After a really cracking day yesterday, the plan was to do a little figure of 8 circuit out of Keswick, taking in Honister, Newlands and Whinlatter Passes - then after the descent of Whinlatter, head back up to Buttermere and redo Newlands before heading back to Keswick.
The forecast had accurately predicted some Cumbrian Sunshine and a gentle breeze, so we knew we were going to get a little bit damp, and slightly blown about!
Lorna was running the Keswick/Buttermere 34k, so we headed to registration in the Cricket Pavilion just before 10, and we met up with P who was coming cycling with me, and A who was also running the race!
We set off at 10 in fairly persistent 'sunshine' and something of a head-breeze that was clearly going to be slightly more robust higher up! As we rode along the side of Derwentwater, P told me that he wasn't confident about the climbs on the bike he'd brought and that if he had to walk I should carry on. That wasn't going to happen though ;o)
We caught up with 3 Mountain-bikers at the foot of Honister, exchanged a few pleasantaries, and I started up!
If you know the Pass from the East, you'll know that it is straight in to 25% gradient through the first couple of bends, until you emerge from the trees. I was slightly surprised to find myself not working that hard, but leaving the MTB'ers in my wake. I decided to carry on until the gradient eased and wait there. This was a very encouraging start!
On the easier section we chatted and I was admonished for not riding on (not happening, mate!!) The top section again gets slightly steeper and the descent starts again at 25% on a rippled, worn and (today) wet surface. It was OK though! Once that section was negotiated safely the lower part of the descent is just loads of fun. Good visibility, no tricks, and a chance to let it fly!!
Newlands is a nice climb too - a 20% start which is reasonably short then it eases right off before steepening to the last corner which is the steepest bit. We also have a tail-wind, so this was just fantastic to ride.
P found his steed a little troublesome on the steeper sections again, but we made pretty good progress. The view of the huge volume of water coming off the hill at Moss Force was outstanding. We stopped to have a good look before heading down towards Braithwaite. This is another fabulous section of road. The fist bit is slightly steep, but after that you have the best part of 5 miles heading (mostly) downhill. Awesome.
I'd not climbed Whinlatter from this direction before, but it really is the baby of them all. No need for little gears on the 15% gradient. Part way up we were passed by a couple of lads who I recognised. We'd seen them descending Honister when we were climbing - so they weren't hanging about!
When I had planned today, I'd factored in the fact that I've done a lot more cycling than P, and although I was still aiming to head down to Lorton and back to Buttermere, I'd also contemplated simply heading down from here. But there was much enthusiasm for the Whintatter descent - Buttermere - Newlands option. So we did that!
There was a bit of a headwind on the undulating ride back to Buttermere, and the road was clearly far less used. That seems a shame, because Crummock Water is absolutely stunning.
The race marshals were out in force at the water station at Buttermere, and told us that "about 40" had gone through already of the 70-odd starters.
I did some calculations and thought that if Lorna was having a good run, she'd have been through already.
P headed off up the first part of the climb while I was still chatting to a Marshal, and I thought that I'd see how I got on climbing it in 42:28 (or 24).
Fine, as it happens.
I decided to power up the last bit just to see what it was like, then descended back down to do that steepest section again. I really was enjoying myself!
On the descent we passed A who was having a good run - but not seeing Lorna meant that either she was having a bad one, or she'd decided not to run at all I surmised.
We saw another couple of folk we knew (Hi, Andy!) as we headed back to Keswick, and we headed straight back the cars to put the bikes away.
I saw Lorna's Kamleika hanging on the back of the seat just before I spotted her heading to the car. So I was able to shelve the idea of heading back out on to the course to find her. And then I saw her text which told me that she'd pulled out and would meet me at the finish! :o)
It was an excellent ride, which I really enjoyed. I'm very happy with my climbing legs, so I just need to make sure my endurance legs are nice and strong! I'm getting happier with my descending although I may have to look at my brakes - unless that was just the wet and crud that made them slightly less secure than I would have liked (Couldn't make the rear lock no matter how hard I tried!)
The route and stuff is HERE