Dales Delight 200k Audax

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The Dales Delight 200k audax packs 4 AAA points into its 125 miles, starting in Lancashire, and running through the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria. ¬†As seems usual with an Andy Corless event it’s full of hills!

I spotted a few regulars at the start, including the usual mad ones who seem to think it’s sensible to ride to and from a 200k 4AAA as clearly it isn’t long enough on its own – hello Peter ūüėČ

The weather was very chilly at the start but clear, with the sun pushing through, and it remained so for the whole day.  A bit of a wind was blowing from NW to SE which made some of the riding a bit tougher than it needed.

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10,705ft ascent

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Once off the A59 the route was absolutely superb. ¬†Hats off to Andy for that – for 20 or 30 mile stretches I didn’t see a car – and the countryside and scenery was superb. ¬†The only problem was the hills! ¬†There were some real beasts. ¬†Buttertubs from the North side (8/10 in the 100 climbs book), Fleet Moss from Hawes (9/10 in the 100 climbs book) and several other bumps like Newby Head to-boot.

I did think I was a reasonable climber but every so often you get put very firmly in your place. ¬†On a climb that was somewhere between 15% and 20% over 3 miles a guy went past me and put about a mile into me. ¬†He went past like I was stood still (I almost was!) but he didn’t seem to be struggling that much, whereas I was weaving about and gasping for breath! ¬†So there’s clearly still work to do for me.¬†On that note, this time last year I’d earned 4.5 AAA points and had done 45,967ft of climbing at the end of March 2011. ¬†This year I’ve earned 10.75 AAA points, and up to the 18th March 2012 I’ve done 72,621ft, and I’ve still got two weeks to go! I guess I need to start working on rate of climb now.

My HR strap was playing up somewhat – seemingly slipping out of position on the big climbs meaning my HR was in the 130’s whilst I was gasping away – so the average HR and calorie total will be off slightly.

Controls were pretty good – I did end up on my backside on the stone floor of one when my cleats slipped – and Andy popped up from time to time taking photos, so I look forward to those!

All in all, a really great day Рvery tough but very rewarding.  Chapeau to Andy.

Ride Stats : 127miles in 8hrs 45mins @ 14.4mph.  10,705ft ascent.  Average HR 144bpm, 7088kcals used

Strava ride here

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Hilly Rides

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Battling up Mow Cop

I’ve had many conversations with fellow cyclists over the last couple of years about hills, and riding up (and down) them. ¬†I guess they are a bit like marmite – most people either love them or hate them. ¬†I’m not sure I love them but I’m definitely nearer the former than the latter. ¬†I see climbs as a personal challenge, a goal to be conquered or an achievement to tick off (I’ve so far ticked off 14 from the 100 Greatest Climbs book by Simon Warren). ¬†And I’ll be paying a visit to the French Alps in May with some mates in order to tick a few more famous ones off. ¬†But I digress. ¬†Hills are also great for training purposes – because if you can maintain a decent pace on a hilly ride then you’ll be surprised how much easier (and therefore quicker) a flatter ride will be. ¬†In fact, if you are stuck for time and want to do a quickish ride but still get a lot of “bang for your buck” fitness-wise then a short route with a few stiff climbs could be just what you need.

What constitutes hilly is a subject of much debate. ¬†Total climb is possibly one method. ¬†Here’s a list of the top 10 rides I’ve done by total climb (as recorded by my Garmin GPS)

  1. Tan Hill 200 – 132 miles and 12,071ft
  2. Ryedale Rumble – 111 miles and 9,064ft
  3. Pistyll Packing Momma – 132 miles and 8,905ft
  4. Todmorden Loops – 72 miles and 8,900ft
  5. Goyt Peak – 69 miles and 8,530ft
  6. Northern Dales – 125 miles and 8,287ft
  7. Lejog Day 1 (Cornwall and Devon) – 111 miles and 8,259ft
  8. Season of Mists – 64 miles and 7,535ft
  9. Up and Down to West Riding – 78 miles and 7,463ft
  10. Macc Monster – 64 miles and 6,981ft

