Troutbeck: Lakeland Passes
At the Troutbeck summer camp Dave and Roly decided to have a third attempt at the Lakeland Passes route, this time the decision was taken to attempt the route in reverse. The weekend did not begin well for Dave, having dropped off Anne and Lucia at the site on Friday evening he had forgotten the keys for his newly acquired roof rack, so instead of a relaxing evening in the pub was forced to make a 150 mile round trip back to Northallerton!
The Saturday ride was worth the effort though. Roly surprised us all and was ready to ride his bike by 8am. Soon we were heading at some speed down the A66 towards Keswick and then onto Borrowdale for a relaxing cruise before tackling the first of the passes, Honnister which with a bit of gear crunching was soon behind us. Reaching Buttermere we paused before heading onto Newlands, where we saw a chap wheeling his bike carrying a rucksack that looked heavier than our bikes together. Dave was all for a coffee at Portinscale but Roly persuaded him to carry on to the ice cream van near the top of Whinlatter, rather pleasant the ice creams were too, the only thing missing was a decent cuppa. Soon after we ground to a halt as Dave hit a piece of sharp metal and shredded his back tyre. To the astonishment of Roly who must have thought we'd end up stuffing it with grass Dave produced a folding spare and was soon mobile again. The next phase of the ride is perhaps the easiest and most scenic as you head towards Cockermouth, enjoy a flatter bit for a while and then head over a modest climb to Ennerdale Bridge. At Ennerdale we enjoyed a well earned rest and lunch in the pub, and it appeared we were their only customers for the day.
From Gosforth the spade work begins again as you head into the Esk Valley towards Hardnott. Looking at the volume of traffic heading towards us we knew we would be lucky to climb the 33% hairpins, but a quiet spell followed and we reached the summit unhindered but with a few gasps - I was glad I had lowered my gears a few days earlier! Hardnott is actually more challenging from the West side, though Wrynose proved to be just a breeze in comparison. After a rest at the top we smiled at the thought of just one more pass - and a long descent back to base - but the remaining climb was to be the legendary Struggle out of Ambleside! Not wanting to miss the BBQ we opted for a quick shop stop rather than a café, and again I was seriously concerned about Roly not wanting to stop for long! On leaving town Dave paused at an ATM, expecting to see Roly at the foot of the Struggle. When Roly was nowhere in sight Dave slowly ascended the Struggle and waited at the top - when Roly hadn't materialised 15 minutes later Dave thought he must have become tired of waiting and headed down Kirkstone Pass, putting a spurt on all the way back to base, only to hear Roly hadn't been seen by anyone! To cut a long story short Roly turned up half an hour later chuntering slightly - it was really no one's fault, something we agreed could be avoided in future by noting each other's mobile number.
The ride is about 97 miles and it took us almost 11 hours -on the Fred Whitton sportive event which takes place every May riders are allowed 10 hours to complete the course which we felt would be a very tall order indeed!
Melanie and Paul also rode the course but for some unknown reason insisted on setting out at 5am - I'll have to try a different deodorant next time!