I started this blog two years ago with the FWC 2009 with no inkling that events would turn me into what the media types that contact me call 'a cycling campaigner' and this a correspondingly campaigning site. It is refreshing to get several hundred miles away from the stressed out competition between roadusers in the London commuter belt, to an event where everybody is at least aiming to enjoy a long ride in idyllic lakeland countryside.
I left my two clubmates I was with to recover at the Buttermere feed; they would both have come in with much better times than I, had not both their chains broken; another indication of the taxing conditions of the day. I cautiously picked my way around the hills losing control on several more occasions before the rain dried up in the early afternoon and the roads started to dry, thankfully before I reached the monsters of Hardknott and Wrynose passes.
Time did not really matter after all this but I came in at seconds over 8 hours, establishing a trend of a slower time for each of the past three years.
An equipment review for these harsh conditions:
- The Ribble winter bike was perhaps a little heavier than ideal for all these climbs but I really had no option as I have moved my triple chainset from my carbon (so as not to look quite so daft racing). I had taken the trouble to remove the mudguards but it may have been better to leave them on. Ideally I would have a light bike with a triple or compact chainset.
- A chain tool. I always carry a multitool that contains one. I did not need it but two of my clubmates could have done with one!
- Tyres. Go for something grippy. I nearly came a cropper as a consequence of my unwise tyre choice.
- Good raingear. Fortunately my club rainjacket is excellent and proved worth its (insubstantial) weight in gold.
Will I be back? I am always doubtful soon after completing it but a clubmate and I have already made our hotel booking for 2012, and of course we do need to secure ourselves those sought after entries.
All credit again to the organisers. They do a fantastic job even in challenging conditions.