Monday, 17 September 2012

My walking shoes need new cleats

I cycled/walked the Fred Whitton 4 Seasons cycle challenge and definitely need new cleats.

On a previous attempt, I joined a small group of cyclists attempting to complete the ride in October a few years back and we failed due to attrocious weather conditions and bad navigation.  Despite my policy of not re-attempting rides I decided to make an exception and the Chinook-O and friends of Chinook-O assailed the 112 miles and 11,200 feet of climbing.
The weather was a lot more favourable than previous.  Just look at the blue sky and fabulous view from the top of Kirkstone Pass.
The route traverses twelve big climbs on passes and fells in the Lake District. 

True to forecast, the weather in the afternoon changed to cloudy with some showers but it didn't impair the views.

There are several self-timing points scattered around the route.

The Ortleib bar bag worked out ok. It definitely slowed me down but having the map and somewhere to carry stuff was good.
You reach Hardknott with 98 miles in your legs; a vicious climb exceeding 30% on two sections and where I wore out my cleats in walking.

At the top of Hardknott Pass there is a small mound of stones used by many cyclists (who manage to stay on the bike) for a trophy picture.  Not for me, since I walked it (and, by this stage, grateful for not being buried under it).

Some irony in the pub in Coniston, where several pints of local bitter and a slap-up meal helped post-ride recovery.

Ride stats:
* 111.4 miles
* Total ascent 11242 feet
* Total moving time 8hrs 40mins
* Average speed 12.9mph
* Max speed 40.8mph
* Total calories burned 8,700
* Average heart rate 126bpm
* Average cadence 69rpm
Thank you to Rick, Jon and Julian for organising and letting me tag along :-)


  1. Cheers BMc, it was an epic ride. The first half in the sunshine was stunning, the last bit over Hardknott and Wrynose was stunningly hard. Those pints were well earned - here's to the next one!

  2. Yes - here's to the next pedal and pint!

    Thanks for waiting for me on the ascents and catching up with me on the descents.

  3. Last night I opened up Simon Warren's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs with the intention of smugly ticking a few of the toughest off. To my horror, I found that the Fred Whitton Challenge Ride takes on Kirkstone, Honister and Newlands Passes the wrong way round! Does this mean that we have to go back and do the whole thing backwards?

    1. By backwards, Rick means rear wheel first. It was obviously too easy for him forwards........

    2. Mmmm - the Lake District on a fixed wheel, maybe with a flip flop to make downhills less of a competition to beat Cav's max cadence record. Tempting.

    3. By tempting I assume that you mean 'No thanks, let's all go to France for some sunshine and proper mountains with some decent food and wine thrown in.'

  4. I don't have that book in my collection. Do you recommend it?
    And no, I can think of a few new climbs to tick off before returning to the Lake District. The Stelvio perhaps ;-)

  5. OK - let's do a Chinook-O over the Stelvio. That didn't take much arm twisting did it?
    I think that the 100 climbs book is a useful guide if you're touring or on holiday as it points out some iconic climbs that have a place in racing history or are scenic, tough, plain brutal or all three. It's also a great prompt for a debate about what's included, what's left out and the individual difficulty ratings. Some of the climbs are a must do for the scenery or their place in cycling lore but the author doesn't have a rating for this. I take issue with the difficulty rating too. Wrynose Pass rates 10/10 but after you've ridden up the equally rated but absurdly difficult Hardknott Pass it seems like a gentle bump. By contrast, the unrelentingly brutal Winnats Pass in the Peak District only rates 8/10. I know plenty of good cyclists who have had to walk up Winnats because like the top of Hardknott, it takes an iron will, thighs of steel and in some conditions a measure of good fortune to get up there on a bike. The book is also unfairly weighted to England and to the Peaks, Lakes, Yorkshire Moors and Dales in particular. Despite their wild mountainous profiles, Scotland and Wales get only 22 climbs of the 100 between them and of that Scotland only gets 7. Yorkshire and Derbyshire together get 26.

    It's a neat little handbook rather than a detailed reference guide - it would be nice to see some of the climbs sewn together in a suggested route or see them identified in Sportives. The author is in the process of putting together a website that will allow debates about his views online and suggestions for inclusions in a new volume which strikes me as an excellent idea.

  6. Sorted. Stelvio and 100 climbs book on my list. Let me know when you have a URL for the author's website.

    1. the outline of the site is there but there's little content and no comment function as yet.

    2. Thanks. The basic site looks good and I'll bookmark and check for progress once in a while.

      Out of interest how many of the 100 have you ticked off (the stated side/route of course)?

  7. The answer is very few.

    1. Cheddar Gorge beautiful and surrounded by some other fine routes and climbs.
    8. (backwards) Dartmeet tough on the way up the other side, a stunning descent down the recommended climb
    19. (backwards) The Wall it's a long shallow climb to the top of this one and a screaming descent down the other side. Julian set his record speed here, a little short of 47mph.
    22. Ditching Beacon - the beast of the London - Brighton is tough in places, the last time I climbed it I passed a very tired looking cyclist on his 13th out of 20 climbs. ' You might want to go past me, I'm not as fresh as I was earlier this morning.' he said. 17 Beacons equals one Ventoux for gradient and ascent without the respite of the descents of course.
    27. Swains Lane I've no idea what this is doing in there. It's steep enough to make me wonder if I had a puncture but there are speed bumps and it's in the middle of north London, hardly prime cycling territory.
    30. Monsal Head short but steep at the end of a beautiful valley. There's a nice vantage point and a pub at the top if you need a rest at the end.
    33. Winnats Pass a real test of the legs and the will. You may remember that we drove down it and saw a cyclist standing by his prone De Rosa by the salt bin a third of the way up. Like Hardknott, you take it as slowly as possible until you absolutely have to stand up and then it's man and bike vs. hill until you hit the brow of the steep section just before the top.
    35. Curbar Edge or Cubar Gap a real tester that gives a little respite through the village. A Peaks classic that's brutal in sections but rewards with a great view and a long straight descent to take hell for leather on the other side.
    As mentioned above we did Hardknott, Wrynose and Whinlatter the right way round and Honister, Newlands and Kirkstone the wrong way.
    Maybe we could do a Chinook-O to Whiteleaf to knock that one off although at 30 miles from Marston there are probably better things that we could do with our time.