Wednesday, 17 June 2009

All aboard the Tramway!

Immediately after the Etape du Dales, I decided that a full two weeks rest to shake the effects of the man-flu was needed.

I almost managed it, too, until Ray from Tamworth CC phoned to ask if I was doing the Crich Tramway Audax (100k) and could he cadge a lift. I wasn't, but a quick re-appraisal encouraged me to enter on the line. This would also be a good assessment of how I was going as it was the first ride I did with Mark (one of the First Time Etappers) two years previously.

The first impressions were that there was going to be an improvement. For a start, there was sunshine and not claggy, cold fog this year. Secondly, we got entered and faffed in time for the start, and got off on time, too.

Actually seeing the Derbyshire countryside this time was tremendous, and the first leg to Owler Bar over never-flat terrain went quickly. There soon followed the stunning descent to Hathersage, which has to be one of the best views in the Peaks. This led to the first control, under scorching sunshine, and a not-so-rapid bacon buttie.

Leaving Hathersage, the climb past the gliding club at Abney was still hard, but I didn't have to stop this time. Equally, having learned the lessons of last time, we stuck to the main road down into Millers Dale (the minor road has 1:6 gradient AND gravel, neither of which shorten my stopping distance). From Millers Dale up to Brierlow Bar seems uphill forever, but we were both going reasonably well (Ray much better up the climbs since he is only 9 stone wringing wet).

The climb from Glutton Bridge up to the traffic light above Longnor is a tester at the best of times, but I stayed on throughout and soon descended to the second control in Hollinsclough. Now was the time to refuel. Only 4 miles away was Longnor, and 5 minutes beyond that Crowdecote, one of my many nemeses. I have only 'climbed' Crowdecote once without either walking or putting a foot down, and I can only claim that since one of the Spud Riley Feedstops was halfway up last year, so stopping wasn't frowned upon.

This time, under blazing skies, I conquered it. Straight up, not stopping, no walking, no great speed, but who cares? Once back at the main road, we took the Via Gellia option, blasting downhill for miles in a small group as far as Cromford.

Now, Crich is on a hill, so no matter which way you leave it, you have to go uphill to the finish. Two years ago, this was a lovely walk. This year I rode it, pushing all the way to the finish (and pint) at the Cliff Inn.

Total Elapsed time: 6:10
Riding Time 5:10
1:20 faster than 2 years ago for 102km and 1990m of climbing.

1990m of climbing? This event doesn't carry climbing points. Having asked one of the organisers, they admitted that if they broadcast how much climbing was involved no-one would turn up, much less the days contingent of 125 riders so they keep quiet. Never mind.

Sunny. Warm. Chuffed.

No comments: