BLOG: ANDY JONES
After getting back from the Bikeline Mersey Two Day on Sunday afternoon, I had the chance to reflect a little on the week. I have to say it seemed a lot more than a week since I'd been at the Eddie Soens race and the National Madison championship the previous weekend.
As ever, Monday was a day to check-in with the office. I'd been more organised and got the Eddie Soens and National Madison pictures to the office over Sunday evening along with the Madison website report. It left Monday morning to pen my blog for the events of the week.
The weather here in Sheffield was again fantastic and took myself for a couple of hours on the bike in the afternoon. I just did my Bakewell run, taking it at a nice steady pace with still feeling the effects of my damaged ribs. In fact it was the first time I'd been through Bakewell since coming off there a fortnight before and so I took the opportunity to pop my head round the door at the pudding shop (actually called Thyme to Taste I realise) and thank the lady assistant there for checking I was okay as I picked myself up after my off. I'd just felt I hadn't said a proper thank you at the time as I was perhaps feeling a little stunned from the fall.
Saw John Charlesworth riding in the opposite direction as I road from Bakewell towards Ashford-in-the-Water. I'd not seen John since our last big Sunday run on February 10 so we stopped and had a catch up on news.
Tuesday morning I went out on the bike once again doing the Bakewell run. My ribs felt slightly better and as I went up Thirteen Bends I managed to put in a sustained effort behind a tractor and trailer and hold 20mph up the gradient and then continue all the way to Bakewell as it picked up speed. The tractor then turned off towards Monyash as I made the turn for Ashford. Have to say I paid for my efforts after as my right side of my rib cage, particularly round the back area started to seize. The Froggatt climb was uncomfortable. Still, I felt things were improving and good to be out pedalling. The light was fantastic and felt I really should have had my camera with me. The Peak landscape was showing to its best.
Spent the afternoon catching up on a few work related things.
Wednesday morning and I went out on the bike again. The weather wasn't great, quite overcast. I saw Dave Coulson over the tops near Owler Bar. He was riding back towards Sheffield. Dave lives on the other side of Sheffield to me. Hes just joined the new Sports Bean/Wilier team led by Ben Luckwell for 2008.
My ribs were feeling increasingly better though still not right. It was good to be feeling an improvement which was seen in me being able to sustain a better average over my Bakewell run loop. As I rode up towards the top of Froggatt I was passed by Gareth Hewitt of KFS Special Vehicles team. I picked up my pace to try and get on to his wheel. He was flying and doing a good 20mph up the climb. I just managed to get on his wheel before he then eased off after his timed effort. Had a quick word with him after I'd caught my breath. He was doing intervals up Froggatt and putting in a loop to Grindleford, on to Calver and back to the bottom of Froggatt to do another ascent. When I saw him it was the end of his fourth ascent of Froggatt. Two more to go he told me as I left him and made my turn back towards Sheffield.
Thursday morning I sorted a few things for my April work schedule during the morning before taking myself out on the bike in the afternoon. It was mild and overcast but thankfully dry. Decided I'd try doing a three hour ride, so I did my Matlock run. Quite enjoyed it. Saw the Kingfisher at the top mill pond on Via Gellia above Cromford. He even had a freshly caught fish in his beak. As I passed the Grangemill fishing pond I saw four young Mute Swans had taken residence. Got back feeling okay although I still knew about my back and ribs. Much improved.
Friday I had a decorator round at 08:00 to paint the external side of my windows. My flat is a housing association property which has service charges to look after things like the external maintenance of the building. Used my time while the decorator was about doing a picture search for track specific images. I'd had a request during the week to get a selection of images together for a publisher.
By midday the decorator had finished what he could do at that point and arranged to pop back on Monday to finish the glossing.
I ventured out on the bike in the afternoon, doing my Matlock run again. It was a nice afternoon with some fantastic light again. I really should have had my camera. Missed opportunities again. Saw my Kingfisher again in his usual spot on route.
Got back with a good average. Just over 17mph is a good marker I feel for that run. Feeling much improved and feel the riding has helped the healing process.
Spent some of the evening getting things together for the weekend's Bikeline Mersey Two Day over the weekend.
Set out at 08:00 on Saturday morning for the Two Day which is held in North Wales. The weather forecast for Saturday had been given for some bad weather coming in, but fortunately that really didn't materialise over the day's first two stages.
The prologue is held near the Hope Sports Centre HQ. It runs up the 1.5km straight drag from the Dale Nursery on Kinnerton Road. Run under leaden skies and a stiff head wind, SIS/Treks Ian Wilkinson topped the times with a 2:50:22 with Rapha's Dean Downing in second and PCA's Simon Richardson in third.
The start of stage two was preceded by a period of remembrance and reflection for the life of Peter Bissell. John Herety co-ordinated the proceedings and gave a few words relating that Saturday was a day of remembrance and celebration of Peter's life with Peter's family and friends holding their day of celebration for Peter's life in their home area. On the start line in Hope, ex-room mate Ryan Bonser, Arctic Rochford's Simon Wilson, Malcolm Elliott, Ian Wilkinson, Matt Stephens and Russ Downing fronted the representation of the days field in a few moments of silence to reflect on Bissell's life. This was followed by applause before the field departed out on to the course for the afternoon's stage.
The short 56km stage was held at a blistering pace. The weather was kind too, with generally bright conditions interspersed with the odd light shower. Evan Oliphant got the stage with Dale Appleby in second and Dean Downing in third. They had been in a break of about eight riders leaving a gap of about 40 seconds to the main pack containing race leader Wilkinson. It meant that Dean Downing took the leaders jersey and Oliphant and Appleby moved in to second and third spot.
I drove back to Sheffield for the night and made a start on editing a few pictures from the days action and getting a selection sent for the website report.
Set out at 07:00 on Sunday morning. The light on the drive over the Snake was fantastic. I know I keep saying it, but the conditions of late have been exceptional. Unfortunately I've not managed to make the most of it with some landscape work. It's annoying really as those kind of conditions, where the light is so rich and the air so clear, only come around so often. It was good too to see the Lapwing arriving back on the upland farmland near Hollow Meadows ready for the breeding season. A sign Spring is on its way.
Arrived just before nine and got to work getting some bike of the weeks out of the way as riders got ready. I'd done a couple on the Saturday and by the day was out on Sunday I'd a total of eight in the bag.
Sunday's stage is always a good race and everyone welcomed the pleasant weather conditions. It's usually held under rainy and windy conditions. It's even had snowy conditions in the past.
Enjoyed the day. By the time I got to the Denbigh circuit of the route there was a breakaway. They stayed away until just before the run back towards Ruthin and the climb up the A494 from Llanbedr-Dyffryn-Clwyd. Simon Richardson and Jon Tieran-Locke crested the climb with about 10 seconds or so to the chasing pack headed by Tom Southam and Matt Stephens. Normally the race is more splintered at this point.
After the last car I nipped in to the traffic and headed up the route to take the right turn just a short way after the top of the climb. Managed to get to the finish and see Ian Wilkinson take the stage with race leader Dean Downing coming in a close second to take the overall. Russ Downing headed the main bunch gallop to take third on the stage.
Presentations over, it was back on the road home. Spent the rest of the evening sorting the racing pictures and putting the Bike of the Week's in to folders to send to the FTP. Finally got to bed at 01:00 leaving the FTP to run overnight.
Another week in the life and I know I have a busy start to the coming week with a three-day bike feature photo shoot. More of that next week.
Andy Jones is Cycling Weekly's resident photographer, and has covered pretty much every major cycle race there is, from downhill mountain biking to the Tour de France. You can see many of Andy's photos in our online Gallery section.