Monday, December 30, 2013

Day 1. No Excuses or... Using the Best Weather.

A carefree attitude to training. When you're stuck, just free your mind, be 11 again and just play at it. decided it is going to be Day 1 of Ironman training today. It's still week -6 of my 20 week plan but with it being such a biggie, I figured I should start adaptation early. Actually I have been at it for a while but when better to say 'no more excuses than New Years week.

Of course the whole idea of Ironman training is to fit it in with every day life and holidays are not made of such things. I would have felt fraudulent going swimming without getting up at 5am. As the morning ploughed on and I occupied myself with the tech phone I just bought to make running, photography and staying in touch easier, I experienced a combination of guilt and justification that Mondays are supposed to be rest days anyway.

I couldn't face cleaning bikes in the torrential rain and howling wind so I satisfied myself with sorting out the tunes for training on the phone. Before I knew what had happened, TSK was back from his walk and I had done nothing. I felt bad.

A day on the sofa is not for active people. I did so little last week I decided to pan the rest day. First hurdle, hunger. I did toast and read my new swim smooth book to get motivated. Whilst I knew toast wasn't a great idea, I wouldn't have made it through the lengthy process that is packing and dressing for a mid winter night time run, never mind finish the run.

Second step was to convince myself that this run has a purpose. After doing a 'cross race yesterday, I didn't think it would be a long run so I resigned myself to training on a stomach full of toast and testing out the breathability of my new coat when it had actually stopped raining. As it is, I left the house at 7pm in the best weather of the day. I took the coat off because I was so warm. The toast was an issue. I had to adjust the heart rate monitor alarm as my body was trying to do too many things at once.

Otherwise I spent the entire evening watching the glistening rocks in the light of my head torch and listening to the Rivelin River churning by in the periphery of the beam. I could not have been happier. I got home at 8.20 pm. Now that's what I call making the most of a bad day.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Staying in and feeling positive vibes

Just for the record, since my last post, my cat got very sick.

Last Monday we had to put him down.  It was very sad since he'd been our first family pet and was still too young to go to sleep.

This is Lenny, helping with bicycle maintenance
On Thursday, my dog was put to sleep.  He hadn't lived with me since 2002 but he was still my dog.  When we visited, he didn't leave my side and when my mum got up in the morning he would come and sit by my bedroom door until I got up.  He was very poorly and of a suitable age to go.  Whilst it wasn't such a great surprise (let's face it, I had already got a hunch this was going to be a shit December), it still made me sad and as I cycled to work on my mountain bike, I could feel him running along the canal bank next to me like he used to when we lived in Altrincham and I balled my eyes out.

How I didn't crash into the water I don't know.

Then followed the two most intense work days of the year.  The annual get-together of our teams followed by a Christmas meal, just when I really wasn't in the mood for celebrating anything.

On Saturday we did Christmas shopping followed by the polo dinner where, despite being the only teatotal vegetarian, I got sick and spent Saturday night throwing up.

On Sunday, instead of doing any of the excercise that I wanted, it was more Christmas shopping.  I wrapped half of the presents before going to Norfolk for work on Monday morning where I was yelled at by the client including more crying and a deep-seated temptation to just leave.  Instead I pulled myself together and got my work done despite everyone's best efforts to the contrary (they didn't want to work late as they had Christmas presents to collect from the post office whilst I pointed out that I still had presents to wrap and get in the post but I'd travelled hundreds of miles instead).

The next day was my 40th birthday.  I had a nice breakfast in the hotel then drove home... well, back to the office to the welcome of cards and presents from my colleagues.  How lovely.

At home, we literally rushed back out to the post office to post those kids pressies and were rewarded with my present from Mother Nature - a harvest moon over the Rivelin Valley.

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I was whisked back out for a beautiful meal at my new favourite veggie cafe before going to watch "The Hobbit" at the cinema.  An amazing evening with TSK which gave me hope for the decade ahead.

On Wednesday morning I went back down into the Rivelin Valley for a run.  It was so nice to be back on my feet but I just couldn't get my heart rate to stay normal and practically shuffled along the flats and walked up all the hill climbs.  Clearly I had picked up the cold that was hammering around the office in Norfolk.

On Thursday I was in denial and persevered with a trip to the pool.  The swim went OK but as soon as I tried to ride my bike my legs suggested that there was nothing there.  I sneezed my way back up the hill and got back to working on the quotation I had to finish by lunchtime from the comfort of my own sofa.

So that has been the end of my 30s and the begining of my 40s.  For days I have had a dull head but I'm tired of being down now and, with my last day of 2013 work being a sickie, I can finally settle in to sit on the sofa, do nothing and think positive thoughts for 2014 through a snotty nose.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Running Baselines - Rivelin

Rivelin valley bottom 28:21.46

Straight up Black Brook 6:10.6
Descent of Black Brook 45:59.14

Rivelin Tops flat 9:42.00
Descent to Hagg Lane 6:57.27

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Week 2, 2014 The start of cold winter road rides.

It's been a lovely day today and I have managed to fit in one lovely ride in between recovering from the week that was and taking my poorly cat to the vet.

The week that was took place in Norfolk and involved a lot of 5am starts for swimming, running, turbo and getting to site on time.  It was a tough one.

After last week's dismal cyclo-cross race I thought I'd better up my game on the bike pretty sharpish for Ironman training so I set out to do the 30km ride that I had programmed in last year.  This year though I set off to throw hills at it too and in the same vein as last week, I decided to use the opportunity to benchmark the occasional hillclimb.  Not that it will take much beating since I went out on an old block and the chain kept jumping every time I stood on the pedals.

With sunsets to die for it was the kind of day that will cheer me up for the rest of the week ahead.


My performance wasn't that cheery though.  I wonder where all the bike fitness has gone.  It seems down the toilet in the past few weeks.  Still, starting, that's the main thing right?

Rivelin to Strines - 40:10
Bamford to Stanage - 32:51

Monday, November 25, 2013

Whinlatter Duathlon Race Report


Suddenly daunted in the carpark by the sheer numbers of people here.  I'd had a lovely weekend until now - just me and Mr Rodgers and the chickens at the campsite.



The little boy made me laugh, telling me that his dad was chasing a chicken because he wanted to "Feel what a chicken felt like".  I was trying to pack my car!  Not roll around in the icy grass laughing my head off at the thought of a grown man with a family trying to "feel a chicken".

Those were our only race neighbours on the Lane Foot campsite.  Now all these other people were here at registration.  I picked up my number 160-odd and got my free buff and Sportident dibber (old skool).

