Saturday, 21 May 2011

Fred Whitton #9 - All quiet on the route, except....

... where the sportive was running around the 3 Passes!!!

I was expecting someone to accompany me today. It's possible that I misremembered that though as I couldn't find the message about it.
I had one false start too - too keen, see! As the clock in Coniston struck 6 I started.... got about 400m down the road and realised that I'd forgotten my glasses. So I popped back to get them and started again. So I was a few minutes after 6 getting away.
I got the impression that it was windy, and more from the South than it has been. I was really pleased with how my legs felt climbing Hawkshead Hill and I reached Clappersgate in what I thought might be about my quickest time. The ascent of Kirkstone also went well, legs felt good - knee was happy with the altered cleat position and riding style which was slightly up on effort and down on cadence.
In fact I was at Kirkstone a couple of seconds quicker than yesterday.

The road was both dry and empty of traffic for the descent. I MUST make sure that I don't get carried away on these. I know them well now, but a tumble at 51 mph is going to make a mess. This would be a bad thing!!
The wind direction meant that it was bouncing of the valley sides, and although generally a tailwind, it kept changing its mind as to where it was going to come from. But I made decent time along Patterdale and Ullswater.
I was keeping a close eye on how the knee was feeling, and it was holding up fine!

I'm surprised, that little mention is made of the drag north from Ullswater to the A66. It's a fair amount of climbing, and after the relatively fast section to that point, comes as a bit of a shock to the legs! Again I felt that I was riding reasonably strongly up here, and I made the most of the slight tailwind up to Troutbeck Inn and the A66.

The A66 definitely doesn't like me this week!!! ANOTHER head down and just grind it out section of 9 miles of 'A' road.
But I got a fantastic surprise just before Scales (I think it was there!) A small hire vehicle was parked in the layby and a couple of people were looking back down the road. Helen and Liam, friends of mine from another 'world' were there. Fabulous!! I stopped for a quick chat, which was far better timed than they could possibly have known, before sticking my head back in to the wind and trundling to Keswick.
The Keswick Festival is in full swing, and I knew there was a Sportive today, the route of which was going over the 3 Passes twice. So there were LOADS of cyclists in and around Keswick...... mostly not going the same way as me! So lots of nods and waves and greetings before I reached the relative solitude of Borrowdale.

I forgot to say - the terminal-sounding 'CLICK of DOOM' from the rear wheel (I thought)was getting much worse, and as I ascended Honister, it was THAT loud that the two cyclists I saw actually stared!!
Well??? YOU'D creak if you'd done 1000 miles in 9 days too :-p

Interesting thing that I've noticed in the last 2 days, I'm 'micro-recovering' really well after harder efforts, so I have been able to climb strongly and it not completely trash me - OK I'm STILL keeping the effort down, but not AS down as I have been.
For the FIRST time there was a helpful wind down into Buttermere. What a difference THAT makes. WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! very nice. Maybe the Wind Gods weren't being quite as unpleasant as I thought......
I reached The Buttermere 'dibber' in the second quickest time that I've recorded during this experience - so I knew I was riding well as I had been alone all day!

There were quite a few riders on Newlands - and quite a few were walking. A group of 4 pipecleaners came climbing past me just before I reached the top, but a couple of them were a bit tentative on the descent. You can actually accelerate over it and tuck in if the road is clear. The run-off from the steep section is fantastic, and *I* was on Fred Whitton number 9! I need to use every advantage I can to cover the distance. So descents and downwind bits have been my friend!! ;o)

Climbing up Whinlatter, the Click of Doom was getting embarrassing!! Seriously!
So when I arrived, Dan and Joe set to finding out what was up.
Crank had a bit of play - but that wasn't it. Bottom Bracket was spinnning a bit fast, but not overly worn. Rear spindle needed tightening slightly.

Dan suggested that the bike could "Do with a proper service fairly soon...." ;o)

Freehub! That's where it was coming from! So that was whipped off, cleaned and greased, and the whole thing was put back together. In the meantime I'd had a couple of cups of tea and a really nice chat with a couple who were in the shop and have been following my progress :o) [waves]

So I was there for a little over 45 minutes. Awesome stuff guys!!!!

I had this niggling little doubt that the section as far as Calderbridge was going to be a bit breezy - and not in a good way!
It was!!
Oh My Goodness, was it!!!!!!

Head down - vaguely acknowledge the MANY C2C riders that were out and about - and make the most of the short bits of respite there were, and use any shelter I could.
All things considered, I made good time to the 'dibber', and again the Wind God decided to be kind from there until Little Langdale!!
Even with the long stop at Cyclewise I was making decent time overall, and I headed up Hardknott thinking that IF all went well, I might get finished before 3pm.
And I knew that my lovely wife was going to be in Coniston, So I had extra incentive not to hang about.
I didn't!
The Hardknott climb has become a little bit like an old mate - admittedly a mate with a dry sense of humour and who is happy to mock your efforts, but I have become quite fond of the old git!
And he was in good form today!
I had to rush the top section because Mr Big Black 4X4 was coming up behind me snarling, and I didn't want to get held up on the descent ;o)

I wasn't :o)

The climb up Wrynose was quite fun today - bigger gears, a bit of helpful wind, and I reached the steep bit reasonably quickly. I tired on the last tiny bit of steep stuff, but the descent was completely clear today - AND dry so I wasted no time getting down either.
And the time suggested that I'd be OK for under 9 hours!

The ride out to Little Langdale was great :o) Just a couple of non-local drivers to negotiate, and once I reached the main road I DID think I'd be pretty close to the time of yesterday - AND my wife would be in Coniston.
So I picked it up - :o)

For a day when I was alone and it was SO windy for such long periods, I was absolutely delighted to finish when I did
Yes, under 9 hours
No, not quicker than yesterday

But 8:55:53 is not too shabby with 45 minute stop in the middle

AND I get to spend more time with my wife.

All in all - this has been a superb day.

And now I'm off out to eat a plate of Farmyard and Chips :o)


  1. I've only managed to catch up with your amazing efforts today. its been an absolute pleasure to read.
    I'm simply astounded at your efforts.

    Only 1 to go!

    My thoughts will be going out to you tomorrow. Just wish i could have supported you! :(

    Very well done indeed, Leon.

  2. One to go Leon. Have you thought how you'll feel when you wake up on Monday morning? Great commitment you've shown. Inspiring. Great all round. Good luck tomorrow!

  3. One more to go Leon. You're a big inspiration, very admirable. I guess I owe you some which makes me very happy!