It was certainly a very early start for me getting up at O'dark early 5am! I got dressed had breakfast and then headed out at about 5.30ish to go over the hills to Bakewell.
The drive over wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but I could already see it was going to be one of those wet and windy days that you sort of think "I paid to do this why exactly???" I arrived just after 6.30 so I decided to have a bit of a chill out snooze in the car. Little chance of that of course as I was all ready and raring to go even if it was still dark!!!
Anyway after finally finding the way in to Lady Manner schools car park and getting parked up. I headed off to find the registation desks to collect a route map, a "dibber", and of course my rider number. I went and sorted all my bits out, stripped off my nice warm jeans and jumper and once I had donned helmet and waterproof jacket went off in search of the start line.
|Lady Manners School|
|The Start/Finish line|
As I headed out of Bakewell heading North towards Ashford in the water and on to great Longstone I experienced what I imagined would be the first of many showers of the day. Being glad to be wearing my trusty showerproof jacket this didn't bother me much. However as suddenly as the rain started it stopped and out came a rather strange sight... the sun actually made a breif appearance and I began to sweat under my jacket instantly! I stopped and stripped that off rolling it up to go into my jersey pocket along with the many energy gels and bits that I have collected over the past months of cycling distances.
The route can be found here but as Strava is being a bit broken at the moment I can embed a link that works!!!
The first hills came just north of Great Longstone in the form of Hey Top (1.3 miles and 509 ft climb then over the valley to Sir WIlliam Hill Road Climb (1 mile 367 ft). both of these are cat 4 climbs so are not serious killers and good to get the lungs and legs a bit warmer!
The weather had really cleared up so when I reached the top of the second of the two climbs I took a few pictures. I like to share a little of the nice view even if my lack of photography skill doesn't do it justice!
So after this brief stop for a few snaps I got the feeling that I would be seeing the massed horde of a peleton of riders coming bearing down on me any second!!
I dropped down in through Eyam then again over a valley to and through Grindleford. ever mindful that I keep on the lookout for the route markers as well as rock, gravel, leaves, branches, cars, vans, tractors and a million and one other obstacles that seem to aimlessly float about on country lanes, but enjoying the countryside at the same time. I headed up and up and up toward the first of three feed stations at Longshaw Country park National trust property. The climb up to this was designed I think to make you want food so the feed station came as a welcome break indeed. It turns out the Climb is 2.1 miles from Grindleford bridge to Longshaw entrance with a climb of 635 ft. A cat 3 to get you ready for some pie!!! or in my case a sausage roll and an energy bar. I still hadn't been caught up yet, so I made it quick then off again. Just as I was leaving I saw another rider just about to arrive. The chap certainly looked very red cheeked and in the need of a break too. I know how he felt!
From there it was a gentle climb over the hill to a nice rapid descent into Heathersage which I was very careful not to be going too fast on as it was on a narrow but busy looking main road. After a dip down into the valley and crossing the river Derwent I burned my legs a bit harder to get up the next climb in this Hidden Peak sportive. It was the Castleton Road climb, a cat 4 at 1 mile and 322ft then further on yet towards Abney (which just made me think of Abney and Teel which is a kids TV show that my two watch on CBBC). However when they named it Abney I bet they didn't realise it has a cat 3 climb going up to it. The burn was starting to catch in my legs and Abney Climb at 4.4 miles with 839ft of climbing certainly made you realise that this was a long and hard route for a reason!
Thankfully it was pretty much all down hill and flat(ish) fr the next few miles as I descended down into Tideswell then on to Miller's Dale, so the burn in my legs cooled slightly even though I did manage to keep my pace up at the same time quite nicely!
By this point I had turned South so the wind I found that had been helping me on my way was now in my face! As I climbed up out of the valley towards Taddington and over the exposed tops to Monyash I started to have to push hard against the wind. It wasn't cold and only had a few drops of rain in it. but as the clouds raced by I had the feeling that I would be very lucky not to get very wet at some point very soon. Surrounded by dark clouds I sped on through Monyash and up over a cheeky little cat 4 towards Longnor. From there again it was more climbing up the Big Wood climb which is a nice Cat 3 at 3,4 miles and 613ft.
|Exposed on the moores|
|But with a nice view!|
I then had a winding windy country road through woods and valleys towards Alstonefield then dropping south towards Ilam.
On the very steep descent down through a wooded area on the way into Ilam I came a little unstuck!!!
Now riding on little country roads may keep you away from the general population of car drivers and other loonies that can't see cyclists. However sometimes even cyclists are clad for vehicles that sweep the crap off the roads or as I found out they do get a little on the slippy side! I was being very careful on the very narrow road covered in leaves, but with all the will in the world I was struggling to keep my speed under control when suddenly I found myself with the dreaded situation of a rear wheel lock up going into a bend.
I was only doing perhaps 10 Mph at the point when I did lock up and it all happened in a very slow and controlled manner too. I was very aware that I didn't want to lock my front wheel as that would spell disaster but at the same time I also knew I was about to crash! "Pick a soft spot and go for it" is what I thought. I was really lucky and even ended the "crash" still standing all be in a hedge! Comical and as a young chap pulled up that had followed me down the hill I was a little embarrassed too. Thankful that I had survived unscathed and with my bike undamaged I picked myself up and then proceeded to make the second mistake of the day by blindly following the chaps that had just caught up with me thinking they were on the same ride!! Wrong they were on a totally different ride as I found out after a few miles. It was the JCB sportive. I actually stopped and asked directions (yes man points nil!!!) and got sent back the way I had come looking a little red faced. Oh the lead I had built up just vanished!!
I stopped at Ilam for some food and a little drink then quickly off again through to Thorpe, Tissington and Bradbourne, cursing myself all the way for blindly following others when I didn't see any signage. Thank goodness for the Maps though that really saved my bacon! On towards Brassington and then up B5056 to Manystones Lane a gentle 2.9 mile cat 4 with 469ft of climbing and on North to Longcliffe and Elton.
It did seem at this point that the route wasn't going to end. But finally and it did seem suddenly I was seeing the signs for Bakewell and the finish! I did however come across a ford to my surprise to cross the river Lathkill. One of the marshalls pointed me towards the footbridge though to I gave a sigh of relief.
Once back at Lady Manner school it was a case of throw my bike in the back of the car and then back around to registration for tea and biscuits. Very nice plus the staff there were very chatty too. I could feel myself coming down from the high of taking part in such a good event but also knew that if I didn't leave soon I would struggle on the drive home.
Once I got home I unloaded the bike to find that it was filthy! and I mean I have ridden many miles and my bike has never been this bad..
Anyway as a bit of a retrospective on the ride, I would say the following
Take care on slippy steep descents and I possibly need to revisit my bike handling skill!
Don't blindly follow other riders, yes Matthew you are a moron! (Hearty slap!)
Everything else was great and my bike really showed that it is well up for the type of hard riding I enjoy.
Great fun in the end and I will be back next year I hope.