Monday, 7 November 2011

Christmas Cracker Sportive 2011

It's been a while since I posted anything which is as much because I haven't really being doing a great deal. 

We had a rather greasy day at Giggleswick South a couple of weeks ago, even doing a route or two that I'd not done before. It's not a particularly good crag, though there are some good routes if you look around, so it's best treated as an outdoor climbing wall.

Most weekend activity has been biking in preparation for yesterday's Christmas Cracker Sportive in the Lakes, brought forward as the last two have been affected by severe weather. As it happened, the weather was glorious with not a cloud in the sky and little or no wind.

An early start saw us in Grasmere with me doing battle with the car park's telephone payment system - seven minutes of "press this button", "Did you mean ... ?" only to be told right at the end that my card type wasn't accepted! Coins in the slot worked. Registration done and once the safety info had been given out we were away.

The first mile or so is easy pedalling. This can't be said for the next half mile, also known as Red Bank. Whether it was the cold morning air or me just being out of condition I'm not sure, but there was some serious gasping going on. Fortunately that's the hardest climb on the whole route and I didn't feel too bad once I'd got warmed up. Going alongside Coniston Water I was grabbing an energy bar when I was passed by a couple of riders who were just that little bit faster than I was going so I got on to their back wheel and soon we were at the A590 crossing.

The next section is the fastest of the route and we got to the food stop at Cartmel just on the 2hr mark. I didn't stop too long as I was starting to chill so left them to enjoy the log fire and set off on the return leg. The start is actually the second big climb on the route but it's a series of short climbs of varying gradients and you don't really notice that you climb as much as you actually do, it's only the big descent back down to Haverthwaite that gives it away. Back across the A590 and then up through Rusland to Grizedale (via a short detour because of bridge repairs). I get to Grizedale in exactly three hours and grab an energy gel before the last of the big climbs over to Hawkshead.

A quick check of the cracking views of the eastern fells from the top of the climb before the steep descent down to Hawkshead (quite a few cyclists were heading the other way) then it was just rolling terrain to Ambleside, some of the climbs just seemed wrong and felt hard work whereas others felt OK. Finally there was just a busy (and semi submersed) Loughrigg Terrace where I got my only mechanical - my chain came off - then the main road back to Grasmere.

I clocked 3:49 of actual cycling time but there's the added time of the food stop which took it just over the four hour mark at 4:06. (Results here ) Even so, my time for last year's event, held in Feb this year(!) was 4:47 so much quicker. A quick change and some food later I sat in the sun waiting for Cath. She was also an hour quicker than her previous time so obviously some of the LEJOG fitness is still there.

A quick look at some bike porn in Staveley on the way home and the day was complete. Definitely tired when we got in to the house. This morning was quite frosty so a gentle ride in was in order, I took nearly as long as going home can do! I think it's time to swap to the old bike for the winter commutes.

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