Monday, 28 September 2009

Oh to be a roadman

As a youngster I dreamed of being a professional roadman when I was older. Indeed I still think that now. I love riding the roads.
I never quite managed to be able to ride at the level that is needed to enter the fascinating world that is a the life of a professional bike rider.
I can still churn out 19/20 miles an hour and that does me.
The peak district is my favourite place to ride and I can often be found heading for the hills.
My boyhood hero was Sean Kelly. Today I finally managed to get hold of his biography which was a big surprise as I had all but lost hope of ever getting hold of a copy
So I thought I would mention today a bit about my cycling background.
Raleigh, I worked there as a welder a few years ago when times were hard. Interest rates where 15% and I worked all the hours god sent to earn a few quid. My record of 4400 Raleigh Activator frames welded in a fortnight was in 1993 the most a frame builder had ever done. I still remember the Welded Frames Manager coming back after plant shutdown and myself and quite a few other temporary framebuilders had knocked out nearly 20,000 frames. Now that was a sight to behold.
The famous Raleigh badge.
Sean Kelly , my hero doing what he did best. On the Pave in the hell of the north in front driving the pace. Only a very select breed of rider can do this. Kelly wouldn't have been flicking his elbow to let anyone from behind come and share the pace.

To truly understand what cycling is about you have to have suffered on a bike. The Paris Roubaix race is certainly the hardest one day race of them all.
Riding for the Skill squad. Kelly rode all season unlike today's roadmen who very often just ride a few races and take the money.
About to set of for a 100mile ride, nice jersey. Although im no Eddy Mercyx, I can certainly ride a roadbike.

Back home and this was taken after 160miles on the bike. I have managed about 15 rides of more than a hundred miles this year. Pitiful really compared to what a pro would ride. A rider like Kelly would do 100miles a day when in full flow.
Probably averaging over 20,000 miles a year easily.

I have no photos of myself on the bike so I took one. I dont like being photographed on two wheels as I prefer it to be a private place. When Im riding my mind is at ease and I prefer to push myself to the limit, especially going uphill. Lots of bikies like me actually come to like the pain that is encountered whilst riding long distances at pace on a bike.
I certainly prefer cycling to fellrunning but the amount of time that id need to devote for training would be massive. So instead I run more than I cycle.
Now if only I had been able to resist pain like Kelly could I may have become a millionaire cyclist like he did. Ha Ha Im dreaming again.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Quick badger security are coming

Sunday morning and my legs was aching after the fell race so I decided ( well no , Badger woke me up and gave me that look ) to have a wander around the Ironworks with my camera. We did however venture lets say a little to close.
The works are massive and the parts that I have been taking pictures of are just a tiny part of the site so I thought I would snap a few more shots of different parts of the works.

Gate 2, how hard can it be
Inside part of the works there is a secret pond, square shaped and not many people know about it
Pipes with the part of the site that is being demolished right in the distance. Gives some idea of the size of the place
Stanhope Plant stores. The site had many plants within itself. Central Melting Plant, Stanhope Plant, Dale Plant, Hallam Plant and many more.
Mould boring shop just prior to the security van incident. Quick badger scarper
These are imported pipes. Instead of coming straight out of the works they now come in from Europe via containers

Badger having a mid walk drink

Hundreds of containers. What are they gonna do with them. They have nothing to put in them to get rid of them. They could melt them down of course to make pipes , but they have closed the plant. Catch 22. It makes me wonder.

Chance to shoot the main Wellman crane inside the Melting plant
The plant is starting to look very bare now. The chimney has gone and it looks a sorry state. The Hallam plant is the building on the right.
The Hallam plant maufactured the 1600mm pipes and I once watched one being spun in about 30 seconds.

Main entrance view to the plant clearly showing the main Wellman crane girders. Id say about as tall as me easily.

Badger inside an imported pipe. They would make great dog agility trainers
The yellow Wellman crane again. You can see the operators cab that sits under the crane to the left.

Whernside Fell Race

Whernside Fell Race
A warm day for this one and really not my conditions. A long hard trudge up to the summit of Whernside which seemed to go on for ages but I knew that once this had been reached that most of the climbing would be completed. I didnt start feeling anything like comfortable until I had reached the Whernside tarns just before the last pull up to the summit. The race had a few tracky parts to it meaning not true fell and this is where I suffered a bit.
I did try to eat one of those energy GELS, but I hate them and ended up with sticky goo all on my hands and face as I climbed up to the last summit of the race being Great Coum. A blast down back to Dent and very glad to see the finish field come into view.
I tussled with a Bowland Fell Runner for a long way around the route and he knew his way so on the last part of the race I just managed to stick near enough to him so that I did not have to get the map and compass out.
Another new race completed for me but phew it was a tough 12ish miles with lots of climb
On another probably cooler day I could have gained a couple more places but I was happy with how I had done.

