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Failed BG attempt

May 20, 2015
by

Thanks again to the many clubmates and all the others who turned out to support my BG attempt last Saturday. Although it was windy and cold, I cannot put the blame on the weather but on things I did or did not do right. Those who joined the support team to see how things should be done, must have been disappointed no doubt with my failure.
Sincere thanks to all,
Yiannis

The Oldest person to do the BG

April 21, 2015
by

As many already know, I am about to attempt to be the oldest person to complete the standard Bob Graham round. Details below:

The oldest man to complete the standard Bob Graham round
Attempt by Yiannis Tridimas age 70 on 22nd February 2015-02-16
Attempt date: Saturday 16th May 2015. Start time: 00:00
Clockwise, start/finish Moot Hall
Schedule
Moot Hall 00:00-Threlkeld 04:00 –4:00 hours
Threlkeld 04:00-Dunmail Raise 08:30 –4:30 hours
Dunmail Raise 08:30-Wasdale 14:30 –6:00 hours
Wasdale 14:30-Honister 19:30 –5:00 hours
Honister 19:30-Moot Hall 23:30 –4:00 hours
Total time: -23:30 hours

I think I have enough support but if any of you want to join in, you are welcome to do so.

A Dark Realm Quest – From The Dales To The Seaside Bull Pot Farm (Easegill) to New Barns Bay (Kent Estuary) Saira Is-Haq & Ian Roberts with road support by Graham Lund

March 19, 2015

Some Background

Over the past three years, mid-week rides with the local CTC have often had me pedalling through the back lanes of the Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; an area that I had previously tended to ignore when rushing by to the “real” hills of the Lake District. During this period I have gained a real affinity for this relatively local area and in September of 2014 I vowed to spend some time during autumn and winter exploring the many footpaths, bridleways and access areas that are on offer.
Also, Saira had spotted the Beetham Sports Fell Race listed in the FRA Fixtures Calendar and asked if we could devize a Thursday night headtorch run around the area. Whilst doing a joint recce of Saira’s run from Beetham, around the Fairy Steps and Hazelslack Tower and linking it across Arnside Moss to a route for my headtorch run on Arnside Knott, Saira realised the potential of the area and mooted the possibility of a Dark Realm Quest.
Anyone who knows me will testify that I have a penchant for point to point journeys as opposed to running around in a circle.
In the meantime I had picked-up several leaflets from the Carnforth Railway Station Heritage Centre, one of which was an outline map and route description for “The Limestone Link” between Arnside and Kirkby Lonsdale. This crossed some interesting limestone “uplands” used by a couple of fell races – Beetham Fell / Whins Scar / Fairy Steps and Hutton Roof Crags BUT from a hill
goer’s perspective the terminii were somewhat lacklustre (Arnside Station and Devil’s Bridge?) the lily needed some extra gilt:-
The obvious addition at the western extremity was rather than heading along Blackdyke Road to the railway station, merely cross Blackdyke road then ascend to the trig point on Arnside Knott to finish with the descent to New Barns Bay on the southern shore of the Kent estuary, a mile or so south west of Arnside.
To the east of the Lune at Devil’s Bridge, the handiest top bearing a trig point (I’m also something of a stickler for symmetry) was Casterton Fell; this in turn dictated a start from Bull Pot Farm, which neatly tied in with my teenage life as a caver and potholer, having parked at Bull Pot Farm on many occasions to make trips into the Lancaster Hole / Easegill system.
I was already familiar with the route to the west of the Fairy Steps but the remainder would be completed “on sight” – unless one is tilting for some kind of record (which we definitely were not – a brisk walk / gentle jog would be the order of the night) I just cannot comprehend what pleasure people obtain in recce-ing routes to the point that they’ve wrung all the adventure out of the occasion?
I did however complete a “drive by” recce of the road crossings, just to ensure that we would not have to negotiate any dog infested farmyards or find ourselves tip-toeing across someone’s lawn at the dead of night.
The intention was to attempt this route a week or so before Christmas, just prior to the mid-winter solstice (Saira has nurtured a habit of spending her birthday and Christmas in warmer climes), which would have allowed us a 15.30 start. Various circumstances conspired against us and this was followed by both of us suffering various new year maladies but we realised that by March a dusk start would push us extremely late into the following morning.
Thus the penultimate evening in February became the set date, with Saira’s boyfriend Graham agreeing to provide a taxi service to and from the terminii and sustenance at the road crossings.

