Category Archives: Photography

Owd Betts For A Cuppa

On Saturday, I had a couple of hours out in the sunshine on the Fat Boy, and a very pleasant couple of hours they were.

Getting across Rochdale was the least fun part, dragging through urban roads before the pull up from Spotland Bridge towards Norden.  Once climbing Owd Betts though, thoughts turned to stamina and gorgeous views.

I did stop for a rest on the way up, though.  It’s a steep old pull!  Nevertheless, I was pleased with myself after 7 miles to be enjoying a cuppa from the Granelli’s burger van opposite Owd Betts pub, gazing over Ashworth Moor Reservoir one way and up towards Knowl Hill the other.  After a brief chat with a bloke who was testing his new 250cc CBR on a nice afternoon run out (he’d got rid of a Ducati for it), I headed back home, but not before the fun and swooping descent of Ashworth Road.

My knees complained a bit afterwards, but I didn’t!

Oh yeah, the ride also pushed me over the 100 miles for the month.  That’s #Jul100 done! Hurrah 🙂

Happy Days! A Slow and Smiling Weekend Ride.

Before the rain came to stay, I took a couple of hours to make a slow offroad trip onto the moors and (to quote a friend) stop to smell the roses a few times.

There weren’t actually any roses, but there were a few lovely views.

Up and Under The M62

I set out on a loop through Milnrow, up across the M62 past Tunshill Golf Club.  I’ve cycled down this hill before, but never up it.  Now I know why!  Running out of gears, stamina and talent, I hike-a-biked most of the way to the top of the hill before things got easier.

The sunshine and clouds were lovely and two layers were all that were needed.  Perfect weather for a lone mountain biking trek.

Once the up was out of the way, the excellent trails on the moors so close to Rochdale, Milnrow, Newhey and Littleborough were fantastic.  A long, steady, mostly downhill undulating ribbon of fun unravelled in front of me, with my grin expanding as it did so.

Needless to say, I found a few minutes to stop halfway round Hollingworth Lake for a cup of tea and an apricot Danish, before a quick dash down to the canalside and the last couple of miles back home.

Happy Days 🙂

Now, let’s hope this rain doesn’t stay too long, eh?

Norfolk & Fun.

Sorry about the brief hiatus.  I’ve been away and not blogging, on account of living in a field and all that.

Sandringham Sunshine

While the North West enjoyed the weather that it’s famous for (i.e. bobbins), we headed to Norfolk, to camp within the grounds of Sandringham, where the Royal family spend 10 weeks each year and eat their Christmas dinner together.  To sum up the week in one sentence, it was sunny; relaxed; idyllic; woody; tasty; splashy; barbecuey; pretty and fun.

The #August150 Update

As I write, 40 people are featured on the August150 spreadsheet.  8 have already finished, another 3 have done more than two-thirds of the miles and 29 people have logged some miles.  If you want to join in, let me know and I’ll tell you how.  Basically, I need the email address you use for Google, and you’re in!

Personally, my Norfolk week didn’t go well in August 150 terms.  We only got one ride out really, aside from a couple of trips to the shop.  On the day we’d planned a good explore, N1S’s bike inexplicable exploded whilst leaning against a fence.  On closer inspection, it seems I’d pumped the tyre up too hard and an errant spoke was causing a stress point against the rim.  When he’d done a little lap around the site, the warmth and pressure had got up and then the tyre simply went “BANG! PFFFFT!” once the bike was rested.  Grrrr.  One failed repair and a trip to Halfords later, the bike was ok but our time was gone.

We did get a ride along NCN Route 1 later in the week though.  It’s gorgeous.  It got me thinking: We’ve rode along NCN1 now, and I live on NCN66 – that leaves 64 routes.  Too many.  So I might look into which routes I could travel to within a day from mine and try to tick a bunch of those off – what d’you think?  Speaking of canals (I know I wasn’t but NCN66 is along Rochdale Canal a good slug of the way), have you seen LouLouK’s blog about her ride along the Leeds-Liverpool canal?  You should – it’s an inspiration to anyone who thinks they might not be able to get some big riding done.

Holiday Diabetes

Just a brief note here.  In the past, I’ve had some crashing hypos whilst on holiday.  The trouble with Type 1 diabetes is that I tend to dose myself up with the same amount of insulin most days, but on holiday you do loads more exercise by stealth.  By stealth, I mean that you don’t realise.

Then what happens is that you wake up at night with crazily low blood sugars, doing weird things and amusing/terrifying your loved ones.  Well, I’ve found the secret: test more!  By taking my glucose monitor and simply doing the finger prick tests more often, I was able to avoid any silly hypos this holiday.  In fact, my only low was on the last day, when packing up took us way past lunchtime.  A quick Cadbury’s Twirl and I was back on track!  Sorted 🙂  Feel better, go longer, be safer, test more.

That’s all for today, save these few photos of our lovely break.

I’m hoping to get out for a ride with Jon tomorrow evening, so I might make a start on some proper miles at long last – maybe too late for the August 150, but fingers crossed I might just do it!

That’s Another Lovely Evening. #July150 completed.

Just a brief post today, because I’ve not done anything special, except in my own little mind.

Woohoo! I Finished The July150!

I knew I had about 12 miles left to finish the July150 challenge, and that I might not get out on the bike again until Sunday (the 1st of August), so my Tuesday night autopilot loop would have to be half a mile longer than usual.

Also, I still haven’t pulled the slicks off the Fat Boy, so after the bit of rain we’d had I stuck to the roads .  I did my usual route up to Hollingworth Lake and it was dry enough to do a loop o’t’Lake too.  Half way round, I was faced with this view so my aim of keeping the average speed over 12mph was discarded while I took a couple of photos.

