30 Days of Biking in the South Pennines

Joining in the fun with #30daysofbiking

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Hannah Days 20 – 26: Week 3 – still going, still not interesting.

I’ve continued my tactic of not doing very much of interest but still managing to ride every day. Riding every day is made much easier by being able to ride to work – it’s the other days where I find myself having to make the extra effort to get away from the routine of family activities and go for a ride.

I’m sure it is as quick, if not quicker, for me to ride into Hebden from Mytholmroyd as it would be for me to drive, find somewhere to park, and then walk from car to work. I don’t wear any funny cycling clothes (although if it’s really wet I do wear waterproof everything), and the hybrid bike I ride creaks and groans. I have to kick the front derailleur to change down. I get to work awake, and I get home fairly wound down. What I’m trying to illustrate here is that riding to work is easy, doesn’t require any fancy kit, and really anyone could do it.  Maybe you should give it a go?

After couple of days on the usual commute, I managed to take advantage of the sunshine and snuck off work early on my mountainbike to explore some new trails I hadn’t been on before. Unfortunately during the course of the day my rear wheel has ceased to turn, but thankfully Blazing Saddles were on hand to fix it. ‘I’m sorry, but I’ll have to charge you for that’. Bonkers, a shop apologising for charging for their goods? But then Blazing Saddles is a bit like that in my experience – helpful to a fault. While sometimes online suppliers offer discounts you can’t refuse, you can’t put a value on having a local bike shop that can rescue you when you really need it. Having already tried to fix the problem myself on a number of occasions, it was well worth the titchy workshop fee to have put it right properly.

With my wheels turning freely, I rode off in search of new bits of bridleway. Unfortunately it became clear why I hadn’t ridden these sections of bridleway before. It didn’t look like anyone had ridden them for some time, and above where I took this photo the walls had fallen in so much it was completely unrideable. It’s the first time I’ve come across ‘missing’ bridleways in this area, and it brought home what an asset it is to be able to look at an OS map and know whatever bridleway is shown will actually be there. I hope this bridleway will survive to make it onto a future edition of an OS map.


On my way home I met a guy tucking into a pan of pasta he’d just cooked up on his camping stove. Stopping to chat, I established that he’d been planning to ride the Pennine Bridleway, but after setting off from the Peak District at the start of the day, he’d decided it was too rough and up and down to do with his bike, so he was going to divert along one of the national cycle routes instead. His bike did look very heavy, so I couldn’t blame him for looking for an easier option. He also pointed out that he was 67. Chapeau!


Hope I can ride like this when I’m 67

Thursday is my shopping day. I hate shopping (unless it is for bike things), so I have got this down to a fine art so that it takes up the absolute minimum amount of time possible. On Thursdays I drive into Hebden, park the car, and cycle into the middle of town. I leave money with Maskills butcher on Crown Street, and money and bags with one of the vegetable stalls on the market. This takes less than 7 minutes, including time to get cash out at the bank. Then I go to work. When I finish work at 3, I ride to the butcher’s and pick up my selection of meat, and then to the market to collect my veg. 7 minutes later, I’m back at the car, shopping done. Sometimes I leave shopping lists, but usually I just go for a lucky dip selection, so when I get home I have the fun of deciding what to cook for the week. Admittedly, the week I got 2 colours of cabbage, a cauliflower, a celeriac and 3 turnips this was a bit of a challenge, but everyone is happy to accommodate any requests I might make. A weekly shop in under 14 minutes – and it’s local. What’s not to like? And yes, I did ride my bike carrying it all.  Including 2 pairs of shoes from Ruby Shoesday which I bought while inexplicably having a moment of shoe-shopping-would-not-be-actively-unpleasant-ness.


Friday – a ride to Hardcastle Craggs with Kid 2. The road to Midgehole is pretty quite and fairly level, so is good for a short ride with a child.  This is him trying out a bit of gnarly bridleway. Rad. Awesome.  Cute.20150424_093611

Saturday – I needed a reason to ride. I also needed Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Cue a trip out to the shop and back. Unfortunately the shop was probably too near to offset the calorific intake. I’m not telling you how much of it wasn’t left…

Sunday – a quick work related trip to check out the allotments in Mytholmroyd.

