Incredible doesn’t come close.
For the first time ever, I met my teammates face-to-face; and what fantastic characters they are. The ride was nothing short of exceptional either!
Leaving the house early (06:00am), my dad and I set off to meet the team based at Wheeldon Trees Farm, nestled into the Peak District. The sky was virtually cloudless as we arrived. Following introductions to my teammates, I handed out a Lincolnshire sausage wrapped in tinfoil to those who were riding (as a token to where I come from, I’m not weird) – An alternative to your usual energy bars and gels!
We took a quick team photo, before beginning what would arguably be the best ride ever.
Setting off a little after eight, it would become clear that we would do a fair amount of climbing. The first 12 miles were enjoyably downhill, with a fairly small hill. So far, so good.
That soon changed however, as we began to climb Rowsley Bar – 1km averaging 13% with pitches approaching 1 in 3 (33%), this climb would be the first of what felt like 100.
Cresting the climb ahead of a few, I quickly got off and captured a few photos:
The road for the next few miles fluctuated up and down, with no significant climbs. A chance to regain our breath, we got to know each other a bit better as we rolled along. Passing through Owler Bar and Hathersage, we cruised through Hope Valley and beside Ladybower Reservoir before turning right, climbing towards Mortimer Road.
The road of dreams
This road was truly extraordinary.
Rising up and over a climb, the views that greeted us were flawless – A beautiful ribbon of super dark, smooth tarmac snaked up and over the rolling heathland and down into a forest, cushioned by a reservoir. This unique road lasted for 9 miles, and they were the best 9 miles of the entire ride:
Almost at the 50 mile mark, it was time to refuel. Stopping at Bank View Cafe to recharge ourselves, a couple of teammates walked out in disbelief of a broken coffee machine; the ultimate nightmare for a cyclist…
Nevertheless, my teammates still managed to get their coffee (and a slice of cake), and they would need it; we still had over 100km and 7,000ft of of riding and climbing to go.
With 60 miles in our legs, it was time to tackle Holme Moss. A well-known climb for cyclists, the 3 mile climb averaged 7%. A noticeable headwind blew down the climb to make matters harder, which is what we like.
Tempo soon developed to threshold, as Liam and I headed the way up to the summit – Liam cresting a few seconds before myself. The view from the top was pretty special, but not as epic as the descent on the other side. Although it was a headwind, I still managed to find some speed. Touching 50mph, the descent was a lot of fun 🙂
Rolling through Glossop, Hayfield and Chapel-en-le-Frith, we took a left and headed towards Mam Nick. Now mid-afternoon, the air had warmed and the heat began to become a little uncomfortable as we tackled ‘Peaslows’ – Another tough climb, averaging 10% for just under a mile. With empty bottles and dry mouths, we stopped as soon as we could to refill and rehydrate. 5 hours down, 2 to go.
Impressive tors peppered the surrounding countryside as we approached Mam Nick. Once crested, a gentle descent through Edale took us down to Hope. Around 90 miles in, I started to feel a little achy, and knew that ‘bonking’ (sudden loss of energy due to fatigue), despite eating whilst on the bike, was not too far away.
Charlier, the route master, had mischievously planned in Monsal Head at the 100 mile mark. A short, steep section of tarmac, the climb has been used for competition every year, since 1930.
I ate my trusty Lincolnshire sausage that I had prepared earlier in a bid to find some energy, but it didn’t seem to have much effect. With us all beginning to tire, the aim of the game was to make it back to base, no matter what. Hopefully a Bakewell tart or two could offer some assistance!
Arriving in Bakewell, we looked around to see which shops could offer us some good, original Bakewell tarts. Charlie must have asked at least 5 people for the shop that sells the best Bakewell tarts – I suggested that we produce a questionnaire and wait for the results 😉
We found a shop that did your typical Bakewell tart, and they looked good. Buying five, I kept them in my jersey pocket, as emergency food. Funnily enough, we ate the emergency food within 2 miles of Bakewell 😀
The final 5 miles were hard, yet comfortable – Knowing that we were close to base, we pushed on, and soon enough, we arrived back where we started. Exhausted, we rested up in the cottage for a good hour, reflecting back on the ride. With some rides uploaded, teammates began to exchange banter about times over particular segments 🙂
Booked for 8 o’clock, dinner was at the Packhorse Inn in Crowdecote, a few minutes drive away from the cottage. Time to properly recharge ourselves, we tucked into some fine food!
Without a shadow of a doubt, the Peak District team ride was a success. I’m sure we will do this again 🙂