In January four of us (2 Glows and our blokes) entered “the Fred”. Starting & finishing at Coniston, with climbs over Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott & Wrynose passes. Always oversubscribed, places are a lottery (1700 places). After recovering from the shock of getting in, training began and the next thing I know it is Sunday 12th May 2013 and three alarm clocks go off. Want to know how it was for me? This is my day “with Fred” (and check out the"paper Garmin" - photo left).
First challenge, porridge at 4:30am for 6am start. The next shocker was Holbeck Hill out of Coniston, nothing significant but enough at that time of the day without a warm up spin. Lost sight of my man by top of Kirkstone (we had a pact - own speed but come back intact). Great to ride in the lakes with roads so quiet and fair whizzed through Keswick at 8:30am after trying to suck a few wheels down the A66. In Borrowdale a guy asked if I had a battery pack on my thigh, no, just fig rolls up my shorts garter. Meeting Honistor, was glad to have recced that and Newlands & Winlatter and knowing that it held no fear , making it a very enjoyable section. Great support, loved the “Well done lady” from a lovely bunch of women, (later got “girl power” from some kids). Feed 1 came up in no time and Glynis shouts out my name for personal service. Shared sweets with Eden (Glynis's grandson), quick chat, banana in pocket and off down the road.
This photo was heading down from Dockray, nice to see a chap struggling to keep my wheel whilst I look very comfortable!
Time to reflect how nice the lakes looked and how it was years I had been over to Loweswater. Rain comes on and jacket goes on. Some lumpy fell bits dragged and started loosing feeling in my hands plus felt a bit sleepy – random thoughts of hypothermia or was it just being up since 4:30am? Bigger jacket on for the driving rain and Cold Fell live's up to its name. Shorts getting soggier (and baggier) by the mile.
The wet turned to cold. The second feed was a sea of abandoned bikes - this photo was from the web and when I arrived I had to tiptoe over bikes galoreto reach the door. Queue and eat - possession of a cup meant hot tea refills, washing down ham sandwiches and flapjack. A chap showed me his plastic bag cut to size and I spied some bin bags and in to the ladies to fashion my own undershirt (sewing bee has nothing on me!). Stumbled across the medical room – a mass of quivering foil blankets. Found one and stuffed it down my jersey, surgical gloves over my own and took a big slug of “woman up” juice. Thought was to move quick and generate heat - only 30 or so miles to go, who cares about a couple of steep passes in the way?
Hardknott reared up with tens of other riders plus cars (why would anyone drive over on a wet misty day? - turns out some were the riders very own support cars .... no comment), over the cattle grid and knew I did not have what it would take. Even pushing was hard (note to self to buy some new cleats). Same again for Wyrnose. Mindful of the state of the roads and steepness, specially stationed marshals were heroically, given the weather, shouting warnings to riders. Every year a fair few have a spill and this year was to be no exception. On the way down a guy is on the tarmac in a bad way. Handed my foil blanket to those helping him and knew instantly what a good job it had done for me, hoping the same for him and at the same time, feeling an icy chill. Back on the lanes, meet half a dozen cars in a standoff and smelling hot tea just down the road, carry the bike overhead to squeeze through between wing mirrors. Finally Coniston and the finish tent, find an intact husband (his only incident was an exploding puncture due to over heating rim on Wrynose decent. Luckily stayed on and his guardian angel appeared in the form of a woman with large umbrella to shelter him whilst he change the tube). Job done and the meal turns to be sponsored by our local bakers from home.. a pasty never tasted so good!
Climbing over Newlands
Highs and Lows
The highs - happily riding it on my own, roadside support, a friendly face at feed station 1, hot tea at feed station 2 ; the best marshaling and organisation ever experienced in UK - never had to stop for traffic once; raising £300 for spinal injuries (thanks to everyone who donated) - plus an email back from Melanie Reid herself!!
Thanks also to Patrick from Easyfit at Bolton Arena for working with us both to set out a training programme - gave us a great structure and am sure all those hours on the spin bike paid dividends (and my metal arithmitic came on no end keeping count of the reps + HRM %!).
The lows - hypothermia (almost), seeing riders off and injured + reading about more on FB, gel wrappers on the road (are they really too heavy to carry??)
Would I do it again? – it's a big old world and there's lots to do out there (my excuse!)
Total Time: 9:43hrs
Moving Time: 8:48hrs
Av: 12.4 mph
Kcal: 4000 (felt sure it should be more!!)
Training: Started proper mid Jan, 1300 miles (includes a week of riding in Mallorca) and 3 gym sessions + intense interval spinning per week
Weight: lost 3Kg
2014 – 11th May 2014, entry opens January 2014
Happy to advise!