BLOG: ANDY JONES
It’s been a quieter week which has worked out okay with having damaged my ribs, so a chance to recover.
Spent Monday getting all my Revolution and Clayton Velo pictures edited and sent along to the office FTP. I started them on Sunday as I mentioned the other week, but things always take longer than expected. Anyway, got them on their way and everything was there for midday on Monday.
Also got a ‘Bike of the Week’ together and that was sent to the office. It was then I made a start on my blog. That done, I made one last read through of my Richard Meadows ride story I‘d been doing last week. I like to leave them a couple of days and come back to them with a fresh view. It’s just nice to be able to fine tune certain sections. Finished the day’s work at about 17:30.
Popped out for a bit of food shopping which was a chance to stretch the legs after being in all day. I don’t think sitting over the computer all day did my back and ribs any good. Had one of those moments in the evening where it felt like my lung was collapsing and things were quite uncomfortable.
So, Tuesday morning I was up early and popped down to the minor injuries clinic at the Hallamshire to get the ribs and back checked out. With things feeling like they were not getting any better and particularly after the way I felt on Monday evening, I thought it a good idea to get checked out for peace of mind. The nurse in minor injuries reassured me things were ok, though I was advised to get the back pains checked out with my GP. I wandered up to my local surgery and fortunately got an appointment for 12:20.
My doctor checked me out and carefully explained why I’d being getting the discomfort in my back. He followed my rib discomfort from the front of my chest along the rib to trace it to the area in my back. My doctor does a bit of cycling himself and told me an amusing story of how he’d tried pedalling out to Chatsworth in the strong winds we had had the other month. He’d arranged to meet his wife and kids in the grounds of Chatsworth park but with the wind, what would have normally taken him an hour to ride, it took nearly two. He wasn’t happy nor were his family waiting for him to arrive.
Feeling more reassured there was nothing more serious than badly bruised or possibly cracked ribs and the associated discomfort for the next week or two, I headed home.
Tuesday night, or I should say the early hours of Wednesday morning, turned out to be quite an experience. I’d gone to bed late and was finding it difficult to drop off to sleep. It was about five to one on the Wednesday morning and I started to hear this deep rumbling noise. The flat began shaking and I thought it was going to come down around my ears. The bed was shaking and I could hear the pot plants on my window sill rattling in their pot saucers. It only lasted about 10 seconds but was quite something.
I got a text a couple of minutes after from Steve Gibson, “Just been an earthquake announced on radio. Crikey, house shook.” it said.
Tuned in to the BBC Breakfast news on Wednesday morning and the items were all being led by news of the quake. At 5.2 on the Richter scale it was one of the biggest earthquakes in the UK for 25 years. The epi-centre was given as Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, not too far away from Sheffield, but tremors were felt country wide. The local evening paper ’The Star’ had a strap line of “Wakey Quakey!”
Wednesday afternoon I popped up to La Bicicleta on the corner. They were after a few pictures for some postcards they want printing up. Got a selection together for them.
Thursday and I was feeling a bit lost with not really being able to get out on the bike. I like getting a bit of fresh air and clearing out the system with a blast on the bike. With my ribs still making it difficult to take deep breathes, I decided to go for a walk in the afternoon instead. Walked down the road to Endcliffe Park and wandered past the duck ponds. Crossed the road in to the bottom end of Bingham Park and followed the path up along the River Porter passing Shepherd Wheel.
Shepherd Wheel used to be a working museum to the ‘cottage’ steel industry of yester year and had regular open days at one time. Sadly it has been boarded up and out of action for a number of years now. It used to be good to go and see the water wheel in action, feed by the small mill pond behind. The wheel used to power the millstones and hammers that were used to grind and craft the knife blades that were part of the steel industry that made Sheffield famous all over the world.
I think it was Ivan the museum curator that used to be there. There was always a warm wood burning stove going in the corner to take away the chill. Ivan used to tell me about the pair of Dippers that nested below the header box of the water wheel each year. There were even times you could spot a Kingfisher perched over the mill pond. Unfortunately today the millpond has been allowed to drain and looks sad and neglected.
Continued my walk all the way up the Porter valley to Wire Mill Dam and on to Forge Dam. Spotted a Dipper along the river near the bridge over Whiteley Wood Road. Forge Dam is a popular destination for young families as the walking is easy, there is a café there along with a playground and of course there is the chance to feed the ducks on the damn. Have to say the dam was looking a bit sorry for itself with not having much water in it. A bit sad again really. The mature trees around the Forge are home to a long established Rookery. Rooks are social birds and they were certainly making their presence known in the boughs high above me.
Carried walking along to Carr Bridge and took Mayfield Road up the Mayfield valley. I then took my usual lane up to the top of the valley. The female Kestrel was about . I spoke to the lady from the farm there who was out walking her dog. Chatted a while and watched the resident male pheasant pacing across the fields. They roost in the ivy clad trees on the lane there.
By the time I was heading towards home the light was fading and saw a male Sparrowhawk glide stealthily through the woodland near Carr Cottages on it’s final late afternoon hunt.
I don’t normally get to walk along the paths very often so it was quite interesting to see a whole different world in a sense. There were numerous people out after work taking a run. I hadn’t appreciated how well used the woodland and parks are used. Being out on the bike normally you don’t get to see that side of things.