The Occasion

By 18.10, with the merest glims of dusk remaining in the western sky, Graham’s camera required the flash facility for our “before” photograph. After weeks of anticipation we were “off” along the road, returning towards the cottage at Gale Garth, 400 yards before which we turned NW through a gate, onto a fell track. Where the track makes a U turn to the SSW we followed a bearing WSW, towards the trig. and came alongside a new fence angling up the fell side. This we followed to the point where a wooden top rail between two of the posts allowed us to climb over without snagging on the barbed top wire. Immediately we picked up a good trod heading in the correct direction and started to surmise which of the two tops on the immediate skyline would hold the trig. The trod lead us between these two tops and a third, more distant top appeared, with the trig silhouetted against the night sky. A quick “selfie” at the trig and another obvious trod led us S to come alongside a NW – SE wall which led us through a gate at the end of the fence and continued down to intersect the fell track. Turning R through a gate we continued along the fell track, around the fell breast and started to descend, with the lights of Casterton and Kirkby Lonsdale below us. The track made a L turn, through a gate and became a walled byway leading us down to join the metalled surface of Fell Road, which connects Bull Pot Farm, Gale Garth and Smithy House with the outside world.
Once below the steep ‘S’ bends, at the crossroads with the enclosed bridleway of Fellfoot Road, we turned L (S) to traverse around by Bindloss Farm – now three pleasant, workmanlike dwellings without the tweeness of the usual farmyard conversion – to emerge on the old Roman road that is now Wandales Lane; R then immediately L over a stile saw us on a field footpath that lead us into a farmer’s access lane alongside the defunct Lune Valley railway and a slight descent to Well Lane where we turned L to pass under the railway bridge and down to the junction with Chapelhouse Lane, ignoring this L turn we kept straight ahead for 50 yards, to turn L into Laitha Lane (ignore the No Through Road signage) which in time becomes a pleasant gravelled bridleway. After an obvious R.H. Bend, a stile on the L leads over a brow within a pasture, to the far, bottom LH corner, where there is access to an enclosed green lane which leads down once more onto Laitha Lane (we’d just cut out a large loop of the bridleway). Heading S on Laitha Lane, after 100 yards a PFP on our R took us across the caravan site to a stile in the SW corner which dropped us onto a narrow metalled byway leading down to Devil’s Bridge, where Graham was dutifully waiting alongside the refreshment caravan, to ply us with hot tea and cut-price, almost out-of-date goodies from Booths in K.L. My lamb hot-pot was excellent.
Saira’s Suunto Ambit 2 had “strava-ed” our progress as 5.2 miles in a tad under 1hr. 30 min.
Not wanting to waste too much time on R&R, I chivvied to be going and set forth across the bridge to find the requisite stile on our L, whilst Saira re-tied her shoe laces. Across the park, over the A65 to ascend a pasture and climb between houses on a hedged-in footpath, across the B6254 then slog up a steep pasture, alongside a wood on the L, through a small paddock to emerge on the bridleway from Sellet Mill, leading to the public highway, at the S end of Low Biggins, which was followed W for 50 yards and the R turn (WNW) lead us through High Biggins until the lane end to Biggins Home Farm was on our L, with the squeeze stile that marked the route of the Limestone Link.
The first enclosure was straightforward, across to a hedge corner, around the corner and continue with the hedge on our R to a gate in a cross wall. The second, much larger pasture, was crossed whilst ensuring that we maintained visibility with the wall to our R. On encountering the cross wall we failed to discern a stile or gate in front of us and scanning to our R nothing could be spotted; so we tracked to our L along the wall until, in the far L corner of this pasture, we came across a gate that dropped us onto what was obviously the access track to Longfield Barn. This we followed through a gate on the R then L along the LH boundary of the next large pasture to a gate that opened into a small paddock around the ruined barn (no roof and fragmented walls) which had been augmented with a modern stock handling system with sheep run, pens & dipping pit plus a cattle crush. A gate to our R allowed entry to the field that our required path should be crossing and we follow a fence on our L until we arrived at a stile (no trace of the path itself, along the ground) and took a WSW bearing across this pasture to a gate with Limestone Link signage. Despite attempting to maintain our bearing, we must have allowed the steep slope to tip us to the R; as at the next cross wall we had to climb to our L, up the steep slope, to find a stile beneath overhead power cables. Exactly the same scenario occurred in the next pasture, as we sought to follow the direction indicated by the arrow on the stile. Again we trended L along the wall to find the stile beneath overhead power cables.
