Ride Reports

Sunday 7th May 2017

Fred Whitton spectator ride by Mick Birchall
Fred Whitton day.

Having competed twice, but never watched the event I thought this year would be a good opportunity to see what it was all about from a spectators point of view. So the Saturday A ride was moved to Sunday, and three A's, myself, Paul Baillie and Dave Brook met up at mine at the civillised time of 8-30 am. Civillised as in not up at 4 am like some wanting a pre 7 am start on the event.
We arrived in Grasmere before 10 to an earily quiet car park, all the hubub having left sometime earlier. The idea of the ride was to be a steady amble along through Ambleside and down the A road west of lake Coniston, then right onto the Duddon valley yellow, stopping at the Newfield Inn for an early lunch, the onward to the top of Hardknott pass to watch the caos unfold.
All proceeded without incident, the sunny lakeland weather god had cast it's longs and armwarmers and blessed us with glorious sunshine, we may have upped the pace to a bit more than an amble at times, (my fault I guess, however, I blame my new bike for wanting to show everyone how fast it was) and duly arrived at the designated pub at 11-30.
Bit of a panic at this point, the carpark was empty, the beer garden was empty, and upon looking through the window saw no one inside. We're not taking orders until 12 came a call upon entering, oh well could be worse things than having to wait in a sunny beer garden.
"I bet that supprised you" came a cry, and the Gibsons appeared from nowhere. Ian referring to the quietness of his hybrid motor which had stealthily passed us some way back up the road. They were going to park a bit further up the road then walk to the top of HK.
We all had a very pleasant lunch, speculating how the Fredites were fairing and swapping tales of long hard rides of old.
Back on the bikes we said our farewells to the Gibsons agreeing we would see them up there and proceeded to Cockley Beck junction and left up the easy side of Hardknott. Taking a cautious approach of riding and cross country pushing we made it to the top, unfortunately, having stopped to help a lad with overheating carbon rim brakes, missing Adam Hindle and Isobel Riley who had got a flier and arrived before we had planned (good for them as it indicated a sub 8 hrs desired time). Just as we got to the top Rachel Lee Scott appeared looking in good shape, and after a brief chat we headed down to the business end of things, that being the 30% hairpinned section. Like ants they proceeded up the grey strip from way in the distance, most walking it had to be said, many giving the game away with contorted faces and the occasional groan. We hadn't been there long when I saw our club president Phil Morgan. A quick salute and a helping push and he was gone, heading for another good time.
Even though the spectacle was good there is only so much self inflicted torture one can witness so it was decided to head for the finish. Now I don't know wether I can speak for all but the ride back gave me a few mixed feelings, it being the middle of the day and fine weather the spectators were out in force and in good voice, it seemed just waiting for that competitor to stand out from the crowd by turn of speed or ruthless racing line. Well who were we to disappoint, especially having done the training, and being only just warmed up.
'Oh the shame' said my inner voice. But it was fun.
Back at hq a quick call to Adam and we located most of the Garstang entrants, Ian Tunbridge being the other we somehow failed to see up HK, and heard there tales, all having achieved the goals they set themselves. Well done to all our members who finished, to Vincent George and Mark Pugh a great achievment just to get round in one piece I think.
And so ended an enjoyable 55 miler with a couple of hills.

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