22 September 2013

High Peak MTB ride...

For a while now I've had an idea going around in my head for a longer distance mountain bike ride. Something that would not only test my stamina a little but also take me to areas that I don't normally ride. What I came up with was a 73 mile loop made up of country lanes, cycle  paths and off-road sections. It would take me from Derby to a point just north of Hartington, in the Peak District, before turning south and heading back for home. I'd take in Carsington Water, the High Peak Trail and Tissington Trail on route.

The weather could not have been better for the ride. Plenty of sunshine, very little cloud, not too hot and only a steady breeze. There was even a low lying early morning mist to add a little effect to the whole thing! The only problem with that was I wanted to keep stopping to take photos and didn't really have enough time!

Just 2 miles from home and the first photo stop.
Sunrise at Alvaston Park.

The first 18 miles or so of the ride were some of the toughest as it was almost all on-road. The tyres on the mountain bike made for a hard ride, the road was climbing for just about every mile and all I could think about was the off-road sections that lay ahead. I wanted to see the back of tarmac! Having said that, this is Derbyshire and there is always something to lighten the mood. The view from near Kedleston Park made me pause for a drink and a quick photo before pressing on.

View near Kedleston Park.

The first off-road section of the ride was a great little 4 miles or so alongside the eastern edge of Carsington Water, from Millfields car park to Hopton village. The trail was undulating but rode well. It was dry and grippy but the surface had just enough loose to keep you on your toes. The camera had to come out a couple of times too.

Arriving at Carsington Water.

View over Carsington Water.

About to leave Carsington Water.

After Hopton village came the toughest climb of the ride so far, the drag out of the village up to the High Peak Trail. The road climbs around 300 feet in just over a mile. Nothing to hard on a road bike but I knew about it on a mountain bike, with a rucksack on my back. The climb had its reward though, I was now at the start of the main part of the ride - almost 25 miles of off-road cycle trails.

High Peak Trail - let the fun begin.

I'd never cycled the High Peak Trail before but had walked it a number of times, so I knew what the views would be like. It's still a real pleasure to be out in the open though, no matter how many times you travel along the trail. And with the weather as it was, it was even more stunning! I managed to resist stopping too often for photos, but every now and again I used the excuse of having to stop for food or drink as the reason for a quick snap shot!

Taking in the view...

...view over the wall!

View from the trail.

View from the trail.

The point at which I would start and turn for home was where the High Peak Trail joined the Tissington Trail. Again, I had to stop for food and to mix another bottle of energy drink. And take a few more photos! Well, you need something as a reminder of rides like this.

The bike is ready for the Tissington Trail...

... all the signs point back where we came from!

Enjoying yet another great view.

Once back on the bike it was a fun 14 miles or so of easy riding down into Ashbourne. The Tissington Trail drops, almost unnoticeable at times, down to the town, losing around 700 feet in elevation. The legs enjoyed this section of the ride - I was able to hold a good turn of speed without any real effort. Save some energy for later in the day! It was also the last time I stopped for photos...

The old signal box at Hartington station.

The view near Hartington.

From Ashbourne onwards the ride returned to tarmac roads, and the drag of knobbly tyres on a surface they are not best suited to. It was a pretty tough 25 miles or so. The bike felt heavy, I was tiring, the breeze had picked up and was now a head wind. I enjoyed the challenge, but it certainly wasn't as much fun as the two off-road trails had been!

By the time I arrived back at home I'd been out for 6 hours 37 mins. The bike had been moving for a total of 5 hours 11 mins. The total mileage was 72.9 miles and I'd averaged 14.1mph. Not my quickest ride by a long way, but it was one of the more enjoyable ones.... so far!

The Strava details for the ride are HERE.

The route map.

22 August 2013

Donington track evening...

Donington may well call be known as "The heart of British motorsport" but this evening it was a rather slower form of wheeled sport that took to the track, cyclists! And I was one of them. The circuit has been opened up to bikes a number of times this summer but this was the first time I'd been able to go and have a play.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening but, with hindsight, maybe I would have been better taking the bike there and back in the car rather than riding it. I had ridden to work and back today, then swapped to the road bike and rushed over to Donington to be there in time for the track opening. I put in seven reasonably paced (for me) laps of the circuit before then riding home before it dropped dark. I was wrecked by the time I got home for my supper!