The penny dropped! The overhead power lines had adopted the line of the footpath (or vice-versa).
These were followed across the next couple of fields with a decent trod underfoot, to a sign that took us L into a farmer’s access track. A R turn down the track to a L hand bend, which would have taken us into a storage pen containing a tractor and implements; straight ahead a gate sported the Limestone Link signs and lead into an enclosed greenlane. At the bottom, a further gate dropped us out on to Gallowber Lane, turning L (SW) for Hutton Roof. After the low point of the lane, over Sealford Beck, Graham was parked in a field gateway on the R. Navigational hiccups on this last leg had probably cost us 10 – 15 minutes; but had undoubtedly added a bit of spice to our adventure.
After a quick snack and more tea from the flask, we pressed on, up to the Give Way junction. L then immediately R, up a steep ginnel between the gable ends of cottages, to follow a well worn path that paralleled the intake wall to our R, around the N boundary of Hutton Roof Crags. At one point the wall disappeared from view, at the point where I should have been moving on to the next sheet of my laminated maps!
Such are the foibles of a tired mind, late at night; I was so desperate not to drift L into the wilderness of Potslacks and Uberash Plain, I had us bashing through the bracken to regain the wall,
as I knew that it would lead unerringly to the next road crossing ( despite also knowing that this very obvious path would also lead us there )! Alas the wall / fence had us re-ascending through very thorny undergrowth and limestone craglets to regain the obvious path a few hundred yards further on. Another 10 minutes lost!
Approaching the road crossing, a powerful halogen (yellow) light beam could be seen scanning across the E flank of Newbiggin Crags …. either a farmer looking for lambs or a poacher lamping for game? Alongside this, a pin-prick of white L.E.D light was visible down by the actual road crossing …. an unscheduled appearance by Graham, to check on our progress.
Without stopping, just a quick greeting, we crossed the road. Instead of continuing N, along the wall, (as per the outward route of the race) we swung left on the bridleway to Holme Park Fell (it’s the LH of the two sets of diverging tractor ruts). In 250 yards we crossed the track that is the homeward route of the race, continuing on this obvious line through a gate into an enclosed (not open access) area then a gate out the other side, back into the access area. This was a pleasant jogging descent on fell turf between limestone outcrops. The next gate saw the appearance on our L of a stout fence with dire warning signs of the drop into the deep excavation of Holme Park Lime Quarry. This fence and the attendant screen of trees was followed up a slight slope then down the long descent of Holme Park Fell to pick up a farmer’s access track down to Holme Park Farm and the actual farm lane, without having to enter the farmyard, taking us to the A6070 where we headed N. The L turn into the old Holme Park Lane was no longer feasible, the lane having been crossed by the M6 in the early 70’s, without any access provision beneath its speeding users.
The next L turn off the ‘A’ road takes one W under the M6 then swings S towards Holme village. On the apex of the bend, this ‘new’ country lane crosses the Lancaster Canal, not by a bridge but on the dam provided by its foundation. At this point I’d had enough tarmac and opted for the kissing gate that gave access to the towpath, to head S under bridges # 153, 152 & 151. Approaching Janson’s Bridge (#150) we swung R down 3 or 4 concrete steps and along a ginnel to pick up the track off the bridge, with the playing field and bowling green to our L, then the playground and school to the R. A L turn at the road and 150 yards took us to the B6384, R here and 50 yards on the R was Graham in the small village car park. This saw us finish the flask of tea with some excellent chocolate ginger biscuits. Almost opposite the car park and the Smithy Inn is the road for Holme Mills and 150 yards along that is the R (W) fork into Moss Lane. Once under the railway bridge a stile gave access to a footpath along a field boundary, through a gate then diagonally R to go round the corner of a hedge and continue diagonally to a gate hosting the boggiest farm track on earth. This leads down along the S periphery of the yard & buildings at Broomfield Farm, improving only marginally when it becomes the actual farm access lane. No time was lost navigationally, but this was supplemented by time spent assessing between the calf deep mire and the ankle deep mire. It was almost a relief to gain the metalled road at Hale Green then cross the A6 by the King’s Head, with Graham’s car parked by the telephone kiosk at the side of Hale Garage, looking significantly different from the valeted beauties on the forecourt!
