Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Calderdale MB Marathon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Calderdale MB Marathon. Show all posts

Monday, 14 October 2019

Sunday 13 October 2019 – The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon (Number 21)

Just like last year, we managed to choose a wet day for this event. We are pictured above, at the start, before slowly succumbing to total saturation from a mixture of sweat, and water ingress. Luckily, it was not cold, or windy - there was just a persistent light rain that left the camera in my pocket until transferred to a dry set of clothes at the finish. Here, in the cricket club this year, we enjoyed a welcome pint, Greg sitting at the edge of the lounge as he was forbidden entry due to still being caked in mud. (Or is he concealing some sort of contagious lurgy?!)
In between these two photos we had spent between 3 hours 24 minutes (Paul and Greg), and 3 hours 53 minutes (me) on the new 44.6 km course - a little longer than the old one - with 1100 metres ascent (as before). There were just two (very welcome) refreshment points, fewer than usual, as shown on the map at the foot of this posting. The route was very well signed - no need for a map.
Whilst the others used their modern bikes, out of tradition I used my 29 year old Shogun Trailbreaker, which finished up with a cracked frame after last year's event. Since then, it has been welded and re-sprayed, and as usual it performed well on this occasion - albeit a service is needed.
The new route involved turning left instead of right at Grain Water Bridge, where it was disappointing not to find the usual refreshment point. Instead, rather than the flattish road to Pecket Well, a steep hill (I walked up it) led to Stairs Edge. Then there was a long section over rough ground beside water conduits, some of which the organisers had needed to get special permission from the Water Board for the paths to be used for this event. Those with suspension (ie everyone else in the event) had a decided advantage here.
Robert had zoomed past me before Grain Water Bridge, having succumbed to a puncture near the start - otherwise he'd have been far ahead at that point.
Nab Water Lane was eventually reached. The juice, banana, chocolate and jelly babies were all most welcome at the support point. By now I think most people would have been soaked, and some were getting cold in the wet, rainy mist.
From here, over Oxenhope Moor on a quiet road, then an excellent, mainly downhill, route led to Luddenden Foot, where the A646 main road was crossed, and a final 200 metre climb was endured (most of us had to walk up a steep cobbled section) before a final glorious descent to the finish at Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club.
It was a fairly hasty beer for me, as those who had finished half an hour earlier had already feasted on the soup and rolls provided to finishers, and Paul and Greg needed to get home for an imminent birthday party. Which, as it was Paul's party, it would be appropriate for him to attend. I hope it went well.
Here's a summary of results over the years.
Here's the route - 44.6 km, with about 1100 metres ascent. Click on the image for a better version.
Other CMBM reports I have written are , and the CMBM website with results etc, is .
Thanks go to Robert, Paul and Greg for joining me on this event, and thanks, Paul, for the lift.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Sunday 14 October 2018 – The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon (Number 20)


It’s that time of year again. My 16th appearance at this event which started in 1999. Only Brian Jennings has made more appearances here. During those 19 years the nature of the equipment has changed from classic mountain bikes with no suspension or disc brakes to the high maintenance modern kit. I was even passed by an electric bike on today’s first hill.

However, my old 1990 bike performed well today despite not having been serviced for some time.

Whilst Robert couldn’t make it this year, I was joined by Paul and Greg for their fourth outing in this event, and by recently retired Richard who was tired after a cross country run yesterday.

We arrived at Sowerby Bridge in light rain, which continued throughout the morning. Greg, Richard and Paul are pictured above before the start, by which time we were all swathed in waterproof clothing that kept the rain out and the sweat in… I suspect we all felt pretty damp for most of the morning, relying on the brisk activity to keep us warm.

The Hardcastle Crags support point was excellent. It breaks a steep ascent and today as always it was manned by a very efficient team. I stopped there whilst other participants admired my bike …

Rider(s): “That reminds me of my first mountain bike.”

Martin: “It is my first mountain bike.” [Not quite true as I had a ‘Rough Stuff’ bike before that.]

By now, Paul, having waited for me at the first checkpoint near Mytholmroyd, had sped off into the distance in the heavier rain.


I didn’t take any more pictures during the ride. My well stowed camera (‘phone) survived an uncharacteristic incident at the very top of Midgley Moor. I was sizing up a good route across some rocks that were bordered by deep puddles, when I leant too far forward – causing the bike to tip me gently into one of said puddles. Luckily there was no witness to this carelessness, and after much wringing out I managed to recover sufficient to cycle (rather than walk) most of the brilliant descent from the moor, the last technical section of the route.

