Ups and Downs

Having done the hills to the west of Durham last week I thought that I would do the run to the coast this week. This should really have been do the hills to the east of Durham. It is not flat, but there are some pretty interesting ups and downs to contend with. The road surfaces are some of the worst I’ve ridden. Rough tarmac at it’s worst – making the bike vibrate and bounce around. Amazingly it seems to have taken just over two hours to do less than 25 miles.

Now here’s the rub. I actually planned the route using Strava’s route planner and then was a bit put out by the difference in numbers recorded on the actual ride. I made a couple of detours, so I’ve just cloned and edited the planned route to represent the one I did. Strava’s route planner says:

35.3mi Distance and 2,681ft Elevation Gain

So why does the ride I actually did only come in at:

24.3mi Distance and 1,635ft Elevation Gain

To put a further twist on it, the Wahoo app I use to record the ride has logged it as:

23.2mi Distance and doesn’t show elevation gain.

Now why Strava corrects the data that is exported to it from the Wahoo app, I am not sure, but in th east it’s always seemed more plausible information.

I conclude that the Strava route planner software is just incorrect in its calculations. I had thought that the Wahoo / Strava issues was related to the recorded data via the speed sensor, but given that’s kaput at present I am at a loss to explain it – they both seem to use the same Google data.

All I know is my legs feel like they’ve done some climbing this evening and more than last week although Strava reckon’s it’s actual 20ft less climbing than that ride.

In other news, the turbo session yesterday evening seems to have buggered the speed sensor on my Wahoo SC bluetooth unit. The cadence still works and even a brand new battery purchased via a dash into the city this morning has refused to resurrect it. It’ll be off back to Wiggle for replacement.

Longest ride in years

Over 50 miles on a bike. I’ve not done that in a long time, but I did manage it today and actually felt good the whole ride. Even managed to set a new PB on one of the final stretches to home. Strava is good for letting you know when you think that you’ve had a good ride and match this agains past rides on the same roads. Stepping up the mileage seems to be working. More hill work during the week this week and perhaps a trip to the seaside in County Durham.

The view to Blackpool from Marine Drive.

It was windy out there, but I just seemed to find a tempo that worked for me and pressed on (had achy knees on a couple of occasions). Stopped on Marine drive and took a photo across the Ribble Estuary – you can see Blackpool Tower

Lancashire Lowlands

Back in Lancashire for the weekend, but with the bike for the first time. Picked up the turbo trainer from storage and will take that back with me. I am thinking of getting one of the Wahoo sensor kits to track trainer based sessions.

Up and out early enough to make the coast road an option so hammered it up past Southport and then came back across the moss. The landscape here is flatter than Norfolk. You can see the hills of the West Pennines from here in the distance.

Lancashire Levels

It was cool this morning, enough to justify the insulation and air block offered by full length Assos winter tights and Castelli Mortirolo Due jacket, but by later today as forecast it’s warmed up to the teens. Spring is coming.

Lancashire Levels

The Pulhams

Still in Norfolk, this morning I rode East and then turned into a southerly headwind which was a fairly consistent 25km/h. This was not fun, but at least the sun was out. The problem is that in this area the landscape doesn’t offer much protection from the elements because there’s no trees or hedges that might break the wind.


Shortly after taking this photo I was picked up by one of the VC Norwich Sunday Club Run groups for a nice tow into Starston. Once I reached the Waverley valley I peeled off the bunch and things picked up because the wind was now at my shoulder. I had a good tempo as I skirted near the Suffolk border and on through the Pulhams. As I turned North it became a wind-assisted big ring power ride most of the way home.

Titanium Crown Jewel

Longest ride so far since getting back on it. Just under 30 miles and I am not totally destroyed so maybe the slow ramping up of distance is the way forwards. The bike is ace 🙂

Lotus Loop

I was born and for a significant portion of my life have lived within a short distance of the headquarters of Lotus Cars. The irony is that I have rarely been there and prior today the only ride was at night on a mountain bike. So today’s ride was about setting the record straight. Back in Norfolk for a long weekend with the Ti Crown Jewel, I headed out rode a big loop around the factory (saw a couple of V6 Exiges and Elises), before getting the ride evidence photo by heading down Potash Lane.

Lotus Cars Head Quarters, Norfolk

The weather was typical of February, just without the snow. Temperatures hovering about 2 degrees, grey and overcast, wet (but not raining) with a northerly wind to remind you that route planning is important to avoid those long exposed roads that the Norfolk landscape offers. I was testing out some new kit, including these Castelli Toe Warmers, which were fine for about an hour and then once waterlogged were pointless. Proper windproof and waterproof overshoes are still needed, but colour co-ordination with socks was appreciated.

Castelli Toe Warmers

The other product getting a first ride were Assos TK.607 S5 Bib Knickers. I’d decided that after 3 pairs of Endura Thermolite equivalents that I’d go back to Assos, in part because I’d not been overly impressed by the last pair from the British firm: the graphics peeled off the legs after the 3rd wash; fabric lost elasticity; and the leg grippers weren’t wonderful and consequently the fabric has an annoying habit of riding up and bunching behind the knees. I’ve put up with them because for the money when mountain biking you are not going to cry if you bin it and put some extra ventilation in them.

