Spills & thrills, highs and lows, speeds and feeds, today's North Cheshire Clarion club ride had it all. For the sake of not writing a two thousand word post, here's the stuff of note: -
- Twelve riders turning out, looking resplendent in the new Club Kit.
- Great average speed over the ride. We were comfortably hitting 20mph on the rolling stuff.
- Amazing to see how everyone in the clubs fitness is improving.
- Andy and Sarah falling off up Mow Cop (more on Mow Cop below).
- Paul dusting off the cobwebs on his Planet X supersonic bike.
- 3 separate puncture incidents.
- We did three of the Cheshire Cat climbs.
- My riding position felt much better, faster and more comfortable following my recent fit.
This hill has a bit of a reputation, and I can see why. Out of our twelve riders, only one got up to the top without stopping. It's a hill of a few parts, plenty of surprises there. The bottom run up is relatively steep, got through that OK. It then opens out into a much steeper bit. I got three quarters of the way up that and then held onto a gate, whilst I took 30 seconds to catch my breath, my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my body.
Deep breath, off to finish off the first bit, which I did. Then comes the 1/4 - 25% gradient. Jesus, that was tough. Halfway up, I heard a crash behind me as Andy M hit the deck, it's so steep, that unless you keep the pedals turning, you just stop dead. I stopped when I heard the fall - just a reaction - to see if he was OK, then Sarah hit the deck too, bodies everywhere (see photo which one of the club members managed to snap of Sarah going over) . So, I'm halfway up, static, out of my cleats and thinking what next. Nothing for it, I pushed off, clipped back in in about two nanoseconds (how I'll never know) and put the hammer down up to the top, breathing so hard that I was gasping for air. So, in theory, I rode to the top of Mow Cop, didn't walk any of it, but I did have two mini-breaks in between. I was on the granny gear all the way. Even so, I was very close to my heart rate maximum.
It doesn't end there, it kicks back up again at the top, you turn left, another kick up, turn right, another kick up. Evil. I guess we all know what's coming on the Cheshire Cat now, I imagine on the day it's going to be carnage with so many riders on the course. The other climbs - Bridestones and Blacky Bank - seemed easy by comparison. So, I've done it now, know what to expect and am raring for another go. Top day with the club! Total distance 60.5 miles. Route here. 1994ft of climbing. 3800 calories (estimate), max speed 32mph, avg. speed 14.1 mph, avg cadence 79.