I dropped into Littleborough then took the main roads back towards Rochdale and home.  When I arrived, I noticed that I’d only done a shade over 10 miles so I did something that only the July150 can be blamed for: I took the path between Firgrove Playing Fields and set off for a quick loop to Milnrow and back.

The loop was partly along a narrow grassy track, but I thought I’d be ok as the rest of the ride had been nice & grippy.  Not so!  I was like Bambi on ice, sliding all over the place in my granny ring, seemingly covering as much ground sideways as forwards!  I really must get those slicks off.

Arriving home a second time, I’d amassed enough miles to hang up my bike for a few days and grin quietly to myself at covering 150 miles in the month.  This would never have happened without some of you lot spurring me on, so thanks a lot.  I love you all.  But not in that way. 🙂

Are you lot up for an #August150 ?

Every Cloud.

… Has A Silver Lining.

Like most of us, I get a bit negative sometimes.  The weekend weather was crappy so I didn’t get out on my bike, so I spent a little time contemplating my navel.  I realised that sometimes, despite the imperfections of life, we need to count our blessings.  So here’s my little compare & contrast exercise for my cycling experiences over the last few months.


Since increasing the miles on the bike, my diabetic control has been a little haywire.  I’ve been experiencing more frequent hypoglycaemic episodes, especially at bedtime.  They’re not too bad and I’m coping with them easily, but I don’t really want to be chugging chocolate at bedtime – I mean, I’m not a girl for goodness’ sake!

I’ve reduced my teatime insulin by a couple of units so I’ll see how that works out – early signs are good.  Let’s be sensible about this, it’s actually a sign that my body is using its energy more efficiently and, well,  just more.  It’s not all bad as long as I’m grown up about my drug dosages.

My lower back has become worse over recent weeks.  I don’t suffer badly with backache but each time I ride out, I come back with a twinge.  I’m not happy about it.

Some reading around the subject tells me that it’s because I upped my saddle a cm or so, to get more power out of my legs and take some strain off my ageing knees.  This definitely increased the power, but (apparently) your hamstrings shorten when your saddle’s low.  Then when you raise your saddle, the hamstrings pull on your pelvis as you ride, causing the twinge.  So now I have to do hamstring stretches to improve things.  Every day’s a school day at Phill’s Irregular Cycles!

Ow. Thud. Ouch. Boing. Scratch. Oof. Ping. Unh.  This, with exclamation marks removed, is the sound of my riding.  No big drops, no RTAs, no expensive collisions – just me having lots of minor bangs and knocks.  If I were a pretty girl, the state of my shins and calves would be alarming.

Thankfully, I’m an ugly bloke so none of the scabs, bruises and chain marks matter.

Silver Linings.

OK, I’ve got that off my chest.  Now, this is what this post is really about.  Whenever I get a litte bot fed up with riding, THIS is what I remind myself about.

Fitness. I’m fitter now, at 40, than I was at 30.  I’m much much fitter than I was at 20, before I was diagnosed with diabetes.  My body’s reaction to it’s own pancreas had left me a withered, weedy, muscle-free weakling so I pretty much had to start again.  It’s been a long road but I now have calf muscles and my legs are really taking shape.  I’m building some body mass apart from the pot belly that contented living has earned me.  I can cycle further than ever before and the feeling of finishing the Manchester to Blackpool 63 miles then not being at all bothered at having to ride an extra mile to put £3.50 on the parking meter was priceless.  10 years ago, that ride put me out of action for over a week.

Fun. I really enjoy my cycling.  Somebody told me recently that the way to pick your sport is to ask yourself when you’ve finished something: “How soon do I want to do that again?”  If the answer is “Now!” or “Tomorrow“, than you’ve found your sport.  If the answer is “Next week” or “That was a flippin’ chore“, then you need to have a re-think!  When I was running, I had to keep a chart to force myself to train regularly.  With cycling, I’m already looking forward to my next ride as I’m washing the Fat Boy down and putting him away.

Friends. This virtual online internetty community of cyclists has been a bit of a revelation to me.  My blog has morphed from a random collection of my normal thoughts into a pretty cycling-centric affair, and the people who share it with me (that’s you lot) are a strong source of motivation and advice.  Out there in the real world of actual real stuff, the smiles from other cyclists, walkers, dog-poo-bag carriers and even fishermen are a regular reminder that the Daily Mail world of muggers, Tennents-drinking hoodies and rapists isn’t always around the next corner.  The world is mostly quite a nice place, with just a few idiots here and there.  Mostly we know where “here” and “there” are, so we can try avoid those places.

Finking Time. One of the greatest benefits of my Tuesday-night autopilot loop is the hour or so I get to be with myself.  Putting things into perspective; thinking through issues at work and at home; planning life from the saddle.  It’s a great state to be in, whizzing along the canalside without any distraction more worrying than someobody occasionally coming the other way to share a nod and a grin.  you just don’t get that kind of thinking time at home or at work.

So What?

There are more Silver Linings, but I’m in serious danger of putting you to sleep.  Suffice to say that, over the last few months, I’ve been enjoying my cycling more and more.  As my body has improved, the one challenge of managing my more efficient use of insulin has been outweighed by the better strength and stamina I’m able to draw on.

In turn, these have allowed me to enjoy the travelling, the views and the surroundings more.  I’m proud of my little photo album of stuff I see when out on the bike.  Some of the pictures will mean nothing to you, but they mean everything to me.  Have a look, tell me what you think.


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