Back at the car, I'd locked Mr Rodgers in and the alarm was going off.  Sadly embarrased, poor love.  I released him and he set about fixing my bike together whilst I made warming joggy motions.

I racked my bike and vaguely said hello to some friends of Ms C.  Really I could've paid more attention but I just wasn't expecting anyone to say, "hi Trep", today.

Next surprise was a team mate from Norton Wheelers showing up, all out of context.  We had a hug and debated what the hell we were doing.  I never had Owen down as a runner and I now felt a bit of a numpty in my bright white Sheffield Tri jersey.

Finally racked in amongst chaos of mountain bikes which slid down the icy racking, posed on a slope, I stood through the race briefing then we all walked and slid over to the start-line, walking on the grass to avoid the icy tarmac.  Racers were about 10 wide across the track and stretched back down the mountain trail about 150m.  The uphill start soon thinned us out at the back and I had a few exchanges with a lady who breathed as hard as I do before I finally got ahead of her on a narrow, steep climb through the woods.

What am I saying?  The narrow, steep climbs through the woods just kept coming.  Finally they got boggy and I just kept going, embracing the cold water as a way to cool down my legs whilst others picked their way around the bog.  I dropped many and only a few came past me.  Perhaps fleecy leggings weren't such a bad call after-all.

I find it amazing in sport that sometimes someone can come flying past and there's nothing you can do to respond.  Other times, other more pleasurable times, they make you lift your game and you stick with them... then you chat for a bit and then you just keep going.  This is what happened with Sarah Waldon from Sale Harriers.  Being from the neighbouring town of Altrincham, I had to keep going when she came by me and despite having a shoe-lace moment, I managed to stick it out into transition, come in two places behind her and wave good bye on the bike.

From Transition, the mountain bike route threw me straight downhill onto some lovely wide burmy trails which allowed me to find my bike legs quite spectacularly.  All except for one downhill shreadder, I kept my position before having to concentrate on the UP!

I felt like I reeled in more people than passed me.  Two chaps stuck with me most of the way round as they seemed to be waiting for eachother and I was slower on the downhills and faster on the up.  I hit speeds of 20 mph on the straights, all before the course started to zig zag back and forth back up the steep side of the hills.  This bit I found really frustrating as non-cross-country riders tried to scoosh their bikes around icy hairpin bends, still with one foot clipped into the pedal.  After about the fifth time of queing politely, I finally bit the bullet and ran around three people.  Forced to take the less obvious line, I found myself doing a collaboration of bunny-hopping (on foot), sliding and ski-ing IN CLEATS across icy rock.  Somehow, both myself and EmVee managed to stay upright and were spat out the bottom of the small cliff in one piece... only to find that the people I'd just passed were all accomplished downhillers... and locals... and now I was in their way.

Thankfully that meant I had someone to follow as I'd never ridden this arduous route before and BOY! was it tough in the ice.  I entrusted my life to EmVee on many occasions and she rose to the challenge, steering me through the scariest of drop-offs and bouncing around boulders and tree roots without a whimper - more than could be said for her rider.



By the time I got to the final section of the bike course, I discovered that my heroics on the downhill had taken their toll much more than any aerobic workout and I slumped into tackling the uphills in the lowest gears known to man.  At one point my brain started to doubt my situation after I'd watched riders travelling the opposite way disappear and gradually finding I was alone in a very dark and empty woodland... that is except for the faithful souls following behind me.  I looked around for a marker tape but there were none to be seen.

"Are we going the right way?" I called to the fella behind.  The evidence of his scouse accent indicated he didn't know either.  Down and down the trail.  No point in going slow to find out you're lost, best get it over with, brakes off.  Finally, the sigh of relief when a scrap of red and white tape appeared, tied to a tree.  Then it doesn't really help that your re-ascent of the hill is legit... you've still got to get back up the hill.

The sting in the tail came as I met the runners on their way down to the finish - an entire discipline ahead of me.  At this point, the route flies off the side of the forest track in a (seemingly) near vertical cliff face where TSK had stationed himself to flaunt his belly at me and laugh at duathletes trying to cope with the sense of impending doom that comes from hitting a near vertical cliff at high speed on a two-wheeled vehicle.  I told him he'd caught me at my darkest hour as my face contorted to cope with the balance and braking necessary to stay alive and not wash out.

He said he'd seen worse.

The final stages were a range of obstacles - wooden sculpted bridges and raised trails which have scared the living daylights out of me ever since I plunged a full - sus bike off one at the bike show in London 8 years ago and it bucked me off like a pissed-off pony.  My brain was gone and it was all wrong.  I nursed the bike slowly over what I dared and if I couldn't see it, I ran it.  Finally I was spat out into transition & for once, was relieved to leave the bike behind.

A quick switch into soggy shoes which hadn't had chance to re-freeze, thank god, and I was away.  Nothing left.  After the first open trail I started to trudge and we mostly all reverted to a walk.  Others in front of me sped up from time to time but every time I tried, there was nothing left so I walked but it didn't matter. The sun was shining and there was snow all around.

I was glad of my cap to keep the sun out of my eyes and I was surrounded by the aural onslaught of ice and snow melting from the tree branches, disturbed by the occasional breeze.  After 24 minutes of climbing I reached the summit and paused for a moment, turning in all directions to ingest the view.




Then I plunged down the slopes, not too slippery as the sleet had begun to turn into slush and my shoes gripped.

To my amazement, I caught up a couple of people again on the descent.  This Dark Peaker CAN freefall!  The last few hundred metres flatten out just enough to force you to turn the legs but I was in and tried to stop myself on the marshal as I dibbed in for the final time to an exhausted hug with my patient husband and post-race analysis with a very snuggly wrapped Owen who had been finished for ages.

In short: Whinlatter offroad duathlon highly recommended for anyone with an apetite for mud, impressive scenery tough fell running and gnarly mountain bike trails.  If you don't like map reading, that's fine.  The course is really well marked.  The sportident timing was a bit useless, relying on the competitor being "withit" enough to find a marshal to dib in / out which in my case didn't happen on T2.  However, the organisation promised to resolve this and the deficiency in bike racking for next time.

Stats:
Run 1 - 4.3 mile 178m climb - 51 min
Bike - 10 mile 518m climb - 1 hr 48 min
Run 2 - 3 mile 213m climb - 44 min
Overall 3 hr 38 min

Photos purchased from and courtesy of Sportsunday.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ironman Psychology

When people asked me if I'd do another Ironman I used to say, "in a shot but not next year, I need time to let my life settle down again first".  Well, I broke that promise last week.

