Côte de Emley Moor

OK I know that Emley Moor wasn’t part of the Tour de France Grand Depart, but it is a hill climb (which is one of the definitions of Côte) so I’m sticking with it. Plus the Tour de France is still on at the moment so it’s still relevant and OK to mention it as many times as possible in my posts in the vain hope that it may bring more readers!

I fancied something different this time out, rather than going towards the windmills I wanted to go towards the other side of the valley where I live, so chose a route that would take me over Emley Moor past the mast. To do this I would need to ride past and around it an approach from behind. This route includes a large proportion of the Scissett Triathlon bike ride, a route I had ridden once previously, earlier in the year.

The odd thing about this route is that the first mile you ride away from the mast, with your back to it, going out towards the windmills. This is the only way to get out of the village without heading down towards the mast and for me gives an extra couple of miles onto the ride.

Once up high enough the road then descends for a couple of fast easy miles, allowing me to generate some speed though a couple of villages heading towards where the Triathlon course starts.

After that it is up towards the mast from behind. The run up to the mast is all uphill so I stopped at the bottom for a breather, the road from the Triathlon start is fairly flat so you can pedal hard and fast for a few miles, in top gear, without stopping or slowing. Knowing what was coming, the long drag up to the mast, made me think a quick breather was going to be a good idea.

Riding up towards the mast is just a long slog, something that I didn’t really enjoy that much, so much so I had to stop close to the top for another quick rest. Not something l like to do, especially as I knew that I would stop next to the mast anyway.

Once over the top there is an easy ride back down the hill towards home. The wind always blows in your face on the decent so it can be difficult to get a huge amount of speed up on here.

An enjoyable ride if not remarkable or very interesting! The most remarkable part of this ride was the amount of Strava segments I got PBs on. To be fair I have only been this way once before but still to get 26 PBs and 3 second best efforts is a really top effort.

Ride Details

Distance: 15.5 miles

Time Taken: 1:28:16

Elevation Gain: 1,112ft

Average Speed: 10.5 mph



Proving a Point – To Myself

Last night I went out for a ride to prove something to myself and I have left myself in no doubt that two things are true.

I am fitter than I think I am, but not as fit as I would like to think I am. A bit pedantic maybe, but there is a point.

I took a route last night that I have been wanting to do since I came back from the knee issues of the past months. It is one that I have ridden a few times before, but always struggled with. I wanted to see if, with my new found power and leg strength, I could get up my ‘nemesis’ hill without stopping.

It’s not a long climb, just steep and winding. For Tour de France followers think Jenkin Road in Sheffield at the end of the second Grand Depart stage. Not that long and maybe not quite as steep, but one hell of a hill all the same.

Jenkin Road - Sheffield

Jenkin Road – Sheffield

I have always struggled to get more than 2/3 of the way up without stopping so wanted to see if I could get to the top, or at least to where I wanted to turn off and go off-road, without stopping. So I pushed myself to almost breaking point, telling myself that it was only a few more metres, I was nearly there, how good would I feel when I made it without stopping and some other stuff that I can’t write down!

I made it. Without stopping. But at what price?

I had used up so much energy on one small climb that over the next couple of miles, most of which is uphill, I had to keep stopping, taking a breather and then moving on.

There might be plenty of power in the legs these days, but I still have a long way to go with my fitness to be able to not just push myself up a hill, but to carry on and push myself through the rest of the ride. My chest becomes tight, I can’t get enough air in and my lungs are burning. My nose gets blocked so I can’t breath through it, so I have to gulp air in through the mouth which can sometimes lead to the odd fly or two being consumed!

So I am fit enough to ride around 15 miles without too many problems – last time I went out I broke 10 of my Strava segment records, but I’m not fit enough to ride hard for a couple of minutes and carry on without struggling to breath. Hence why I am not as fit as I would like to think I am.

I’m kind of happy though, I say kind of as a git on a road bike came past me that close he could have hit me (or I him had I stuck my arm out), not that I heard him coming, then his mate and some kid who must have been no more than 11. I’m happy because I am in a good pace but not happy because I know I can do so much better.

In order to get better I am looking at different kit, the dark side, a road bike. It won’t make my legs go any faster, it won’t make me fitter, allow me to ride up hills without feeling like my chest is on fire. But it might help me to go quicker, have less friction on the roads where I mostly ride.

If I do buy one there can be no more excuses!

Or maybe I should just buy some slick tyres for the mountain bike – sacrilege maybe?

I don’t ride for records, for PBs on Strava, but like most I like to see how I am doing against what I have done before. On this ride, although I went a slightly different way there and back I managed 3 personal best times, interestingly on the way home rather than on the way there, once I had got the breathing under control and felt less tired. It also maybe didn’t help that I decided to put my gloves on whilst riding along a downhill section towards the furthest point from home, a section that I can normally get a good time on.

Also interesting is that although the distance is shorter, the time taken and elevation gain is similar to my last ride, which shows that more hills and tougher conditions slow me down considerably.

Ride Details

Distance: 11.7 miles

Time Taken: 1:07:05

Elevation Gain: 792ft

Average Speed: 10.5 mph

Is this the end?

I haven’t been out on my bike for just under 2 months now, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly I have a problem with my knee. It came on a few months ago when I completed my last long ride – the triathlon bike course. I couldn’t put any pressure on it, although I can walk OK, I just can’t put any power through the knee so can’t peddle. I’ve tried a couple of times since but it’s still there and I can’t seem to shake it. Maybe time to go and see the doctor and get a diagnosis me thinks.

Secondly my wife isn’t well and has had to spend some time in hospital leaving me to look after the kids alone. Not a problem and it’s part of being a parent. It just means I haven’t been able to get out of the house, to either run or cycle.

We completed the Sport Relief mile a few weeks ago, as a family and I felt good physically, the knee held up so I was kind of happy that I could still make it to the start line for the Triathlon in June. The only problem I have now is that I haven’t been able to do any training, can’t get out of the house for long so can’t ride, run or swim so I think it’s over.

My dream of competing in a Triathlon this year has kind of ended before it has started. I just need to decide if this is the end of my dream or whether I should try again for the Last of the Summer Tri in September which takes in part of the Tour de France Grand Depart route in Holmefirth. I’d love to do it but need to make sure that my knee can take it and that I can get some training in before hand.

So is this the end? I hope not.