The quaint village of Dent

Its got cobbly streets and for a moment you could be down in St Ives in Cornwall

The Howgills, not the area that the race route is run over but there not far away.
Start field

Weary runners washing off the dirt of the race in the river. It was very cold but nice all the same.
Even on a warm day the Emergency Services can be needed. These guys provide much needed cover for races. Usually the Mountain Rescue but this time the Cave Rescue.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Watch it come down

Watch it come down
The Stanton Ironworks site continues to be demolished. Soon all the buildings will be gone and any reference to the site will be forgotten.
A few more pictures that I took. The demolition is now being carried out on the main Central Melting Plant building

Flange plant crane, this part of the site remains working

A picture prior to demolition

The site even has its own fire station

The shearer exiting the main building

The inner steelwork now exposed

The CMP building nearing the end of its life

err same picture and I dont know how to to remove it

The building is being stripped from the inside to leave the outer walls which will be removed last
Access to the site is now severly limited. Over the last few years its been easy to wander around the area but now its almost impossible and Ive had quite a few funny looks from the personel who are working there. They are probably wondering what a man clad only in shorts and a vest complete with a border collie and a camera is taking pictures of them for.

Sunday, 13 September 2009


I decided o take my camera on a couple of night runs. The first with my Pennine Fellrunning friends and the second with Badger on a local run.

Nearly headtorch time

Manchester in the background

Sunset over Kinder Resevoir.

Badger looking at the moon, not sure what the light is too the left

Full moon runs are my favourite

OOoops sorry Badger , think the flash made his eyes go funny

Ive been known to stop running and lie on the ground with the dog and just look up at the moon.

Not bad these photo's and I actually forgot to put it on the night setting. Okay okay I dont even know how to set it.
And people think Im mad for running at night. Wait till it snows, thats even better.

The Ben Nevis Race

The Ben Nevis Race

This race has become one of the highlights of my year. It truly is a brutal fell race. 4500ft takes a fair bit of getting up and it is a true test of both ones mental and physical strength. This was to be my third Ben race and unlike last year after I had completed my Bob Graham and was not in the best shape, this year I was feeling good.
At the start I met up with one of my many friends in the fellrunning world. Most who read this will know Andy Fleet. A young lad who has come a long way quickly. He is a good runner who lets say likes a pint and a laugh after a race. Just my type of runner and we are good friends.
Anyway last year we climbed the Ben together and Andy helped me on the steep ascent by just being there. I was struggling badly last year and although he didnt know it Andy really helped me on the climb.
So we sort of decided to run the race together this time round.
The banter before the start of the race was all about the bad weather. To be honest I wasnt worried as It needs to be about minus 25 before I have to race in a helly. A vest was all I needed and it didnt stop people commenting on my lack of warm clothing. But Iwarm up very quickly so I didnt care.
Andy and myself lined up. Incidentally Andy's dad was also participating and I knew that Andy wanted to do well. He said "Daz I think we should take it steady on the road before the climb". "Okay Andy no problem mate" I told him. But deep down Id already decided that wasnt to be the plan.
The starter set us off and I floored it and I could feel Andy keeping up. He was with me all the way and I kept checking his whereabouts as we started the climb. From last year I knew he would climb well after the Red Burn. As I took a drink from the torrent of water coming down the burn sure enough Andy was right with me. I checked my watched and already knew that Andy's worries about us being able to make a sub 2 hr time had been blown out the water. We were well in that time.
As we climbed the steep rocky section my back started aching. 20 odd years of working in engineering have not done me any favours and the constant stooping over was very painful. We climbed well though and before we knew it we started to run up the field of cairns.
A few words of encouragement to Andy as we neared the summit just to keep his mind focused and after say a thankyou to the summit marshal we handed our race tags in and started our descent.
Now I knew from last year as well that Andy descends well like me on rock so we absolutley hammered it.
Now I dont know how many riskswe took coming dwn that rock but I remember thinking if this goes pear shaped it will be nasty. I had visions of my fall last year but quickly put that out of my mind.
We started the steep ascent of the grass that is virually unrunnable. Runners all around us were falling over and sliding down on there backsides but we managed to get down to the burn very quickly.
I checked my watch at the burn and decided I might be able to get a sub 1hr 50 min time which is one of my dreams in fell running so ran down the path as quick as I could. The road was as hard as ever and after a quick run around the playing field I crossed the line in 1 hr 51mins and something. I was bitterly dissapointed. People who know me will tell you I never check my watch and dont bother about race times, but I do at the Ben. Its just the magical thing of running up and down Britains highest mountain that does this.
Andy was just a few places behind me and for a nineteen year old I was made up for him. To be able to do that at nineteen is quite amazing. How many youngsters in today's society could do that. I doubt many.
I will be back next year to try and go faster.
Andy in the red and white vest. Making it look easy.

Climbing the path, Andy is a few places back.
Finish of last years race

My friend Andy. I thought I got mucky. A good runner and I cant believe im 20 years older than him. Not sure why he wears those gloves

The terrain

Runners descending the Ben

Ben Nevis. 4400 odd feet of pain

Last year loss of concentration. I had done the hard bit but managed to knock myself out albeit for a moment and damage my knee.
Falling is all part of learning your trade as a fell runner.
After my first Ben race and thinking I'm never EVER doing that again. Its insane.

On my knees praying