I’d passed Richard a little earlier, just getting ready to set off after a puncture repair, and I had a fear that he was lurking just behind me and would have captured the ‘lying in a bog’ incident on film, but luckily he had inexplicably (the route is very well signposted) got misplaced and finished (out of position) just behind me. He’ll fare better next year, I’m sure.

We all finished within a half hour period and collected some pretty buffs after a selfie in which my camera’s misted up lens punished Greg for his failure to take a picture of me at the start. Can you tell whose bike has mudguards? They worked well today and enabled me to discard the glasses that kept misting up.


We adjourned to the Church Stile Inn for a pleasant half hour’s debriefing before the other three returned to Hale, where Paul was due to attend a birthday party. Happy birthday, Paul. I went home, leaving Sue somewhere in the vicinity of rainy Hebden Bridge, where coincidentally she was out with some of our walking pals.

Here’s a record of our CMBM efforts, excluding Don, Liz, Craig and two Davids whose efforts would just clutter this page, that they are unlikely to visit anyway.


Here’s the route – slightly different to last year’s course that was adjusted due to a path closure – 42.2 km with about 1100 metres ascent.


The results are here, and all my blog reports are here.

Today’s Statistics:

Winner – 2 hrs 3 min – 164 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 9 min
Paul: 3 hrs 19 min – 89
Greg: 3 hrs 39 min – 114
Martin: 3 hrs 45 min – 120
Richard: 3 hrs 50 min – 124

Congratulations to the organisers for making the event run so smoothly and for providing lots of drinks and food along the way and at the finish.

Finally, here’s a photo of me descending to Grain Water Bridge last year. I’ll add this year’s picture if there is one (see below). It may be very similar but I’ll be covered in waterproof clothing that is struggling to breathe.


Later: here’s this year’s picture, as promised.


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Sunday 8 October 2017 – The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon


Just Robert and I turned up for this year’s CMBM, other regulars having alternative commitments. They were not alone, as numbers were seriously down from previous years, with only 150 or so taking part. As has now become normal, I set off right at the back on my 1990 Shogun bike that behaved impeccably as usual, once a minor fault with a new mudguard had been rectified.


Robert made his way through the crowd and rode in the middle of the field, whilst I stayed right at the back, nursing my hamstring injury.


After a few wetish days we were blessed with pretty much perfect weather for the ride, but conditions were very ‘wet’ underfoot (undertyre?).

The support points were great, with drinks, bananas, flapjack and jelly babies available in copious quantities.

I realised how slowly I was going when riders started to worry about ‘cut off’ points for slowcoaches! Yes, I was going along at a very gentle pace, avoiding any danger by descending slower than usual on the greasy surfaces.

“No need to worry” were my thoughts, as I joined the line of stragglers fighting their way across the sludge that had developed on Midgley Moor.

From the point where I took the next three pictures, I walked over the moor as cycling involved just a bit too much strain on my injury.

Here’s Amanda Lees, who later finished up walking even more than me on the difficult descent to Luddenden.


I think this is Simon Midgley, struggling to contend with his eponymous moor. You can just see the string of fellow stragglers ahead of him.


There were good views towards Stoodley Pike across the sunlit Hebden valley.


Robert finished in 3 hours 12 minutes, and came back down to the Rochdale Canal to meet me. Thanks Robert, and my apologies for finishing so slowly by walking up the final hill. I’ve rarely done that before, but today it was wise under the circumstances. My leisurely pace has avoided any unpleasant after effects.


Thanks to the finish marshal pictured below who took the above photo. Also seen in the picture is the eight year old boy who finished nearly half an hour ahead of me. Well done him!


Robert and I were the only riders adjourning to The Church Stile Inn, ‘Open as Usual’, but not for long if the limited availability of beer and the filthy condition of the place is anything to go by. It was nice outside in the sunshine.


Here’s the route – 42 km (26 miles) with around 1100 metres ascent, plus a kilometre or so to the start. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

It’s a bit different from previous years due to a closed path. The change in route to replace some cobbled and boggy sections with a long stretch of tarmac should have resulted in faster times, but was countered by the slow sections through mud following recent rain.


The results are here, and a brief summary of our results over the years is in this posting, whilst all my blog reports are here.

Today’s Statistics:

Winner – 1 hr 59 min – 154 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 5 min
Robert: 3 hrs 12 min – 85
Martin: 4 hrs 20 min – 146

Finally, congratulations again to the organisers for making the event run so smoothly and for providing lots of drinks and food along the way and at the finish.