And BOOM! I’ve made it to the final week and I’m still riding.

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Hannah – Freedom!

It has become a tradition that, for Christmas each year, I buy my husband (and me) a night away in a B&B without the children. Before you jump to any conclusions, or worry about where this post might go, I should also add that his Christmas envelope also contains a little map, showing where we’ll be riding before arrival at the B&B. Not for us the luxury spa with couples massage and champagne on arrival; we aim to pedal until our legs have just enough energy left in them to allow us to stagger to a nearby pub and back for food and beers.

So, this weekend started with the usual trip over to the in-laws to allow us to leave the children as early as possible and get plenty of riding in (bikes, you lot, riding bikes). All the running around packing clothes for everyone meant I forgot to head out on my bike until dusk, so at the last minute I hopped on my bike and had a quick ride around the estate. In an effort to save time and get out before it got dark, I didn’t bother to put my shoes on, and it was only as I headed down the road that I realised there was a fair chance that someone might call the police and report a stolen road bike being ridden down the road by a thief in socks. I snapped a quick picture of the sky, which was doing pretty things, and rode back before anyone could arrest me.


Next day, we headed off bright and early to Aysgarth in the Yorkshire Dales. Now I know this blog is supposed to extol the virtues of the South Pennines, but the great thing about the South Pennines is that you can easily get to the Dales, but you don’t have to work in a B&B or a craft shop. I’m exaggerating slightly, but a lot of the Dales is lovely precisely because it’s so quiet, the roads are quiet because there’s very little reason to go from A to B, and I think I might go a little crazy if I actually lived there…unless I had one of the humongous houses with a vast garden, green house, and outbuildings big enough for many kinds of bicycle, workstands and maybe even one of those wall mounted tool racks where there’s a special space for every tool…but then my craft shop/B&B would have to be awfully successful, so I think I’ll stick with living in the slightly more practical South Pennines.

Anyway, the Dales is lovely to visit, especially if the weather is as kind as it was on Saturday. We did a 77km loop from Aysgarth, taking in the well known climbs of Buttertubs (where I got a little weepy as I rode past the sight of those famous crowd shots from last year’s Tour de France) and Tan Hill.  Just before Reeth, we turned off a road called Bouldershaw Lane that I’d included on the route purely because it was marked with steep gradient arrows on the map.  This had been spectacularly resurfaced, and its super smooth finish made climbing off into the wilderness a joy.  The hairpin descent down to a surprise ford was slightly interesting – maybe the warning signs have yet to be put back post resurfacing – and I’m afraid we both chickened out of riding over the cobbled ford and made use of the footbridge instead.  Feeling like we really were out in the wilds, I couldn’t believe it when I round a corner to find Jamie Wardley of Sand in Your Eye (he created the Loss Is Eternal sculpture at Hebden Bridge Town Hall last year) out for a walk with his family – small world and all that.  Another climb and another superfast-if-slightly-scary descent, and we were in Reeth for a late lunch.  A final climb up of Greets Moss and we were back in Aysgarth in time for a wander round the famous falls, and surprisingly interesting church.  Total distance – 77km; total climb – 1984m; total cars – 10.  Really, it was that quiet – we hardly saw any cars at all, we probably saw more cyclists that we did cars.  Every road offered lovely views and good surfaces.  This route should be on a ‘rides to do before you die’ list.  Heaven.  And I got to spend most of the day looking at my husband’s bottom while drafting behind him – added bonus.


A rather fine view



15th Century church screen saved from Cromwell. Culture!


After a cooked breakfast on Sunday, we ventured back out to some more roads I’d spotted on the map sporting gradient arrows, this time of the double variety.  As promised, the hills were indeed steep, and I did begin to worry if this was such a good idea after such a large breakfast.  Upon reaching the top of the first climb, we took a road which only just qualified as a road.  There was grass down the middle, the tarmac was crumbling, and there were numerous gates to keep the sheep from wandering off.  There were also spectacular views across the valley, as the road followed the top edge of a small scar.  Unfortunately the weather was a little cooler than the day before and I couldn’t quite face taking my gloves off to take as many pictures as the scenery warranted.  Along the valley bottom, back over another 2 arrow hill, and the breakfast was successfully burned off.  I even managed to hang on to my husband’s wheel as he tried to drop me.  To be fair, it was into a headwind.  Still, it was his Christmas present, so it’s only fair to let him go first, right?

