Sunday, March 11, 2012

The view from 2 wheels

I rode both days this weekend. Saturday was miserable (as in REALLY WINDY), also it didn't stop raining until almost 11am. But I was desperate to ride so went out anyway and did 40 miles in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. I suffered thru 31 miles of 20mph head/cross winds, but the final 9 were down an awesome canyon along a river WITH the wind. Ending a ride like that really helps dull the pain of the rest.

Today I went back out a bit closer to home and did 34 miles. It was windy again (not quite as much as yesterday) but warmer. In fact, I rode without my wind/rain shell for the first time here. And no full neoprene shoe covers, just toe warmers. That's a good sign, spring is coming. I have a ton of pictures from the 2 days, as I try to capture some of the beauty of this area. It's always fun to see someplace new, and 2 wheels is the best way to do that.

Without further adieu, my pics from the weekend.

 This is a view back down the valley. You can clearly see the rounded canyon shape as the entire UK was covered by glaciers during the last ice age. Also you can see the stone walls that are EVERYWHERE. Just a typical view as I ride.

Water water everywhere. Looking up the hillside, springs are flowing over and thru rock walls. Sheep graze most everywhere, but none are in this picture by pure chance.

 And another waterfall. You can also see how overcast and gloomy it is. 
This shot was taken just after it stopped raining.

The sun makes an appearance! Roads are still wet, from the rain, but it's just beautiful here.

Climbing to the top of the plateau (or whatever you'd call it here). The land here in the Dales is rather spartan. The only tree visible is off to the reminds me of the tundra of Alaska up in this part of the country. And it's all mooshy and muddy everywhere off road.

Self portrait, my camera is perched on a stone wall. There is a beautiful stream flowing just behind me, only a small part visible just beyond my bike's rear wheel. Also you can see I have my mt bike rear fender attached for the ride. And I'm wearing my neon red rain/wind shell. If the wind would go down by HALF, it would still be windy (but O- SO MUCH nicer)!

 Another boring view of the landscape. They sure have a LOT of rock walls here. I'm guessing 99 out of every 100 people used to be builders.

 Yet ANOTHER waterfall. This shot captures some of the can see it's blowing the top off the water as it goes over the edge.

Did I mention they have a lot of rocks here? A beautiful stone bridge, just one of the many dozens that I've seen thus far.

Here's where it gets interesting. I'm at about mile 28, and have to climb out of this valley to get home. Over the top the road then goes to the left and down (WITH the wind). Here the wind is coming across right to left, and the grade where I took this shot is about 10%. There is a sign at the top (for those coming down) that says it's 24%. All I can say is the last quarter mile or more is SO steep that I was delivering papers and STILL could barely make my bike move! (delivering papers is what I call it when I ride back and forth across the road, as it's so steep that I'm not strong enough to just ride straight up).

Here I'm in the final 9 mile descent. There was a few miles where the road follows this stream, and it's just AWESOME! Not to mention the joy of having a tailwind for the first time all day! What a way to end the ride!

 Another view of the stream, there was a bridge a bit back and now I'm on the other side. I love how it's just THERE, no walls, guard rails, nothing. I can't think that I've ever seen any such sight in the US. Did I mention this is DOWNHILL too? Ahhh...doesn't get much better than this!

 And finally, here is a panorama I put together of one of the valleys.

That ends the pictures from Saturdays ride in the Dales. Here are some noteworthy shots from today's ride.

 The view from the side of the road as a stream snakes it's way down to a large reservoir.
 This view is looking down into "How Stean Gorge" (and yes, it's Stean, not Steam). The drop from where I'm standing is probably a good 40 to 50 feet, and the river has cut this gorge thru solid rock.
 The view from the other side of the bridge looking into the gorge.

 I've been seeing lots of lambs out in the pastures this last week. They must be VERY young as they can barely walk. They are OH so cute!
 Didn't catch the name, but this is an Abbey at the top of a hill, and I used it as my turnaround point.

 The view looking back down the road from up near the abbey. You can clearly see the valley I came up, and you can barely make out the blue water of the Gouthwaite Reservoir (about 4 miles away) that the road paralleled for a few miles. It was a beautiful day (mid 60's) and the wind was only about 13mph today. It was a great way to end my weekend.

 Here's a pan I put together showing how hills look. I see this type of view EVERYWHERE I go here, and it still is amazing!

 This is a pan of the reservoir that I rode past (twice).

And finally, another pan of yet ANOTHER hillside. I have to say that pictures do NOT do justice to how beautiful it is here. But I keep trying!

And that's all the pictures I'll bore you with (for now). I have MANY HUNDREDS that I've taken so far on this trip. 

Have a great week! (oh, and don't be shy talking about the bike races...I've seen ZERO over here. It's not on my TV channels that I get in my flat, and I'm working or riding when they are racing. So I haven't seen a lick of racing this year, and I miss it!