I also have a pair of Rapha ones which came through IF when the two firms were working closely on the Cross Bike project. For pretty much the same money, the Assos ones do seem a more technical garment and do offer a better fit for me. The downside – they’re not as warm as either the Endura or Rapha equivalents, but in all other aspects have impressed so far.

A downside to back road riding this time of year, particularly in my part of rural East Anglia, is that the winter has littered the tarmac with assorted detritus and perhaps inevitably I picked up my first puncture on the Independent Fabrication road bike. I managed to get within half a mile of home before having to concede defeat and stop to pump some more air into the front wheel, which was just enough to get home.

Throwback Thursday

Chipps Chippendale the editor at Singletrack dropped me an email recently to say that my old Trans Cambrian feature made it to Throwback Thursday on their site. I hope you enjoy seeing it again.

Following the ride that Paul, Tyrrell and I undertook, Chipps did a feature on the same route a couple of years later. It’s a British classic.

See the Hills

Picked the boys up from Nursery again on Tuesday Lunchtime and headed straight out on another adventure. We took the Fallowfield loop line to the eastern most limit, which is the edge of Debdale Park. Turns out the bit of land that used to have a few dirt jumps on it is now part of the golf course and the old industrial site next to it is now being turned into a housing estate.

The Boys

The View

So having got quite close to the Audenshaw reservoirs and the M60 we doubled back and headed off in searhc of ice cream. Suitably equipped with icy treats we stopped by the reservoir to spot ducks before heading off home. Good jaunt and a few more miles logged on the Singlespeed towing the trailer.

The trailer is looking a bit battle scarred. This come from being squeezed, dragged and scraped through various trail barriers. The canopy is also looking a bit dogged. The who thing did a full barrel roll and back onto the wheels whilst unladed one day last week on the nursery run. Took a right hander corner and next thing I knew it had gone. Not sure if it caught an edge of a pot hole but it rolled nonetheless.

The Damage

I’m going to try and get some kevlar fabric and sew it on.

Seeing Red

Day off yesterday, so headed out on the road bike. I was immediately reminded that the pawls on the Mavic Helium freehub are bolloxed and I need to order some new ones from the hub doctor. Nonetheless in general motoring around it was fine. I am also having to come to terms with the fact that I cannot just big ring it everywhere and I will occasionally need to use the front mech.

The results of doing so were interesting – the acceleration once you put the hammer down on the Ti Crown Jewel is insane. I think the super stiff cranks and BB setup just equate to immediate power transfer and coupled with the right gearing the bike accelerates like stink. When you’re slightly lifting the front wheel when gunning it then you know something is going on. Those SRAM Red levers shift so sweetly down the block too.

The ride itself was rather intense. The conditions when I left seemed to be cool and overcast and within 15 minutes became sunny and then incredibly humid. This on the whole was okay as long as you kept moving, but once you stopped then it was a hot and sweaty affair. Worst was being stuck in insane amounts of traffic for a mid-week ride outside of rush hour and then getting stopped at every single set of red lights. I kid you not it was like I was a bloody red light magnet yesterday.

Red lights

At the top of the climb out of Woodley into Hyde I felt like my brain was boiling. At least getting on the down hills provided some relief. Short on water I headed home sooner than planned, but I am at least getting some mojo back. A combination of more biking, a bit of running at a kettlebells class once a week is seeing an improvement in my general fitness and clearly I’ve lost some weight as shorts that wouldn’t fit before do now. Still someway to go to get back into a decent level of form, but those Peak District hills are calling.

Singletrack plus extra track

As the in laws are on holiday for a month I’ve booked off Tuesday afternoons to look after the boys. So today at 1pm I scooped them up from nursery and bundled them into the trailer. It was adventure time.

Suitably armed with children’s snacks, spare nappy and baby wipes we were off. The downside to being lax on the riding front is that I have just discovered my Camelbak bladder has been stewing for the last god knows how long in the muddy Camelbak from my last ride. It is far from usable. I think it had water in it, but can’t be sure. It may now have aquatic life in it.

So my MULE was not sloshing with water but it did have other trail essentials and some water bottles. We were going off roading. Hooked up on the Fallowfield loop line, made a beeline to Chorlton and then took Hawthorn Lane down to the Mersey.

No way through...

The bloody kissing gates and horse step boxes were a nightmare. I manages to get the bike and trailer through one kissing gate after 5 minutes contorting bikes and then gave up. It was quicker to decouple and do it that way. I also did haul it up and over through a few of the horse step boxes, but that was only a recipe for breakage.

From there the TPT took us to Chorlton Water Park where after ice creams we had a pleasant, but bumpy ride up to Northenden before turning North for the ride home. That ribbon of occasional smooth single track is ok on a bike, but he wide track of the trailer meant a less smooth journey for the boys. I don’t think we’ll try that again.


We were home via a trip to the park to play on the swings after 2 hours riding and 16 miles hauling. My knees ache and I’m knackered but it was good to get out. Now I have a week to plan the next route…