So why have I entered another so soon?  Well, it's a combination of things - realising just how much residual fitness I have retained from Forestman, in spite of the three months downtime afterwards.  Also, finding that no other goal will do.

I tried stepping up training for the 3 Peaks this year, then again for the national 'cross champs in January but neither gave me quite the incentive to train that Ironman has.

Today I have managed to bring myself away from the computer (indulging in shopping for bikes on line) and have stumbled across some old reports of Susanne Buckenlei, previous winner of Norseman triathlon and finally, a female triathlete I can actually have a girl-crush on.

Not that I have any intention of winning Celtman or even being first female, but if I can't win it, I am damn well going to finish it and it will be amazing.

When I'm there I don't want to find myself wishing I'd done one more training session.

I tried to do some race planning today for the season but it's been unproductive due to in-affordable bike shopping and setting up the anti-virus on the TV computer.  Not exactly athletic stuff, especially as I don't need the bike until the spring.

What got me away from it?  Reading about Susanne and changing my thought process over to going out for that run and using the beautiful day to baseline a hill climb that's close enough to the house to be quite repeatable and enjoyable at the same time.  For now it's a long run but in future weeks it will morph into my short Wednesday morning runs.

I've swum twice this week and really enjoyed both.  The second session left me a bit exhausted but it's all part of the acclimatisation and re-programming process.  What matters is that I'm interested in swimming again - even at the pool!

Outside of exercise, I'm prioritising more looking after the house and myself time and less 'pooter time.  More time playing with the cat.

On a beautiful sunny day like today, it's easy to recall all the beauty of life and not worry or wonder why you worry about the small stuff.  Easy to get off the couch, not get stuck.  I hope I can look back on this first positivity post during my dark days of exhaustion and remember that.

Baseline hillclimb Black Brook to Moorbank Road RV Trail: 6:33.8

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 1 - RESTART THE STOP WATCH!

Ah the good old days...
When meeting your ironman training targets is oh soooo easy

A 1 mile swim with 4 short sprints & bike sprints I can throw off on my commute home from work.

Bring on the tough stuff.

I did think about starting my cold shower training therapy at the pool today but decided that there were enough good excuses in the form of: having been ill with a tummy bug, it being -1 degrees outside, cycling to work with wet hair after a cold shower = no good.  I had a less-than-full-heat shower which gradually crept back up to full heat as time went by.  Well, I did manage to get all the way down the draughty corridor without my towel around my shoulders and without running.

Lunchtime saw me book my accommodation - which is a relief as everywhere seemed to be getting filled up rather quickly... or out of our price range.

My ride home was done "with vigour" though I suspect this is more to do with the cold than any training motivation left with my by the end of the day.

I am suitably tired but ready for tomorrow's 3 mile run. Ahhh.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Celtman 2014

This is my last bit of indulgence, pure indulgence before all hell is set loose on my life.

No race entry confirmation has ever brought me such joy and such horror all at the same time.

The eloquence that I was anticipating for this post is all but gone after I spent many hours awake / semi-concious in the night getting excited, fearing and - ironically - thinking of what to post about today.

I have had a confirmed entry for the Celtman Extreme Scottish Triathlon, an Iron-distance event which comprises: a sea 3.5km swim in Scottish loch Sheildaig in June, a 202km bike ride with 2000m of climbing and a marathon which takes in 2 summits of Ben Eighe... at the end.  For the run I must be supported by a runner to make sure I stay on-route & don't die.

Last night's brain was both excited and terrified at the prospect.  At 3 am it almost thought it had a say in the matter & was trying to decide whether to accept the entry or not!

In the cold light of day with full commitment, I am still excited and terrified.

Technically, training starts tomorrow though it is unlikely that I will be able to help myself today.

(c) Colin Henderson

Friday, November 08, 2013

Run tenuous but done

Yesterday's run was a utility run combining the two chores of reminding myself how to bounce from foot to foot and shopping for the right tools to repair my mtb after I overstretched the capabilities of the brake lever in the car last week.

Less than 5k and I walked the flattish hillock back to the office.

Hard week?  I think so but mtb fixed ready for a sunny race day on Sunday.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Back in the Pond

Finally made it back to the pool this morning.  In contrast to usual post-break slopping about for 40 laps then leaving exhausted, I churned out 58 lengths without thinking about it.  It was slow - 34 minutes - but no problems with endurance.

That secured my decision to enter yet another long race and spent the rest of the day a little bit excited.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Running glee

I ran to work on Monday (yesterday).  17 hours after I finished a really hard cyclo-cross race & I aced it.

OK it was just a flat run to work (except for the big downhill at the beginning) but it was 8.59 miles and I've only ever ran a long run faster twice - those runs were both at the height of my ironman training last year - at Pentre Halcyn in Wales and a run home from work where I tagged-on a jog in the Rivelin Valley once I got in (oh crazy days!)

The fact that I have achieved this makes me extremely happy but it comes at a cost to my legs which are now complaining bitterly of my neglect for their well-being.  I think I will need to go and consume a glass of medicinal red wine.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

3 Peaks 2013 (28th September) ride report

The night before the 3 Peaks is often one of my favourite camping trips of the year, not only is there a beautiful location but I am also surrounded (literally) by friends
This year was no exception as we arrived in the sunshine and I went out for a run whilst TSK thrashed his bike up and down the same road in the start of his furious Monsal Hill Climb training.

We eventually closed the doors on the corral campers at about 6:30 in favour of food and warmth over light conversation.

8 hours later we were awake for registration and porridge and last-minute faffing before the start and the start was its usual mix of chatting with friends, strangers and... turning around your front wheel.  We applauded those lost in their training for the 3 Peaks this year.  One man killed by a vehicle, another who fell whilst mountain biking in the Alps and away we went.  Andrew told me that dad had started right at the back so there was little point in me looking for him or waiting so I rushed off with everyone else, gradually slipping back through the ranks until we got to the bottom of Ingleborough.

There were still too many people around me though.  I slipped around behind slower riders when I normally would have ridden over obstacles in one go.  I felt tired as I started to walk and knew I wouldn't be on for a particularly fast time.  Still, the calf muscles felt OK going up Simon Fell.  There didn't seem to be many people around and I really couldn't figure out if it was a quiet year after last year' biblical weather; if I'd been extra slow on the bike or if I was ahead of the usual rush.  There didn't seem to be many behind me either though so I supposed I was just having a bad day.