Monday, 10 October 2016

A Weekend ‘At Home’


As many readers know, a weekend in Timperley starts with a parkrun, usually at Wythenshawe. This was my 99th run there, so I took a bit of cake and some FOC incorrectly printed ‘Another Pyrenean Adventure’ books.

As you can see from the above picture, there was more cake (a ‘proper’ cake), more free handouts, an attentive run director or two, barcode scanning in the background, etc. It was a perfect morning with dry conditions and followed by a lazy coffee or two outside the Courtyard café.

As always, a great way to start the weekend. There were some impressive performances, in particular from ‘The Queen of Wythenshawe’, Jackie Cordingley, on her 200th parkrun. Well done Jackie. Well done also to Richard Evans for getting a PB, one second inside Greg Barber’s best time! Results are here.

Sue and I arrived home to find Jacob and Jessica outside and ready to spend the rest of the day with us. Much of this was spent in Walton Park, an easy bike ride down the canal towpath. Jessica, just three, showed us how she had mastered her Balance Bike and now needs some pedals to speed her on her way.


Jess can also stay on a swing, whereas Jacob managed to escape from his swing whilst high in mid air. Just a few bruises, but we may need to leave his cycle helmet on next time!

The ice cream van arrived twice whilst we were at the park. There’s no end to the time the children want to spend on simple play apparatus and bikes.

Jess enjoyed a lolly that turned her tongue blue…


Sunday brought along the annual Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon. This year we were a group of five. Robert went ahead as usual and finished inside three hours. I set off right at the back of the 230 or so participants, together with Paul and Greg (their third year) and first timer Andy. Here are Greg, Andy and Paul waiting for the start. My 1990 Shogun bike is in the background. It behaved impeccably.


Despite lovely weather, I didn’t take many pictures this year. The one below shows Paul stuffing his face at the first checkpoint (near Hebden Bridge after about 15 km) and Greg ready to storm on ahead. I couldn’t keep up with them after that. Andy pottered along behind us all, taking lots of photos and much care on the technical sections. None of us had any problems and the ride went very smoothly. Great fun. It doesn’t matter if the group splits as there’s always somebody to chat to as you progress over the 26 mile route.


Here’s the route – 42 km (26 miles) with around 1100 metres ascent.


The results are here, and a brief summary of our results over the years is in this posting, whilst all my blog reports are here.

Finally, congratulations to the organisers for making the event run so smoothly and for providing lots of drinks and food along the way and at the finish. Brilliant.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Sunday 11 October 2015 – The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon


Yes, it’s that time of year again, and we have the same crew as last year – me, Robert, Paul and Greg. The picture above shows Paul, Greg and Robert at the start.

Robert returned to his bike after he had taken the picture below and started way ahead of the rest of us. We didn’t see him again until near the finish.


You can see that we dress immaculately for this event – apart from me – I seem to be wearing the same clothes that I was in for yesterday’s ! (Two seconds off a PB, very frustrating.)

The most observant will see that I have (temporarily?) retired my 25 year old Shogun bike from the event this year, in favour of nine year old ‘Stumpy’ that I finally got used to riding during my recent trip. I must admit that the ride was much smoother with suspension, though I found myself being more hesitant on the technical descent from Midgley Moor. (Maybe that’s an age thing – there were only seven over 60’s in the 292 strong field, two of whom retired.)

As last year, the three of us started gently at the back of the field, leaving Robert to shoot off and complete the course in 2 hours 55 minutes, his fastest time in thirteen attempts.

The field quickly spread out – well, it shot off ahead of us, and I was again able to enjoy the fast descent to Mytholmroyd at my own pace.

Shortly after that descent, the first checkpoint is reached, near Hebden Bridge. I waited for some time for Paul and Greg to appear (I thought Paul was ahead of me but I’d inadvertently passed him). Eventually they turned up.


We agreed that I’d go ahead at my own pace in the fast, dry conditions. Perfect weather for the event.

The marshalling and signage and checkpoints were superb as always. There’s no need for a map on this event, and no chance of leaving the route unless you ignore the signage.

I waited for a while at Grain Water Bridge checkpoint. Cold drinks, bananas, mini Swiss rolls and jelly babies were the favoured foodstuffs of the day, so there was no need to carry any food or water. 


I continued over Midgley Moor without incident, though others all around me seemed to be practicing their somersaulting techniques.

As last year, I was encouraged up the final hill by Robert, who had come back down to Luddenden Foot to meet us.