  1. Lovely pictures, as usual! Those stone walls are remarkable. So glad you got your bike at last!

    And while you were in Scotland, did you try some haggis?

    Well, I haven't seen any racing for a week either between traveling to my late father's house to help sort through some of his mementos ( and bring some home) and work. Of course today I am watching the last stage of T-A, a time trial which I don't find so interesting, but hoping that Chris Horner holds on for the win! It is down to the last 3 riders at the moment...

    And my fantasy team the Vandervandenvande's is in the top ten of the league so far!! (that won't last, but I am enjoying it!)

    come on Chris! oh foo, he didn't make it....lost by about 14 seconds I Nibali (who I was relying on last year for my team, was disappointed!)

    I will slowly watch the highlights and finishes of P-N and T-A over the next week. Not as fun as watching on the same day, so hard to avoid the spoilers! I especially want to see the finish with Voigt.

    Did you see the list of teams for the Tour of California this year! a great line-up. The new GreenEdge team will be there, so one last chance to see Robbie McEwen (if I can get there, I might not because I have to be in Florida for a conference May 20-24)


  2. Well, I got 2 afternoon rides in this week. The stupid weather forecasters...I WISH they would guess LOW rather than high. On both rides, I can't decide if it was A) WINDY and COLD, or B) COLD and WINDY. It was surely one of those. My toes are numb after a lowly 25 miles (even using neoprene toe-warmers with full neoprene shoe covers over those). Even my face is cold...I see people w/ scarves and such over their faces...however if I need that then it's just too cold for my tootsies.

    And of course, the forecast for the weekend is COLDER. Highs in the mid 40's, and so flurries on Sunday. THAT JUST STINKS! I wait ALL WEEK for the weekend, and most likely it'll be too cold for me to enjoy a ride. I might go anyway...cuz I kind of have to...but I'll whine about it for sure!

  3. ooh...that was "Highs in the mid 40's, and SNOW flurries on Sunday".

  4. OH no - terrible weather for you! I hate to even say it, but we're setting high temp records left and right here. It was 82 degrees today!!! Unbelievable weather for midwest in March. Took advantage of it and spent the day outside. Felt just like summer - robins only arrived last week. Craziness. You getting this too, Rae?

    Wish I could've seen T/A! Not in my dish pkg. grrrr. I was really cheering for Horner to pull it off, just wasn't in the cards. Sounds like he raced really well all week though. Fabian looks like he will be ready for MSR tomorrow (today really I guess). Love for him to win it or for Boonen to show that he is REALLY back this year. Should be exciting and this means that the real cycling season is in full gear now! Woooo Hooooo

    We actually have a spring break this year (first time ever in this town) so I spent the week with the family at the Wisconsin Dells. If you're not familiar with it, it is the waterpark mecca of the universe (or at least this country). I think I'm STILL pruned up and I'm sure my brain will remain highly chlorinated for the next few weeks. The kids has a GREAT time though! It was fun.

    I'll try to send some of this amazing weather across the pond to you, Matt :)

  5. I'll be looking for the warmer weather JD...please HURRY! As of Tuesday, I've been here TWO MONTHS! (Flew out on Mon, Jan 20th, arrived on Tues the 21st). I can't hardly believe it! Suddenly I'm down to about a month to go! If the weather suddenly gets warmer it will go by in a flash, as I'll be riding every chance I get.

    And, Happy St. Patty's day! I'm half Irish (my mom's side)...well, maybe quarter...always a bit unsure on that stuff (have a B&W photo of my Great Greats still in Ireland). Looked into flights to Dublin for today, quite pricey so saved my money. Tho it would have been pretty cool to be in Dublin on St Patty's day. And also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREG! (yes, my big bro is a St. Patty's bday). Going to actually go out tonight and hoist a few TASTY brews! And still hope to ride today (it's 7:30am)...not a great forecast..looking to see what I can do to beef up my tootsies heat level.

  6. Happy St. Patrick's day to you all, hope you celebrated in suitable fashion!

    Happy birthday Greg!

    Matt, have you tried any of those metallic knit socks? I have a pair, wear them over my regular socks and they do seem to help. Maybe even a little foil? couldn't do that with running or walking but maybe okay on a bike? You probably don't have room for the chemical warmer sort of thing, do you? They are very cheap though at BigLots type places.
    Sure doesn't seem like 2 months, you will be on your way home before you know it.
    Milan San Remo was quite an exciiting finish, hope you got to see some of it. I was really disappointed in Boonen's finish but maybe he is saving himself for the coming classics. I was really torn, so many that I would have been quite happy to see win (Haussler, Boonen, Gilbert, Freire, in the end none of those really contended altho Gilbert had an unlucky crash to blame) and even though I like and respect Fabian muchly, when he got that gap I was thinking that was it and was feeling kind of disappointed (Yawn another TT to the finish)! What a surprise to see Nibali and Gerrans stick with him and for Gerrans to take the win!
    I had a poor impression of Gerrans a few years ago when he was mouthing off about not being selected for the TdF squad (when he was with Cervelo), at that time he was being pretty chummy with LA & I thought he would end up on RS. He is a talented racer though and so far this year seems to have really come into his own.