'Are you sure this is a road dear?'

‘Are you sure this is a road dear?’


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Never work with children or sandpits.

The 18th found me at the Huddersfield Star Wheelers junior branch charity cyclocross event. Either due to my awesome turn of speed, or a route calculation error, I arrived half an hour early, so had a nice time riding round in the sunshine before anybody else arrived. I was eventually joined by the rest of the youth coaches and volunteers, and we soon had the course set up for the kids.

In the interest of safety, we escorted all the kids round the circuit so they would be familiar with it before the racing started. Now the course involved a sandpit, and the best way to ride a sandpit is at speed and to attack it, neither of which I did. I’d only managed to get about ten feet into the pit before the drag got the better of me, and what with failing to unclip in time, down I went. Of course my fellow blogger Gilly Dukes was there to take the photo…

Sand pit.IMG_2155

The racing was a blast though, with some real effort going in from the kids, and some money raised for a good cause as well.

However the main event was to come, the Madison. This is usually run with the partners being the parent and child, but there are usually too many children and not enough parents, and with neither of my own children being willing to partner me I had to borrow somebody else’s child. Step forward Hannah…

Hannah The tag Last corner

I have no idea where we finished, but we had lots of fun doing it, although there was a large amount of cheating going on from what I could see. All in all a grand day out.

Today had me taping up my foot, to try to alleviate the tendon pain I’ve had since Wednesday. I have been converted to the benefits of kinesio taping after a visit to Mills Physiotherapy prior to last year’s Three Peaks Cyclocross, when the delightful Mills patched up my flaky knee. I only did a quick hour on my bike, but the foot felt good, and I managed to set new personal best times on much of my ride. Might even attempt a run tomorrow…


Gary Jackson.

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Ginkgo_Girly Day 18. A big victory by a small person.

(I’m handing this one over to Amos aged 9)

First ever race won by me on 18/04/15. A big race. I have actualy have won 3rd and 2nd there before and now 1st . I am actualy realy chuft I won I had to sprint a hole lap aganst a 8 year old (who in my defence is faster than guy martin [on a bike[he is still fast]) called Roan.


I would say that the hardest part was the up down corners I was changing gear on the front 1 2 1 2 1 2 . The sandpit was where I gained ground, I was off, run, on (where dad and Gary were ride crash untangle run on) WP_20150418_14_16_31_Pro

Gary’s crash.

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The downhill before up down corners dad said I was the only one who did not brake.


The last race of the day was the Madison. Which was me and my dad. I did a full lap, then dad did a full lap and so on. It was going pretty well until dad crashed on the last lap. Bit annoying. But it doesn’t really matter cos I have already won a race.

Roan challenged me. Every time he beat me, dad beat his mum. Which I quite like.


It was the best race day ever.

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Hannah, Day 16 – A Bit of Inspiration

I have ridden my bike today, but there’s only so much I can say when it comes to pootling between Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge, so instead I’m going to write about someone else’s bike riding. He’s probably going to be a bit embarrassed, but hopefully he’ll be quite chuffed. He should be. I don’t think he thinks there’s anything particularly special about what he’s been doing, but I do. In fact I think it’s bloody brilliant. I hope you do too…

Once upon a time there was a bloke with a belly. Not the product of huge excesses, just the kind of belly that lots of people grow over time. The kind that creeps up on over the years when you’re driving your kids from place to place, having a cheeky iced bun at work of an afternoon, and quietly consuming more calories than you’re burning.

Very quietly (so quietly that none of us realised), he stopped eating pies and cakes. Once or twice he rode his bike to work. It is a heavy beast, with a few rattles, and some jumpy cogs. I had a little tinker with it but it’s not really worth paying for new parts, so every ride comes with the added risk of a groin/crossbar incident if he hits the worn tooth at the wrong time.

