The Fred Whitton
So despite being exhausted and much rather couped up in bed with a bowl of coco pops and some csi on, I thought I best get this out before I forget everything!
So I have completed the Fred Whitton! And boy was it one hard ride! I don’t think it was the hardest ride I’ve ever done. The IM bike reccee I did in Lanza came pretty close, though in terms of complete blowing up and fatigue, that has to be awarded to the Tour Of The Peaks race last year, with terrible conditions and a standard chainset. Having the compact made a huge difference, I paced better, I spun more easily and most importantly, I didn’t walk!
So I finished in 7 hours 47, though total ride time was about 7 hours 10. This gives me a ‘first class’ ride, for breaking 8 hours, which given that a couple of weeks ago it took me about 9 and a half, with a night’s sleep and lots of food and rest at half way! I set off with 2 aims (later three when I realised I was going to be slightly quicker than 9 hours!) of not walking, and not blowing up.
Mike and me set off at about half 7 and almost immediately caught a small pack so sat with them and did a bit of pacing up to Hawkshead Hill. As soon as we hit it, the compact came into its own, and instead of brute forcing my way up, like I used to do, I was actually able to spin up it, and felt pretty good! Turning around, we had dropped all but one of the pack already. On the descent, a small peleton formed, and I got a nice tow all the way upto Kirkstone Pass, keeping my HR nice and low, and saving myself for later. When we hit the climb, I settled into a rythym and pushed up to the top. As Kirkstone has the best (and possibly only decent) descent on the course, I put in a burst 50m from the top to drop all the riders around me, and have a clear run down to the bottom, which I flew down.
At the bottom I was soon overtaken my a couple of guys flying along. I jumped and tucked into their wheel, to see how it went. At the beginning it was fine, but as we got on, I soon realised my HR was starting to creep up, but I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss, and did my bit pacing them up the climb to the A66. As soon as we hit the A road, the big guy took to the front and flew off. A burst later, and I was sitting on his wheel, flying along at 50kph and loving it! As we hit the ascent on the road, we began to sweep up riders who stuck to our wheels, and annoyingly were perfectly happy to sit there and let us do the work. As soon as the other guy moved out to let me take over, I was hit by the wind, and lack of draft, but I felt I needed to repay my debt and powered along, forcing the HR up, which I was going to pay for later. The benefit of this was that I effectively got a free tow to Honister once we got off the main road, so I think it was a price worth paying. As we hit Honister, we immediately had a 25% gradient to fight with. I got up it, and for the first time since recceing it all those times, managed to get up it! Although with a big burn in the legs, which was made worse when I looked down at my cassette at the top and saw I still had another gear!
The descent is best described as ‘bumpy’! How they manage to resurface a road so badly that it seems they used an egg shape roller to smooth it out is beyond me! Anyway, I managed not to get thrown off my bike, and almost immediately and hit the feed station in 3 hours. A quick thought, and I realised, I only had to hold 20kph to come in under 8 hours! Granted there were some obstacles in the way, but it should be doable! I stuffed some food in me and set off again, to be immediately hit by Newlands, one of the toughest climbs, and although not quite as steep as some of the others, it just goes on for EVER! Over the top and another dodgy descent, and then you move onto Winlatter. At this point, the extended pushes previously, and lack of eating for smashing it out upto Honister, began to catch up with me, and I could feel my legs starting to go. Once at the top, I had no choice but to back off and force some food down me. 4 hours in, and my stomach was not happy, partly due to dehydration, and probably too many gels. In the whole ride, I only had a cliff bar, and half an SiS bar. Usually I would have 4 or 5!
Between 110k and 140k, I found myself in a bad place, small chainring, praying for descents, and begging for no hills! But gradually my legs began to come through, and when I got to the 2nd feed stop, I had some proper food, and bit of a rest and stretch and some water. Having made up a bottle of ZipVit at the first feed stop, I found that I REALLY do not like it, and as a result hadn’t really drunk much. After all the gels, and energy drink, some water was a welcome relief.
With 40k to go, I had plenty of time for an 8 hour ride, with only the small problem of Hard Knott and Wrynose in the way! The little teasers before Hard Knott, really sapped the legs and in the 5k up to it, I just sat up, had some water and hoped my legs would come through. With a couple of k today, I took my caffeine gel that I had had for years, and it was horrible! But I forced it down, and soon felt the effects. Given that I don’t drink tea or coffee, by the time I hit the bottom of Hard Knott, I was buzzing! Despite this I didn’t think I would make it up to the top, but just carried on to see how far I got. The initial bit was tough, but with 5 less teeth on the front than last time I did it, it felt remarkably good. After the initial section of the climb is a little respite, where I took on water, a gel and tried to recover before the 33% section. Going up it, I zoned up, weaved in and out of all the walkers, and only nearly flipped my bike once when I lifted the front wheel up! Once I got round the worse corner, it eased of too a balmy 20%. My legs were burning, and I’m sure my chest was about to explode, but with so little to the top, I pushed through and arrived at the top, a heaving, wheezing exhausted mess.
A rest at the top, with more food and water, and then it is down the most dangerous descent I know, on the brakes all the way down, hoping you don’t find yourself falling down a massive cliff as you overshoot a switchback. Once at the bottom, there is a tiny bit of recovery before Wrynose, which compared to Hard Knott felt quite easy! Once at the top, it was 10k to go, and I just went for it, and managed to hold a good speed up and then down to Coniston, coming in under 8 hours and with not walking! I even managed to run afterwards, and despite the complete lack of energy, didn’t feel too bad! Although I blew, it wasn’t on the mega scale of some previous rides so was happy with that.
This week I need to get some running in before the Beaver Middle Distance in 3 weeks, as I haven’t done over 45 mins in the Newtons yet! I also need to recover from the massive saddle sore I have annoyingly picked up today, for my training weekend next weekend with Man Tri. Looking forward to another mega weekend of cycling and a few big runs.
Now, time for CSI, Coco Pops and bed!