At the top of Ingleborough I started to ride past slower riders with less bike handling experience, eventually settling in behind someone from Matlock who I knew would be OK.  Usual assistance provided to ladies travelling sideways on the top, using their bikes as a parachute rather than a sail.  At least the summit was rideable this year.

The descent felt kind of tough though and my legs started to cramp up on the way down.  I took on board large amounts of food and drink and headed on to Whernside, stuffing food in my face as I went.  I still hadn't had enough water and my leg cramps continued.  I stopped for a hug from Po before leaving the road then drank 3 cups of water at the bottom of the climb, explaining to the marshals that I was suffering from a chronic case of what we call, "Going out too fast".

The steep climb of Whernside was was long and hard but I just kept my head down and carried on going at the same speed all the way.

The wind got tougher and tougher and by the time I reached the ridge I could hardly stand, never mind ride my bike.  I tried and perfected riding along the edge of the footpath at around 20 degrees to vertical.  I leaned all my weight on the wind and prayed that it wouldn't drop and send me hurtling over the edge.  My prayers were answered until one extreme gust blew my front wheel (consider: with me still on it!) from underneath me.  Fortunately it only lifted a couple of inches before I managed to crash it back down to the ground - thankfully not onto a sharp rock.

When I had to get off to walk the steepest and rockiest sections I was fighting the wind every step.  My brain saying, "you shouldn't be working this hard just to stay upright".  I could feel the pain of exertion in my hips and in my ankles.  An extra hard gust blew me sideways again.  This time I struggled not to fall over my own feet and to make sure that my feet didn't land on or twist over any rocks.  I didn't dare hop from rock to rock for fear of being blown as far as Sellafield so I stumbled unceremoniously, stamping my feet down wherever there was clear space.

Deciding it was all a fucking joke, I chose to walk next to the stone wall - applying the engineering principles of boundary layer technology, in the ditch next to the path.  This ditch is around 8-10 inches deep and sometimes completely full of water.  Thankfully, given the summer we've had, it was empty and my feet stayed dry and relatively upright from thereon.  I later realised that not one single person had escaped being blown about on Ingleborough though I like to think that at 59kgs and 5'11" I had it harder than anyone.  I checked in at the top and started my tentative descent back down the hill - engaging my previous technique of riding sideways on the edge of the cliff.

I did the best I could to avoid both boulders and pedestrians - one of whom glared at me furiously as I was blown sideways towards him at 30 mph, clutching the brakes.  Thankfully we didn't engage anything more dangerous than an angry stare.

Maddie from Tod came hurtling past me, happy to be on the make after I'd caught her in the middle of two mechanical failures.  She promptly went over the handlebars and hit a rock.  Me and the chap alongside checked she was OK.  She seemed happy enough so we continued on, only later to find her at the fnish line, retired and in a sling.

The descent of Whernside was easy this year as the limestone steps were relatively dry and my mountain biking summer had given me a bit more enthusiasm for bridging drainage gaps.  When I did walk over one I got the heel cup of my shoe caught in it and my bike and I kept moving.  Thankfully the heel released before any Achilles related mishaps but it was a close-thing involving a lot of swearing and "Gah!!!". When I could I dived off the path and rode on the grass, doing battle with fell runners who were just as quick on foot.  When I asked if one was a fell runner he responded, "I'm not even sure if I'm human right now".

The bottom of the descent was as uneventful as it could be without any Alice in Wonderland mishaps (a few years ago I did fall down a rabbit hole - overstretching and cramping both calf muscles at once).


I reappeared with shaky panache at the bottom of Whernside feeling refreshed for the large liquid intake on the other side but restocking on Soya milk and the last energy bars to be sure.  I switched bikes, just to get the lower gears on Red because I knew I'd never make it up Nemesis hill (a short, sharp road climb) without a 30 tooth sprocket.  My ploy for riding a higher gear in races to build my strength did not apply to 5 hour long events.

I was surrounded by encouragement on the road section to Pen-Y-Ghent and two of us resorted to riding together - at least as far as nemesis hill.  All others passed me by with shouts of, "Come on, we've got to make the cut off".

I arrived at 1:50, with only 10 minutes to spare to cut off.  By the long corner, my legs had had it for riding and I got off and walked about 400m earlier than last time.  Far from being disappointing, this meant I could enjoy the encouragement from spectating Norton Wheelers and my team mates coming back down the hill, over an hour ahead of me.

I was surrounded by other walkers and gradually picked them off.  My marathon legs were clearly still managing something.

I checked with a descender to find out what the wind was like on the top.  "Not as bad as the others" he shouted over the roar.  "You're very kind" I said, not quite believing him but he was right and at least I was able to walk upright.

I checked in at the summit then stopped when I had turned around to add the windproof layer for the descent.  It's become a bit of a ritual for me.  By protecting the body from the cold, you protect the brain from the fuck up.  I picked my way across the hillside, open and grassy, way above where the walkers are taking the easiest line up through the rocks.

Somehow I managed to get myself very high up on a grassy bank and did have to make some quite impressive bike dumping manoeuvre to prevent myself from doing a 10 ft tumble head first but to be honest I can't remember the detail. No matter how inelegant, I just remember being chuffed I was still in one piece.

Gradually the riders coming up the hill became fewer and far between until there were no more.  My heart sank as I realised that my dad had DNF'd again.  I really didn't think he was that far behind me although I hadn't seen him all day either.  I was glad of the new surface on the path down Pen-Y-Ghent which rendered the descent 5 minutes faster than in previous years.  All the more frustrating that Pa hadn't made it onto the hill.

The crowds were still cheering when I came back down and TSK shouted, "your dad's quit" as I went past.  I didn't mind, I was too busy trying to shove an entire slab of Kendal Mint Cake into my mouth to get me up the last two climbs without cramping.

It didn't work and as I heard someone come up along side me I sprinted through cramp to try and make the pain be stop sooner, in favour of less pain for longer.  After that I pretty much resigned myself to free-wheeling the last 4 miles to the finish although thankfully the cramp released after half a mile and I was able to pedal again.  There was no racing for the finish line this year, just glad to be down alive.

When I got my result I wasn't very happy with it but then I realised later I managed 5:54 on a year where it was intensely windy.  My best result in 3 years and best result since I've been doing long events in Triathlon through the summer, or maybe I should quantify that with "since I have had a life-changing event every single summer for 3 years".