The flask being empty, we attacked the bidon of diluted applejuice in my rucsac, along with some of the enticing nibbles proffered by Graham, before proceeding ahead up this side road. On the obvious LH bend, the first gravel acces lane on the R would eventually take us to Slackhead, however the second is furnished with a small yellow stake bearing two blue arrows, indicating that this is where the Limestone Link makes a “hairpin” bend (spotted on a drive-by recce). Proceeding between a wood on the L and dwellings on the R, top marks to Miss Is-Haq for spotting the small flight of limestone steps on our L, with an appropriate finger post well above the regular line of vision. At this point Saira insisted on taking the lead …. “You’re not leaving me behind, on my own in the woods, at night!” Just one small navigational query on this section; a point where the obvious path turned R, through a wall but the marker post pointed uphill, alongside the wall. A compass check had us following the marker post, to emerge on the limestone pavements around the old Marble Quarry. Saira was impressed enough to insist on some photographs; but a combination of the steady drizzle and the reflections from the wet limestone has rendered them worthless. Out on the road, it was followed N up through Slackhead, past the acute L turn to Leighton Beck Bridge, with Saira being constantly intrigued by the architecture of the olde worlde cottages – the construction engineer and building inspector syndrome. On the descent NE we spotted the signpost on our L, up a gravel track between cottages, initially WNW, turning N then slowly curving to WNW to join the footpath from Beetham village at a small stone cairn (and our route now coincided with the old Arnside “coffin road”) then SSE, S and swinging SW to the top of the Fairy Steps. Rumour is that if you can sqeeze down this narrow set of bouldery steps, between two small cliff faces, without touching the rock faces, the fairies will come out to greet you. On a recent Bat Run, Sam Harrison and Sophie Fosker demonstrated the feasability of this challenge, albeit without any fairies meeting their side of the bargain. Both Saira and I concurred that it is a challenge we will have to leave to the svelte and sylph of Bowland.
As we commenced the descent through Underlaid Wood, the drizzle became very persistent and we took great care with foot placements in the flowing water over polished limestone. Once between the buildings of Hazelslack Tower Farm, we found Graham parked on the L, in the gateway to the farm’s camping field. More nibbles and applejuice, then through the gate and across the camping field to a gate in the far cross wall (towards the RH corner). Once through the gate DO NOT follow the obvious route ahead ( as if reversing the LDWA Silverdale Circular ) rather turn R and follow the wall that you’ve just come through (maybe 50 yards) to a stile which drops you down a steep, slightly rocky slope to cross a narrow field, over a stile, across a minor road, through a gate to commence a traverse of Arnside Moss; through a gateway in a fence, some extremely wet, low lying grassland to cross an expansive pasture. On the far side, ignore a farm gate on the R (access to a footpath heading N) but keep ahead to a wicket gate into a narrow fenced footpath. Take great care crossing the Carnforth to Barrow railway line at the unmanned level crossing, to enter a cul-de-sac crossing the front of some cottages then exit on to Black Dyke Road.
Graham was parked across, in the entrance to Briery Bank. After a quick snack and more applejuice, we followed this road to its junction with Silverdale Road, then NW along the latter to turn SW along Redhills Road which swings NNW, where we forked SW up High Knott Road, turning a hairpin L (ENE) now with houses on our R. Immediately after the houses we took a R
(WSW) turn on to a footpath climbing through Redhills Wood to emerge in the NE corner of the open parkland / fellside of Redhills. An obvious footpath was followed SW, uphill, initially alongside a wall on the L, until the wall enclosing the scrubland of the summit cone was crossed via a wicket gate. A line just E of S brought us to the Arnside Knott trig point, where a tired old man required lots of concentration to take a “selfie” in wet conditions at 01.30 a.m. We descended to the view indicator paraphernalia where I became too clever for my own good:- In the past I have descended to where a contouring trod returns through the wall to join the main path; however, the map shows a minor trod descending down the NW side of the wall, through a cross wall, across the main bridleway to join the track through Cop Ridding Wood. My route pulled away from the wall, thus on striking the cross wall I thought that we were still alongside the previous wall. Instead of descending through Cop Ridding, I had us looping round to join Knott Lane, just behind The Grange. A quick trot down to the junction and a jog down New Barns Lane, past the bend where we should have emerged, had us re-united with Graham, with just 8 hours on the clock.
A quick “toes in the sea” was on the cards, so a trot down the beach ensued; but even with the Hope Vision 2 on level 4 no water was visible in the miasma of drizzle and the gurgling emmitting from the New Barns sluice merely confirmed that the tide was a long way out and in no way impeding the flow of freshwater.