3 hours 29 minutes was my time at what seemed a very gentle pace – a nice morning’s ride, and Paul and Greg pedalled in shortly afterwards, taking 3.44 and 3.47 respectively. The full results are .


You’ll see that in contrast to last year, when Greg relaxed into a ‘Lazy Moment’ at the finish, this year he was moving so fast that his image is blurred!

After tea, soup and chilli, we adjourned as usual to the Church Stile Inn for beers. Then it was back to collect certificates and buffs (this year’s alternative to t-shirts) before wending our way home. 

I can only repeat that the support is amazing for the modest entry fee of £15.75, especially as it’s a fund raising event for a local scout group. A big vote of thanks to the organisers, marshals and support point volunteers. They should be proud in that their standards are much higher than those of many commercially organised events.

Here’s the route - 42.5 km (27 miles), 1000 metres ascent, 2-6 hours. Brilliant paths for mountain biking.


This is the eighth time I’ve cycled in this event since starting ‘Outdoor Activities’, hence the fairly brief report.

The other reports can be found here, and the route description and results summary are here. The CMBM website is here, with this year’s results here. I’ve just put 9 October 2016 in the diary…

See you then…?

Monday, 13 October 2014

Sunday 12 October 2014 – The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon


Yes, it’s that time of year. The picture above shows Paul, Robert and Greg after the finish, and here’s Robert at the start, a foggy 50 metres down the road from Paul, Greg and me.


Here are Paul and Greg, first timers on this event – starting with me from right at the back of the 320 strong field. Everyone was very jolly at this end of the field.


We left Robert to shoot off and finish in under 3 hours, whilst the rest of us took it easy. We had to at the start, as 320 people don’t fit very well onto the narrow lanes, especially when there’s a pile-up going up a steep hill because of so many people dismounting to push.

The field slowly spread out, and I was able to enjoy the fast descent to Mytholmroyd – it’s a bit technical but much easier than in the past – with lots of slower descenders allowing me to pass them.

Soon after that descent, the first checkpoint is reached, near Hebden Bridge, and here Greg is faced with the dilemma of choosing between a drink (from the left) or cake (from the right). I think he managed both, but narrowly avoided causing another pile up!


The conditions were dry, and once the fog had lifted it was sunny. Some time before this checkpoint at Grain Water Bridge, Greg’s exertions from the previous day caught up with him, slowing our progress from here. But not to worry, it was a lovely day to be out on the bikes.


The support was immaculate, as ever, even down to a first aider running up onto Midgley Moor to help a stricken participant. Paul had been just behind him when he fell – so he copped the job of looking after the guy until he’d recovered sufficiently to carry on.

Meanwhile I’d enjoyed the moor in easier conditions than usual and waited at a hairpin bend (pictured below) for Paul, who had been waiting higher up for Greg, who apparently took a few dives himself. They turned up after about 15 minutes, and we managed to get to the end without any further incidents (no cramp for me for a change, probably thanks to the break). We even managed to cycle all the way up the steep final hill without dismounting, encouraged by Robert, who having finished nearly an hour ahead of us, had come back down the hill to Luddenden Foot to meet us.


Having reached the finish, Greg relaxed immediately into what I’ll describe as a ‘Lazy Moment’.


He soon recovered whilst the rest of us went off to stash the bikes, before enjoying a beer in the sun outside the Church Stile Inn. Here we are before that, after enjoying tea and chilli kindly provided by the organisers, and having collected our t-shirts and certificates.


The support is amazing for the modest entry fee of £15, especially as it’s a fund raising event for a local scout group. A big vote of thanks to the organisers.

Here’s the route - 42.5 km (27 miles), 1000 metres ascent, 2-6 hours. (We took rather less than 4 hours, with Robert an hour ahead of us.)


This is the seventh time I’ve cycled in this event since starting ‘Outdoor Activities’, hence the fairly brief report.

The other reports can be found here, the route description and results summary are here, and there’s a slideshow here (click on the first image and then click ‘slideshow’), mainly pictures of folk who would have finished in three and a half to four hours, descending from Midgley Moor at the point where I was waiting for Paul and Greg.

The CMBM website is here, with this year’s results here. I’ve just put 11 October 2015 in the diary…

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sunday 14 October 2012 - The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon (CMBM)

Starting in Bowood Lane

This blog passed its fifth birthday unnoticed, in a flurry of Marilyn Bagging activity with M2.  I’ve now realised that fact, as this is my sixth report on the annual mountain biking event - CMBM.

