In the absence of a ‘Great Dun Fell’ ride alternative options were considered and ‘Derbyshire Dales / Winnats Pass’ was considered a worthy replacement!
The ride out from Liverpool was crisp with intermittent cloud and with tingly fingers (yes…August!) 5 Wheelers and one RCC ( Ed Cox – who in tribute to the Wheelers was sporting an Orange and Black combo with Orange cycle shoes ) rolled out through the Cheshire lanes towards our 8.45 appointment with James Male, Frodsham Wheelers’ Derbyshire correspondent.
Almost bang on we rolled into Prestbury, the cue for shenanigans to commence and after a 2 mile roll out to Bollington the first challenge of the day was Blaze Hill ( Cat 4 – 1.9km 7% ). It was here that Ed had planned a timed assault on the Strava segment before smashing it back to Runcorn and off he went ( impressively in the saddle ). We congregated at the summit but alas Blaze Hill claimed one scalp. ‘Iron’ Ryan Jackson had scaled the hill but succumbed to a hangover and returned home with Ed ( via Pym’s Chair of all places!!! Kudos!!! )
The remaining 5 riders rolled towards Whaley Bridge on a real roller coaster of a road, before a right turn on to the next climb, Long Hill ( Cat 3 – 7.5km 3% ) which we decided to ride as a group ( until James Male took matters into his own hands with a few playful attacks before war commenced in the final km ).
All peaked in quick succession and briefly took in the views before the descent into Buxton and down the A6 ( sounds busy but with the River Wye trickling aside the road and a slight descent was a welcome smash before the unexpected Cat 3 – A6 Climb – 2km 5%) where we were treated to great views of the Monsal Trail.
A left turn and a speedy descent into Millers Dale was followed by Tideswell – a wonderful picture perfect village and brunch at Nelly’s Caff – strongly recommended, fast service, great food, great location, positioned 50 yards from the ‘Cathedral in the Peak‘.
Nerves were jangling a bit as we rolled out towards the main event ( The issue was we had stuffed ourselves a tad too much… ) and we rolled through Bradwell and Hope ( rammed ) towards Castleton ( also rammed ) and the curiously named ‘Devil’s Arse‘ tourist attraction to Winnats Pass which was extremely busy with day trippers who observed us with curiosity as we rolled to the cattle grid at the foot of the climb ( Cat 3 2.2km – 9% with sections at 20% ).
James Male loitered to take selfies whilst myself, Brigid Wilde, Kevin Sales and Nathan Morgan-Astle rolled on with Nathan taking the initiative but mid way falling foul of his 25 tooth cassette and having to ‘foot down’ to avoid hitting the deck ( kudos for getting going again on a double digit hill Nathan! ).
Well it seems that wasn’t the end of the hills. From Whaley bridge back to the top of Brickworks Lane was ‘Macclesfield Rd Full Climb ( Cat 3 – 4.6km – 4% ). It was a humid day so bottles were dry and an impromptu visit to the Wizard was in order. The Wizard return was fairly swift considering the miles in legs and all took turns apiece.
Well there is a tradition of an ‘Antrobus Smash‘ so I didn’t wish to disappoint and attacked about 3 miles out ( cowdung corner ). Nathan took chase but could not respond to the element of surprise.
Well that was us all fairly cooked so from Whitley good sense prevailed and we rolled back into Runcorn after a great day in the Dales – 115 miles and 7,920ft of ascent ( plus my solo ride home to Liverpool ).
Thanks for you company folks – great fun!