I reckon that the navigational hiccups had cost us maybe 45 minutes; but they had created a sense of adventure that heightened the experience. Thus with “regulated” refreshment stops and a “brisk walk / gentle jog” pace, 7 hours 30 minutes, maybe 7 hours dead, should be on the cards with the lessons learnt.
I’m thinking of maybe offering this up as a BFR club outing in early autumn, similar to last December’s Fiendsdale trot (but at a far steadier pace and hopefully kinder weather). The route should really appeal to those club members who take an interest in the LDWA events.
Saira’s Strava track had the route as 21 miles and 3,200 feet.
I can only thank two great young people for turning an old man’s idea into an enjoyable reality.
The following evening was the club “Do”, so thanks also to Pam & Andy for making that happen and creating a really good weekend.
Also whilst on this route, it was not lost on us that the “Bowland Vets” (Yiannis, Alan Duncan, Leigh & Neil Shepherd) were out at the same time on the far sterner test of the High Peak Marathon. I’ve seen the results, very well done guys.

Another Busy Year Ahead

March 11, 2015

It’s been a quiet couple of months for the Colby’s since Christmas, but we have been slowly building our endurance fitness in the hills recently. Hopefully just in time for us to be ready to run our first marathon of the year this weekend in Wiltshire/Dorset. It is going to be a muddy run over the rolling hills and farmland, I would imagine.

Last weekend we planned to hammer some miles in the Lakeland fells, to just top up our marathon fitness.It didn’t work out quite as we had hoped! We had booked a super cheap deal at the Best Western Shap Wells Hotel for the weekend, all good so far.

The Friday night was about as windy as I can ever remember and Saturday morning was very little better. The clag was also down to ankle level. The planned 20 miles up into the fells soon became a low level trail run of just under half that figure. After getting through our full English breakfast we very slowly prepared for the day ahead.

