Lee Quarry

‘Last weekend I took the BeOne Nirvana up to Lee Quarry in Bacup, Lancashire. Theres about 8km of trails that have been made up at the quarry, covering XC, DH and trails riders. In short I’m impressed by the quality. The trails stuff looks big (to a man who canna trackstand). The Black (read DH) section is apparently enough to get pulses racing, but I didn’t do it this time out. Come back with my wuss pads!

The red XC loop makes up the majority of the riding, with a nice balanced loop. As usual its up up and away up a wide fire road style climb, the berms, rocks and single track. Some of its quite exposed, there’s some small step downs and some rock garden style stuff. The loop ends on a fun descent with a jump line (nothing big) and some fun single track.

The short lap length means you can do several laps and by riding sections 2 or 3 times you will see improvements in technique. For the beginner it’ll be hard and scary, for the intermediate rider its a great place to develop.

There’s even a race series being organised by BrownBacks here.

All in all worth a look for local riders, and promised further developments at other local quarries could make this a great place to ride. Make a full day of it and hit the Rossendale Dry Ski slope with its freestyle bits as well.

The Little Woody 2008 Race Report

This was my longest distance race this year – equivalent to a half Ironman. Thats:

  • 1.2 Miles Swim (1900m)
  • 56 Miles Bike (90km)
  • 13.2 Mile Run (21.2km, Half Marathon)

The race is held near Chepstow – South Wales / South West England border. The venue is the NDAC (National Diving and Aquatic Centre) which has a nice large, clean quarry for divers making it a great place for an open water swim. The bike leg is a hilly lap of the Forest of Dean and the run was a multi lap affair close to the NDAC. There is also a full Ironman distance race run at the same time – The Big Woody.

I arrived the night before after the usual traffic chaos – even early afternoon the M6 southbound was awful. I made it just in time to rack my bike and get my tent pitched before race briefing. I didn’t take much of this in to be honest – be at the waterside by 7:15am pretty much covered it. After this there was copious pasta for all the competitors so I ate up with a view of the swim and then wandered back down the A48 to my camp-site – nearly getting flattened by an idiot in a landrover – overtaking from behind while I was walking in the gutter. Why do we have roads with no pavements?

The site was basically a farmers field and had no water – though the camping was free which was good. Alas, I had no idea there would be no water, so I ended up walking about 4 miles to and from the local Tescos to stock up. My parents had dropped me off and then gone to stay with relatives – real beds etc. After I got back, I did all the final checks on my kit and packed for the transition area. I had a lot of kit for this – the weather was unsettled so I had a gillet, waterproof, leg warmers etc stashed away just in case. A night of little sleep followed and I was up and about by 0510.

I sorted myself out and wandered back to the transition area, munching my Jaffa Cake stockpile and proceded to sort out my transition. The morning was uneventful and I watched the Big Woody competitors get under way. This also provided the ideal opportunity to scope out the M shaped swim lap.

Nutrition wise I had Jaffa Cakes, a cookie, a red bull and some cheapo isotonic stuff, plus 2 high5 plus gels. Maybe not the best plan but it all went down easily. I chucked my wetsuit on and strolled down to the lake. Its actually over 400m down a steep slope from the transition to the quarry. You just know its going to hurt coming back up! On the pontoon Vince gave a good brief and we were in the water waiting for the start. I seeded myself back a bit as this was my first open water swim and I wanted to take it easy – this was a day for completing, not competing.

The race got underway and it was a quite nice swim – clear water, easy sighting on the large buoys and not too many people (133 on a large course). I didn’t get hit or messed about. Most of the field cruised of into the distance which was fine by me.

I climbed out over the rocks to finish the swim in 34:15 and found my trainers for the run to T1. I ended up walking a lot up the hill just getting back to normal. In T1 I faffed a lot – garmin HR strap on, garmin on, cycling shorts and top on, gloves, helmet, glasses, socks shoes. Total including the run up : 9:50. OUCH!

Out onto the bike leg I was feeling good and ready to get into it. I got a gel down, had a drink and got riding. I caught and passed a few people early on in the undulating A48 section. This was all about short downhills and then back up again for quite a way before we turned off across country.

The first major climb was fine, down into the small ring (triple chainset) and spin spin spin. The course was now into some much smaller roads, complete with mud on the road from the recent farming and I passed a few more here. Into feed station 1 and exchanged a bottle. This was probably where it all started to go wrong – an hour in and I had drank less than 500 ml of fluid. I picked a couple of new gels up as well. The second of the big climbs went on forever. I span up it and kept my HR under control again though. The descent of this was fun – fast flowing stuff done in the full aero tuck… max was 43.5mph.

In feed station 2 I swapped bottles again – probably drank another 400mls at over 2 hrs.

The final climb was actually fun as well! Mostly as I caught and passed quite a few people here. Same plan, 160bpm, small ring, 90 rpm. A triple chainset is clearly the way to go for the less fit cyclist – I would have struggled to keep a normal chainset turning and would have ended up out of the saddle a lot. Another descent and a fast bit back to the NDAC.

3:30 and 92nd of 133 – average HR 156bpm.

T2 – 2:30 and 78th fastest. Much better! I had drank a further 400ml making a total of 1.3 litres in 4+ hours. Not good – it should have been double that, and I should have had more gels as well.

