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The NSG Psyclopaths – A Little Bit of Light Training!!

Hello again dear readers, you know they always say that you should build up to a big event slowly, let the legs and lungs get acclimatised to a bit of exertion. Well I thought I’d done all that over the past few months, so when a “friend” said she was doing the Coast to Coast from Whitehaven to Tynemouth I jumped on the bandwagon. The trouble is that a piece of paper (map) or computer screen doesn’t really convey the enormity of some of the inclines along the route. Those of you who have had a go at the C2C will recognise Whinlatter, Hartside, Garrigill, Allenheads and Stanhope. All lung bursting climbs that somehow always felt much longer than the short descents that followed! It’s definitely not a route for the fainthearted, or indeed those that haven’t prepared, as it turned out when the originator of the idea jacked in on day 2 when she was in danger of being overtaken by a jogger and she couldn’t stand the pain in her nether regions!!

Although I didn’t finish the full C2C – who wants to trudge through the flat industrial landscape of Tyneside – we did complete 36 miles on day 1, 46 miles on day 2 and 32 on day 3. For those of you into calorie counting that was approximately 7000 calories (it’s amazing what technology can tell you these days). I don’t know where they’ve gone because my waist is still the same size!!

Anyway enough of the serious cycling chat, now that Whinlatter has been conquered what left is there to fear, 38 miles around the highways and byways of Cumbria, a piece of cake – or a large 99 overlooking Bassenthwaite on the way down Whinlatter.

But what of the other Psyclos I hear you cry……..

Whilst I was coughing and wheezing through Cumbria, Northumberland and County Durham, some fellow Psyclos were out and about on their two wheels, budding musician (come on you remember)…….. John Morris was tackling some of the highways and byways around Keswick, 32 miles allegedly. Newbie Psyclo James Rudd did most of the Preston Guild Wheel, strangely missing out the hills (Those familiar to the guild wheel will be thinking what hills?? – exactly!). Disturbingly the other Psyclos have gone silent, perhaps indulging to much in those Easter goodies!!

So there you have it dear readers, a little bit of light training before the main event, we might even slip in another Preston Guild Wheel!

As a wise man once said “if you don’t get a sweat on, it’s not worth botherin'”

Up and at ’em chums.

The NSG Psyclopaths – The Journey Continues II

Hello again my faithful chums, not long now to the fateful day and as the ride date fast approaches, the enormity of the challenge is finally sinking in to such an extent that the Psyclos original line up has been decimated by withdrawals – it’s amazing how many old war wounds suddenly start twitching at the thought of a swift hill climb!!

But fear not dear readers, we’ve abandoned the weak by the wayside and brought in two finely honed athletes to supplement the already formidable team. Who are these hardy souls that will ride under the Psyclos banner I hear you all scream? Be still your beating hearts my chums. We now have in our team a seasoned Cumbrian campaigner and all-round athlete in the form of Su Latham, one of our colleagues from our sister company, Hold Engineering, based in Beckermet. Su will no doubt be familiar with the challenges of the mighty West Cumbrian landscape. She has even sent me a picture of her training!!

The other gullible…… ooops, willing volunteer is our very own Business Development Manager, James Rudd. James is very familiar with the West Cumbrian highways and byways, particularly Corney Fell, where he has had many an adventurous ride (in his car) and has managed to stay on the road on at least a couple of occasions!!!

What of the remaining original members, well make your self a cuppa, take a seat, put your feet up and I’ll give you an update.

John Morris (you remember – the budding musician) has been training well having recently completed a swift 18 miler. His first one for three months.

Chris Hart (yes, the baby Psyclo). I have been reliably informed is actually taking time off work to do some riding. Now that is commitment and dedication the youth of today can learn from.

Andy Watson (our ringer from Silverdell, Ark Environmental, EDS, OCS) has been too busy renaming the company to do any serious riding!

Me? Managed a little 30 miler around the highways and byways of Chorley, Rivington, Horwich & Bolton last weekend and I’m off to do three quarters of the coast to coast over the Easter weekend and then some proper training on the golf courses and bars of the five star resorts of Turkey.

Off now to clean my grips and grooves but remember folks, life is like riding a bike, if you don’t keep moving you fall off!!



Not a good start…

Well this is my first ever blog (so be kind) but I was persuaded to do it as part of the Rivers Ride push and frankly it’s a good cause so I figured what the hell, I’ll share a few experiences from the bike!

Well I’ve now been out for a “proper” ride (i.e. one that involves being outside and not inside watching a dvd whilst perched on the turbo trainer) a grand total of 3 times in the last 2 months, each with varying degrees of success.  The first of which ended with a broken chain at roughly the furthest point from home (surprise surprise!!), where I had to phone home and drag my wife and three children out to pick me up.  This was bad enough but the fact my instructions were “some back road between Castle Carrock and Armathwaite” didn’t help.  That and the fact that my wife and two of my children were currently ill in bed did nothing for my popularity once back home!