Once out the door it was immediately obvious that standing up was going to be a bit tricky, so running was going to be cracking fun! We headed through the woodland to the side of the hotel on some lovely secluded trail and soon ran into a deer mooching about, he didn’t look very concerned by our presence as he strolled of through the trees. A couple of hundred yards later we came to a sudden and decisive stop as the trees that had blown down in the night had totally blocked the trail and any detour we could have used. We headed back and used the wide forestry tracks to get out of the woods as quickly as possible. It was looking likely that more trees would be coming down very soon and we didn’t want to be under them.

For the rest of the run we played it safe and stuck to open farmland and the bridleways that crossed over the farmland, eventually heading back to the hotel along the river with only 8.5 miles completed. The rest of the day was spent in the bar, post shower of course.

Sunday came with a little less aggression, the clouds had a lot more height to them and the wind had dropped to an acceptable level, nearly. The forecast even said we should get sunshine from around dinner time, happy days! We packed up and drove out to Pooley Bridge, intent on getting a long run, whatever happened.

We set off on the Lakeland 50 trail route to Howtown and then up through Fusedale onto proper fellside. Next came a bone numbing yomp up to High Kop, the wind may have been ever so slightly less destructive but it was extremely cold. It was nice to get some running done again as we crossed the top of the fells and headed over to Low Kop. The ground was very wet and boggy underfoot and by now our feet had gone numb with the cold. The cloud was high enough to have a great view down to Haweswater and across to the opposite fells, that had now started to be dappled in sunshine, cloud still shielded us from the suns warmth!

We dropped down the side of the fell, splish sploshing our way into slightly warmer air as we reached the lakeside trail. My core had  warmed up for now but my feet felt like they would shatter as they had become so cold. We passed our second deer of the weekend along the trail, sadly this one was lying dead across our path.

Before we got to Mardale, we took a right turn and headed back up into the high fells again. This was a long slow drag up to Kidsty Pike and I can honestly say the cold in my toes had me wanting to cry. It was sure feeling like we would never return to Pooley Bridge. We eventually trudged up to the top of Kidsty Pike and took a path onto the right and began our journey back across the High Street ridge.

It is of course great running along here, when the wind isn’t stupidly strong and the ground isn’t flooded with snow melt. We did finally start to  get through the miles a good bit more quickly, then the wind blew Angela off her feet completely. After a few seconds to recollect her composure, we set off again. It was fantastic to be running along the open fell and slowly descending as  the sun finally came out in all it’s glory. For the last half hour of the run my feet even warmed back up.

We dropped down the last of the fellside and through the kissing gate to the van feeling perfectly ok, so the fitness seems to still be in our forty something legs! We managed half a flapjack each and about 50 millilitres of drink all the way round, so the full English fuelled us no problem. Not bad going for 22 miles!

Hopefully we can now build and maintain our fitness for the Ultras we have planned this year, these are –

Ultimate Trails 55k

Lakeland 50 miles

Gritstone Grind 35 miles

Grand Tour of Skiddaw 44 miles

White Rose Ultra 50k

We will of course be popping in a few marathons, trail races and fell races into the calendar. So the Colby’s will be dragging the orange and green vest around the country again this year.

Flower Scar

March 7, 2015

With the unfortunate absence of Bowland’s chief blogger at this race, let it not go unreported. The success of the Bowland V50 team deserves no less. A car load departed from Lancaster arriving in time for the ladies race which was 1 1/2hours before the men. It means we get to run before the ground is completely trashed and we can watch the men knowing that the pain is already behind us.

So it came to 11am and the ladies were off around the muddy field. What a struggle at the outset. I had forgotten how hard races really are, this being my first for the season. I always set off fast and know my rivals will duly come past as the race goes on. Aly Raw has joined my age category and passed me on the climb while Julie Carter, last years LV50 winner was just behind as we came to the summit of Flower Scar itself. I held her off for a good part of the descent but knew she was right on my heels so I could not afford the slightest slip up. We spurred each other on and she eventually came past and then got ahead of Aly who had struggled with the descents.