After Christmas, he started riding his bike to work once a week – it’s only about 7.5km each way, and pretty flat. Then it was twice a week. We began to notice he was looking thinner. Then he started riding in 3 times a week, and going out at the weekend too. We began to suspect he might even be enjoying riding his bike. Now he wasn’t just thinning out a bit, he was disappearing. His clothes were getting not just comfortable, but falling off him, like a child in their older sibling’s clothing. It’s not surprising – he’s nearly 3 stone lighter. I’d have to look more closely than I really feel comfortable with to see his belly.

Last week, he had his first 100 mile week, and he’s stopped seeking out the flattest routes and isn’t afraid of the odd hill. He hasn’t adopted some crazy calorie restricted diet. He’s not joined a gym. He’s not even bought a fancy bike (though I really think he should treat himself to an upgrade). He’s just eaten a little healthier, and ridden his bike a lot more. The effect of these small changes is dramatic, and I’m bloody impressed. If ever there was an advert for how small changes to your lifestyle can have a big effect on your health, he is it.

30 days of biking is a good challenge, but 2 or 3 days a week of biking can be just as inspiring.

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Hannah, Days 11-15 (HALFWAY!)

Whoop! I’m HALFWAY through this and haven’t failed yet. So I thought I’d mark the occasion by writing up my rather uninteresting rides, and illustrating them with some beautiful photographs.

Day 11 – while still feeling zen about riding-for-no-particular-reason, I had failed to do enough pootling to offset the ice cream intake (I’m blaming the ice creams, not the cakes called ‘fifteens’ we discovered in N Ireland, which contain 15 ingredients, none of them healthy) so some drastic action was called for. That, and the fact that Sunday promised an early weather window of relative niceness before the wild rains blew in. Apparently riding your bike before you’ve had breakfast is THE way to burn fat, so I pedalled out before I’d had so much as a cup of tea. I was enjoying myself so much, I underestimated how fast the rain clouds were moving, and duly met the rain cycling back over Cock Hill to Hebden. The rain was like needles on my poor bare legs and the headwind so strong I had to pedal hard to get down the hill. Which was probably just as well as my hands were too frozen and painful to operate my brakes. I got home not feeling like I’d enjoyed myself so much after all, but was at least deserving of my scrambled eggs.

Day 12 – back to work, so a brief commute between Mytholmroyd and Hebden at either end of the day, trying my best not to sweat into my work clothes.

Day 13 – another commute to work. This time trying not to sweat, but also not to crush my shirt, which I had ironed. This is a vanishingly rare occurrence. I don’t believe anyone in the office noticed I had ironed it, so I probably won’t bother in future.

Day 14 – more commutes to work, and then an evening mountain bike ride. This was supposed to be a fell run with Calder Valley Fell Runners who are doing a get-back-into-running series of sessions for lapsed runners such as myself, but my knee felt a bit funny so I went on my bike instead. I met a couple of women pushing their bikes up Spencer Lane. I could say I felt superior since I managed to ride up it, but they had full face helmets on and a quick chat established that they were about to tackle some particularly tricky downhill sections so I carried on and left them to the scary stuff.

Arriving at Rake Head, I was pondering which route I might take from there when I met up with a bunch of blokes on full sus bikes. I told them that if they didn’t mind I’d just follow them, and they seemed OK with this. It seemed like a good idea, and a possible way to discover new trails, until they disappears around the edge of a cliff, bunnyhopping round rocks, and generally vanishing into the distance over a route which seemed designed to kill me. I managed a few drop off type things that I might not usually have tried, and made it over a narrow wooden plank bridge (a particular fear of mine) with a huge drop off at the end that I had no choice but to ride since the only other option was to throw myself sideways off the bridge. Having learnt an important lesson (don’t follow random groups of men on full sus bikes), I retired to the Shoulder of Mutton in Mytholmroyd – a pub with excellent beer that has recently been taken over by the proprietors of the Stubbing Wharf in Hebden Bridge.