There are a few scientific methods for measuring how tough a climb is, such as the ClimbByBike-Index¬†or the Fiets-Index, but I tend to use a very much simpler measure. ¬†Basically, if a ride has anything over about 60ft of climbing per mile then I consider it hilly. ¬†If it has around a 100ft of climbing per mile then I consider that to be very hilly. ¬†Here’s a re-sorted list of the top 10 using ft climb per mile ridden as a measure

  1. Todmorden Loops – 124
  2. Goyt Peak – 124
  3. Season of Mists – 117
  4. Macc Monster – 109
  5. Up and Down to West Riding – 95.7
  6. Tan Hill 200 – 91
  7. Ryedale Rumble – 82
  8. Lejog Day 1 (Cornwall and Devon) – 74
  9. Pistyll Packing Momma – 67.5
  10. Northern Dales – 66

It’s not a perfect method by any stretch of the imagination but it’s something I’ve arrived at after riding a lot of hilly routes and events, and I can confirm that the two at the top were probably the toughest of the bunch on that list in terms of sheer climbing.

So if you are planning your training for the year, then have a go at a few hills. ¬†I have a standard “quick” route that I use which is 32 miles and has just over 2,000ft of ascent, or a rating of about 63 – good enough for training purposes. ¬†I also occasionally add The Rake into it for a quick burst of 25% challenge! ¬†If you draw up a similar route for yourself and use it repeatedly to build up your hill-climbing ability then I suggest that your overall capabilities will improve, and your overall enjoyment of cycling too.

Ryedale Rumble

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Not an old lady's leg

On Monday night playing football, my brain wrote a cheque that my body couldn’t cash, and I ended up going over on my ankle. ¬†Several hours later it had swelled up to the size you can see in the photo to the left. ¬†All week I’ve been wearing a brace, resting it and hoping the swelling would go down before today. ¬†And so it did. ¬†Sort of. ¬†So at 5-30am this morning my alarm went off so that I could get over to Ampleforth to ride the Ryedale Rumble. ¬†As Liz got up with me she gave me a supportive “I hate your bike rides” and sent me on my way.

Organisation was first class with plenty of parking and a dead quick and easy sign-on. ¬†I set off at about 10 past 8 and pretty much straight away felt rubbish. ¬†I put it down to me taking about 5 to 10 miles to warm up but frankly it didn’t get any better.

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9064ft of climbing

About 16 miles in we hit the first of 5 big climbs РBoltby Bank, which is in the 100 Climbs book scoring 7/10.  I stuggled up it thinking it was going to be a long and painful day.  As it was my ankle was okay but I think I was subconsciously compensating because I was starting to get pain in other places that I never normally do Рthe base of my foot, the muscle on the front of my shin and my hip.  The only time my ankle hurt was twisting to unclip my cleats, which had me worried about some of the steeper hills.

So I was already struggling and even the relatively flat bits of the course were full of short, sharp climbs. ¬†The second big climb was, I believe, called Blakey Bank and it was the longest of the bunch but again, I struggled up to the top. ¬†The descent took me across a moor with the most vicious cross-wind I’ve ever ridden in. ¬†I was riding at about a 10ňö lean into it and still getting blown across the road. ¬†It did cross my mind that I’d be riding into that at some point but only fleetingly as I was trying to avoid death.