The run started with a fairly random off road section to feed station 1. I had another can of red bull on the way out and then some high 5 at station 1. The run course was 3 laps – out of station 1, left down to station 2 and turnaround, left at the top to station 3, then back to station 2 and then station 1. This was a mess – no Marshall on the critical point and quite a few people got lost early on. I was pointed back to station 1 after 2, and wasn’t corrected until I found the race organiser Trev almost all the way back to station 1. That is 2 or so km extra already.

The course was brutally hilly. I hadn’t trained for this :-) . This is how the run went:
Mile 1: 11:50
Mile 2: 12:02
Mile 3: 12:13
Mile 4: 12:23
Mile 5: 12:34
Mile 6: 12:44
Mile 7: 12:56
Mile 8: 13:08
Mile 9: 13:19
Mile 10: 13:31
Mile 11: 13:44
Mile 12: 13:58
Mile 13: 14:14
Mile 14: 14:27
The last bit: 14:44

As you can see it was slow but OK until about mile 5 which is where the cramps started setting in. At first I would only cramp uphill, and walk a short distance and then run again. by mail 10 I was walking a lot more – all the uphill and after any cramps elsewhere. After mile 13 I lost it totally – and pretty much walked it home. I hit the official distance (half Marathon) with 6:55 on the clock. The last mile and a half added nearly 30 mins on that – I was a bit of a mess and had given up really. I knew I was always going to finish, but not fast.

The end – 7:23

I have never had cramps before on a run. My theory is that I was lacking in hydration and electrolytes. Quite possibly it was salt levels, as my HR was down in the 130-140 bpm range on the slow ending laps – I just couldn’t go faster without cramping. I did half 1/2 a cup of high5 at every feed station plus a banana whilst on the run, but I don’t think I could have made up for the lack of fluids on the bike whatever I had done. Its recommended that you consume 750-1000+ ml per hour of the bike. That would leave me 2 litres of fluid low – and as that was the fluid I was relying on to put the electrolytes back in, you can see where it went wrong.

Thats about it – disappointed in my disaster of a run, but happy that I finished. Bear in mind that in 2005 I was a morbidly obese fool, and I only took up running in January of this year.

Next up is Helvellyn, for which I will be getting through plenty of fluids, gels and making sure my T1 is drastically reduced.

Triathlon Training Catch up

July has been OK – holiday in the middle but I am on track to equal or beat my running totals for June. Need to do another 10k over the weekend and its in the bag.

You can also see that I have not been near a treadmill for a long time :-) . This may change as I need to train for Helvellyn and the treadmill is the only place with long 10% gradients round here. Parbold hill is the best climb I have and that still means driving over for a 100m vertical. Good for the bike but no so much use for running.
It was a late run last night, which saw me running through Ormskirk at 10pm, past a packed styles. It always makes me laugh when I run past a pub and see the surprise on the drinkers faces :-) . Otherwise a slow 12km.
Cycling continues to go well. I am down on mileage this week and being away tomorrow wont help, but a quality 22 miles @ nearly 20mph 2 days ago was good. I backed that up with my weekly 2km swim later. Swimming needs to go up to 2 sessions a week soon as well.

Race wise I have Helvellyn on September 7th. I also have a space in August for a race which looks like being the Little Woody – a half Ironman. This may well be a bad idea but what the hey. You only live once and I really want to complete a full Ironman next year, so this will be a good experience.

300 miles and a good ride

Just broke 300 miles cycling this year – going pretty well. Commuting to work is where I can bag distance (30 miles a day), plus the sudden arrival of summer gives me motivation.

The ride home is slightly down hill, with a tailwind today… Averaged 20mph and maxed out at 35mph :-) . Even made it up one of the slight hils with a 60 second effort to keep rolling at 28mph. Getting more and more done on the aero bars on every ride – can now corner and ride for long periods of time without neck pain.

Next race looks like being the Lancaster Sprint Tri in 3 weeks time.

The North Face Trail Grizedale

Rode the new North Face trail at Grizedale on Saturday, and I am pretty impressed. man made trails of this kind are a bit new to me – I have not been riding in the last 3 or 4 years.

The trail is made up of 10 new single track sections linked by the existing fire road network, and is marked out very well. The waymarkers are pretty obvious and you cannot get lost on the sigle track sections. A nice touch is the care that has been put in on safety – its clear to walkers that they cannot use the singletrack trails and the one way system is a good idea. At several points there are footpaths crossing the single track, but these are well sign posted and have a kind of chicane for walkers to ensure they are paying attention – the way is clear for MTB’ers.

The actual singletrack has it all – rocks, roots, berms, jumps and some quite extensive board walk sections which again are new to me. These allow the trail to go across boggy ground without problems and are a nice challenge – they are narrow in places and contain some small drops and off camber sections etc etc. No problem for an experienced off roader, but I fell off a few times on the more tricky bits. Great fun though.

In the end we did 2 laps of the North Face Trail and enjoyed ourselves immensly. My camera didn’t go on this trip so no piccys :-( .

Grizedale has a good MTB hire centre and plenty of less technical forest roads and bridleways to entertain. Theres also a big high ropes course called Go Ape! that is on the list of things to do soon. For the more sedate people, there is a network of waymarked walks, lots of interesting sculpture in the forest and of course the cafe. Final good thing is the forestry commision charges £2 for 4 hours and £3 for a full day parking – much better than many NT car parks.

There should be some more MTB posts here soon – I have rediscovered the sport / hobby and my bike is fixed up and happy again. The bigesst barrier to riding was my weight, but since august I have lost 60lb (2 bikes!) and I have increased my fitness in the process.