Day 15 – Another commute to work. On the way home some blokes on road bikes whizzed passed me, I put my foot down and caught up with them, the creaking of my tired bottom bracket alerted them to my presence, they looked a bit surprised to see they’d been caught by a girl in work clothes on a hybrid with cyclocross tyres, and then they pulled away from me on the hill. I really must stop chasing men on bikes.

So that’s it. Halfway! Oh yeah…and about the photos. Well, I forgot to take any.  I’ll try harder for the second half of the month.

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Another non cycling and non running tale.

Day 12 through to 14.
Any thoughts of cycling on Sunday were soon banished by the sad news of my father-in-law’s health, which has been poor of late, followed by a dash over Liverpool to drop my wife off at the hospital. He passed away later the same day, surrounded by his close family, rest in peace Mike.

Yesterday was subdued, and telling the kids about their grandfather was not pleasant, but had to be done. Our youngest took it hard, he’s had a hell of a year so far, and this news didn’t help. I know this meant to be about cycling, but real life has got in the way this time.

Late yesterday afternoon though, I managed to combine going to tell my folks the sad news with a bit of a test run. I was hoping to enter the Whinlatter Extreme Duathlon, on this coming Sunday, a challenging 9k fell run, followed by a 30k mountain bike ride, then another 9k trail run to finish, and after not running or cycling last week I fancied a bit of a tester.
The run was nothing special, just 7 miles over my usual roads and trails, and I felt pretty good, I was happy with my stamina and pace, no aches or pains, and my chest felt clear for the first time in a week.

This morning found me struggling though, the tops of both feet were very painful, especially when flexing my toes. I’ve had problems with tendonitis before, and it feels like it has returned, so no running for me until the pain has gone, the end of my Whinlatter Duathlon plans.
I might be planning a little ride out tomorrow though, nothing too strenuous you understand, and entries don’t close until Thursday…

Gary Jackson.

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Ginkgo_Girly Day 14. I’m not a runner

Now I know this blog is about riding, but to be honest most of the riding I do is (to others at least) quite boring. Work / home / work / school / coaching etc.
So I thought I would report on my latest daft idea. Last night I joined a beginners running course.
I am still trying to justify this as a rational idea. My husband runs (he’s quite good for a cyclist) my son can run (when he can be bothered) I, however run like a fish rides a bike.11071523_10152818384412989_3530875803555521044_o

Why? is the question I am still asking myself.
This goes part way as an explanation; I attempted the Huddersfield 5km Park Run last year. I chose a foul morning when I thought it would be quiet and I could bimble around like a middle aged lady that can’t run. That cunning plan was an absolute failure as I was busted by a friend who encouraged me to run round with her and her son with a promise ‘they would keep it steady’. It was the most hideous half hour of my life since giving birth. After about 10 paces I felt like I had a brick trying to work its way through my insides (so that’s why you don’t eat before you run) This agony then rapidly became the onset of cramp in places I didn’t know you could get cramp. Friend gave me much encouragement along the lines of ‘the first lap is a short one – the next two are longer’ and ‘wow – your laps are getting quicker’. The reason they got quicker was it was the only way I could see an end to this misery. My legs by lap two felt like they had been filled with yoghurt and my breathing would have got me a job on an adult chat line. I have never seen the ground move so slowly in my life EVER. After crossing the finish line I literally crawled back to my bike. I have never ever been so glad to get back on a bicycle in my life. Two days later I still couldn’t walk and was still going down the stairs backwards.
So that is why I joined a begginers running course. I thought if someone taught me to run, it couldn’t possibly be so bad.10661639_10152439110192989_4901190013759922489_o

It was.

I arrived at the Stainland Lions club house to join over a hundred other fools. We completed the necessary admin (emergency contact details, a wise precaution after my last attempt) and then were lead out to the rugby pitch. I had already ascertained that some of these ‘beginners’ were fibbing. One lady said she used to run 55miles a week, but stoppped after a change in job. Others are recovering from injury (I’ve always said running was dangerous) Some are gym bunnies who could happily do an hour on a treadmill.

We were told to run round the pitch and then were lead through some stretches. By now I had stitch. Then were set off on a longer lap of the two rugby pitches. Our instruction was to go as fast as we could. So I did. I don’t like running so this seems logical. The quicker you go; the sooner it’s over. That was a mistake. I was the first lady round and promptly got banded as a ‘confident runner’.