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Some of the hills were frankly ridiculous – the maximum gradients above are 41%! ¬†And that was too much for me. ¬†At 60 miles I was absolutely shot and then what I thought was Rosedale Chimney loomed into view. ¬†You could see this thing from about a mile away, simply going straight up . ¬†I think the road-makers in Yorkshire basically look at a hill and decide none of this namby-pamby winding up a hill nonsense – I’ll just drive my tarmac machine straight up and straight down. ¬†I walked up the steepest third in the middle after my legs started cramping. ¬†After getting over the 4th big hill, which came in quick succession, I thought that was it for the day. ¬†At 80 miles I flicked my Garmin to the gradient view and I thought it was misbehaving. ¬†There was basically a wall approaching. ¬†Turns out this was Rosedale Chimney, so christ knows what the other one was. ¬†I struggled up the first third which is about 20% gradient, into a very strong headwind, and then it got really steep. ¬†Again, I just wasn’t in the zone today and I had to get off and walk. ¬†I was a bit disappointed but there was no way I was getting up. ¬†When the gradient dropped to about 16% I got back on and completed the hill – but that’s one that I will have to go back to as it can’t be chalked off in the 100 climbs book. ¬†Downhill was also into the headwind and required pedalling – it was just relentless.

The feedstop was a welcome break and with only 20-odd miles to go I was looking forward to the end. ¬†However, the last section was completely exposed and into that headwind. ¬†I was on my own and it was a real struggle – I was on the small ring on the flat at some points. ¬†Mentally my head had gone at this point, I wasn’t enjoying and I just wanted it to end. ¬†I’d been passed and dropped almost continually during the day and Easter, when I blasted round the Spring into the Highlands sportive, seemed a long, long time ago.

Anyway, I limped in and handed in my electronic timing dibber, and was rewarded with a piece of paper with my time and a¬†certificate¬†that said “Silver Award”. ¬†My total time was 8hrs and 5 minutes for 111 miles which meant an average of 14mph. ¬†It also said I was 54th out of 70 finishers*, and the current leader had done it nearly 2 hours quicker than me. ¬†I also got a t-shirt for finishing and some hot food. ¬†Overall I have to say that organisation was excellent but I didn’t enjoy the ride at all. ¬†I’ve spent the summer riding long audaxes at a relatively easy pace with long stops, so trying to do a sportive at quick pace really exposed that.

Ride stats: 111 miles in 7hrs 32m at 14.7mph.  Total climb 9064ft.  Average HR 151bpm, energy used 6648kcals

*I subsequently found out that I finished 61st out of 105 riders

The Other Fleet Moss Randonn√©e

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Well bizarrely Anthony and I found ourselves at the start of the ride ready to go a whole 15 minutes early, which is unheard of. ¬†We’d parked in a space allocated to the Blind Society, but reasoned that the chances of a blind person wanting to park there were slim to none. ¬†We were that early we didn’t know what to do, so we had a cup of coffee and a chat to all the people we now know in the audax world, such as Peter, who tells me he is an avid reader of this blog* ¬†Anyway, we set off at 8am and strangely for an audax we rode in a peloton for the first 40 miles or so, which meant we were averaging over 17mph at the time. ¬†We had a good chat with Mike Wigley, the secretary of audax uk, who has some interesting plans for¬†the future, and who gave me some good advice about 24 hour time trials.

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7007ft of ascent

Anyway after passing through Skipton and Cracoe and other places we seem to frequent a lot these days, we decided to stop for some food before we hit the big climb of Fleet Moss, which gets 9/10 in the 100 climbs book – although we were doing the easier south side apparently. ¬†We ate in a bistro (get us) and then set off towards Fleet Moss. ¬†Some slight routing problems overcome we hit the slopes. ¬†We actually started climbing some 12 miles before but Fleet Moss itself is about 3 miles long with a couple of 14-15% sections. ¬†I’d taken sun lotion with me so of course the day was cloudy, but still very warm going up. ¬†We went up with some senior riders, two of whom went past me on the climb and I couldn’t catch them again – amazing stuff! ¬†Anyway, at the top I waited for Anthony and then we set off down the descent. ¬†The first bit is a 20% drop and then it flattens a bit before dropping again. ¬†So we crested the hill and my heart sank. ¬†There was a Land Rover in the middle of the road, and a cyclist lay covered with a blanket in front of it, with some of the other addaxes stood around. ¬†My first thought was that he had been hit by the car but apparently he had come off trying to avoid a sheep and the kind souls in the Land Rover had stopped to help. ¬†Our fellow audaxers had phoned for an ambulance some 20 minutes earlier so Anthony rang again. ¬†There was a doctor in the group who suspected broken ribs (and something else I can’t spell). ¬†Anyway, with the ambulance reminded again we set off and hit the main descent. ¬†Normally I would fly down these but I was slightly unnerved so I stayed on the brakes. ¬†Even so I hit 51.3mph! ¬†On the way up we passed two ambulances with blue lights flashing, which was good news. ¬†It turns out the air ambulance also turned out and eventually took the chap to hospital – I do hope he is okay and not in too much pain.

