Monday, 8 March 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 7 March 2010

Mow Cop - A Hill Too Far?

The weather was a little chilly today with an early frost but that didn't deter 12 members of the NCC from the attempt on mount doom (Mow Cop) We chose a more direct route to Mow Cop with mainly 'A' roads to get us there a little quicker and to cut down on the overall millage. A quick start had us riding at speeds of around 17-20 mph for much of the journey there. I don't recall anything much of interest on the way down except that my Cateye V3 computers sender unit wasn't sending and I forgot to press the timer button on my Garmin until 5 miles into the ride, that's why on the route map on the left you can see that the first few miles are missing. Also I had swapped stems on my two bikes putting a new Garmin mount on this stem. The new mount came with a wedge so you can angle the Garmin a little, however I hadn't taken it out on a ride to see if it was all OK which if I had I would have seen that the angle was too much and the screen was reflecting sky and just sky... that will teach me to assume...

Getting to Mow Cop we approached the train crossing to have the bariers come down on us. Enough time now to strip off for the climb grab a munchie and take some before photo's (which you can now see on the clubs Flickr page). Barriers go up the lights turn to green and green means GO!!! - some shoot off, most just take their own sweet time. I myself crawled up and it wasn't too bad at first, the first couple of bends are fairly easy then came another bend where the incline ramped up and it's now I could feel my heart trying to beat itself out of my chest, I looked down at my Cateye (I had managed to reset it a while back) and see my heart rate is now in the high 170's (max 190), I remember from the last time I rode Mow Cop that the incline does ease off slightly and this allowed me to get my HR down to the low 170's. I'm approaching the 25% part, my hearts still madly beating away but not quite as wildly as before, I look up and this is what I see:

Chaos on the Cop!!! Sarah and Andy have taken a tumble and as you can see half way up it's littered with body's on the floor or to the side, this ramp is not that wide and I know I will be going so slow that I will be zigg-zagging just to stay upright, no room for safe passage here so as I already wanted to get off this made my mind up for me and off I got at the base of the 25% and clicked away with my camera instead. I'm not saying I would have made it, I don't think I would have and I'm happy this excuse presented itself to me, it gave me a reason to quit it - that's my explanation for my capitulation and I'm sticking to it ;)

Out of the 12 of us only Andy W made the Cop and not once but twice - once he had done his first run he came back down the 25% and steamed back up it again. Here's Andy approaching his 2nd climb:

Some reading this from this part of the world will know what Mow Cop is like, for the seasoned cyclist it's maybe just a reason to see see the HR rise but for this new club with it's many newish riders Mow Cop is a real real challenge and for the majority just reaching the 25% is an achievement in itself, on last years Cheshire cat lots of riders were walking a bend back from the 25% (including me) so it's fantastic to see that as a club and as individuals in this club we have all progressed remarkably.

After the Cop came the left turn at the top and a right at the 't' junction, then a small hill where we all assembled before the much welcomed but bitterly cold descent off the Cop. Next came two more hills, Blacky Bank and The Bridestones. Unfortunately on Blacky bank there was road-works and traffic lights and cones with the up hill lane all coned off. Waiting for the lights to change Matt pointed out that we needed to get a spurt on up the hill otherwise we wouldn't clear the roadworks before the traffic started to come through from the other side. The lights changed and those that heard Matts warning shot off up the hill, you can just imagine that a fast hill start and climb goes against established hill climbing advice and therefore the heart's hammering and the legs are tiring then rounding that first bend expecting the hill and road works to come to a stop I'm gutted to see the hill and roadworks are still very much there...

Some didn't hear Matts advice and some got caught as the traffic light's changed so waiting at the top we had a nice 10 minute break before we were all back together again and there we were able to stare down into a gully and up the other side for what was the last climb of the day - Bridestones...

Off we set with a fast downhill before the wall of Bridestones hit us, I adopted my steady climbing pace and with relative ease compared to Mow Cop climbed the Bridestones riding past Fell runners coming down the hill. Not much to say about these last two climbs, they are defo nothing like Mow Cop or Macclesfield Forrest (thankfully Macc F is not in this years Cheshire Cat) and adopting a steady climbing pace will see anyone with a good degree of fitness get over them.

After the excitement of the hills came an extended cafe stop waiting for our beans on toast to arrive, slow service indeed, we must have been there for nearly an hour and then onwards home along lovely Cheshire lanes where we managed a great pace of around about 20 mph where the road allowed, dodged an abandoned sofa just after a bend and pockets of ice along this one particular lane. We had a few punctures today and I had one of them, a thorn right through the centre of my tyre and it took some effort to get it out of the Kevlar layer, could have done with a pair of pliers but once out a quick inner tube swap and a pump of air with my Lezyne and it was on with the ride. Must say I was quick with that change must have taken no more than five minutes..

So after today's ride and riding three of the five named climbs on the Cat I'm confident that I can do all five. The other two climbs, 'steep gradient' as it's described on the Cheshire cat route map and Wincle I managed last year...

Tonight I don't feel anywhere near as tired as I did after last weeks lesser ride, yes my legs are a little sore but that's it, I feel I need to get another 60-70 mile ride in before the Cat and I will be all set...

My Stats (thanks to Sarah for the info)
62.43 miles, 4hrs 19min, Av speed 14.5mph, 2474 ft climbing (Bikehike)
Total mileage for the week
93.66 miles. Just another 7 miles and I would have had my 100, buggery bugger!!

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