The CMBM reports are all here, with route details and a results summary specifically here.  The CMBM website is here.  Next year’s event will be on Sunday 13 October 2013.

I was faced with a decision as to whether to use ‘Stumpy’, the full suspension bike I’ve had for over a year.  The bike is fine, but on rough ground bits tend to fall off it.  I could see that conditions would be very muddy, so I chose to take ‘Shogun’ on its 11th CMBM.  ‘Shogun’ has closely fitting mudguards.  Today that meant that my back stayed clean and dry, whereas most folk looked as if they were encountering severe bowel problems.  In fact, a number of few riders politely enquired as to whether I was really taking part in the event, as I was pottered along in clean clothes on the bike that is so ancient that it sometimes gets ‘wow, a classic bike’ comments!

It was a beautiful day, starting with the scraping of thick frost from the car, then fog on the motorway, with mist gradually dissipating after the 9am start, where about 350 of us assembled in Bowood Lane near Sowerby Bridge.

CMBM start 2012

Early sections of the ride weren’t any more muddy than usual, and it was disappointing to find that the rocky descent to Mytholmroyd has been ‘sanitised’, meaning there was no need for anyone to dismount on this previously tricky descent.

It’s a steep climb from New Bridge to the second support point, where I stopped for a while this year.  The picture below demonstrates the brilliant performance of those at the support points.  Whilst some riders take a break like I did, many just keep going, taking drinks and food from the supporters without needing to dismount.  There’s no need to carry a map, as all the significant turns are both signed and in most cases are manned by marshalls.  The aim of the event is to present a personal mountain biking challenge, at the same time raising funds for the local Scout group.  This year there were two other events taking place on the same day over different routes.  We were told to ignore the yellow signs!

Support Point above Hardcastle Crags

After Walshaw Hamlet there’s a steepish climb up to Shackleton Knoll.  This year the surface was so slithery that I didn’t see anyone managing the ascent without needing to dismount, though I’m sure the leaders managed fine.  Here’s Scott Oddy near the top of the hill, where the gradient eases.

Scott Oddy rising to Shackleton Knoll

Looking back down the hill, many of those in the picture are walking up the steeper sections, where the ground this year was too smooth and slippery to gain traction.

Cyclists ascending towards Shackleton Knoll

After this there’s a long bumpy descent – one of the sections where Shogun’s lack of suspension means that I’m comparatively slow compared with most riders.  Then, after a pleasant road section, comes the crux of the ride, the moorland crossing culminating in the technical descent from Midgley Moor, where most of the event photos are taken.  Click here (for a limited period) if you want to view images of bikers in all manner of weird positions and thoroughly coated in mud. Robert and I look relatively sensible compared with many others!

Whilst neither Robert nor I fell off, we found it very difficult to avoid the foot deep slurry of peaty puddles across the moor.  The waterproof lining in my well used Keen trail shoes (see footnote) proved to be up to the job, combined with close fitting ankle gaiters, and my feet stayed comfortably dry, albeit coated in slurry from a misjudged pond crossing.

It was a particularly tiring morning, and for the first time in eleven years, albeit with nobody in sight behind me, I walked up the start of the steep hill to the finish.  In fact, I followed a large group who were all also walking.  But I finished in the saddle…

Approaching the CMBM finish on 14/10/12

Then it was into the routine of enjoying some tea and soup, collecting the t-shirt and finisher’s certificate (and this year a Thank You card ‘In appreciation of your support over 10 entries of the CMBM’), throwing the bike into the back of the car, a quick change, and a celebratory beer with Robert at The Church Stile Inn, where we stood outside with our beers, cheering on the people still approaching the finish.  In this case, Alistair Murphy.

Alistair Murphy approaches the finish

As you can see, it remained a lovely day.  Who says the weather is always bad in the UK?  They are wrong.

Beer o'clock

Today’s Statistics:

Winner – 2 hrs 6 min – 332 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 35 min
Robert: 3 hrs 1 min – 88
Martin: 3 hrs 37 min – 183

Here’s the Garmin gadget version of the route:

A footwear note:

This year I used my Keen Targhee 11 Walking Shoes for the second time.  These are now nearing the end of their days after 1400 km of walks and numerous bike rides.  I used them together with close fitting ankle gaiters and Sealskinz socks which in the event weren’t needed, as the shoes and gaiters combined withstood the substantial barrage of water and slurry.  My feet stayed perfectly dry.  Robert witnessed the peeling off of the outer layers. So, more plaudits for these splendid Keen shoes. 

Keen Targhee 11 shoes after 1400km