In Hawes we stopped for a coffee and a chat with some people having a beer Рwhich looked very inviting apart from the slight problem of some 70+ miles to go!  We left and headed south, straight into a long grinding climb and a stiff headwind.  It was horrible, really hard work but after about 7 miles we started going downhill again, through Settle and to Great Mitton where we stopped for a massive ice cream.

We then had to climb out of the hole in the ground that is Burnley¬†valley from Burnley which took ages and was again quite unpleasant with a headwind, until we hit Todmorden (horrible memories of the Todmorden Loops audax!) and then headed downhill into Hebden Bridge. ¬†There was a last sting in the tail which was a climb into Halifax before we finally finished. ¬†This being a Chris Crossland audax there was plenty of great food at the end which was very welcome because for the 2nd week running I hadn’t eaten enough and was feeling it.

Overall, another great day with great company, and a really good event.  I hope the injured chap is not injured too badly and makes a quick recovery.

Ride stats : 125 miles in 7hrs 58m at 15.7mph average.  7007ft of climbing, average HR 133bpm, 5758kcals used.  Number of times Anthony mentioned my 12-27 cassette  Рabout a million*

*That’s a lie

Hills, hills, hills…

The mind is both a wonderful thing and a terrible thing. ¬†During last weeks Bowland Forest audax my mind had convinced me that I was struggling more on the hills, that I was not as fast and that I was more tired. ¬†One of the advantages of being a data geek like me is that you can actually take a subjective view like that and use some data to analyse it. ¬†So I did. ¬†Up until the end of May last year I did 2,428 miles and 94,659ft of climbing. ¬†Using a not-really-very-scientific-formula, that works out at around 39ft of climb per mile ridden. ¬†The equivalent period this year sees me having done 3,146 miles and 101,729ft of climbing – or around 32ft per mile. ¬†That would tally with me focusing more on quicker rides than hilly rides. ¬†But there’s not much in it – certainly not enough to worry about.

But me being me I decided to do a few hills this weekend.  I warmed up on Saturday with a quick 32 miler including The Rake Рwhich you can find on page 126 of the excellent 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs book by Simon Warren.

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Saturday - 32 miles and 2000ft of climbing

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Can you spot The Rake?

The weather was grey and overcast with wet roads but little or no rain. ¬†The surface of The Rake is broken and difficult at the best of times but it was glistening with the wet, rainbow spectrum of spilt petrol/diesel/oil. ¬†Picking a line was difficult, with my bike wheel spinning on occasion and I reached the top with a higher heart-rate than I expected and feeling it in my legs. ¬†I must have been right, I thought, I’ve not done enough hills. ¬†But on analysis of the data I found that the probable reason was that I had gone up the hill about 1mph faster than my previous two rides on this loop. ¬†That doesn’t sound much but over a mile of climbing including 20%+ gradients it’s enough! ¬†And overall I knocked 5 minutes off my previous best time for the ride.

Today I decided to go north again but heading over to Hebden Bridge – which if you like flat riding would be your version of cycling hell.

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There was a stiff wind this morning and the route took in a mixture of short, sharp climbs, like Widdop, and long gradual climbs, like Cragg Vale.  Something for everyone!