Detail:
Ingleborough: 1:15:44 - my second fastest ascent since timing chips were brought in. (see previous comments about going off too fast)
Cold Coates (descent & flat) 23:22
Whernside 1:27:11 - third fastest since timing chips introduced
Ribblehead descent: 42:26 Despite impressions on the day - pretty slow
Pen-Y-Ghent top: 1:29:20 Where things went pear-shaped
Finish: 35:50 Third fastest time - though given the 5 minutes this took off my time in the last two years, I suggest I need a lobotomy to be able to descend PYG at the speed of my golden days sub5.5hr PBs.

Looking forwards to the next one already.

Lessons learned:
Pacing to the end
Don't fall asleep on the descents and think they're surprisingly easy.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Milford Haven to Seascale

On Monday night I went to see Ned Boulting talk at the Showroom cinema in Sheffield.  We left at around 8:30 then I headed home to pickup my passport for my site visit on Wednesday and I drove down to Newport in South Wales.  This took me until midnight at which point I spent around 1 hour faffing and trying to wind down from the drive, getting to sleep about 1:30am.

On Tuesday morning I left the hotel at 8 to get to Milford Haven for 10:50 to allow myself enough time for a site induction.  I arrived in town 45 minutes early then my head shut down and I spent the next 50 minutes making myself late.

After my meeting I started the long drive to Seascale to attend my Wednesday site visit.

The meeting didn't finish until 3pm so I had to eat lunch and dinner on the road.  I damn well decided to take some of my life back and stopped for a short run on the North Pembrokeshire coastline where it was pretty windy and I could only just see the sea.



I didn't feel like running at all on account of the raging headache and intense breeze but run I did - to a certain extent.  I didn't manage to run over to the very tempting crag on the other side of the valley but I promised I would visit it next time and ran around my particular hillock instead.  With all of these things, the trip back to the car is always shorter as you know where you are.





Despite the howling wind, it was pretty warm and I stood around next to the car luxuriating in the warm breeze and sitting out on the still-hot engine of the audi wishing I'd packed coffee before retreating inside to change out of my wet shoes and hit the road again.

The drive North from then was pretty depressing - especially when it got so dark I couldn't see what was going on around me.  I just concentrated on the traffic and drove until I needed more fuel then drove some more until I reached Lymm truckstop - last refuge before the M6.  At least I didn't need to worry about the sweaty runner look.

3 hours later and I checked into my hotel at Seascale complete with sea-view (well I can hear the ocean and I understand it is located on the other side of the road from my darkened hotel window).  It's still midnight by the time I've showered and gone to bed.



Morning comes and I am exhausted.  So exhausted that I turn my early morning run alarm off in my sleep and instead get up at 10-to-breakfast time.

I eat breakfast with my colleague. 

I go to site and discuss projects and measurements and I say reassuring things.   As the meeting draws to a close, I am starting to wish everyone would be quiet because I don't want anyone to say anything important because there's a high likelihood that my tired brain will miss it.  I escape unscathed, have my second 3pm lunch in as many days  which I eat watching 2ft waves crash into the sea wall, thinking about the Whitehaven killings as the stark memory of the police cars lined outside the caf where I'm eating my lunch comes to mind.  There's now a memorial in the park to all the lives which Derrek Bird stole from the villages in 2010.

I slink off back to my hotel, which I've checked into for another night and attempt to sleep-off 2 days of long driving evenings  in 1.5 hours.  I wake up groggy but have to get outside and do some exercise.  It's a day for the gym really, with the wind blowing so hard but nature's gym will have to do today so I set off on the bike after much faffing with bikes and clothing and my new light.



It's tricky staying upright but I hide behind sheep and undergrowth and I get 20 minutes of riding in  before the light goes on.  I've ridden out of the village and set off down a trail through a farmyard, field and along track.  I can see the iconic image of site on the horizon but unfortunately it's a bit too dark for the camera to capture it clearly.


We cross a hay field diagonally which is odd because the hay has been mown down to stubs which are just long enough to skim the bottoms of my cycling shoes every time my foot reaches the bottom of its stroke.  I can also hear the tyres crushing the stems as I ride in a steady rhythm of the tillered rows.  The lake district is tucking itself in under a cloudy duvet beyond.


My path stops at a meeting of the ways… and none of the ways are passable.  They're all massively puddled (not in the mood for wet feet), consist mainly of mown brambles or are made up of chossy grass-covered rock lumps which stop me with every pedal rev.  I give up and retreat to try another route. 

I ride along a bridlepath towards the coast line in the hope of picking up a trail which passes along boundary of open access.

I am riding alongside the Drigg storage facility and get the feeling I am being watched by some uniformed fellows in charge of CCTV somewhere.  I think of taking a picture of the "nuclear facility" signs but think better of it and ride straight through to the beach, just in time to see the last embers of sunset.

The expected tracks don't appear and I'm not for picking my way across the heathland in what is now quite serious darkness, no matter how strong my new lights are.

I've not been out for long and the hardest part of my ride was opening gates.  The most rewarding was this view and the most benefit I got from it was finding out how bright my new lights are.


I decided to call it quits at 7:30 and went for dinner.  Sometimes when you start work in a new area it's just about finding your way around, discovering which bridleways are good to use… and this case, which to avoid.  Tomorrow: the other end of the village.

Afterblog: In the morning, sleep and diligence got the better of me (initially) but since it was *such* a nice day, I had to stop and do this little run before I hit the M6.





Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Wirksworth Undulator

Lest we forget what happens when you stop training

Such was my enthusiasm to start fell running again, the last thing I did before leaving for the Wirksworth Undulator was to jog down the hill to post a new dark peak membership form through the membership sec's front door.  A tidy pile of running shoes sat on the front doorstep, welcoming me, though I wanted to get away to the race so I didn't ring the doorbell.

I ended up parked a little way away from the start of the race.  Eager to get signed on, I threw on my last few clothes, including the coveted brown vest and ran up the hill to register.  It did feel good - if not slightly cheeky - to write DPFR on the entry form.

Despite the panicky drive over, I was early so I ran back to the car to swap the kit bumbag for a rucsac before returning to the quarry and the start line where it was far too warm so I parred down to just the vest and prepared to set off.  Also prepared to put my long sleeved top back on once we got out of the hot cauldron of the quarry bed.

My new team mates pottered over for a chat.  Pretty kind on account of me having only re-joined 2 hours ago.  As the organiser called all runners to the start line there was a gradual progression of people away from the start line.  Keen to get away from the mele rather than get involved in it.  No triathlon ego's here!

The organiser pointed out the key hazards of the race: nettles, livestock, a slippery bridge.  He then asked us all to hand our numbers back as they were to be used in an artwork by one of the club's runners who wanted to paint a picture of the event.  Someone joked, "I know I'm slow but I've never been painted before at a race!"

