All entries for Tuesday 22 March 2005

March 22, 2005

Cycling… to the dams 17/03/05

I once again am a cyclist. I was bike-less all last term, or rather my bike was wheel-less, which is more or less the same thing. Some gits stole the wheels in week one, sigh. Anyway last week I bought a Dawes Discovery, which by all accounts seems a very ride-able bike, in spite of a few inexplicabilities: such as a suspension seat post and about 451 gears. Well I suppose taking into account those of which are accessible and not counting duplicate ratios there's probably about seven.

Anyway Iíve managed two rides since then, hereís the report of the first:

17/03/05 Dronfield-Dore-Totley-Ringinglow-Burbage Rocks-Ladybower Dam-Derwent Dam-Ladybower Dam-Bamford-Hathersage-Owler Bar-Holmesfield-Dronfield: 40 miles

I set off just after 10am to try and get a good days riding in, my intention is to ride along by the dams at Ladybower, Derwent and Howden. Iím used to riding a mountain bike with great fat tyres and my new bikeís are thinner and more road-sensible, combine this with greasy road conditions and I decide to take things easy, 2 miles from home I come to the bottom of a hill and a turn off, I go at what I think is a sensible speed but oh, whats this? The bike starts to slide, I try to steady myself with my feet, but oh no! Toe-clips! Completely not used to this restriction I find myself stuck the bike and skid down and graze my leg. Nice start, seeing as my previous ride was a kamikaze effort in winter over snow and ice on Totley Moors this makes two accidents ["Hmmm, there's a big patch of ice there… I know! The quicker I go over it the less time I'll spend on it, the less chance I'll fall off…" I start to wobble "ooo, ahhh, ow!"] in two rides, excellent. Fortunately a nice cyclist comes past and checks if Iím okay. I am and set off again cursing myself for scratching the pedals and bar ends, oh well at least I was sufficiently in the way to protect anything important. Student mentality means I'd rather break both legss than have to pay to repair a bike.

Coming through Dore Iím forced to stop again after I knock the front mudguard with my feet and it starts rubbing on the tyres. Things are going really well! Fortunately I am carrying spanners, otherwise I'd feel liek one. I say fortunately because it's a new habit. My mountain bike had special gel stuff in the tyres that automatically fixed punctures so I didn;t bother with tools. I'm soon off again to the outskirts of Sheffield wondering why I would want to be riding when itís so cloudy and ominous, ďbut the weatherlady promised me sunshineĒ I think. I come to my first view of the day. Burbage Rocks, they're nice when the sunís shining, however today they just look bleak. Also itís very windy (why is it always a head wind?) up there so it makes life hard work.

I head off down a massive descent, all in all I think it goes down about 250 metres in the space of around 4(?) miles, well it sort of bobs up and down a bit but gravity does the most work at least. Seeing as Iíve only ever been up that way and not down it kind of feels like revenge, though after my earlier adventures I take it quite easy.

After over two hours on the road, or perhaps one and half hours on the road half an hour fixing the bike or myself I finally make it to Ladybower dam, itís quite spectacular in a British sort of way. The dams were builtÖ wheneverÖ and the bed of Ladybower reserviour used to be a town, perhaps there aare other towns out there that ought to follow this lead.

Feeling thoroughly dejected at having only come about 15 miles in two hours I stop to have some lunch. After this I set off for Derwent dam, finally I get there a little after one oí clock. I take a few pictures for the blog and wonder how on earth this ride is taking so long.

As a point of interest, these dams were used to practice dropping the bouncing bomb – inactive naturally! Yíknow the whole dambusters thing, see history everywhere.

I abort my plans to ride all the way along, Iíve done it before I doubt much has changed. Heading back I feel much stronger and get a fair bit of speed going and soon Iím in Hathersage, here I come to the biggest climb of the day. Itís long, about 2(?) miles against gravity, but itís not especially steep and you only go up by around 150–200 metres in all that distance. Indeed when the Tour of Britain cycle race came by it wasnít even a ďclimbĒ which depresses me greatly as I struggle up, it wasnít this hard work last summer Iím sure!

On bike rides I usually find songs going round and round my head, today I started with the Futureheads and Hounds of Love on endless repeat, however all this thinking about last summer means I now have that godawful Lost Prophets song stuck in my head, this really is turning into a horrible bike ride. Soon enough though I find myself going past Padley Gorge and the Fox House Inn. From here itís plain sailing because itís mostly downhill home. I get back and sit down. Iím quite disappointed, but I hadnít ridden since December so no wonder I struggled. Nevertheless it was nice to be riding again.

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