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Sunday - 76 miles and 6,339ft of climbing

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Anyway, my legs felt very heavy today. ¬†My time and average speed wasn’t particularly good. ¬†I’ve noticed some riders who struggle to maintain a pace in a group but post some fantastic averages when out on their own. ¬†I’m the complete opposite. ¬†I need company to motivate me to go faster – on my own I just settle for “comfortable”.

Overall though I’m pleased with the rides, and I think it shows the value of recording data so you can test your subjective thinking and get to the real story.

Ride Stats:

Saturday : 32 miles in 1hr 54m at 16.7mph average.  2,000ft of climbing, 1,591kcals and average HR of 146bpm

Sunday : 76 miles in 5hrs 24m at 14.1mph average. 6,339ft of climbing, 4,167kcals and average HR of 139bpm

 

 

 

Climbing The Rake from @100Climbs – Some Thoughts on Climbing

I decided that my route this morning would take in The Rake, which I’ve written about before. ¬†It’s in the 100 Greatest Climbs book and coupled with the rest of my ride up Grane Road is part of a shortish hilly loop I like to do from time to time.

1864ft ascent

The Rake is in Ramsbottom. ¬†As you cross the main A676 onto Carr Street the road starts to rise. ¬†You have maybe a hundred yards grace and then you are into a 19% gradient. ¬†That’s relatively short and as the road dog-legs left at the Rose and Crown pub onto Tanners Street the gradient settles down to the mere teens giving you a bit of a breather! ¬†It then flattens further still as Tanners Street gently arcs to the right. ¬†These are narrow residential roads and are not in the greatest state of repair but so far I’ve been lucky and not met any cars on them. ¬†At this point you’re probably thinking “is that it?” but then round the

 

apex of the arc you spot the sign. ¬†The sign that says 25% on it! ¬†And you realise you’re not done yet. ¬†Turning slightly right you find yourself on Rawson’s Rake. ¬†It’s steepness is a bit like one of those roads Wily Coyote paints on a cliff to trap the Roadrunner. ¬†As well as that there are two things you notice. ¬†One is how bad the surface is, which makes it even harder as you need to be aware of your line rather than just head down and grind. ¬†The¬†second is the fact there is a handrail for pedestrians! ¬†The rake runs out into Chapel Lane and gradient drops down below 20% again.

As opposed to my heart-rate which carried on at quite high¬†rate for some time! ¬†The climb is over when you reach the junction with¬†Helmshore Road, at which point a passing cyclist simply nodded at me and said “Well done!”

 


Mark’s cycling blog contained some great technical and scientific tips for hill climbing in this post here. ¬†Here are some non-scientific tips that have helped me actually enjoy hills

  1. Practice, practice, practice! ¬†The only way to get better at hills is to ride them. ¬†I hear lots of people say that they aren’t good at hills and they avoid them. ¬†Find yourself a hilly circuit and do it regularly. ¬†You will get better, and it will benefit all your riding.
  2. It’s all in the mind. ¬†Half the battle with hills is in your head if you ask me. ¬†Mow Cop, for example, defeats lots of riders before they’ve even tried it. ¬†They watch the video, listen to the stories and mentally they are beaten before they start. ¬†Be mentally strong and think positive. ¬†Your body will keep going for quite a while after your head is telling you to jack it.
  3. Go at your own pace. ¬†Don’t be suckered into racing people if you don’t want to.
  4. Smoothly does it.  Gear changes, cadence, changing riding position Рdo them smoothly and as efficiently as possible.  Your aim is to lose as little energy as possible.
  5. Use the terrain. ¬†If there’s a down before an up then use the momentum – don’t bleed energy yourself by changing gear too early, but do it smoothly as your momentum starts to stall.
  6. Cadence – try to keep a good cadence or you will hurt your knees.

Ride stats : 32 miles in 2hrs 4m @ 15.4mph average.  Total climb 1864ft, energy 1574kcals and average HR 136bpm.

 

 

 

Who Walked Under a Ladder?

