MoBike or NoBike

As I lurk around the backstreets of Manchester, I begin to think that this may be taking my daily commute a bit far.  Unsuspecting passers-by probably think I’m either geocaching, hunting Pokémon or am just slightly weird.   Whilst it could be any if these, today I’m a “MoBiker” a brave new city cyclist, staring intently at the map on my phone seeking out any nearby GPS-equipped MoBikes.

So what exactly is a MoBike?  They’re Manchester’s answer to the Boris Bike – an easy way of hiring a bike to get you easily around the city.  After downloading the app, paying a refundable deposit and loading up your account with some credit, you’re ready to go bike-hunting.  Simply take a look at the map, spot your closest MoBike, find it, scan the barcode and it’s yours for 50p for every 30 minutes that you use it.  The bikes are certainly easy to spot with their Trump-esque orange wheels and their ability to be right in your face when you’re not looking for one.

A sight you may never see when you really need a MoBike

The scheme sounds perfect, but in practice it can be a different story.  Whilst MoBike encourage you to park them in sensible locations, the reality is you can leave them anywhere.  Whilst this can be very convenient, it can also be very frustrating.  Yesterday, as I glided into Manchester Piccadilly on the train I immediately started scouring the app to find my closest bike.  None at the station entrance, which isn’t a great start, but just a couple of hundred metres away there’s one by Canal Street so I reserve it and head over.  As I arrive there is no reassuring bike gleaming back at me.  Nothing.  Looking closer at the app, it actually looks like it’s IN the canal.  I glance at the water and imagine the GPS tracker silently blinking in the murky depths.   I resume my search….

On another occasion I head over to an area bordering Moss Side and the bike location appears to be inside a rather suspicious looking car garage.  Looking as tough as possible I strut past and glance inside but there’s no MoBike to be seen.  This is either an elaborate ploy to snare an unsuspecting MoBiker, or the bike is long gone and sold for scrap.  It’s not all bad though, as a few times I’ve emerged from Piccadilly, scanned a bike right outside and am quickly on my way.  As the students and workers south of Manchester embrace the cycling culture – it almost a pleasure to pootle along Oxford Road’s segregated cycle lanes – it’s not as much fun in the heart of the city as you play a game of pedestrian / traffic dodging.  Knowing they’re not for pavement riding but feeling quite vulnerable on the city streets, a more cycle friendly city centre would be amazing.

The MoBike is a brilliant idea as it’s simple, affordable transport at everyone’s fingertips.  However, they’re open for abuse and many have been vandalised, or just been left in awkward, difficult to spot, places (like the bottom of a canal).  Having tried to use them to regularly commute from Piccadilly to Oxford Road it’s been a mixed experience, but the potential lack of immediate availability when you need one, and the missing bikes, makes it a pretty unreliable form of transport for the regular commuter.  I need to know that the vast majority of the time I’ll be able to pick one up from our major train station, but that just isn’t the case – unfortunately it’s quite often been NoBike rather than MoBike.

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Men’s Running – (Wo)Man vs Barge

It’s always great to get an article published and this month I have one in Men’s Running – A tale of running over a damp hill in at “(wo)man vs barge” !!

In other news I’ve finally entered another Ultra after a particularly disappointing 2017.  Whilst I’m not fully fit, I have until March to prepare and am keeping things ticking over with as much running/cycling as I can.  The race is Team OA’s – Oldham Way Ultra – a race I unfortunately decided not to do last year whilst training for the Liverpool to Manchester 50 miler.

We’re back in that dark season again, so here’s a picture from a short run I did this week in the dark damp Peak District.  Headtorches out again!

On the mend?

It seems like forever since I’ve run “properly”.  I spent most of 2016 training hard but 2017 has been a bit of a flop with a few races, but not to the extent I wanted due to various injury issues throughout the year.  I’m currently waiting to see a specialist and am managing to do some low mileage so keeping things ticking over.  This site isn’t about moaning though, so here’s an update of other items in All Hail The Trail world….

In an effort to defend last years (Wo)man vs Barge shock first place, I went back again this year.  To spoil the story completely, I came 9th and ate a monsterous chip butty at the end.  Full report will be published in Novembers’ Men’s Running magazine.

More gear reviews for RunUltra, here’s my thoughts on the Craft Breakaway range.  Click the pic below:

In my longest section of non-running I decided to crack on with 6 x 10km laps of the Conti Thunder Run.  For a full race report click on the link below:

For the first time I’ve also entered Cross Country for Glossopdale Harriers which hopefully will be a nice end of the year getting back into training and racing again! Onwards and upwards!

Gear Reviews

I’d always intended to post various gear reviews on here, but didn’t actually get round to it.  Since then I’ve had a kind offer from RunUltra to undertake some reviews for their site.  It’s early days yet but here’s a couple just published, one on running gear newbie, Ripl, who have an interesting concept to encourage people to run and the second on the Scott Jurek FKT vest.  Click the pics to see the review.

Also coming up is my review of some other gear from Craft Sportswear

Click pic above

Click pic above

Hopefully lots more to come.

The Dreaded DNS

I’ve just started doing some writing for “RunUltra” a great website dedicated to ultrarunning.  Unfortunately I didn’t start the Lakeland Trail 110km so wrote about my feeling on a DNS, click on the pic below:

Check out all the great articles, training, events etc. from the main page:

I’ve also started to do a few gear reviews for them, so i’ll link to them soon!

DNS… DNF… Do Not Know!

On Friday, I’m probably kind of, sort of, potentially running an ultra.  This year I’d opted for the Lakeland Trail 110km as my “A-race” but after a magnificent 2016, this year has seemed to just been plod along with a few niggles here and there, not bad enough to stop training completely, but not really the level of training I wanted to do to go into this strongly.  But a week ago I suddenly started getting a very tight hip and a few shooting pains on the one side – I immediately put the brake on running and have had a few tentative treadmill jogs over the last few days but am still getting some tightness and some pain…. 5 days before my A-race….

Its times like now we’re faced with a difficult decision.  Can I really run 110km in this condition? If not, is it worth starting?  If i do start what if i just make myself worse and ruin running later in the year?  The next few days will tell with some pilates and a physio session ahead of me, rest, good food and hopefully lots of sleep.  Come on Ultimate Trails, I wanna have a go at ya!

Shelf Stones – Superfortress

I took a trip up to Shelf Stones earlier to the crash site of “Over-Exposed!”, an RB29 Superfortress which crashed on Bleaklow on 3rd November 1948.  Whilst running and “proper” photography don’t really mix, I really wanted a few pictures so took these on my phone and tried a bit of tweaking when I got back.

For any more info on the crash click this link – http://aircrashsites.co.uk/superfortress-44-6199-over-exposed-2/

The total route was around 14km from the centre of Glossop.  I headed up to Old Glossop and took the route up Lightside and over towards Shelf Stones, with the crash site a few hundred metres away but you could easily miss it (unbelievably).  I came back down quite randomly (access land) working my way down to Doctor’s Gate and back to Glossop.  It was a great run with fantastic views from Lightside and Doctors Gate, and of course the wreck itself.