Monday, 11 April 2011

Lakeland Loop - The Longer version

The alarm went of at 03:25!

Yes - that is 0(O.M.G it's early)3:25!!

I was pretty sure that the roads would be clear in the early morning and also that it was a 3 hour trip to Little Langdale. I was right on both counts, and I arrived at New Dungeon Ghyll just before 7am while the guys from epicevents were still setting up. But it meant that I got my pick of the parking spaces ;o)

I got chatting to the folks parked around me - what a friendly lot these cyclists are :o)
I faffed more than I have in a very long time, and although the sun was waking up, it was still pretty chilly. But I went with shorts, Short-sleeved jersey and windproof gilet
They were setting groups of 15 off at 5 minute intervals, and I got underway at about 8:15. It was predictably chilly until the first climb at Red Bank and the descent in to Grasmere - but once we'd headed over Dunmail raise and round the back of Thirlmere, it was warming up nicely. I had been with a group of about 8 until the back of Thirlmere, but they were going a wee bit quick for me, so I let them go and had a short section where I was on my own - being overtaken at ridiculous speed by some proper racing snakes!!
The descent in to Keswick was great fun, but when I got into the town I felt like I was riding through treacle. A quick check of the bike idenfified a sticking back brake. Very odd. Although in hindsight I had noticed that my left brake/gear lever was slightly loose! Didn't put 2 and 2 together then though!!
I adjusted it and suddenly riding was nice again!! :o)

I caught up a group of 6 on the flat section to Braithwite, and was astonished at just how many riders were almost stationary on the Whinlatter climb. It's really not that steep!

I love the descent from Whinlatter to Lorton. Fabulous.

When I got to the Lorton Food Stop I had also caught Becky, one of the folk who I'd been chatting with at the start, but who'd dropped me at Thirlmere. We headed out from there together and along the flat section to Loweswater we rode togther. By now the sun was shining brightly and the Lakes look amazing. Loweswater was reflecting the fells in its surface. It's somewhere I'd never been before and it was stunning. There are SO many stunning places in the Lakes :o)

As we headed back up again, Becky was having trouble with her gearing and dropped back to a group of 5. I headed on and clawed back a group of 8 on Cold Fell and stayed with them until the second food stop at Santon. Interesting to see that some of the guys running compacts had lower ratios than me on my triple! I only wanted a quick toilet break and to refill my water, so I didn't hang around. Besides, it was only 5 miles to Hardknott which I was REALLY looking forward to.

Nearing the top of Wrynose Pass
I rode this section with a bloke from Edinburgh who was REALLY not looking forward to the upcoming climbs. The 33% section on Hardknott fully deserves its reputation. It was a bit hard. But I rode the whole climb which was very pleasing. There were quite a few riders who didn't!
My brake lever had moved again when I reached the top, and in hindsight I should have stopped and tightened it up. Descending the 25% that followed with a 'mostly working' rear brake and a properly working front brake was probably a bit silly with cars coming at you in the other direction. And in a way the descent is harder work - it certainly needs more concentration!

Wrynose is LOADS easier! I even managed a smile for the photographer!!
THAT descent is a beast though! 25% and bumpy, very poor road surface and lots of sharp bends!
I had plenty of energy left for the final little drag up to Blea Tarn and the 25% descent back into Little Langdale was empty, so most enjoyable to speed down :o)

As a day it was brilliant. Really well organised and I only encountered friendly cyclists. There was surprisingly little traffic given just how gorgeous the weather was. And I was really pleased to finish under 5 hours. 4:56:07 according to the website!! I didn't really have a time goal, as this was mostly a fact-finding mission for the second part of the Fred Witton course, but I had estimated between 5½ and 6 hours.

I then had time to go and visit friends in Bowness before a meeting with someone who is supporting my 10 Freds (there will be a separate blog about this) in a very practical way.

This was a proper grin-enducing day


  1. Totally brilliant! :-) LOVE the photo too, you make it look so easy!! x

  2. Thanks Sarah :o) Looks can be deceiving though! ;o)