30 Days of Biking in the South Pennines

Joining in the fun with #30daysofbiking

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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.


Hannah, Day 7-10

Maybe it’s the unfamiliar vitamin D coursing through my veins, but I’m feeling rather Zen today. I think this 30 days of biking might be giving me a new perspective on cycling. Usually riding my bike takes two forms: the first is about getting from A to B without having the hassle and environmental cost of driving the car; the second is about offsetting cake intake.

Both of these require cycling with purpose. The A to B version usually involves me trying to get somewhere fairly quickly so a not to be late, but without actually breaking sweat in my work clothes. The cake offset requires effort. Sweating is a desirable outcome, stopping to take photos is an interruption to the sweat generation and is reducing the amount of cake offset being achieved.

However, these last few days I have been on holiday in Northern Ireland, and so getting from A to B was not really necessary, and cake (and ice cream) offset was not really an option on the available borrowed bike. The saddle rocked from side to side and was set about 10cm too low, the tyres were about 20psi too soft, and only half of the fitted 24 gears were actually functional. Despite these unpromising vital statistics, I managed to have a lovely time.
I pootled along the coast road with the smell of salt and sea in the air –
the one thing I wish was different about the South Pennines is that it was a little closer to the sea, but since everything else about it is perfect I suppose I can live without a shoreline.

Strangford Loch

Strangford Loch

On the first day I only had time for a short spin as the sausages on the BBQ awaited. On the second day we were so busy visiting beaches watching seals that I forgot about riding until after dark. Dark in the countryside, next to the sea, with no streetlights is very dark. I opted for a quick cycle cross around the garden. Our host questioned my sanity. The next day I was determined not to forget again, so went out straight after breakfast (which is still before breakfast time for most of the population who don’t have such early rising children).

Venturing out on a slightly longer loop, it was idyllic. The hills were gentle (our host said in surprise ‘you went all the way up the hill?’. I said ‘what hill?’) and the gorse was in bloom. Birds tweeted, the sun shone, and I tried to take selfies while riding. I am not so good at this, and only managed a shot of my chin. I did manage a picture of my shadow though.

Shadow selfie

Shadow selfie


As I rode, I realised I was really enjoying myself. It didn’t matter that my bike was a bag of spanners (or at least needed the attention of one), or that I wasn’t going anywhere in particular, or that I wasn’t burning many calories. It was just nice to be out in the fresh air, noticing the world around me.

Back in the South Pennines, I decided to continue to embrace the riding for no reason with no particular effort, and headed out up the hill towards Midgley. Wondering what I might see, I was so busy looking around me that I barely noticed the hill as it ramps up to the village* and I would have cycled on had I not bumped into my friend in her garden, who I talked to until I realised it was getting dark and I didn’t have lights.
So, cycling without purpose, just for the sake of it. I recommend it.

Not quite a selfie

Not quite a selfie

*This may not be entirely truthful. It may be quite hard to cycle effortlessly round here.  The author accepts no responsibility for any sweat broken while trying to emulate this approach to cycling.

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Emma’s week. Setts not Cobbles.

With a week of many miles it’s often best to get the hardest ones out of the way first. Ronde van Calderdale is an event held over in the eastern side of the South Pennines. It dips and dances it’s way around Kirklees and Calderdale taking in as many of the old stone sett roads that it can. It’s a thigh bursting way to spend a Sunday. Organised by ex-pro Michel Collins and Kirlees Cycling Academy  it raises funds to get kids coached and into cycling.Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.06.35 Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.07.19 Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.07.36 Lets be fair and say that the following day my legs still hurt, so just a jaunt around our local dirt roads, a quick round of Bridleway Bingo – horse, ‘cross bike, mountain bike but alas no walker for a full house. It has however been a week of beautiful weather so Royd Ices were called for (always wear a helmet folks, ice-cream can be dangerous).Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.08.00 Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.08.17 Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.09.28 Next my bike and I took a trip to York where I’m running an event called Morvelo City Cross on the 13th June. Planning in the venue, not sure if that’s a horse or a chess piece. Riding in York is deceptively hard. It may look flat and harmless but the wind always has other ideas. Give me Calderdales hills any day!Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.09.45 In another of my many guises I lead out rides for a company called Rapha, I like to get a bit creative where I can with these and will always go out and check the routes in advance.  I started from their Cycle Club in Manchester and threaded out of the city towards the South Pennines, winding my way up and down the little roads along the hill sides. Always a bonus if you get your own  roads!Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.10.13 Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 11.10.28Then lastly for this post I have the new Kinesis ACE Tripster to play with for a few weeks.

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Ruth’s Diary of a Novice : Day 3 or is it 10 : Relationship blossoms

I am very excited. Today I am taking my relationship with my bicycle to a new level – we are going to sleep together. I know this might seem quite soon and unexpected, but circumstances are throwing us unavoidably together. I have had to leave the wuthering wilderness of the South Pennines behind and head for the coast in my campervan because it’s technically tricky (and plain silly) to go diving on our spectacular heather moorlands, it’s suicidal (and illegal) to go diving in our remarkable reservoirs and it’s not really advisable (and a bit murky) to go diving in our charismatic canals. So basically I have come to the seaside because I want to go diving; it’s what I do. As I am sleeping in my van on the harbour, I have to sleep with my bike. I won’t tell you where I am as I am sure they have their own tourism-type people who can promote their area, but I have to admit it is rather lovely and faultlessly flat on the coast road.

On my way to the seaside I dipped inland to visit mum and dad. They now rest in peace in one of the area’s most incredible hidden and secret gems – a place of breathtaking beauty that is swathed in solitude and silence, utterly peaceful. It is an area very like the South Pennines with sweeping upland moors, rich in bird song, smelling sweetly of heather with musical strains from tumbling streams. The landscape touches my heart and I would weep even if my parents weren’t scattered here at the place where they were happiest. I have the valley to myself, no cars are allowed. Being on a bike makes me part of the landscape through touch, taste, sound and sight. It seems so odd that we encase ourselves in metal boxes and whizz about missing all this sensory pleasure.

Anyhow…enough of this profound musing. I am not sure whether to give my bike a pillow and a corner of the duvet. Being a novice, this sort of thing is all new to me.

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I hope no one notices its a different bike – I don’t want to seem like a loose woman.

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Day 9. No time for blogging.

I’m just about to leave work – phone willing. It will be my first ride in shorts this year!
It’s off to Cluster Session with the Youths this evening; so I know I will not have the will power to blog later.

Instead I’ll share a picture of Mr. P and the small person, who rode to work today to ensure I was fed. And the works cat, she used to cycle but is now too idle (ok, she used to go in a bag on my rack when she was a kitten, but is now too fat. Besides which old cat no longer tolerates her home visits)

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I’ll also share the joy of a friend on being given a sticker at last nights cyclocross training session.

10306556_10153009844450186_2855399336183859516_nThanks very much for this Gilly Dukes! I was a bit overwhelmed and didn’t know what to say when Mr. P gave it to me. But I just like to quote a someone’s values I try and live my life by.

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.
-Muhammad Ali

So those hours on the trainer, cyclocross training, Hammerstones and the odd event have all paid off! Thanks to everyone involved! And if can inspire one person to take up cycling in the Huddersfield area then it’s all been worth it!

Thank you! Deryk / Huddersfield Star Wheelers.

Ginkgo_Girly @gillydukes