The Klaxon went and we all rushed off then stopped, then walked, then ran a bit more, then walked a bit. Indeed we had avoided the mele.  The course went straight up out of the quarry before relenting after a small railway tunnel under the quarry access road.  Then we were out onto open land though a thick fog blanketed the hillside making it impossible to see much more than the runners in front.

A few people passed me when I stopped to tie my shoelaces (it has been too long) and I wasted a bit too much energy trying to catch them back.  I chatted to a guy who had come to race this event a second time so that he could see the scenery.  It wasn't working out for him.

I checked my watch at 25 minutes and concluded I must have another 35 to go.  I could've been more wrong but it certainly wasn't the best estimate.  I felt OK so I kept pushing and caught up another runner.  This time she stayed with me.  We summitted Carsington hill together and started the drop-off towards the factory where I threw myself over the edge and gained a bit of time but not much.  I checked the garmin.  I'd only run 5km, not as far as I thought.

As we dropped onto the Middlewood Way, my legs turned to jelly and I just couldn't cope with the flat running.  I thought of my ironman run and for a moment sped up a little but it wasn't long before pain started to creep in and I had to back off.  I suddenly felt quite claustrophobic with the railway embankments on each side and the wall of grey at the end.  As we turned off the way, the lady behind me passed me back.

Still there was nothing in the gloom but a couple of DofE parties having a slightly miserable time of it and the occasional passing dog walker.  We ran to the bottom of the grassy hill to be greeted by a marshal telling me to run down the road.  By now my legs already weren't talking to me except for the occasional exclamation of pain in the form of a cramping calf or hip extensor.  I really wished I'd worn my insoles.

Finally we turned off the road again and in an attempt at reassurance, the marshal said, "Only another 2 miles to go"!!!!

Agh!

They were a lovely two miles - I have to admit.  The cloud lifted and we ran across ridings, dodging the sink holes & the cow pats.  My companions started to leave me behind.  They seemed to be walking a lot quicker than me - despite my occasional running.  We climbed up and up and up.  I knew I'd enjoy this afterwards.  I knew I'd have the best feeling this evening.  

I reached the last quarry road, desperately pittying anyone who was still out there and hoping they weren't feeling as exhausted as me.  I was also very much hoping I wasn't last but starting to think I was since I every time I looked back, I couldn't see anyone behind me.

The quarry was cruel.  I knew I was nearly back and yet the quarry road dropped right down into the basin of the old quarry before turning back up to climb out the other side.  The down hill hurt more than the up but of course the up was followed by yet another down hill to the finish line.  This descent was even more cruel than the first on account of the crowd of people at the bottom patiently waiting for us old farts to return to base.  I felt like I was being watched all the way down the hill as I winced with every knee movement and finally hobbled over the line in 1:38:04, slinking off to drink water and chat to the eventual winner who was now fully dressed and ready for the prize presentation.

The organiser announced over the tannoy we were waiting for two more finishers before doing the prize presentation to a very unsportsman-like, "Yesss, not last" from me.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bolloks!

So *meant* to go running when I got in tonight.  Thought of it all the way home.

Got in, got straight in the shower then thought, "bollocks".

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Going back to running.

It's only 4 months since I ran a marathon distance yet I can't find the motivation to run again.

I've been out for a few runs since - possibly one or two a month - and I enjoy them when I do them.  I want to go running and have regularly taken my running kit all over the place with me... but when it actually comes to putting the shoes on and placing one foot in front of the other, I haven't run since the 28th September, the evening before the 3 Peaks.

When I sit here on the sofa, I really want to go for a run but my dinner is heavy in my belly and it's dark outside.  It's 9:30 pm and really, I'd be better off in bed.

Maybe tomorrow I'll find my way home.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Poor Progress

1 week and 24 hours ago I gave myself 4 weeks to get fit enough to go out training with my team without embarrassing myself.

1 week and 1 hour ago I crashed and wrote-off the rest of last week.

I managed:

Monday - Sod all
Tuesday - a 36 minute ride to work and a 1:51 ride home at a bit of a leisurely pace taking in the bike polo course and chips on the way.
Wednesday - A trip to the Sheffield Tri Club committee meeting on my moutain bike and home again - total 36 minutes again
Thursday - A 1:25 long ride to work taking in 327m of climbing (150m of this were in one go).  It took me 44 minutes to come straight home but then last week (straight after the 3 Peaks) it was taking me 49 minutes.
Friday - Took the tourer for the first time in the wind and going over potholes with my still-bruised shoulder took me 41 minutes to get in and 55 minutes to get home - though I was carrying the behemoth laptop.

On Saturday I started with a rest day and trying to decide whether or not to do the 13.5mile Windgather fell race.  I end up galavanting around town then doing a ton of stuff on the house and being quite tired-out actually.

By 4 am I have made my mind up that I will definitely do the fell race but then I'm so excited I can't get back to sleep and end up sleeping-in in the morning.

Today I get up and find that Cat Faux is world age group Champ.  I feel measly.

Question is, do I reset the clock on my 4-week limit or leave myself 3 weeks to haul-ass up to some sort of fitness level?

I think that only turbo will tell.Rollering in a new house... absolutely terrifying but found a new spot eventually, lost my head in the music and ended up mashing the pedals like never before. Satisfying.


Friday, October 11, 2013

You know you've had a good ride to work when:
- the hill is so steep you have to turn your light on incase drivers behind can't see you into the sun
- you find yourself on "that road" you use when the A57 or the Woodhead road is closed... on your way to Manchester.
- you have to turn to the compass screen on your Garmin to navigate to work
- you feel relieved that the traffic lights give you a clear run at that pinch-point over the old railway bridge
- you ride 4 miles with one foot out of the pedals incase you "fall off the edge".

Yesterday was a good day.


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Crash test dummy

So today I was supposed to be training.  The first day of training for the next 14 weeks leading up to the cyclo-cross nationals and the first day of a 4 week programme where I have promised myself I will get out on the road with my club again (and not be a complete embarrassment).

Instead I am creeping around the house like a half-crushed insect having crashed phoenix sideways into the ground at Temple Newsam this weekend.

My first lap time was 12 minutes when I crashed, my second, 10:20, 10:36 when I decided to stop and pick up my Garmin off phoenix who was lying in the pits and then finally 10:04 and 10:17 when I actually got moving.  I still wouldn't be able to beat my arch rival with those times (although she didn't do the 3 Peaks) so I really want to get back on my bike.

At least I managed to find a comfortable position to sleep in last night and am feeling better.  I probably shouldn't but I really am toying with the idea of riding to work today... just to get moving again you understand.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Winter 2013-4 begins in earnest

I have been delaying the start of full on cyclo-cross training until after the 3 Peaks & after recovery.  I closed it all off with a massage last night during which Jackie pummelled the side of my back that had been subjected to bike-carrying and windy gusts last week.

I should do a pre-race run today but I really have to clean my bike first.  Not sure I'm gonna make it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Finding Peace and Inner Balance

Started the day in Tveit near Valle burried in our blankets.  The mountains were in the same mood, blanketed with a  thick fog which didn't lift whilst we ate our breakfast.

We headed into Valle to do the day's shopping in the co-op which had a small bike shop attached.  Andrew found the tourist info which had a knitting shop attached and doubled-up as a hairdressers.  We visited the jewellery store which was very tempting but I didn't.

After a little deliberation around the tourist info-guide that we picked up for the valley, we headed south, stopping off at Bygfjord museum (closed) to eat our lunch, goggle at the glass-blowers and have a swim in the lake which was much more fun than expected.  TSK got in up to his neck once and I swam  about a bit before resolutely heading to shore.

We stopped at Ose for a nosey at the knitting museum and a chat to the owner then continued to Evsjad, passing my intended mountain bike trails along the way.  With every intention of returning to them.  Town looked more like a town and less like a gaggle of multi-purpose buildings so we continued to the campsite.  Three campsites later and we found just what we were looking for.  Lake shore, 150 per night and plush facilities.

We hunkered down on the beach in the sunshine and I left Andrew to read his book whilst I got the slackline out, had a swim and then went out on my mountain bike. 


Again I found myself relieved that I was wearing a distinct (and peaceful "Canada") cycling jersey as I cycled past the Norwegian Army doing practise fire with live munitions.  I randomly hurled myself down fire-roads and over a few mountain trails (which petered out) until I finally took another circuit through Evsjed.  At the end I followed signposts to some historic sights.  One of which turned out to be the path to mine workings.  I followed a water-wheel sign but it just kept going up at around 1:4 and after the first section of pushing my bike over boulders, only to find myself faced with another 1:4 slope I decided to give it a miss.

The ride back down was fun though.  All the way out of town, ducking and diving across the bike lanes along highway 9, I ended up at the public works yard and had to retrace my steps.  I finally got back to Andrew 1.5 hours and 25km later. 


We had dinner and a glass of wine and I discovered that slack-lining is a lot easier after a glass of wine.  I also discovered the technique to get me going which is to focus on the single foot balance, only making steps through a series of short transfers from one foot to the other.  Keeping balance on one foot is nigh-on impossible - or maybe it's just me.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Trepid Explorer & TSK 1st Wedding Anniversary 25th August 2013

After long deliberations about Lysboten the night before, we decided to see if the Vanu could make it up the mountainside to get us out of the valley.  The Lysfjord just didn't have enough to offer us at sea level that we could both enjoy on our anniversary.

After much worry, we were awake early, fed and on the road before most Norwegians were out of bed.  The Vanu was fine (if a  little noisy) on the climb but there were no eventful moments.  We didn't even stop at the rest-stop on the way up but pushed on the extra 750m to the traditionally expensive parking lot.

Since we'd actually managed to get there (and put so much effort into doing so) we weren't too phased about paying the 100Kr to park in the official car park for the day.   Besides, we'd saved at the Priekstolen.

We made and packed lunch and headed out with the already amounting crowds.  The only people walking anywhere near as quickly and confidently as ourselves were a group of Norwegian youths who also ambled up at a fair pace.  Tall, blonde and beautiful (three women, two men).  I'm not being big headed, it's just most of the other walkers were people you'd normally see down the park with the (grand)kids on a Saturday, not on a mountainside.  If the 60 degree rock faces were scaring me in my Saucony Peregrine fell-running shoes, I'd hate to think what it was doing to their heads.  At least I could make it without using the fixed chains, though there were times I made sure I walked quite close to the chains in case I did lose my footing. 


When we reached the top of the third steep (scramble) I intimated I would like to stop for lunch soon.  Andrew spotted the perfect place - already taken by the Norwegian youths, they quickly moved on, not wanting, "to be passed by a man who climbs mountains like a French goat-herder" (his words, not mine).

Most people go out for dinner to celebrate their anniversary.  Me, I'm content with a peanut butter sarnie - so long as I'm on a mountain-top.
 The third climb really is the last.  After that, there's a long hike across a lunar landscape.  All lava flows and gritstone shelves as far as the eye can see - except for the 4000ft drops into the Lysfjord of course.  

The identifying features of the Kjerag stone are a chain of people heading in the vague direction.  I'd hate to be up there trying to find it when there's no-one else around.  I don't think there's ever no-one else around though.  There were two tents pitched nearby which were the dead giveaway.  However, it still took us some time to find it was we followed the wrong people from time to time and then finally retraced our steps to join the masses waiting to go out on the rock.


The temptation to paddle and climb snow, all in one walk in August.
First I went, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Ok if you don't look down and don't look at all the other people worrying about going.

Me, blisfully unaware that some bitch is photo bombing me on a slackline behind
I gave the lady in front of me a hand down then got out there, did my thing and ran back again as fast as I could.  TSK was next.  I waited to take his photo - which was more fun - looking at other's expressions as they walked out onto "the rock".




We had our second first anniversary lunch then descended back to base.  I was tiring towards the end - wondering just what the attrition rate is of those who attempt to walk the route and those who don't make it.  It's well marked and easy for us but we saw many unfit people heading out at 3pm wearing nothing but deck-shoes and carrying only a bottle of water.  It was a 4h:16 trip for us in total.

Back at the visitor centre we drank a very expensive cup of machine coffee and looked / took pictures of the road down the mountain - then drove off in the opposite direction, waving goodbye to the Lysfjord, our 200Kr for the night and a quite depressing out-of-season town.







We made the 1 hour drive across country to the next region on our list.   Navigation was easy, driving less so with the average motorist choosing not to stop for the oncoming vanu but merely to squeeze as close to the grass verge as possible.  The biggest laugh of the day was reserved for the woman who gritted her teeth and squinted and pulled in her shoulder blades as she came by as if to try and make her car thinner.

Most places we passed through on the way were disused ski resorts - the same sort of dire atmosphere one gets in Folkestone in November in the UK so we decided against it.  Eventually in the Sandnes region, we found a campsite half way up the valley side which also doubled up as a farming museum. 



