Sunday, 31 August 2014

How not to ride up The Stang

I'm sure these updates are getting later and later. Still, part of the reason was that editing the footage for my ride up The Stang brought back some painful memories. Halfway up the very steepest section of Fleet Moss earlier in the day I had felt a bit of a twinge from my left knee. I was able to ignore it but come the climb up Oxnop Scar I was well aware that all was not well and was in a bit of pain. By the time I climbed onto the bike at the top of The Stang ready for my descent to the bottom it was clear I was going to have a hard time. Put simply my knee was agony. I was experiencing a hot, sharp, gritty sort of pain behind my knee cap and even getting to the bottom of the climb was unpleasant. Still, I was there so there was no point in not riding the climb. Besides, by the time I reached the bottom the only way to get back to my car was to ride back up to the top. Never let it be said that I can't be hard on myself.

The first part of The Stang is the hardest although I don't think it gets much steeper than about 14%. I decided to just grit my teeth and tackle this part of the climb in the highest gear I could just to get it over with and to give myself space to recover and spin along on the lesser gradients further up. It turned out I couldn't push a particularly big gear or go too fast but at least I got it out of the way and could focus on the impending sufferfest on the rest of the climb.

At least the road signs were welcoming

There isn't much I can say thats positive about my experience on the rest of the climb. It hurt, a lot. I was also very slow. That isn't so unusual but I was aware of the fact that I was actually feeling OK but my knees weren't willing to play ball. There is thankfully a descent halfway up this climb which took the pressure off very briefly but then it was back to grinding slowly up the rest of the climb. Probably fair to say I didn't enjoy myself all that much. Being passed by another cyclist who seemed to be flying along on the big ring didn't help my morale.

It was a real relief to get back to the car. I was nearing the end of my tether during the final part of the climb; I couldn't go any faster but I just needed to get off the bike and give my knee some respite from the constant effort of pedalling. My drive back to the Travel Hovel at Scotch Corner as a bit uncomfortable and if I'm being honest I spent most of the night worrying about my bloody knee. Even lying in bed I had a hot throbbing pain coming from behind the knee cap. Seeing as I had to tackle the fearsome Shibden Wall the following morning it didn't bode well. In fact as I write this I've got two sore knees. One of the joys of getting older I guess.

Anyway, stay tuned to see how I got on with Shibden Wall. Will I make it up the steep cobbled gradients? Will my bike shake itself to pieces? Will my knees finally explode? You'll have to come back to find out.  

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