Sunday, 15 May 2011

Fred Whitton #3 - An Epic...

The weather forecast suggested that there would be precipitation today - and wind.... OK, so dress for that, no problem :)
I'd woken feeling a little fatigued, so I'd already decided that I'd take it easy on the legs today.

When I set off I realised that my legs were feeling a little 'empty'. That's OK, I thought, I was expecting that to happen - it'll pass (in the next couple of days!!)
And even though I WAS being gentle - I was at Kirkstone in about 1:26, and feeling good for it.
Just after I turned away from Ullswater, I was passed by a Lotus - and then another..... in fact 10 identikit Loti and one that was a bit different.
Boy playing with their toys I thought!
I saw them 3 times during the day, so they were obviously playing with the Passes!!
I was slightly later into Keswick than I'd told Hannah I'd be and it was a really nice surprise to see Norna and Dave, a friend of mine who has a Bob Graham round coming up shortly.

We headed off into the murk of Borrowdale and after a quick toilet stop at the foot of Honister, started heading up. Hannah sprinted off up the first bit of the climb :-O
I didn't - just did my normal thing and put in the effort that I knew I could sustain!!!
I waited for a minute at the cattle grid for Hannah to reach me, which gave me the chance to eat some food, and we headed up the easier bit, but into quite a strong headwind. I yattered away, but I think Hannah just heard noise ;o)
As we neared the top, a very strange sight appeared

"There's some odd bloke waving at us, and WHAT is he wearing," said Hannah (or something like that)
"That's Flip," I said

He was wearing a wetsuit ;o)

Anyway - he'd chatted to the Youth Hostel folk and had a cuppa waiting for us!
The wetsuit? He was heading back down to Buttermere for an Open Water swim with a mate..... Makes COMPLETE sense, doesn't it.. :o)

As we were approaching Buttermere YH - where Flip had been in to speak to the folk there about the challenge and who, he informed me, would make me a cuppa anytime I wanted one, what brilliant bloke :o) -

I heard

tink tink tink tink

Somehow I'd only gone and broken a spoke.... this did not bode well!
I had a quick firtle to straighten the wheel up a bit, and hoped that no more would go!! And worried slightly about the climb and descent of Newlands!!
They went fine, as did the climb up Whinlatter, and we were bang on the pace I was expecting in terms of arriving there :o)

Rich at Cyclewise set about fixing my wheel and truing it back up, and so I was at the shop for about an hour.
Not too bad, I thought, I have plenty of time.
It was fantastic to ride that section with Hannah - it was really enjoyable! And by the time we got to Whinlatter my legs were feeling much more 'mine' again :o)
I'm very fond of her and Norna - lovely people :o)

Today was one of those days where the wind conspires to be in your face even when it SHOULDN'T be!!!
But the section past Loweswater and over Cold Fell seemed to pass quite quickly - and I FINALLY got some help from the wind as I turned towards Gosforth!!
As I approached the base of Hardknott, I'd worked out that from there I would probably end up with 9 hours riding time - And I was happy with that. The delay wouldn't have made me too late, and I'd get to see my wife before she headed home, as I knew she'd be stalking me on the Tracker, and was planning to be in Coniston for when I arrived.

Hardknott was awash!
No - really - the road was a river, and the wind had picked up, and the cloud base was down to the easier middle section. The Weather Gods had clearly decided to have a laugh!! The ascent was workmanlike and unspectacular, but again I rode the whole way - 3 out of 3, really pleased with that :o) - and the descent was more difficult in the wet and the rain.
Wrynose was very much the same, and I was looking forward to the last section.

Just after you reach the top, the road drops off to the left and there is a RH bend straight after it.
I picked up a bit of speed, and hadn't noticed the puddle that was the whole width of the road.
"Oh [insert word of choice here]", I said, and had to guess where the pothole wasn't

And didn't

The sound of TWO rims on road surface and the PSSSSSSS that followed, and the bizzare thought that I had
"I'm sure my bike isn't made of marshmallow!"
left me with a bit of a problem.

2 punctures and 2 innertubes, one of which I knew had been repaired before

And the wind howled
And the rain fell.

Sometimes the Mountain Gods like to spit us mere mortals off the hill. If that was what they were doing, then they made a grave misjudgement :-p

Two tube changes later and a great deal of "please don't be punctured" chanting to the 'new' tubes, and I was COLD.
In a previous life I was an Outward Bound instructor, so I'm pretty used to being on the hill, but I'm also pretty good at spotting the onset of mild hypothermia - And I needed to get off the hill FAST.

Which was a bit difficult because the roads were treacherous and there were potholes EVERYWHERE trying to eat my tyres....
And I was concerned that Lorna would be getting twitchy at my lack of appearance.
To be fair, the rest of the ride was uneventful, if a little adrenaline-fuelled, and Lorna was just coming out of the Garage as I arrived :-D
She'd even bought me a present :o)

I'm afraid I was a little unhusbandly, because all I could think was, "I NEED to get warm"

So I headed straight back to Sarah's and my 'Ice' bath to warm up.
36-40°C is SO the way to go.

Chris and Sarah were BRILLIANT in sorting out my wet kit and feeding me with cake and tea while I waited for my body temperature to rise in the hastily run bath.
And my gorgeous wife arrived shortly afterwards for a hug :o)

This evening, after some (read LOTS OF) dinner I've had to change my back tyre and replace the innertube again... so I have quite bit of stuff to do before I can go to bed.

Now - THAT was a bit of an adventure!!


  1. Well done on today elBee. Amazing stuff. Johnj

  2. Blimey Leon!! Keep going :)

  3. Blimey indeed! This weather wasn't what I had in mind at all; hope that was the worst of it. :-)

  4. a bad luck day but i hope i brought a bit of a smile to your face earlier on. Hope the weather improves for you.

  5. And let's hope that's all of your bad luck over in one day.

  6. Brilliant going, sounds memorable, hope the rest are easier days

  7. Wow, that is good Leon. Next time when facing headwind for a couple of miles in my training I won't complain. I just think about your race as this will automatically stop me complaining on such minor trouble ;-).
    Keep it up!!

  8. Keep it going Leon - Anthony Farnworth

  9. Hope you have had a better day today. Lets hope the weather improves for you

  10. Myself & two mates rode the route of the Fred on sunday 15th as well, starting out of ambleside @ 9am. "Epic" describes it well, especially the weather riding up Hardknott late on sunday afternoon and the descent of Wrynose...! The folks in cars coming the other way thought we were insane. Best of luck with the challenge - awesome effort!