Friday and I tried an hour on the turbo to test the legs and see how the ribs felt. Still very uncomfortable to take deep breathes, so putting in efforts and recovering was interesting. However, I have to say I could feel an improvement.
Saturday morning I was up early to get to the Eddie Soens on race at Aintree near Liverpool. I was up at 06:00 and set out at 06:45 as I was to pick Steve Farrand up from the Oldham area on route. Steve had been out reporting at the Tour of California and he had arrived back in England at the beginning of the week. He was stopping over at his parents place in Oldham before flying back to his home in Italy on the Sunday morning after the Soens.
The drive over the Snake Pass was gusty to say the least. You could really feel the wind taking the car. Arrived in Grotton near Oldham and Saddleworth at about 08:00 and picked up Steve. It was good to catch up as I’d not seen Steve since the Tour of Britain back in September last year.
The weather looked ominous at times on the run over to Aintree, but the skies began to clear gradually as the morning went on. We parked up next to the golf club rooms in the centre of the race course, just by the old motor racing circuit. It’s always windswept here and Saturday morning was no exception.
Ian Bibby was parked next to me, so I took the opportunity to do a bike of the week with him as he readied to go out on to the circuit. I then left Steve to catch up with a few people as I photographed the start. Managed a quick bike of the week with Evan Oliphant before he lined up.
The 4th cats, juniors and women set out first, followed a minute later by the 3rd cats. Thirty seconds later the 2nd cats set out with the 1st and elite riders rolling away another one and a half minutes later.
The strong headwind in the back straight was telling and the groups were soon wound in by the elite group. As the peleton swung round the top bend , near the imposing Aintree stands, the riders felt the benefit of a stiff tailwind to accelerate them to some incredible speeds through the home straight and the first part of the circuit.
It was at the first bend that I got talking to an old chap who had come along to see the action and take a few pictures. He lived locally, close to the famous Blue Anchor pub which can be seen from the circuit there. He was a real character and told me how he had taken pictures back in 1957 of Stirling Moss winning the European Motor Grand Prix on the very same circuit.
It was incredible too that he had the very camera he had used back then, a faithful Leica. The black and white images he had produced back in 1957 he‘d finally managed to get signed by Stirling Moss at the Festival of Speed event at Aintree a couple of years ago. What a story. His bike was about sixty years old too, a classic single speed machine with saddle bag.
Back to the action and after a spirited attack lead by Dean Downing in the second half of the thirty lap race, the whole race came together once more for the final gallop to the finish. Tony Gibb burst out of the bunch to take his fourth Eddie Soens title equalling local man Doug Dailey’s record. Gibb's team mate James McCallum was less fortunate taking a big off at the back of the circuit in the closing stages of the race. Grabbed a picture of the remains of his front wheel after the race along with James's battle wounds. Not good.
After the race Steve and I joined Mike Smith to thaw out in the golf courses bar for a mug of tea before setting of back home. It turned out it had been Mike’s 25th year as commentator to the 47 year old race.
Dropped Steve off back in Grotton and got home around 14:30. I spent the latter half of the afternoon through in to the evening editing my pictures from the day.
Sunday I was up just before eight so as to be able to set off in good time to get to Manchester Velodrome for the National Madison Championships. I set off just before nine and the drive over the Snake was, if anything, windier than the previous day. The Ladybower Reservoir’s surface was being whipped up with ‘white horses’ chasing across the surface. The spray drifting and swirling across the surface giving mini rainbows as the sunlight caught the droplets. The light was beautiful. Perfect for landscape photography.
Arrived at the velodrome just after 10:00 and went in to find quite a relaxed atmosphere. There was an abseiling exercise going on in the centre of the track as the Madison teams readied themselves for action. There was also a track session going on for some youngsters.
Hugh Porter was on hand to call the Madison event which rolled away at 11:00 watched by a small crowd in the home straight. A mini report is up on the website now.
Mark Cavendish (High Road) with team mate for the day in Peter Kennaugh took the honours with a show of fine form. Although the race had started off seemingly slowly the 50km (200 lap) race was completed under the hour. Quite impressive.
Got back home at about 13:45. I had a bite to eat and decided I would try a spin out on the bike as the wind had dropped significantly from the wild conditions of the morning. I got nearly an hour and a half in taking in Owler Bar to Baslow. Along the valley to Calver and back over Froggatt. Still my ribs felt quite uncomfortable at times and difficult to take a really deep lungful. Enjoyed being out though as it was quite a pleasant afternoon. Just enough.
Popped up to see mum and dad and wish mum a happy Mother’s day. Spent the rest of the evening finishing of editing pictures from both Saturday and Sunday. It was nearly midnight by the time I was starting to transfer pictures to the FTP site. Anyway, left them to transmit and got off to bed.
So, there we have my week. Hopefully this coming week will see me able to get a few more miles in on the bike. It’s been really frustrating this last week or so not getting out. Looking forward to this coming weekend’s Bikeline Mersey Two Day though. It’s got Premier Calendar status this year and will see all the top teams and names racing against each other for the first time this season.
Perhaps see you there.
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.