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Extreme Overload
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Extreme Overload

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I'm sure those who can be bothered to read my stuff are missing their weekly fix so a short story below to stop you getting bored in the off season. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now the season is out of the way and I've had a chilled out few weeks to unwind, it's time to start work for next year. My focus for the next couple of months will be strength training and this can be carried out in different ways, but unfortunately they all involve overload, which in turn equals pain! ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

With help from Chris Wood I've started weight training after a couple of decades since I last turned to the gym. I'm also using my turbo for shortish duration high wattage intervals. However my favourite weapon of self-destruction is a large fixed gear in the hills. There are some nasty little bonks in Delamere but for more sustained and intense gradients you need to go to the Peak District, where there are plenty of nasty back lane climbs.

Today I rode out through the lanes to Congleton and at Buglawton the pain started and continued for the best part of the next 2 hours. I would normally ride a gear of about 72" (48 x 18) in the Peaks and even this is quite tough in places, but today I opted for 83" (52 x 17). After a few steady gradients I hit my first serious slope at Timbersbrook with a 400m section of 1 in 7 (14%), followed by an undulating climb of about 1 mile between 1 in 10 & 1 in 7 in places, up to the back of Bosley Cloud. This was a bit of a softener followed by a fast drop down to Rushton Spencer, to spin the legs out a bit.

The West side of Gun Hill was next which was tough but not too bad as it rises in steps so at least you get some respite. A twisty down hill twiddle followed to Danebridge and then a short grunt up to Wincle, where a gel decided to explode in my hand leaving me in a bit of a sticky situation! ๐Ÿ™„ I stopped at a stream and got most of it off my hands and then got going again. With hindsight the unscheduled stop probably did me a favour as things were about to get a whole lot tougher. The right turn in Wincle takes you to a 1 in 5 (20%) section of muddy lane and at this point I was reduced to a snails pace as I just about managed to get each pedal stroke over the top vertical position without collapsing in a heap. These efforts are seriously good overload training that just can't be simulated in a gym as failure to use every muscle in your legs, front and back will result in a fall and once you stop it's impossible to start again on such a gradient.

The drop down to Allgreave cross roads was welcome recovery time, but after 1hr 45 mins and several hard climbs my legs were starting to complain and there is no easy way out of Allgreave. I took the Wildboarclough road at Allgreave and after half a mile or so turned left to take the hill over the top towards Sutton. This climb is pretty easy at first and lulls you into a false sense of security and then ahead you see a zig zag lane climbing the last 600m (horizontal not vertical), or so to the ridge. I'm guessing that this was about 1 in 7 but much longer than the previous 1 in 5 at Wincle, so by half way my legs were screaming at me to stop. Once again I ignored the pain and kept mauling the pedals. With about 10 pedal revs to go my legs nearly buckled but I just about made it to the top, where I collapsed at the side of the road.

Ahead I got a cracking view of Cheshire with Jodrell Bank dominating the otherwise green plain. I glanced at my Garmin which showed 40 miles and about 2hrs 25mins elapsed and thought, "that's enough hard work for one day as I still have a 20 mile ride home". Unfortunately I have this annoying habit of making last minute route changes when I see an interesting looking previously unexplored lane and to my right I suddenly came across one. Without hesitation I turned right and I'm glad a I did as it was a high level traverse of the hillside that took me across to Macclesfield Forest, with superb views of Teggs Nose across the valley. I came out just before the Macc Forest Visitor Centre and thought, great I can turn left and drop through Langley and back to the flat-lands. Then that little voice came into my head again (it really is a curse you know)!! ๐Ÿ™ I've not ridden up Standing Stone for years and it's just up here so why not give it a go. My sensible head turned left but some irresistible force turned the bike to the right. ๐Ÿ˜• ๐Ÿ˜•

I remembered the start of the hill that was used many years ago by Manchester Wheelers as an open Hill Climb, but it was surprisingly easy. I was working hard but nothing that I couldn't sustain so maybe my earlier concern was unfounded. Then the road turned slightly to the right and ahead was the wall of tarmac that I think is commonly referred to as, "the sting in the tail"! It's funny how the brain blocks out bad memories and mine certainly blocked out this one. Just to make it worse as I hit the hard bit I caught a bloke and his young son pushing their bikes up the hill on foot. The dad shouted words of encouragement so the pressure was on for me to perform. That flippin' voice in my head was also having a go saying, you can't get off it's just a hill so man up you big wuss!" Soooooo much pressure, but times like this really sort out the men from the boys. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ This last climb would either make me or break me and guess what.........

I quite enjoyed that short 200m stroll to the top as it made a nice change from all that grunting and sweating. I'm sure the bloke and his lad never noticed me getting off and if they did then hopefully it made them feel better for also getting off. The things I do just to make others feel better! I met Nicky Craig and his son at the top of Toot Hill so stopped for a chat before dropping down the hill to Langley. I knew Nicky years ago when he was a promising schoolboy riding local cyclo-cross events and he has gone on to be one of the best cross and mountain bike riders this country has ever produced and his talented son is following in his dad's steps as he rode the Worlds this year as a junior. Nicky's dad was also a past winner of the 3 peaks and they are the only father and son to have won this famous race. Such a talented family but more importantly they just love getting out and getting mucky on the tracks around their home in the Peaks.

The ride home was pretty easy but I knew I'd been on a ride when I got back after 4hr 35mins and just 67 miles. A day to remember and great weather for November and a new challenge before the Winter is out to get up that last bit on 83"!! . Loggerheads should be fun tomorrow! ๐Ÿ˜‰