Apparently this ride is named after a festival in Matlock, rather than the fact that everything, and I mean everything, ended up covered in water. It didn’t start too badly. The first 30 miles, aided by a strong tailwind, saw us average 19mph down to Bunbury before turning back into the wind. Even so, the next 30 flat miles wasn’t too bad, but at around 60 miles the rain started properly. That was pretty much in conjunction with a large climb up the Roaches, some rocky outcrops that are, apparently, pretty unique. More importantly, John was there with his Van of Delights, which meant a cup of coffee, sandwich and a slice of rocky road. I’d ridden with Neil from the club and a friend of his, Craig, to this point but I was starting to get cold and decided to push on, following the climb further up onto the White Peak. The wind made life hard, and by now everything was soaking.
It was really quite a solo slog until an enormous descent into Matlock – in the wet conditions it was absolutely hair-raising, even for those of us who are follically challenged! By the bottom my hands were numb for applying the brakes and the cold was biting and harsh. I missed the control so rode up and down the high street, which was surprisingly busy, until I found a place to buy a coffee. I realised that I had to climb out to reach the High Peaks trail, but at least the long and at-times-steep ascent warmed me up a bit and I reached the trail and headed to the next control, after which would be John’s van.
I’m not a big fan of riding on trails and bridleways. Despite the 25’s I was running, it was full of puddles, slightly muddy in places and very, very lumpy. It took more effort to cycle at relatively low speeds, and it covered the bike and my legs in a fine coating of detritus. The constant lumps and bumps were energy sapping, and the numerous gates further impeded progress. John’s van was a welcome relief, and ever-generous he sat me down and made me a hot-dog and a cup of tea. I hadn’t eaten since the half way mark some 40 miles earlier so I was starving.
After a bit of a warm I set off to the end of the trail, and then joined the road to climb up into the clouds to the top of Axe Edge. Still raining hard, I was cold and wet and had to put my lights on as the clouds/fog was shrouding everything. At the cat and fiddle it cleared and I swept down into Macclesfield – by the bottom I was absolutely freezing. I finished just after 6pm. I didn’t stop for John’s post-ride fayre as I just wanted to get home and get dry/warm, but I heard afterwards it was up to usual high standards! It was a hard slog overall, but mostly because of the wind, rain and cold. I would love to do the route again in summer.
Ride stats : 131 miles in 8hrs 28mins at 15.4mph. 8,148ft ascent, 6,715kcals energy used. Average HR 137bpm