Other Sports Magazine


By Stodge @stodgeblog

30%Up in the lakes for the bank holiday weekend I had a pass for a couple of training rides in the afternoons. Staying in Hawkshead youth hostel the obvious thing was some MTBO training in Grizedale forest which I did on Monday, but what to do for the other session. I’ve heard people taking about Hardknott and Wrynose passes in the past and thought a ride encompassing these would be good so hatched a plan involving a sketch map with no contours, an out and back ride and dinner in the youth hostel booked for 7pm.

I soon realised that the climb involved in this little adventure would be fairly significant as I started the hill out of Skelwith Bridge and then the even stiffer climb up into Little Langdale. Coming out of Little Langdale I came across a nose to tail stationary traffic jam. A call of ‘good luck getting through there mate!’ met my ears as I squeezed past the cars and hedges, eventually coming across some irate motorists remonstrating with an elderly jaguar owner who had blocked the road completely with his car. He was muttering something about electronic gearboxes and not being able to move the car until the AA arrived. Trouble was the AA wouldn’t be able to get within ½ a mile of him with the jam. I mooched on weaving through the jam and left them too it but I couldn’t see how they were going to sort it out even if he did try and move it. There was simply a logjam with nowhere to go !

I started the climb up Wrynose steadily, wondering what the fuss was about until it suddenly opened up in front of me. I followed the line of the road with my eyes and it took my breath away. Its not like an Alpine road that winds it’s way up, it just goes up, steep up, 30% up.

I passed a chap stood next to his car ,pulled into one of the many passing places towing a huge trailer tent, a distinct smell of clutch wafting after me. Only one car over took me but the many coming down the pass all pulled over to watch me suffer my way past, windows wound down with waves of encouragement. Eventually I crested the summit into a ferocious headwind, donning a cag I hoofed it down ready for the next challenge, Hardnott pass. Looking at my watch I knew I wasn’t going to have time to drop down the other side before turning for home so decided to turn at the summit. Hardknott although steeper was not as long and I soon grunted up the last slope (30% again) into a another huge headwind. I quickly noted the view and tuned for home. My brakes were fine coming down and I was soon getting a little wind assistance back over Wrynose. Id like to say I sailed over in middle ring but I was starting to tire now and it was hard work. Coming down into Little Langdale I was getting frustrated by the cars and managed to get past them and let the bike open up and get some speed. After a bit I could see a car coming up in the distance so needed to scrub some of speed. Ive not had brake fade on a bike before. Its scary !

I did managed to get off enough velocity to get into a passing place to let him past but the brakes were full on and I was not coming to a halt.

By the time I got into the village the jam of earlier had cleared and I sailed through behind yet another queue of cars but they soon pulled away as I ground my way back towards Skelwith Bridge and home.

The passes are certainly a challenge and a lot harder that I thought. I rode them out and back without stopping and didn’t get into my lowest 2 or 3 gears of a 27 speed MTB but a road bike would certainly be tough and without a triple upfront, probably almost impossible without a couple of rests for all but the best athletes. 50k – 1150m climbing

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