in two, and the rear mech had jumped around and was dangling in a mess in the middle of the wheel. How I didn't come off at 30mph, I don't know, but basically that was it for the bike for the moment. No cycling until I get it fixed, which is going to take some time on Chain reaction cycles, and some amusement at home with a load of tools.
I called in a support vehicle (Steve B from GMRT was just back in Glossop with the team transport for the day), so he came to collect me, and I decided I was very lucky to have this happen to me today when I could call on someone to pick me up within 10 mins, rather than on a commute, or a long solo ride. I stood there waiting, and a number of riders came past me, including Dave Yates of Glossop and Kinder fame, who had tagged on with the ride from Glossop, and was just going to ride to Edale.

During the lift home, various options were mooted between us. Give up and stop. Get another bike and get a lift with Steve over to Edale, and carry on from there. Or, get another bike and just go from home in Glossop.
I mulled it over, and decided I was having too much fun cycling today to give up. The rain had stopped, I would no longer need mudguards, so the nice bike could come out to play. I didn't want to go straight to Edale, that would seem like cheating. I'd just have to bite the bullet and go over Chunal again.
So we got home, I said hi to Lynne, and explained what was happening, left the broken bike in the garage, got the nice one out, changed bottles and pump onto the other bike, and set off up Chunal for the second
time of the day.

Setting out from home on Bike numero duo
By now, the majority of riders had gone through Glossop, including Matt and Paul, so I would have quite a lot of pedalling to do in order to catch up. Al and Angie would have been long gone, and no matter how hard I tried, there would be no catching them now. Especially as I had no idea about how to get from Edales base to Derbys base. I'd need to ride with at least one other person in order to get that right.
So on the new bike I blasted up Chunal, passing 3 guys on the way up. Down into Hayfield, and a quick stop at Kinder Base to tell them what had happened and that I was still moving and had not packed it in for the day. On and on, up the hill to Peep'o'day, overtaking another 2 riders, assuring myself that hills are my friend, despite the ache in my legs and the creeping fingers of fatigue. (a 5000m rowing timetrial the day before a big day on the bike is not necessarily a good idea).

Down into Chinley, and Chapel, up the A6 and over to Doveholes, Buxton's base, where I tanked in as fast as I could, and found, to my astonishment, Matt and Paul. Excellent. Though just as I arrived, a group of 3 others left. People to overtake on the next section? The water bottle on the bike got filled with some more electrolyte, and the route was explained - I kind of knew it, but just needed a fresh idea in front of the map, and back on the bike, chasing down Dave Yates who was still somewhere in front of me.
To the roundabout, up to Sparrowpit, and then the drag across to Winnats. Glad that I now had a bike with decent brake pads, I was happy dropping down through the valley, through Castleton, and into Hope, where there was a queue of cars, with Dave Yates at the front.
Admittedly they weren't queuing because of Dave, but we had managed to get to Hope just as the carnival was making its way down the main road. Quite a good carnival as well, but I didn't want to hang around until all half a mile of floats had gone past, so we sneaked along the pavement for a couple of hundred yards, turned right and went up and over to Edale base, where a lovely spread of food was set out.

The problem was, that from here, no one really knew the route. Yes, it had been emailed out at some point, but the various iterations had caused a bit of confusion. So we studied the route, and I tried to remember the main points of where to go and where not to go - taking a couple of pictures of the key points on the map with my phone, just in case. The problem was, it was now a long drag to Derby base, and I needed people to cycle with. I didn't fancy being lost, on my own, and a long way from anywhere that I knew. It took a while for people to start thinking about leaving Edale base. Al and Angie etc had all left at least 30 mins before I got there, and it took another 35 before we got anywhere close to leaving. If I knew where I was going, I'd have headed off straight away, but we ended up leaving en masse- about 15 of us of all different abilities.

Before we got to Hathersage, we had split up into numerous smaller groups, and I was with a couple of Edale lads, and 3 more guys. We managed to stay pretty much together through Grindleford, into Baslow and Chatsworth, but by the time the A6 was reached, the Edale guys and I were told to head off on our own, and have a blast.
A group of PDMRO chaps and chapesses at the end. 
My legs were well and truely toasted by this time, but we upped the ante a little, and maintained a pretty decent speed right the way down the A6, stopping only once to make sure that we hadn't overshot the turning at Little Eaton. By the final few climbs, the younger legs of the Edale crew (and the fact they seemed to be very at home on bikes) told on me, and they raced off ahead on the steep sections. We got through Little Eaton, and then the final killer hill to get up to Drum Hill scout camp - where Derby had decided their base was going to be for the purposes of the day.

I got in, battered, and knackered, barely able to pedal. But, I'd done a 60km ride in the morning, broke a bike, and then a 90km ride from there on. For me, the longest day on a bike ever (even if it was split into 2 sections) and it showed me that my comfortable biking territory is actually a lot larger than I think it is. I found that I could pretty much just keep going and grinding it out, even after 120km. Quite a revelation, as the furthest I've been before was about 71km.

Twas an excellent day out, thanks very much to all involved - Though I don't think I'll be up for a reversal of the route next year... 145km, backloaded with Chunal and Holme Moss might be a bit more of a challenge. Scuse me now, I have a bike to fix.

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