Well pride comes before a fall as my granny would have said. I had seriously thought we would now be handed over to a running guru who would impart words of great wisdom and show us some basic techniques. I was anticipating wise words on pace, foot fall, stride, recovery, posture etc.

We got none of that. We ran 2 miles at an average pace of 9mph. We even went up a little hill. It was all wrong; no freewheeling, no chatting as I couldn’t co-ordinate breathing with words, no stopping for cake. And to top it off a sprint to end. Next week it’s 3 miles.

I would therefore like to apologise to all those I have coached whom I have said ‘riding a bike is easy’. If it feels like this to you when I’m yelling ‘just one more time’, or ‘sprint!’, or ‘hills are easy, just use your gears’, you must really really hate me.



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Ruth’s Diary of a Novice : whenever I last blogged up until now : rough riding

In the last couple of days I have done 5 cattle grids (it would have been six but I went round 1), several speed humps, three speed bumps (different from humps because you can’t get round them) and 4 squeezy chicanes. I think that really, with all this rough riding, I now qualify for a course with Mr Ed Oxley and his Great Rock. He has an intriguing course called Stop Crashing which is apparently not for beginners, but for experienced crashers. You can opt for Stop Crashing 1 or Stop Crashing 2, the first presumably being for those who weren’t put off by crashing in the first place and the second for those super determined people who I am scared of because they are scared of nothing. I am going to ring Ed and ask if I can skip to the Stop Crashing 2 course because it has a section entitled “having more fun riding bikes than is humanly possible”. Anything that is not humanly possible but is done by humans is obviously very intriguing and I think this sort of thing might help my slowly withering 30 day motivation levels. I do of course irreverently jest. Ed is a legend in mountain biking which even I do realise is completely different to road biking and I am simply not worthy really to even jest. Do check out his website – its rather splendid.

So – speed humps and bumps on route 66. Who’s idea of a good time was that? As regular readers (ha ha ha ha I am not really kidding myself that we have any of those!) will know, last year I did have my bottom measured by the lovely Alan at Blazing Saddles and he also supplied me with some particularly attractive shorts with pink padded inserts which, if turned inside out, makes me look like I have udders. I tend not to wear them this way as its not a good look. Despite all this padding and moulding to my “sit bones” which seem to be tucked a long way “up”, I am still a tadge tender on my 7th day of riding. Speed humps really don’t help. As for the speed bumps on a farm track/bridleway which I hit at some speed (well for me anyhow) whilst dreamily admiring the view instead of looking at the road in front of me – well they just left me airborne and screaming – although thankfully I landed fairly squarely and so I don’t yet qualify for Ed’s “Stop crashing” course as I have not yet crashed.

Finally on this subject, to whomever has resurfaced route 66 between Luddendenfoot and Mytholmroyd since April of last year – my ample bosom thanks you enormously. It is so lovely and smooth…the route that is….not my…… 🙂


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Day 11, back on the bike.

After leaving my bike behind on Tuesday morning while I flew to Aberdeen, I have had a four day break from cycling. As ever when this occurs, my intention was to substitute my quality exercise on the bike with a lower form of physical endeavour, namely running. I even failed at this. Tuesday evening found me exhausted. After leaving the house at five o’clock, driving to Leeds Bradford Airport, flying to Aberdeen, then working until past six, by the time I reached the company flat at seven in the evening all I wanted was a hot meal and bed.

Wednesday and Thursday found me coughing and spluttering all day, so my free time was spent in bed, feeling sorry for myself.

Flew back Friday, back home for half past ten, more food and bed.

After a lie in and a few domestic duties I managed to persuade my youngest out for a short ride. He has been suffering with a few anxiety problems this year, and today was only the second time this year that he has ridden his bike, so it was good to see him out and enjoying himself.

I did a little exploring as well, and managed to ride up a hill without coughing a lung out, so things are improving health-wise as well.

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I’m now looking forward to a week at home, so there is a chance of riding everyday, good preparation for next Sunday’s madness…


Gary Jackson.