Four of us made the trip to the Lake District for the Fred Whitton Challenge. James Blackburn, Graeme York, Stephen Rush and I.

111 miles, 11,000 feet of climbing over some of the most beautiful scenery in England, and some savage climbs of over all the Lakeland Passes: 30% up Hardknott and Wrynose Passes. Newlands, Whinlatter, Kirkstone, Cold fell and the rest.

Usual anxiety about weather and what to wear. Up at 5am to start by 6.15.

We set off together, but Graeme, Steve and I think it “wise” not to try and stay with James having “helped” him up the first climb up Kirkstone Pass!
I last saw him heading over the top, and then with a beer in one hand and a baby in the other cheering us in at the finish line with his wife. The Three Musketeers were then thankfully left to ride our own race and get to the finish with body and soul almost intact!

Showers and wind for most of the morning, but the heavy rain didn’t really hit us mercifully until the last 10 miles after Wrynose climb. The family von Rush cheered us up the Whinlatter Pass, as did every other person by the roadside, in cars or walking the Fells. Very heart warming and generous.

Brilliantly organised and a real test of man and machine, especially up Hardknott. It is just the steepest thing I’ve ever been up, and the descent afterwards is not for the faint of heart.

Graeme, Steve and I all came in a little over 8 hours, James about 50 mins quicker, but that was after a scary blowout on the way down Wrynose to repair and having stopped to help a crash victim somewhere earlier.

Left Grasmere about 4pm with Graeme to drive back. Stopped at every single service station on the M6 and M40 to get coffee, food, use the loo, more coffee, crisps……any excuse to stay awake and swap driving, but in the end we made it back after an epic weekend.

Halfway up Hardknott when I remembered how the bottom section is tough, and it just gets tougher, I promised myself this would be the last time I ever try and ride up this beast. Never again. Roll on next year.





fred 3


steve wrynose?

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