Apologies for the lack of updates – there’s been a lot going on in Toast Towers. For a start, Toast Towers has relocated to Warwick. This has been deemed “A most excellent move”. 14 miles cut off the journey to the Chase, several quality takeaway establishments in delivery distance and access to super fast cable broadband. The biggest day to day change is that I no longer drive to work – I normally bike in on a daily basis now, or occasionally take the bus. This has done wonders for my fitness, plus I get to see ducklings every day, and sometimes baby moorhens. It’s impossible to go to work on a heavy heart when there’s little balls of fluff swimming about!
Mr Toast has also just fixed my PC, which has been playing up for months and becoming increasingly unstable. After a long process of elimination it eventually became clear that it was the heart of the PC itself that was giving out – the motherboard, the memory and the processor. To their credit, they were ten years old and have been overclocked for the past six, so they were retired in good grace. Now my PC is (touch wood) fully back up and running – a great relief, as it was impossible to use most of the Adobe Creative Suite programmes.
So, what have I been up to on the biking front this last month and a half? Well over Easter we went Ooop North to Mr Toast’s parents, enjoyed good company, silly dogs, excellent food and Dalby!
Dalby was interesting. The furthest I’ve ever biked in one day (that I can think of) was the Ladybower loop we did last year, which was 22 miles. Dalby is 24 miles. Despite my chronic lack of fitness (I hadn’t started biking in at this point), I decided that I was, for the first time ever, going to give the full red a punt. Fitness aside, I felt a warm glow of satisfaction as I began the initial climb up the shared blue and red. On previous years I’d struggled both with fitness and technique, but this year it wasn’t an issue at all. If nothing else, at least that was better!
Dalby is a curious track – most the difficulty comes from the length rather than any of the features. However there was the odd section that I walked – normally involving steep downhill gradients, loose stones and drops on corners. Most of it though – no problem. Mr Toast did have a problem, however – we were fairly early on in the ride when he stopped, frowned and said, “What the hell is that clicking?”
Whilst he investigated, I did what any dutiful wife would do and promptly starting taking photos of The Professor.
By the way, that knee pad hanging in the tree? Not mine. Not entirely sure how or why it got there, I can only assume that somebody is a massive tosser. Eventually Mr Toast’s investigations revealed that the thread had come off one of his pivot bolts. We decided to continue… cautiously.
I have to admit, by about two thirds of the way through, I was utterly shattered. Although the singletrack is generally fairly easy going, Dalby does have a lot of switchback and fireroad climbs. I definitely would have enjoyed it more if I had been a bit fitter – as it was, it quite often seemed as if there was a lot of excruitiating climbing with little payback. However, stubboness combined with encouragement from Mr Toast meant that I was going to see it through to the bitter end. I finished Dalby in a slightly delirious state, chuffed that I’d managed to ride that many miles, not pushed up a single hill and ridden some features I wouldn’t have dreamed off a year or two ago. And on return to Mr Toast’s parents’, there was a roast chicken dinner waiting for us. RESULT!
We returned to Dalby a few days later, Mr Toast’s broken Pitch meant that we were unable to take our planned excursion to the moors. Mr Toast was forced to hire…
A Kona Fire Mountain! The only hire bike big enough for Mr Toast was slightly battered, but with a bit of tweaking he managed to get the gears running smoothly. He cursed slightly, and I was forced to giggle – when we’ve been to Dalby in the past, he’s been the one on the fancy pants full susser and I was the one stuck on the hired hardtail. However, something happened as he got used to the bike. He started to like it. It had been some time since he’d ridden a hardtail off-road, and the first time he’d ridden a bike that big (look at the seatpost! It almost looks sensible compared to the height of the handlebars!). Despite our initial plan of just exploring the fireroads, we ended up doing the last quarter of the red route. I chortled slightly as the hardtail was a great equaliser – it was much easier to keep up with him! I’m glad we did the last part of the red, as I’d been utterly wiped out when we’d got to it a couple of days earlier. It was nice to ride it relatively fresh.
So, that was Dalby.
We’ve been over the Chase most weekends, work allowing, and the past couple of weeks have seen a marked improvement from me. I’ve been able to get up the fireroad hill in middle ring, which sounds like such a stupid little thing it’s almost a non-event, but it’s something I’d not managed to do this year until very recently. The number of breaks I’ve been taking have also been getting shorter. In fact, today, the only time I stopped was at the start of the fireroad hill, to take off my thermal. Other than that, I refused to stop, moving from one section to the next. Thank you, daily commute!
Slightly panicking though as we’ve got Mountain Mayhem in less than three weeks, with Mr Toast frequently reminding me of the length of each lap and the greater degree of climbing. Still, what can possibly go wrong?