    Super nice weather here too. Everything in bloom and the birds singing their heads off, the wrens trying to build a nest in the range hood vent as they do every year (to no avail!)


  7. Matt, we had two inches of snow in Painted Cave yesterday!! It was briefly a winter wonderland. All melted now but still cold.

    I wanted to let you guys know my cousin was riding his bike with a tri-camp group last Thur in Solvang and was hit head on by an SUV. Matt, this was coming back toward town on Foxen, close to Zaca winery. He was taken to Marion but later airlifted to Cottage Hosp in Santa Barbara, where he remains critical but stable. Two broken legs, two broken arms, broken pelvis, collapsed lung. Miraculously he doesn't seem to have head trauma. The docs are going to start waking him up today - please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. He does Ironman and is in his mid-50s so he starts from a good, healthy place. His name is Gary. The report said the front of the SUV looked like it had hit a deer. Young woman was driving, baby in a car seat in the back, simply swerved and came right at the group of riders (texting? distracted? who knows) Keep fighting, Gary!

  8. My goodness, Cathy, that is a LOT of trauma. And yes, VERY lucky no brain injury! Best wishes to him and will pray for no complications and an uneventful rehab.

    This destroys my illusion that the Solvang area is rather safer for cycling than here, where drivers are downright hostile still...but distracted driving can happen anywhere. (and getting on my soapbox here) Ironically I would bet that the young lady drives an SUV partly because she thought it would be safer--for her and her infant--

    Yes, I am a little prejudiced against SUV drivers because of the way they barrel down the middle of the streets in my neighborhood, don't yield to other traffic, too fast and usually with only one or two occupants (in my 1940s neighborhood of small starter homes and young families of one or 2 children). I've had to leap out of the way on many occasions, and often notice the phone glued to the ear as I do so. I wonder if the large vehicle gives the driver a distorted sense of her place in the world.


  9. Rae, some in the group felt this was a display of road rage, perhaps meant to scare them but it got out of hand....truthfully I can't wrap my head around that concept from a young woman with a baby in the back seat. Reports were that she kept trying to leave the scene and never once asked about Gary (and another woman broke her wrist I think) but I'm sure she was experiencing shock. The police let her leave after more than an hour on the scene. Very disturbing. Quite a miracle she didn't wipe out the entire group of some 7-10 riders.

  10. Hey Cathy...I"ll be keeping your cousin in my thoughts...gosh...what the hell is wrong with people? I ride Foxen ALL THE TIME! (it's literally my backyard of cycling). And it's something about OUR the cyclists are somehow infringing on our freedoms or something. Cuz you know what? I haven't seen ONE act of impatience, honking, rudeness, shouting comments, and any of the other things we see ROUTINELY back in the states on my rides here. Bikes are riding 2 and 3 across on NARROW roads, and the cars coming up behind just SLOW THE HELL DOWN and wait until they can pass! The bikes DO NOT even go single file! As I ride hugging the left line, sometimes even in dirt and mud trying to give the cars all the room to pass that I can, if they can't clearly see around me to pass they slow down and just bide their time. It's just AMAZING compared to what I'm used to back home. I feel terrible that the cars are stuck behind but they just take it in stride and pass when it's safe. I ALWAYS give them a wave after they've waited to pass, and I think I must be the only one, as none of the bikes I pass in my car do that...they just act like I don't exist (in the car I mean). Not rude, just not concerned, like it's THEIR right to be on a bike and the cars can deal with it. And they do. I bet I don't get ONE ride in back home before somebody in a car is RUDE to me on my bike. We are a country of SUCH entitled asses. The heck with everybody's all about ME! (not ME personally, you know what I mean).

    Didn't get to watch it (was out riding) but read the recap on MSR...good to see Spartacus is in top form...hope he CRUSHES the Classics this year! Said it before, will say it again, he is SUCH a class act! GO FABIAN!!! (and how utterly COOL is it that he is w/ Shack now!!!)

  11. Man, I'm sorry to hear about that cyclist. We had a similar incident on one of my frequent routes a little while back. The imagery sticks with you. Matt, I'm glad you were able to get some miles in during your European Adventure. Sorry you had to face those headwinds alone. A little teamwork would have fixed that right up. Good luck to your cousin, Cathy. Tell Gary we're pullin' for him!


  12. Cousin Gary was starting to wake up yesterday - moving his left shoulder some, trying to yawn and one chest tube was removed. Hope to hear more good news today. He's done more than 30 Ironmans so I can only credit that history and dedication to the fact that he's alive now....otherwise, I don't know how he could have survived.