So this weekend we have been in the lakes for a bit of training and to visit The Adventure Cycling Festival at Brathay Hall.
Afer a night of a few beers and catch up on friday we cycled from the vans to The Adventure Cycle Festival that was being hosted at Brathay Hall just outside Ambleside. The route there was great, taking in some good off-road sections that I’ll definitely do again.
“The Adventure Cycle Festival was created with the primary aim of inspiring more people to use their bike as an adventure vehicle and to act as a forum for like-minded people to get together.”
Check out the website for the event here: http://www.adventurecyclefestival.co.uk/
After a wander around the stalls, drooling over the bikes and kit, we caught the fist talk from Greg May about his recent 2745 mile Tour Divide mountain bike race from Banff, Canada, through the Rocky Mountains to the border of Mexico. Greg’s humorous talk really put into context some of the difficulties and rewards of taking part in such a challenging event. I’ll take with me his mantra engraved on his bike….”Don’t be sh*t”.
Check out Greg’s website here: http://www.gregorymay.ie/
We then headed out for our first ride of the weekend – Le Tour de Lac Windermere.
The route planned took us off the main roads and along some very interesting old byways – the looks of the mountain bikers all padded up as two road tourers passed them made us smile. Following a spot of lunch in Newby Bridge, we picked up the route again following the edge of the lake – a cracking little ride reminding me of Lake Annecy in several places.
Back at the festival we chilled before Mark Beaumont’s talk about his plans to cycle around the world in 80 days. Mark is a super driven rider with many records under his belt. His clear focus on trying to achieve what is possible on a bike really shone through. He chatted about his recent training ride around the UK (that’s one hell of a training ride!), his record-breaking ride along the length of Africa and several other of his huge rides. Mark sets off on his latest challenge – to ride around the world in 80 days – on the same day that we set off on our latest challenge – to ride from John O’ Groats to Lands End in 6 and a bit days.
Check out Mar’s website here: https://markbeaumontonline.com/
Some beers and a bit of music rounded off the festival for us, and we headed off back to the vans, taking in some more off-road sections and even a bit of ‘Roubaix’ en route. A cracking day!
Sunday morning 7 am (not quite Simon and Garfunkel)
Today’s ride was to take in a few passes and sights of the Lake District, and a chance to try out the new Giordana bib shorts that we were going to use on the summer ride. I have to admit that I didn’t expect much of a difference between my usual bib shorts and these new ones, but I was in for a pleasant surprise.
The Giordana Lungo bib shorts proved to be extremely comfortable throughout the day. The padding is soft and generous and the chamois stayed in place during the ride and I didn’t have to ‘shuffle’ to get comfortable once. The shorts gripped the seat well and kept me cool even on the hardest climbing sections. The low front cut made peeing easy, and the straps were well positioned as to avoid any nipple rub. Honestly the best pair of shorts I’ve every used.
The first 18 miles or so towards Keswick was a nice prep for breakfast. With dark skies looming we followed the shores of Rydel water, Grasmere and Thirlmere along smooth, and thankfully quiet roads. Literally seconds after stepping into the cafe for breakfast, the heavens opened, and it rained pretty constantly up to the point that the coffee ran out. Maybe fortune was on our side today? Fuelled up we headed along the west side of Derwent water, through Borrowdale and to the start of the first test piece of the day – the Honister Pass.
The Honister Pass is a cracking climb, and earns its place in the top 100 climbs of the UK. The climb starts pretty soon after passing the ‘welcome’ sign at the bottom and takes you out of the saddle on more than one section. Fortunately there are slightly less steep sections to catch your breath and let the legs spin out before the next grueling section. Cycling weekly did a nice little video and write-up of the climb – check it out here:
The descent towards Buttermere is outstanding – with the bends in the road being shallow enough to carry most of your speed – with a closed road this would be amazing! Heading through Buttermere headed NE and up Newlands Pass – another gem, albeit shorter and less steep than Honister Pass. Another fantastic and longer descent definitely brought a smile to the face.
Skirting Keswick again we headed NW, before swinging NE through Bassenthwaite and with the mountains to our right gradually bringing us round SE again towards Ullswater. This section was where I realised I’d made a rookie mistake and forgotten my snacks. I could feel my blood sugars slowly dropping and I needed to eat sometime soon. At around the 60 mile mark we thankfully found The Mill pub in Mungrisdale. After devouring 2 bars of chocolate and a pint of coke I felt much better, and the fish and chips definitely hit the spot. After a quick 2 minute snooze in the sun we set off again, eventually picking up the shore of Ullswater which took us to the final climb of the day – the Kirkstone Pass.
The Kirkstone Pass gradually climbs its way from the Brotherswater Inn at an average of 8%, with the steepest section towards the end. Thankfully the Kirkstone Pass Inn lies at the summit to rest the legs and take in a well deserved drink – just not for us today. There was a descent to be had in the form of The Struggle. And it didn’t disappoint. The final blast to Ambleside brought the ride to a fantastic close. A cracking days ride!
Check out the Strava link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1020975949