Author Topic: Lanchester 400 - 17/07/2010  (Read 1583 times)

Lanchester 400 - 17/07/2010
« on: 20 July, 2010, 11:51:00 pm »
There were only four people mad enough to turn up for this ride.  Actually, five signed up, but one was DNS.  We hit a long, steady climb at the start, and the four of us stuck together.  We crossed the A68 before hitting some tricky descents towards Muggleswick, where the strong winds had blown lots of debris off the trees and onto the roads.

After Edmundbyers there was a delay by sheep: the farmer was moving his flock from one field to another, V-E-R-Y- S-L-O-W-L-Y.

...which delayed us by about a quarter of an hour.  Well, it added a bit of local flavour. The route was remarkable for being so consistent: apart from a couple of small towns and a few motorway service stations (a necessity, as it gives you the chance for a bit of comfort and relaxation during the hours of darkness), we were always riding along quiet lanes with low traffic, and we were out in the country, either tickling along country lanes or traversing high moorland, we were always in working dales, as you could see by the fact that we were twice delayed by livestock being moved around.  It’s a living landscape, that was the common thread.

Mabel looks unhappy

Across the high moors near Rookhope, we passed the abandoned pithead at Grove Rake Mine.  The route sheet instructions could have been wonderful: “R @T, pass ruined arch on left and continue past the abandoned mine”.  Mr Nesbitt commented that it was like a western, passing the old abandoned mine. Later on, he commented that it was like the Alps, and I replied that this bit may be like the Alps, and that may have been like the Old West, maybe so, but there’s nowhere like the North Pennines.

Grove Rake Mine
The climbs on the route to Alston were of the long-but-not-steep variety, crossing a couple of very high, exposed roads (the Currick is at 515m, the aptly-named Shivery Hill is 570, The Hartside and Yad Moss are higher still, and we had a good soaking on nearly every one of those).  We had our first proper soaking of the day, and there was a howling headwind which made it a slog.  The ascent of The Currick was a long, slow drag: we arrived at Alston ten minutes inside the time limit, and we were out of time when we left.
From there the route turned more north-westerly, so the wind was less of a problem, and we made time back.  We were always within an hour and a half to two hours of the time limits.

Ben T and Mr Nesbitt

The topology was astonishing – a wild mix of long, steady ascents and sharp stabby lanes, as well as a couple of ascents which managed to be both.  The climb up the Hartside from Renwick was a bit brutal, and the climb out of Wolsingham at 375 km had to be steeper than the 8% signposted.  Of course, the payoff was that there were some wonderful descents.  The sign flashed at me when I broke the speed limit coming into Lanchester, and just before that, there was a long, fabulous descent from Tow Law on a wide, beautifully-surfaced avenue.  Earlier, the descent of the Hartside into Garrigill had been a bit scary, with some sidewinds causing me to shimmy, and it was the same descending to Bollihope Burn, which I had to take more carefully than usual partly owing to being knackered at the end of such a long, wearing ride, but mainly to avoid the hideous shimmy caused by the gusting sidewinds which hit when I was going 40mph.  My brakes also began to make some awful noises, squeaks at the front and scrapes at the rear.  That’s the North Pennines for you: tough on brakes, tough on the causes of braking.

sunset on the borders

The last 40km of this ride were perhaps the best, I popped a couple of pep pills in Middleton-in-Teesdale, which perked me up a bit, but I was elevated by having a tailwind, by the sun finally emerging after our last major soaking, as we had descended Yad Moss, and by the route across one of my favourite roads, Bollihope Common between Teesdale and Weardale.

Mr Nesbitt and Ben T near Muggleswick

At the end, drinking tea and eating cheese scones at sleepy's, I did wonder why there had been so few entrants for such a wonderful - if basic - event.  It felt like more of a slog than usual, at times I felt as though I had to grit my teeth and push on rather than take my time.  But it isn't a challenge unless it's hard.  This was challenging.  This was a proper ride.  You don't know what you were missing.

Steve GT

  • Crediamo in te, bici!
Re: Lanchester 400 - 17/07/2010
« Reply #1 on: 21 July, 2010, 07:59:51 am »
Great write up Deano!
Mr Nesbitt - it looks as if you have lost the few extra kilograms you were packing at the beginning of May! ;)