Puncture no. 4 of the day..!

Today’s North Cheshire Clarion club run was supposed to be a long run, it being the first Sunday of the month and all that. ¬†The route was going to take in Swiss Hill in Alderley Edge, the climb up to the Cat and Fiddle and b roughly 75 miles in length.

Following the current trend of Sunday rides being hugely popular, 19 people turned up. ¬†This in itself is amazing, with the longer rides generally having an attendance of between 5 and 10 since they started. ¬†So we needed to split into two groups with Andy W leading one and myself and Sarah leading the other. ¬†Andy’s group set off whilst we waited for the requisite 10 minutes – which also allowed “Lucky” Gaz to fix his first puncture of the day.

When we did set off we managed a staggering 2.3 miles before Gaz had his second puncture of the day.  Meanwhile Martin managed to snap a valve off an inner tube in the pump meaning that the group had now gone through more inner tubes than miles at that point!

I can’t really recall if we had puncture number 3 and then the crash, or the other way around. ¬†Anyway, riding down a lane we came up behind a group of other cyclists and a farm tanker came the other way round a bend rather too fast, spooking this group and causing one of their number to swerve in, and the rest to hit the brakes. ¬†Three of our guys went into them and ended up in a heap on the road. ¬†We stopped for some considerable time whilst one suspected broken finger was strapped up and a buckled wheel and various other problems were repaired. ¬†We’d managed 18 miles in about 2 hours.

We decided it would be prudent to abandon the planned route, head up Swiss Hill and stop at the Wizard Tea Rooms and replan a route back.

Swiss Hill is a cobbled hill with a terrible road surface that peaks at about 16% gradient.  It is very, very technically challenging.  The wet cobbles, moss and damp leaves meant that when stood up on the pedals the back wheel was spinning and I had next to know grip.  Sitting back on the saddle immediately starts to lift the front wheel.  However, I managed it at a reasonable rate and can now tick that one off in my book!

After a stop at the Wizard we plotted a route that would get us back to the start in a sensible time. ¬†Carrying on would’ve had us out in the dark and we didn’t have the right lights.

The rest of the ride back was fairly uneventful apart from two more punctures in quick succession within 5 miles of the finish. ¬†Until then we’d managed a fairly good and quick pace.

Ride stats : 48.6miles in 3hrs 13m Р15mph average riding speed.  Total climb 1184ft, energy used 2006kcals

Season of Mists Audax

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 Рalmost 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 Рwhich 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 Рthat 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

6981ft of climbing!!!!

Some nasty sharp hills

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 Р63.48 miles in 5hrs 13mins ride time Р12.1mph average.  6981ft of climbing and 4098 kcals used.

No 72 – The Rake

Climb number 72 in Simon Warren’s excellent book, 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, is The Rake in Ramsbottom. ¬†It’s given an 8/10 rating in the book. ¬†I plotted a ride that diverted from my usual Grane Road loop to take in this hill and chalk up my seventh climb from the book.

The weather was overcast when I set off, and chilly too considering it’s bloody August! ¬†By the time I returned the heavens had opened and I was drenched! ¬†The ride to the Rake was uneventful apart from the fact that my Garmin was playing up – claiming it had no saved routes even though I could see them when it was hooked up to the Mac. ¬†More on some Garmin hints and tips in a later post. ¬†I started up the climb and the road quickly becomes around 15% gradient for a while and then swings 90 degrees left and flattens out. ¬†At this point I was thinking “is that it?” ¬†Then the road turned right into a section that looked like the ramp from Mow Cop! ¬†This section is marked as 25% on the sign at the start, and even has a handrail on the wall for pedestrians! ¬†Although my heart-rate was maximum at this point I felt relatively comfortable, especially when the road flattened to a “mere” 20% gradient. ¬†It was still very tricky – the road surface is very poor so you have to concentrate on line rather than just slogging upwards! ¬†The hill is only about three-quarters of a mile and was over fairly quickly. ¬†I’m not sure I’d rate it an 8/10.