The second ride out was much more successful, an afternoon off work out with a good mate where the banter was easy and the light rain and wind mostly bearable.  It included a fantastic stretch between Tebay and Appleby where we hit that rare thing…smooth tarmac!  What with that, the wind on our backs and lots of downhill where we took turns to enjoy each others slipstream it made you realise why you love cycling.  Even the slight dampener of arriving home, realising I’d forgotten my key and no-one being in failed to take the shine off it.

The third and most recent ride out (this weekend) saw me up the mileage but keep it nearly all on the flat.  An opportunity to ride from mine up to Carlisle and meet the family there for lunch was a one I grabbed with both cycling gloves.  After a meander through the villages I hit Hutton in the Forest and headed up that long flat stretch to Durdar.  I’d love to lay claim that it was my cycling prowess due to the winter training on the turbo that came to the fore as to how I averaged 22mph for the whole stretch, topping over 30mph more than once…however, I fear that it was not all entirely wind legal.  But I will admit to enjoying having the wind push me the whole way, you could almost kid yourself that you were getting pretty good at this cycling thing.  Well that was until somebody clearly much better (and wealthier) came flying past me on a beautiful piece of carbon machinery together with full carbon disc rear wheel.  Not sure if anyone’s had that happen before but you can hear them coming, I actually thought it was a car at first, a distinct thrum of finely tuned carbon over your right shoulder and then they fly past leaving you wondering what you’re doing wrong…it must be all in the bike?  After that it was an uneventful ride to Brampton, Longtown and back to Carlisle with just a few showers and the wind to contend with.  So it was with a certain amount of self righteousness and smugness that I tucked into cakes for the rest for the afternoon, safe in the self convinced knowledge that I’d already worked them all off!

£1,000 prize for Cumbrian students – and a chance to have their writing published

The second annual Hunter Davies Award for Young Writers competition is now open for any student aged 16-21 who attends a Cumbrian school, college or university. The winning entry will receive £1,000 – half to go to the student’s library and the other half to the winning young person. They’ll also get the chance to have their entry published in Cumbria Life magazine.

This year, the title of the writing will be ‘My Best Friend’ and should be written as a profile of the best friend or an interview.

“Yes, it’s a corny title” said Hunter “but that’s the point. It’s slightly ironic, leaving it open to the student to make of it what he or she wants although it does need to be a piece of  non-fiction writing like a reportage or journalism than a school essay.  It can be personal, in the first or third person, amusing, informative and descriptive, with observations and opinions,   with or without quotes and dialogue. The best friend can be anyone, old or young, dead or alive and could even be a pet.

“The main purpose is to encourage writing skills – which after all everyone needs in life these days for work and for pleasure, now that  we all seem to spend most of our time in some of sort  communication.”

The judges are Steve Matthews, author, publisher and owner of Bookends and Bookcase in Carlisle, Cumbria Life Editor Richard Eccles and headed by Hunter Davies.

Hannah Sowerby, 17 from Appleby Grammer School won the inaugural prize last year. She said “I was I overjoyed to hear I won and it brightened up my days of endless IT coursework! I would recommend any student to enter. The money helped with driving lessons and the school library was able to purchase some new books.”

The competition is organised by Cumbria Community Foundation. For further information contact Annalee Holliday on 01900 825760 or click here to access the submission form, which has full details of the rules. The deadline for entries is 1st July 2014.

Annalee Holliday, Grants and Donor Services Officer said “This is the second year of the competition and we’re delighted to be working with Hunter again. The prize will provide an incentive for a number of young aspiring writers to get creative and shine a light on their writing skills”

10 weeks and counting….

The recent email from the Foundation suggesting it was time to recommence blogging, with less than ten weeks to go until the Rivers Ride, struck fear through me.

A couple of weeks ago, after a winter where I continued my training, I was feeling confident. However, a recent injury has made the start of this year’s training a much more daunting affair.

In fact, on a cycle ride in early February, I outperformed a friend and long time cycling partner for the first time ever. It felt alien to lead the pack and to be able to continue at pace as my friend slowed down. In fact, I felt I had a bit of an insight into what it must be like to cycle with me. I found myself surprised when he wanted to stop for a rest, thinking we’d only just had one.

Sadly, this feeling of superiority and confidence in my training didn’t last long – a squash injury soon put paid to that. As a result, I have managed very little cycling over the last month or so – at the gym or otherwise.

The worrying thing is that my innocent sounding ‘Baker’s cyst’ continues hang around my knee making its presence known.

However, this weekend’s temporary arrival of summer meant that I simply had to get out – injury or not. I’m happy to inform you that I have been out for a couple of rides and have enjoyed them both. I was alarmed to notice a visible drop-off in performance, but was pleased to quickly recover my passion for cycling and reassured that the knee injury didn’t prove much more than an irritation.

So I’m now hoping that embarrassing Strava segment times will make me focus on increasing my speed, and the thought of completing a 75 mile ride will quickly scare me into increasing the length of my rides back to something worth cladding myself in toilet-trip-hindering lycra in the first place.

I’ll let you know how I get on.