Sunday saw the first run of the Ride with Brad sportive, a 100Km or 160Km ride based around the Forest of Bowland. This is basically the route of the old Pendle Pedal rides. Cath had signed me up for the 160Km and herself for the 100Km. Hmm.
An early start saw us registering at Barnoldswick, the longer ride was starting first so by 7:41 I was in the starting pen with about 40 others. Five big hills and quite a few smaller ones lay ahead. The initial miles via Bowland by Bowland to Waddington went easily enough and then the fun began. Unlike most of the other big climbs I'd never been over Waddington Fell before so wasn't sure what to expect. In the event it was a steady ride with a steepening near the top then a blast down the other side and along the valley to Slaidburn and the first food stop. 1hr15.
The climb out of Slaidburn begins straight way but it's a false summit and after a couple of miles you drop to the beck before the real fun begins and you head up to Cross of Greet. "Did you see Brad?" asks a lad as he pulls level, "Sky top and a yellow helmet", "Oh, you mean the blur?" I respond not realising that The Man had gone past. One of the stranger sites of the ride awaited me further on: a Peregrine Falcon stood on the roadside with a pigeon, totally unconcerned about the hundreds of cyclists riding past. The riding on the other side is fast and we are soon at the food stop in Wray. 2hr20.
To keep us away from main roads the route then crossed the river Lune and headed towards Lancaster before the next big climb loomed ahead: Quernmore. I've done this a few times before and not really enjoyed it. Sunday was no different. Then it's another fast descent and through the valley towards the Trough of Bowland enlivened by the rider ahead of me making close acquaintance with several metres of a barn wall! Fortunately only cuts and bruising - he was from Norfolk apparently so didn't understand hills. The Trough of Bowland is actually a straight forward climb from this side with only a couple of slightly steeper bits. As I passed over the summit the first spots of rain began, by the time I was down at Dunsop Bridge it was heavy rain but I decided to delay putting on my jacket until the foodstop in Chipping. 4hrs25.
However by now it had stopped so decided against it. Just as well as making a right turn the road reared up to 20% and just headed straight up the hillside of Longridge Fell. What the ... Bottom gear and big effort with encouraging words from those who'd got off and were walking. Fortunately the rest of the climb was easier, well apart from the hairpin at the top. Easier riding now lead to Whalley with heavy rain now set in and before the last of the big climbs: Nick o' Pendle.
Luckily this was from the "easy" side, right. A few more walking now, plus we'd begun to catch up the tailenders of the short ride. A blast down the other side to Sabden then the real work began. An unamed, well any name wouldn't be printable on maps, climb on to the ridge had at least half the field walking. I'd ridden everything up to now so wasn't going to give in but the effort had me struggling on the following flat for a while. A steep drop back in to the valley led to another 20% climb on the slopes of Pendle. Not long to go now, except it wasn't. Descending in to Barley I could see a line of riders/walkers snaking up the road ahead.
This is more of a drag than the previous climbs. Halfway up a lass asks "How much further?", "Five miles or so", "What! This hill is five miles long?". Then a level section before dropping down and beginning another climb, the last one I promise myself, except it isn't and two more short sharp climbs appear in quick succession before it really was the last. The rider next to me checks his high tech gadget: "Nearly 4000kCals today" he announces with pride, I look down: "I had a belly before this". Finally it's back through the fenced off section and the clapping crowds to the finishing line. 7hr30.
Results here: http://www.mapmytracks.com/events/ride-with-brad-sportive/results/160km-sportive/7 - I came 262nd out of 628 so not as bad as I thought