A report from Jack Talbot about the great ride he’s organised to raise funds for the Great North Air Ambulance!
Yesterday I and an incredible group of LRC cyclists completed the first ‘Tour of Cumbria’ in some of the worst ‘summer’ weather conditions. 150 miles with some proper tough Cumbrian climbs!
11 of us set out from Ulverston at 6am, overly optimistic that the dry weather would be in for the day. By the time we had reached Kendal, the ‘mizzle’ had started. Half way up the A6 we were introduced to the weather we would actually be riding through for the next 120 miles! 🌧🌧
Not put off by this, we continued on working impressively well together. Every rider taking their turn on the front, easing off when needed to keep the group together and pressing on when appropriate. A brilliant display of how a club ride should be ridden, brilliant work guys👌.
The two cafe stops of the day providing much needed fuel for the tough miles ahead. The first of the day Granny Dowbekins of Pooley Bridge. With all seats taken inside the Caf, we began by sitting outside covered in blankets. Stephen Williams looking far too comfortable (see photo)… Eventually a few of us made our way inside to do some Celeb spotting, none other than Mel Giedroyc formerly off Great British Bake Off!
A few of us made our way to the Toilets to use the hand dryers to dry off our kit. First time I’ve dried my bib shorts using a hand dryer…☺️😉 The next cafe in Cockermouth was suggested by Stephen Williams. With much more space than Pooley Bridge, this was a great choice for a stop. I think the caf was called Beatfords? It was Just what we needed and would recommend 👍.
On to the main climbs after already riding 115 miles! First up was Cold Fell. Most of us know this one from the Fred, and those that do know that this can be the make or break moment! I think I’m right in saying though, that we all got over this one not feeling too bad! After this we rolled on to Gosforth, and over the ‘bump’ out of Santon Bridge. Who put that there?!
Next we were onto the final two. Eagerly anticipated all day, we started with Birker Fell. After 125 already tough miles, this really tested the legs. At over 15% at points and averaging 7%, this wasn’t going to be easy. At this point it was agreed that everyone would just set their own pace, and ride/suffer as best they could and meet over the top. Everyone made it over Birker, and with some great encouragement from the team we continued on to get over the most dreaded climb of the day, Kiln Bank Cross ☠️🏔😭…
Kiln Bank Cross is tough. There’s no other way to describe it! It’s a tough climb on a day with fresh legs, but now we all had (at least!) 130 tough miles in our legs. With the bike computers coming up at just over 24% just after the cattle grid, we knew that this was just going to be a case of slogging our way to the top.
Now at this point, I think we would all agree that the award for the most impressive ride of the day has to go to Jon Brown. With a totally insane gearing setup(39/25 am I right?!) he had already made it over all of the previous climbs. With those already under his belt, he powered on over this monster of a climb. Truly impressive. However, with only a limited prize fund you’re welcome to these nice star emoji’s, and pint at the AGM…🌟⭐️✨🍺 The award could also go to Sam Stephenson for those two times he took a turn on the front…😉🤭
On to the finishing straight now, and with Tom Stephenson holding open the gate for us all(Cheers!), we continued on to descend down to Broughton and over to Foxfield. With a spot of unexpected cyclocross (maybe a slight exaggeration)…we were onto the A595. Everyone agreed to complete the full route and finish the ride into Ulverston.
We made sure that we kept it together for the final few miles and just like we had started, we came in to the finish line at the Coronation Hall together.
150 tough miles with this brilliant group of LRC riders. A hugely inspirational group of riders all smiling, laughing and joking throughout the day, despite the abysmal weather conditions. It was a pleasure to ride with you all.
I have to mention the almost TDF-style support from Amanda Williams and Janette Hardman. Throughout the day these two were there, waving their cowbell and cheering us on and making sure we had everything we needed, when we needed it. At one point even turning rescue car when one of our riders had an unfortunate end to their day (Hope you’re okay Mike, gutted for you that you couldn’t finish the ride. Next year!). Thank you so much guys!
This ride was all done in support of this amazing charity, the Great North Air Ambulance. A charity that we truly rely on here in rural Cumbria, a worthy cause. I can honestly vouch both
professionally and personally for the need for these guys where we live.
A final call for donations. It’d be amazing to keep going and be able to smash the £500 mark, the link to the JustGiving page below 😊
This ride will now hopefully become an annual event (hopefully with better weather next year!), always on the weekend after 26th July. Keep an eye out for future posts with details, it would be great to have more along with us next year!