Suitably rested and fuelled at the very welcoming Boot & Shoe in Greystoke near Penrith, we had an early start to register for the ride in Keswick.
As usual, a well organised event courtesy of Action Medical Research, although there were only 160 riders brave enough to venture on to this challenging course.
Most were doing the 100 mile circuit but we had opted to do the 'Classic', a 56 miler (about 92km) taking us on a full tour of the northwestern Lake District.
A slightly cloudy start took us down the west side of Derwentwater into Borrowdale and we were soon on to the hardest climb of the day, Honister Pass, a height gain of 239m over 3.7km and several sections with 25% slopes, enough for Jan to be, quite literally, stopped in his tracks.
|Fabian and Stewie working hard on the Honister Pass|
|Our President, Fabian, working harder than Stewie!|
|All looking surprisingly fresh at the summit of Honister Pass|
For the author, the start of the descent, two 25% sections at the top on bumpy tarmac, was mortifying, but eventually the brakes were released and a fine rapid descent into Buttermere followed. Wow.
Almost instantly we hit the next climb, a shorter rise up to Newlands Pass, this time a gain of 205m over 1.9km with a hard right 25% turn just at the top.
|Club Secretary Jan summits Newland Pass|
|Top of Newlands Pass|
Descending into Newlands Valley from here was a delight, and we were swiftly into Braithwaite to begin the last big hill of the day, Whinlatter Pass, a 231m haul up through the forest over 3.3km, with several false summits along the way.
A great descent, held up a bit by a strengthening westerly wind, to Lorton, and our first feed station, about half way around the circuit.
From here, the sun started to appear in earnest and with the wind now generally behind us we made rapid progress through the quiet lanes south of Cockermouth albeit with a few more cheeky climbs to complete.
A lunch stop at Embleton provided us with enough fuel to power along the final 20km into Keswick, arriving in brilliant sunshine, having enjoyed great views across Bassenthwaite Lake and the northwestern fells.
The whole team performed magnificently, and El Presidente was delighted to receive the red polka dot cap for 'King of the Mountain' in recognition of his efforts on the three passes. In reality, Stewie was not up to his usual form due to a recently incurred facial injury and Heyddie was away climbing volcanoes in Hawaii, plus Stewie thought it was time the cap needed a good clean anyway! But thanks all the same boys!!