There was one other vanu on the site and we were later joined by a Volvo with three lads camping.  It was perfect.  The perfect end to our anniversary day.   Pasta, wine, cliffs, privacy, an ability to clean our teeth together like we have done nearly every day since we've been together and a chill, clear evening huddled under a blanket and sleeping bags with the love of your life.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Driving to the Lysfjord

A little achey from the previous day's exploits, we retraced our tyre tracks to the ferry crossing from the Preikstollen.  Back over the ferry and otherwise an uneventful road, except for finding cheap fuel to get us there.

Finally the turn off for Lysfjord (the other end), complete with the warning signs indicating that the road is 29km long, twisty and don't be stupid with your caravan.  It didn't really sink in that the vanu was so old and unreliable and we'd broken the clutch before so it's probably time for a new one again already. 

The road went up and up for quite some time and gradually became steeper and more twisty.  Just as we were worrying our pretty little heads about the curves on the climb, a utility vehicle came down the hill towards us, its flashy lights flashing & warnings about convoi exceptionel (ok, not italy but that kind of thing) blazened on the front.  "Oh my", we said, "what beast is to become us?"  "What is following you?"

A club run!  A fucking club run!  The ones who weren't fast enough up the climb even got dropped by the support vehicle bringing up the rear!

After hours of toottling about on the plateau with all its lumps and bumps, we finally reached the car park for the Kjerag - the vanu's resting point for the day we leave the valley.

As we passed it, we didn't really have the chance to think twice.  Before we knew it, the road ahead was 200ft below us having already gone through three hairpin turns to get there.  Holy fuck.  This was my Alpe d'Huez.


All I could do was drive it to the best of my ability - making the most of the brakes (cos bits of those are new) and trying my best not to use the clutch too much to slow the engine.  There was a rest stop (finally).  


We pulled in.  My head needed a rest, my feet were hot and needed a rest and the vanu stank of clutch and needed a rest.  We all rested - me with my feet in the waterfall, Andrew foraging for wild raspberries.  I couldn't put it off any longer.  We set off again - same plan.  Finally, there was a sign for a tunnel.  We both breathed a sigh of relief.  That has to be two-way, right?  It's probably straight too, right?

Wrong.

Single track road (with passing places), badly lit, 1:3 and two bends tighter than a right angle… oh, and a double decker bus coming the other way.  I only just had time to adapt my thought patterns to the situation and find a passing place.  Thankfully, the rest of the tunnel was a clear run at least.  No more scary bends and on to the campsite.

The disappointment of the day was the village - no shops open, tourist info shut for the season.  We got bread from the man in the ferry kiosk - that was it.  Four hot-dog style white buns out of the freezer.  We returned to the campsite shop - no ice cream left.

The footpath past the hydro-power station was not the most inspiring
We went for a walk.  I was pissy because I was too tired from Priekstolen to do anything.  I sat on a rock in the middle of the field with my shirt over my head for cover from the heat and felt rubbish that I hadn't done any exercise on the "nicest" day of our week together.  Still, the settings were nice.  I just couldn't climb any hills.  TSK was the same as his knee was hurting from his ride.



We concluded that we didn't want to be separate on our anniversary but that we also didn't want to sit around in Lysboten doing nothing all day and the vanu wouldn't be capable of two trips up the hill (never mind back down again).  So the only option was to up and leave the next day and head for the big walk to the Kjerag. 

I went to go swimming in the sea which I couldn't quite bring myself to do without my wetsuit due to the minor threat of jellyfish (I saw one) and the icy chill of sea water.  So I set off upstream along the river to a place I'd noticed earlier.  Some kids were trying to get into the water but I was already wet.  I pretty much got straight in and once I had, so did they.  It was the perfect perpetual swimming pool - just enough flow to resist my stroke.  If I'd had my wetsuit on I could've been in for longer but it was incredibly exhilarating to swim in the chilly water in just my shorts and bikini top.  The final brother jumped into the pond and ran out screaming but I shook his hand nevertheless and he hunkered under a big beach towel in his mothers arms.

We had dinner shaking our heads at the yeeaha base-jumpers who were going to be up partying all night and still up and looking beautiful in the morning - bastards   

Concluding there really was little else to do in Lysfjord, we watched the sun set behind the cliffs before we went to bed, looking forwards to our first anniversary, though with me still worrying slightly about the clutch on the vanu for the grand depart in the morning.



Friday, August 23, 2013

Preikstolen - not to be confused with nobcake

The Stavanger start was early-ish to get ourselves somewhere good whilst the weather was still behaving.  Norway's roads are strictly speed controlled to the tune of hefty fines so we knew it would take us a while to make progress.  We stopped and dined at a convenient parking lot.  Fresh bread, cheese, tomatoes, ham.  Heaven... and just as Andrew was starting to nod off.

There were tunnels and the fjords below the bridges became deeper and deeper.  The vanu used its full range of gears as the mountains got steeper and then we knew, when we got to the Lysfjord ferry that it was going to be special.


The crossing was brief and within 40 minutes of driving off the ferry we were winding our way up towards the Preikstolen.  We did cheat and drive 600m up the mountain in the Vanu to the car park at the start of the path but being dedicated Yorkshire folk now, we baulked at the £10 parking fee and headed back down the mountain to park in a layby and recover the bikes to retrace our steps, locking to the armaco with other dedicated (tight) folk.
The walk to the Priekstolen reminded me of the trail up to Steill Falls in Glencoe with plenty of points available for unsuitable footwear and clothing.  Still, most Norwegians are used to doing excercise and were better equipped than many UK tourists for this kind of thing... and it *was* a bloody nice day so I wore my Accellerate running shoes and we bunnyhopped around slow walkers almost all the way to the top.





And the top was just like Ben Nevis on a nice day - packed with people - except the Priekstolen drops vertically 3000ft to the sea below.


All ambition of summiting was lost into the vicious wind as my hair whipped my eyeballs and we retreated to the safety of the descent where, I am impressed, TSK ran down the hill along side me all the way back to the bikes.  Sure, we weren't running... running but we passed a steady stream of huffers and puffers and whooshed down the hill, first on foot, then on the bikes then in the Vanu to the happy refuge of the campsite to be handed a notice saying,

"If you're staying here then you're probably planning on doing the Priekstollen hike tomorrow.  If you do, you will not be back in time to check out before 11am.  If you plan to do the Priekstolen hike, please book another night to avoid additional charges."

We settled in to enjoy the sunset and the sound of sheep bells.