The rest of the ride took me (very, very soggily) back onto my normal Grane Road loop.  I tried to really attack the remaining hills to get some training in, hitting max heart-rate a few more times.  Interestingly, GPSIES reports this ride as having a ClimbByBike index of 55.43 which is seemingly quite benign (by way of contrast Рthe Tan Hill Challenge had a ClimbByBike index of 210.04).  This is a method for rating climbs Рclick the links for more information.

Total Ascent - 1873ft

Overall, a very good ride, if a little damp.  Enjoyed the Rake Рnot sure what hill to tackle next!

Ride stats : 32 miles, 1hr 59m, average speed 16.1mph, 1873ft ascent, 1598kcals

Tan Hill Challenge 208km Audax

The North Cheshire Clarion crack Audax team (minus Andy who was busy) were up at stupid o’ clock travelling to Shipton, North of York. ¬†What awaited Anthony and I was a 130 mile audax including the climbs of Buttertubs, Tan Hill and Leyburn Moor!

A prompt (for once) 8am start saw us ride North East towards the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  The first 24 miles were relatively flat but then it gradually started to climb.  We also turned West and into a pretty fierce headwind.  The first stop was at the Border House Tea Rooms in Masham

The carrot cake was mine

Setting off again the headwind was still strong and carried on through to 56 miles, sapping the legs and proving ideal preparation for climbing Buttertubs! ¬†We had passed through some lovely countryside and very smart villages but the scenery going up Buttertubs was absolutely stunning. ¬†The clear air and good weather meant the views went on for mile upon mile, which in part helped take the mind of the steep and relentless climbing! ¬†It lasted about 3 miles, ascended some 1000ft and hit 15% gradients. ¬†The wind was whipping across us now and at the top there is a sheer drop to the side of the road protected only by a high-tensile wire barrier designed for cars – plenty of room for a cyclist to go through it – making it a little bit “exciting!” ¬†The descent down the other side was fast, furious and superb fun, hitting 45mph at its fastest.

Anthony battles up Buttertubs

The clue to the next challenge is in the name of the event – we climbed Tan Hill. ¬†This was a longer climb – 6 miles – but only (!) ascended 750ft. ¬†At its steepest part it was 17% but somehow felt easier than Buttertubs because there were a number of flatter “rest” plateaus on the way up. ¬†It led us to the Tan Hill Inn which is the highest pub in England and seems hugely popular as it was packed. ¬†They also act as a control point so the organisers must have a decent relationship with them, but we were disappointed as the service was really, really poor.

Proof we were there!

We now believed the worse was behind us and we were looking forward to another fast descent Рwhich we got.  So fast that I was contemplating overtaking a car until it pulled out of our way and let us through!

There was one more hill to climb at Leyburn Moor, which turned out to be worse than Tan Hill!  It rose some 800ft over about 4 miles and was just relentless with no break from start to finish.  A horrible little climb.

That put us at 87 miles and thankfully 15 miles of downhill and then flat all the way!  A quick pick-me-up at the Posthorn tea room in Leyburn meant we had 40 miles to go, and we decided to give it everything.  The next 10 miles we completed in 27 minutes, the next after that in 33.  In short we managed to do the final 40 miles in just over 2 hours and then enjoy free tea, sandwiches and cake at the end.  It was 7pm and we had been out 11 hours, although only 8hrs and 36m of that were riding (apparently the first finisher was at 3-20pm!!!!!)  Anyway, we were now officially Randonneurs.

If you haven’t done an Audax, do one. ¬†This event was everything that is excellent about audaxing – a great route, good organisation, superb value for money and really friendly people – including three pensioners we’d met several times around the route and who finished just after us! ¬†Thanks to Mark Antrobus and Clifton Cycling Club for organising.

Ride Stats : 130.21miles, 8hrs 36m, 5715ft climbing, 15.1mph average, 6650kcals used