The men were soon on their way and what a lot of them there were. Spectating just before the finish, I saw numerous fast runners coming past without any Bowland vests but once Mike came soon Quentin was there and shortly after Chris R followed closely by Chris B. Since these fine men are past the flush of youth, it mattered not that many youngsters had already finished. What mattered was that they were largely ahead of the other older men, enough to take the lead in the V50 category after one race. Well done. There is still a long way to go but with great support from the director sportif, thanks Ian, we should get teams out for subsequent races.

High Peak Marathon

March 2, 2015
by

photo (1)

The ‘Bowland Vets’ team – Yiannis, Alan, Leigh and Neil had a good run, finished 11th overall and successfully defended the Rucksack vets trophy which they had won last year.
The event is around 42 miles and takes place in the wildest parts of the Peak District. Teams of four start between 11pm and midnight on Friday.
There were 50 team entries. The weather started dry but turned wet and windy with a good bit of mist on the tops. Terrain and conditions were typical High Peak ones, wet with plenty of peat bogs as well as some ‘good’ running sections.

Bleasdale Circle Fell Race 2015

February 22, 2015

And confetti rains down upon us as; penned in the enclosure, the new RO releases us to the start line. Auspicious of something but I’m not sure what; and immediately Leigh sets us off the hailstones cease and conditions turn benign.

Prize giving is touching I think as Leigh announces the achievements of some of the various category winners;  Rob Hope could make this the season he wins the British – hope I’ve got that right – for the fifth time, overtaking the great Ian Holmes. And our own Quentin, having a fantastic run, is introduced as a World Champion and Mike J, a former English Champion, also starts the season well. Bowland also take the team prize with Mark Chip, Q and Swerve finishing strongly in a field of 130 when usually the race average is 70.

Pride of place goes to Yiannis though, its his birthday and it’s a milestone age I think – don’t want to incriminate myself with the wrong milestone, Yiannis, but I’m sure its over 21. And so we all get to sing Happy Birthday to this humble, remarkable man.

I have 3 helpings of the homemade soup on offer, well, I need feeding up. Winn’s spiced butternut squash hitting the spot in this outing in the heart of Bowland.

Bowland FR always has a great little spirit about it and its very apparent today with GandO runners and the lifeblood support crew turning out in great numbers and really doing the club proud. Jeez, it’s good to be a part of it. Not quite sure what the secret ingredient is but there’s a definite esprit de coeur -and corps; woes and worries of life in suspension for a while.

Newbie Dave Nuttall has a great run today, welcome to you Dave; have to find you a vest from somewhere.

My eyes fix on the bobbing tea cosy; that green and orange one that Saira has knitted. It houses beneath it the beloved bonce of Graham. Saira, I want one, how much? Or is it slowing him down, he should be a bit further ahead of me as we go through the farm after the marshy fields. Its early days yet though for him to find that turbo that was so evident last year. He’ll whiz up the steep climb to Paddy’s in a few minutes, Ali alongside him, and that’ll see me off. I’m glad of the change of gear when we do get there, it’s not that anyone eases off but it takes the sting out of that early burst. Halfway up, like Lot’s Wife, the chap in front stops to gaze behind and take in the views; rubbing salt into the wound heh, heh, he gets me back in the final field.

It’s a slushy, slippy run along the top but by Parlick the tea cosy still hasn’t shaken me off and I fancy my chances on the downhill. Your number’s upside down shouts our Secretary; not normally affected by triskaidekaphobia, Clive has put a doubt in my mind and tells me that this is what all riders do – take a look next time you see a race Dec, he says.

Anyway, I can’t catch the tea cosy downhill, he’s obviously been practicing. An ungainly fall near the bottom takes the urgency out of my chase and I fall further behind; have to try harder.

A great race on a great day; thank you Bowland.

The season has kicked off and there is a lot of optimism for our v50 chances. If today’s race is anything to go by, there is everything to be optimistic about. A bumper crop of quality v50s have come of age.

Cap’n Roberts is communications director and chief chivvier of our efforts for the English and the British Champs. It’s going to take a concerted effort from us all to come up with the goods.

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