My best three laps of the 2.5 mile circuit were, according to Strava...

7min 15secs @ an average of 20.3mph.
7min 16secs @ an average of 20.3mph.
7min 27secs @ an average of 19.8mph.

My maximum recorded speed was 36.9mph - which I guess must have been down Craner Curves. If it wasn't then I'd love to know where I could have managed to go quicker!

So, overall, a great experience. It's certainly something that I'd love to do again as I'm sure I could reduce by overall lap time and maybe push my fastest speed up a little, if I really gave it a go heading into Craner. Not riding so many miles before the event may go a long way towards helping my speed too!

The Strava ride details are HERE!

It may well look rather empty in the photos above but these were taken very early on in the session. Over 900 riders took to the track in the end!

14 July 2013

Pickering summer break...

Our summer holiday this year is another return trip, this time to Pickering, North Yorkshire. We first visited this area just over a year ago, in April 2012. We had a good holiday then but the weather wasn't great. There was plenty of rain, some hail, sleet and even snow. But, we liked the area and had decided that we would give it a try at a warmer time of year. Little did we know that we'd be coming back during the heatwave of 2013! It was hot and dry for the full week - almost too hot!

Our base for this holiday was a lovely cottage at Southholme Lodges, just on the outskirts of town. It was far enough from the town centre, down a little country lane, to be very peaceful but close enough that we could enjoy an easy walk there for breakfast each day or to look around the shops etc. Ideal!

Our cottage and the gardens...

Our holiday cottage.

Just a small part of the gardens.

A little bit of shade.
We spent a lot of time here!

The stroll into town was not only nice and easy, and almost traffic free, it was rather scenic too. A lovely old mill building and a stream too. We often paused to watch the ducks and the fish!

Vivers Mill. The old water mill.

Vivers Mill. The old water mill.

Vivers Mill. The old water mill.

The old mill stream.

When we arrived in the town centre the traffic was still very light, the buildings rather nice and, much more importantly, the breakfast superb! Finding a good spot for breakfast is always a priority for us when on holiday! This time it was the Feast Deli & Cafe. We can highly recommend this place! They had a great range of local real ale for sale too!

St Peter's and St Paul's Church, Pickering.

Looking down Market Place, Pickering.

One of the cottages in the town.

On our last visit to Pickering we travelled on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to Whitby and back. This time we only went as far as the village of Goathland - better known as Aidensfield in the TV series Heartbeat and as Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter films. As such, it is a tourist hot spot but even with all the crowds it was still a pleasant trip. Lunch, with beer, in the local pub was rather nice too!

Stanier Black Five 45428. Our loco on the day.

Goathland village.

Rush hour in Goathland village.

Lynda, being a tourist!

The local garage!

Enjoying an ice cream.

Just up the road from Pickering we came across the pretty little village of Thornton-le-Dale. This was only a brief visit but it was a very nice village. There was also a great garage here specialising in the sale of classic/vintage cars. I could have spent a lot of money there!

Thornton-le-Dale cottage.

Lynda and a Thornton-le-Dale cottage.

A rather nice little place, Thornton-le-Dale.

Thornton-le-Dale cottages.

Mum and the kids enjoying the sun.

The weather on our last visit to Pickering meant that when we took a drive up onto the moors we returned slightly disappointed. The only view we got was of low cloud, mist and rain. It certainly gave us a feel for how hard life could be living up there but it wasn't quiet what we had hoped for. This time we had no such problem! The weather was gorgeous, the views stunning. And the cotton grass was in full flower too - result!

In the middle of nowhere - Levisham Station.

Cotton Grass, up on the moors.

Cotton Grass, up on the moors.

Moorland view.

Moorland view.

Heather up on the moors.

We enjoyed some great days out and about during this holiday but, with such great weather, we kept on returning to one favourite spot... the garden back at the cottage! The picnic table and its umbrella were used day after day. We sat and read, we ate out there, we drank plenty. There was often a Little Owl hunting the fields close by and rabbits running around. We played Boules most evenings. We were even treated to a low-level helicopter flypast! 

Lynda enjoying a bit of shade.

Low level flypast.

Ready for another game.

Game over... time for a drink!

A last night treat!

Thank you, Pickering. We will be back... please order some more great weather for us!