Saturday, 31 October 2009

At last - a decent day's cycling.

Ten Mile Loop - A Day To Myself

Today was a very rare day: one for which I was home alone. Work and holidays had happily conspired to give me a little me time.

So, I found the shed key and set off on an unplanned bike ride. I'd awoken to blue skies but by 11.30 the clouds were rolling in and looking pretty gloomy, so I figured I'd better stay close to home in case I ended up getting my shower before getting home!

First Job ...

Before I set off, my first job was to fit my new torch. To be honest, the simple bracket was incredibly easy to fit and not worth worrying about. It took about 2 minutes, resulting in the busiest cockpit in the Western hemisphere:

I set off through Milnrow first of all, going a little further than needed to avoid the steep climb that is Kiln Lane. A much easier uphill jaunt through Milnrow's residential back streets brought me to Wildhouse Lane which was much easier to ride towards Hollingworth Lake than it is coming the other way: the prevailing wind was behind me, woohoo!

On reaching Hollingworth Lake I treated myself to this:

A luvverly cuppa and a luvverly view!

Then it was a clockwise loop around the Lake (with another cuppa and a butty halfway round. I remembered I hadn't eaten since last night's trip to Milnrow Balti House and nobody wants a muddy collpased diabetic on their hands on a weekend stroll out!). I unwisely went for the fat and tomato option:

Stomach full, I finished the lake loop then headed to Littleborough via the main road, as far as Smithy Bridge Road then downhill to the rail station and back on the canal before heading home. It was a lovely ride and the rain held off for long enough to let me relax in the back garden, have a drink and admire my clean dirt from the jaunt:

The ride's on MapMyRide if you fancy a more in-depth look. Tell 'em Phill sent ya!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

No More Staying In

Bright Light !

In a previous blog post I mentioned that I needed a new light to guide me along the off-road sections of my rides.

When I set off, my first 3 miles or so are usually done along the canalside, and if I do a simple “there and back” run, of course my last few miles are done there too. With these long, British Wintertime evenings, that means it’s pitch black and that a watery end lies no less than five feet from me for most of my ride!

I’ve got a set of blinky lights to allow me to be seen on the road, but they’re less than hopeless to actually light my way. In fact, set to flash, they positively blind me when there are no streetlights to show the way.

So, rather than use the darkness as an excuse to stay indoors, I decided to invest in a good light to show me the way. Detailed, in-depth research (well, messages between me, John Girvin and Nev Sutter to be fair) narrowed the choice down to CREE LEDs. I decided I couldn’t be bothered doing a Tesco torch mod (see John’s info here) so I dived into fleabay and got busy.

An hour or so later, and I’d picked this little monster. It’s zoomable between “kill laser”, “blind” and “stun” settings via a simple sliding lens gizmo. On “kill laser” setting (narrow beam to those with no imagination), this torch is easily bright enough to knock your sight out in a bright daytime office: I should know. Ow.

The unit is a poxy 10.5cm long and takes 3 AAA batteries, which are cheap and easy to buy in either oldskool disposable or rechargeable formats. The brains of the outfit is a little CREE LED which you can just about make out in this photo:

The light cost £30 delivered – not as cheap as the Tesco mod, or from Hong Kong via – but it’s still good value with a bike mount, ready to go and delivered within 2 days.

It’s football tonight and tomorrow I’m putting a mirror up at my OH’s friend’s place, so I’ll get some working shots for you when I get some dark miles in.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Quick Cycle to School and Back

Autumn Ride to Spring Hill

Today, my boy was due for a session at Spring Hill School in Rochdale, so we decided to take advantage of the unseasonally warm weather and go on our bikes.

It was only 3 and a half miles or so, there and back, but it was great to blow the cobwebs off with my son.

You can see the ride here...

As we neared home along the canalside, we saw a barge chugging up the canal so we decided to do an extra few hundred yards and take the photo-opportunity! We won't see many more of these with the shorter, colder days closing in, so it was nice little treat.

I'm hoping that we'll get plenty more little rides like this through the winter. It was great fun!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Life Begins at 40.

Life Has - Officially - Begun!

First of all, let me apologise for not blogging more often. My free time has been taken up reading other people's blogs instead. The likes of Joby and Gaz have been blogging like machines and keeping me endlessly entertained, so thank you, lads! I recommend that you read their blogs: Gaz to be inspired into action; Joby to be entertained by his road rage exploits!

Well, What have I been up to?

Over the last couple of weeks, since our run in Heaton Park (see previous blog entry), I've kept myself busy.

Turning 40

That was a fun weekend. Parties, cakes, friends and family all contributed towards a lovely way for Life to officially Begin. If Life hadn't Begun earlier, I wonder who gave me the fine children, brilliant partner, nice life and home though... but never mind that.  At 3.30am on Saturday, you'd have been forgiven for thinking that maybe my life had ended!

Making a Small Dog

What can I say? I can't dam my creative juices for long, so when I was asked to help with some modelling clay I jumped at the chance. A short while later, with 25 minutes in a coolish oven, here's the result...

I'm actually quite chuffed with our work and looking forward to making a matching black and white cat sometime soon!

Not Getting My Bike Out

At this point I have to apologise to Gaz and Joby (and Emma, and Chris, and John Girvin and John Moore). This photo is of my beloved bike, my £300 mountainbikewishitwas, relaxing at Hollingworth Lake earlier this year.

Since then my pride and joy has done the Longdendale Trail, been up and down Rochdale Canal a few times, been driven to the South Coast and ridden someway along it, but more recently has languished in the shed since I built it.

I have a desperate need for a decent headlight in advance of this weekend's clocks falling back, to make sure I really have no excuse for not riding in the evenings, then I hope I can stop apologising!

I'm sorry guys... I hope I'll be back on the bike regularly this winter!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Run 3 miles, Plant a Tree !

The Manchester TreeAthlon, Heaton Park, October 2009

For a few weeks now, I’ve been doing a regular jog, aiming towards last Sunday’s Manchester Treeathlon, a 5km run around Heaton Park in Manchester.

Last Sunday, the big day came, so I set off to meet a few friends and colleagues. Registration was faultless when we got there, so we put on our t-shirts and waited for things to start.

Ian Cheesman from BBC Radio was there, taking the mickey, and half an hour before the run some too-cheerful-looking blonde gym bunny took to the stage and took us all through a thorough warm up. All I could think was "if I warmed up this much every time I ran a couple of miles, I'd never leave my bloody house"!

At 12.00, the run started. At around 12.10, we crossed the start line at the back of the pack. Sometime around Tuesday night, we finished! Well, it wasn't that bad, we actually had a great jog and here's proof that we finished. You have to take my word for it that we went round the course too...

For those of you that like to see the route, here it is in glorious MapMyRideColour:

It was a brilliantly organised event, plus we got trees and a frizbee at the end! What more could you possibly ask for??

I reckon I'll do it again next year, anyway.... :o)