Fred Whitton Challenge 2017

So did Fred treat me nicely?  We were presented with a sunny warm day with little wind but it was not Fred I had to worry about.

You could not ask for better weather. A south westerly 8 mph wind with temperatures set to sore to 18º.  Not the case at 0515 in the morning when myself and Ian left the hotel for a short 7 mile warm up ride to the start.

Once Ian had completed his early morning registration we lined up on the start.  The earlier warmth slowly leaving our bodies and being replaced with the freshness that is 0600.

The start of Fred 2017

We finally crossed the start line at 0615 and I avoided the temptation to revel in the start and increase the pace to something that could not be maintained.  I had decided to pace myself, setting the Garmin’s virtual partner to the speed completed in 2015.  This was for two reasons, to stay ahead of my own target and stop me constantly looking down and counting down the miles.

We slowly started to warm up again as we headed through Ambleside, the marshals directing us off the main road and to the beginning of the first climb.  The pace soon reduced to single figures as pedals were turned with more effort.  Passing a sign stating the next section of the climb was at 116% and I was not sure if my 34/32 would cope with such steepness.  This was the start of the climb to Kirkstone Pass, a long but gradual climb that would take us to the highest point on the course.  I like this type of climb, it allows me to set a rhythm, a steady tempo on the pedals.  I would say the view was fantastic but as we passed ‘the struggle’ we ended in the cloud and it was cold, around 4º as we crossed the summit.  We were handed some Haribo by the support teams at the top and they tasted good. (The Haribo, not the support team).  These climbs are tough but they do provide one hell of a descent and I like descending.  Not because it means I can recover and no requirement to pedal but these descent are twisty, allowing the line of least resistance to be picked and then hold on.  I did not allow the bike to run away but when the brake pads are starting to smell through heavy braking, you need to give things a break.

The climb towards Kirkstone Pass

The ride continued well and slowly heading towards the 50 mile feed stop but there was still a testing climb to come, Honister Pass, 1.5 miles with a 10% average, slapping you with a short 15% section, just incase you thought it would be easy.  In 2015 I stopped and walked a small section, this year I did not put a foot down but did utilise the stone bridge half way up to compose and motivate myself for the last push.  Entering the slate mines it was then a 13% descent down the other side.  A small group formed and away we went, quickly catching two cars but our top speed was scrubbed.  With twisty tight roads there was no point in putting yourself or others in danger with a risky overtake.  That was not the decision of all and caused issues that affected everyone else.

I met Ian at the 50 miles feed stop in Buttermere and grabbed malt loaf, sandwiches and refilled my water bottles.  I did not want to stop for too long as the next climb, Newlands was less than a mile from the feed stop.  During this climb I noticed something was not right, I started to feel a twinge in my right knee.

I decided to ease up and not too push on the flats, hoping it was something I could ride out.  The next climb of Whinlatter, 1.8 miles at 7% average, I struggled.  The climb has a couple of kickers but in general a steady climb but I was finding it difficult to apply pressure through my right leg.

I continued but things were starting to get worse.  There were still two major climbs, Hardknott and Wrynose to come.  I decided I would get to the 83 mile feed stop, take on some food, obtain some medical advise and rest up for a bit.  Unfortunately this was not the case, a short and unassuming climb to Fangs Brow but at the top I knew I could not carry on.  I made a marshalling point and needed assistance from them.  At that moment it was that bad that I was unable to twist out of my cleat, a marshall had to undo my shoe so I could get off the bike.


Unfortunately this was the end of my race, there was no point in carrying on and being driven to the feed stop there was still some climbing to do.  I am absolutely gutted I did not complete the course but I made the right decision.  My time with Fred is done but I would still love to return to the area and complete the hills again, splitting them down into smaller chunks. 

I have not ridden the bike for over a week now and rested.  I did have a doctors appointment but due to the cyber attack, this had been cancelled.  A physio’s appointment has also been booked but need to wait another week for that.  I went out on a family ride yesterday for around 4 miles and everything felt good and the legs have been twitching to get back on the bike.  I am back into work tomorrow so will have a spin around Regent’s Park and see how I get on.

It has been a while

It has been a while since the last Back On Track Cycling blog.  This has not been for any other reason than time has flown by and it is 0718 on 13th February and I’m sitting in front of the laptop with a brew, while the rest of the house is slowly stirring.

Like some, I try and cycle whatever the weather conditions but over the last week or so I have needed to cancel organised rides on safety grounds.  It has been a frustrating call but while the main roads may be ice free, the back roads of Essex may have other ideas.

One ride organised last Thursday would have been the biggest turn out for a Back On Track Cycling weekday ride, a total of 9 riders but with the forecast of snow (the amount of snow that would have bought the country to its knee – about 3mm) and the chilling temperature, the numbers started to dwindle.


It was not received well by one. As a group we had moaned at him for not being out and did give hime some stick.  The photos he then sent of being all dressed and ready to go and the look on his face, did not require any words.  Admittedly he did look more like a cat burglar than a cyclist.

So all of last weeks rides consisted of the rollers and Zwift, a total of 50 odd miles riding my virtual cyclist.  At least he had a bit of sun whilst cycling a few laps of the London route.  It was nice to be joined by two of the group but after riding Box Hill at 160w and then 300w, I promptly died.  For those that use rollers will be aware that we lack the same bike support as a turbo trainer, I can not drop below 80w or else I will end up on the floor in a sweaty heap.  I aimed for 30 miles and once the XP showed on the screen I stopped and dismounted in a disgraceful manner.  I made Bambi learning to walk look easy.

I have missed the outdoors this week but safety of myself and those I am riding with is paramount.  The cat burglar did go out but strangly enough I have not heard from him since?  His ride was posted to Strava so must have returned, maybe he is still thawing out?

Next Sunday 19th I have a trip down to Sevenoaks in Kent for the Catford CC Hell of the Ashdown ride.  107km with 11 listed climbs, 5 HC’s, 4 Cat Two’s and 1 Cat One so will be a good mix and if the route is similar to the previous year, one of the climbs is about 6 miles from the start and a long slow sapping climb. It will certainly warm me up.  The current weather forcast is dry and a tropical 9º but it will give me a chance to swap wheels on the winter bike and see how the Hunt wheels feel on the hills.  These are my summer wheels but are light and roll well so I am also looking to use them for the Fred Whitton Challenge as well.  I will not be attempting Fred on the summer bike, a combination of 11-25, 53/39 and 30% gradients it may be a bit of struggle!!  The winter bike has a better hill climbing ratio 11-32 with 50/34 so watch out hills, here I come.  Training for next week will be limited but will hopefully keep the miles topped up before Sunday.  Shift has fallen over the weekend and with half term the bike will be neglected but entertaining a 6 year old will keep me on my toes.