Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lake District 100 Cycle Sportive 2012

Well, if we achieved everything we set out to do in life it would be pretty boring eh?

I first entered the Lake District 100 mile cycle sportive in 2011.  It is a charity event for Action Medical Research.  They hold sportive events around the country.  I had previously entered a 57 mile sportive, the Cumbria Christmas Cracker and had been looking for a longer, more challenging event.

When it came down to the training though, I did a few longish rides but, with about a month to go, I had not put the work in and did not feel up to the task.  I had yet to conquer any of the major lakeland passes on my bike.  I contacted the organiser and asked if I could defer entry until this year. They agreed and that was that. 

Not too long ago, my friend Jonathan bought a bike.  When I told him that I had the 100 mile event coming up, he was up for it.  Not being one to dash dreams, I agreed to ride around with him.

Coming up to the event he was pretty nervous.  I got a few frantic text messages, he was panicking.  He went to the bike shop the day before and overheard some people talking about how tough the event was.

a few nerves at the start, note my fan club seeing us off
After a bit of a pep-talk, he was good to go.  I had decided that 10 hours was a good time to aim for.  Jonathan seemed to think that this was quite long but I felt that, with the steep climbs and fuelling stops, this would be about right.

looking over Derwent Water
We had perfect conditions as we lined up in Fitz Park to be set off.  The first part of the route was a nice easy 10 miles around to Seatoller where, perhaps the hardest climb of the day starts up and over Honister Pass.

Riding along the back of Derwent Water with Catbells on our right, there was a misty cloud hovering over the lake.  I told Jonathan to forget his pride and, rather than burn his legs out trying to power up the 25% slope of Honister Pass, that he should get off and walk if it got too hard, preserving energy.  I said that I would do the same and that the day was all about energy preservation, recovery and pace.  He agreed that this would be a good strategy and so of course, when we got to Honister Pass, we both set off up the hill with no intention of stopping.
top of the first section of Honister Pass
What made things worse was that somebody overtook me on the climb.  "Slow and steady, wins the race" I thought, and I could see that they were really pushing, standing on the pedals for a long time.  A minute or so later, I span past them as they stood at the side of the road trying to get restarted on the steep climb.

I've been over Honister Pass before.  It's steep and direct.  It's probably the hardest out of the passes I have been over.  I waited for Jonathan at the top of the first steep section, after the cattle grid and then we carried on up to the slate mine.  The second section up to the slate mine is relatively easy.  The descent down the other side is very steep and a bit technical.  There are two bridges in a row where the road turns and it is easy to misjudge.  On this occasion, I had a car in front of me which, probably helpfully, tempered my speed.

nearing the slate mine
The valley from the slate mine down to Gatesgarth Farm is a beautiful area.

Honister Crag is quite something to behold.  If you look closely, you can see rope bridges and other equipment installed by the slate mine company.

The Via Ferrata experience is something I would like to try.

My general photography rule; take pictures going uphill, go fast downhill; applies just as much to cycling as it does to running.  Therefore, I didn't take any pictures of this section of road.

I have been over Honister Pass the other way though, when I pretended to do the Buttermere Triathlon, and on this occasion, I did get some pictures of this section.  Below is one of my favourites:

from another blog post - Honister the other way

Along through Buttermere and a quick toilet stop before heading back up to the climb up Newlands Pass.  This is a steep pass but I don't find it as difficult as Honister.  Newlands is a long climb but it has sections that level out a bit, giving a much needed rest.  It gets steep near the top but it is only at the very top.

heading up Newlands Pass.  The road goes over the col in the middle of the picture

top of Newlands Pass Whiteless Pike and Wandope behind?

fast descent
Descending from the top of Newlands Pass is fast and straight.  You can go as fast as your bike will let you.

Once down Newlands Pass we had a middle size challenge of Whinlatter Pass ahead before some flattish roads.  It felt good to get Honister and Newlands passes out of the way so early on.  The road from the top of Newlands to Braithwaite is smooth and quiet.  It goes along the bottom of the screes of Barrow (have a look at this blog post of us running down these screes) before arriving in Braithwaite and turning immediately up Whinlatter.

Whinlatter is an entirely different affair in terms of a steep lakeland pass.  It goes through a forest and is a series of medium steepness hills.  It's a fairly long climb but then not that difficult a climb.

bit of traffic on Whinlatter Pass

From Whinlatter there is a nice downhill into Lorton where the first food stop was.  I had been making sure I drank and ate to keep my energy up.  I had also been telling Jonathan to do the same.  I had planned a nice easy refuelling stop at Lorton but then Jonathan told me that the cut off point was just up the road and we had ten minutes to get there otherwise we would have to do the 100k rather than the 100mile route.  So, after refilling my bottle and scoffing down some flapjack, we set back off.

The Lorton fuel stop was at 28 miles but was also after getting all but one of the difficult lakeland passes out of the way.  

From Lorton we headed out past the north end of Bassenthwaite and round the back of Skiddaw through Caldbeck, Hesket Newmarket to the next foodstop at Greystoke.

These were flatter roads but Jonathan was struggling with the mileage.  He had started to experience hip trouble and cramp.  

By the time we got into Greystoke, we had slipped behind the 10hour schedule.  I was aware that we were probably the last people still attempting the 100mile route.  

Ullswater, a very happy sight
Lots of people had chosen to change to the 100k route after the checkpoint at Lorton.  Others had taken a direct route back to Keswick.  

Jonathan was keen to continue but I knew that we were unlikely to make the full distance.  

We asked a volunteer about cut off times and it was clear that we would not make the rest of the journey in time.

We considered our options and decided to continue to Glenridding where I arranged for my wife to come and pick me up.

We informed the race marshalls and set off to Glenridding.  We ended up covering 67 of the 100 miles.  I was a bit disappointed not to have completed the ride but knew that it was the right decision.

helmet hair
At Glenridding we put the bikes on the car and then went into The Glenridding Hotel for some chips and onion rings, and a beer.

A nice long soak in the bath was called for when I got home, along with some salty snacks and more beer.

I had a very good sleep that night.

Although we didn't complete the full distance, we still had a good day and I think we gave it a good effort.  I think we will be back for another try next year.

I think Jonathan was a bit achy, I did hear that he sent his dad to the garage for an emergency lucozade.  I wonder if he has recovered?

No comments:

Post a Comment