A wet and wild Sunday morning early start saw nine North Cheshire Clarion stalwarts gather at the HQ in Hebden Bridge for the Season of Mists audax. Wet weather gear was the order of the day but unfortunately none of us had the right equipment for the level of rain that was falling!
Gaz forgot his coat and Martin forgot his shoes so one got the feeling that it was going to be one of those days. We managed to be on time for the start for a change so we set off half a mile before the first climb in Hebden Bridge. What a climb it was too! Nearly a mile long and with a gradient peaking at 16.7% it was a fierce climb for cold and already wet legs. Added to that the last few hundred yards were on wet cobbles! Horrible!
A mile further on and “lucky” Gaz got a puncture. Jim wasn’t feeling well so decided to go back to the car – not before Martin borrowed his shoes and Gaz had his spare inner tube! At this point we’d been going half an hour and had done 2.25 miles. And were all soaking wet.
The roads were very wet – almost like streams at some points. It made going downhill and picking lines very tricky and placed a lot of strain on brakes and brake blocks – which now need changing on my bike. Even the Garmin started playing up in the rain, refusing to signal turns. We missed one turn which meant an extra climb back up the hill – that was very popular.
Around 28 miles in we had the first cafe stop. The poor cafe owner was trying to serve and mop up the puddles of water at the same time, but I still managed a nice hot apple pie and custard and a cup of coffee.
I managed to tick off a hill from the 100 Greatest Climbs book – the Nick of Pendle – which was by no means the worst of the day. Here’s the profiles for the days climbing
There is a spike in there at 32% gradient which I’m not sure whether it’s a Garmin/GPS issue or was actually one of the hills. There are a dozen or so 10%+ hills on there though and at the end of 63 miles it was very, very tough on the legs.
The second stop included some homemade cake which was simply brilliant and at the end, as per usual on these events, the catering was absolutely superb.
The sun finally came out at the end but it was still a great effort by a very damp Clarion team – probably harder than Tour of Britain last week – but special mention to Giles who has gone from trailing in my wake on the hills to leaving me for dead. I’m told it’s structured training rather than Spanish steak but either way it was an impressive display today.
Ride stats – 63.48 miles in 5hrs 13mins ride time – 12.1mph average. 6981ft of climbing and 4098 kcals used.