Last year, I rode the Circuit of the Dales, and decided it was one of the best races in the calender. This year was another great event, though also a reminder of how tough 50 hilly miles in the Yorkshire Dales can be.
The day before, I’d ridden out to Grassington, the day was so nice, I ended up doing a very steady 70km in 2 and half hours. A little long for a warm up before a race, but it was nice to be enjoying a bit of sun and warmth for a change and I got a bit carried away.
The ‘relative warm’ day on Saturday, perhaps lulled me into a false sense of hope for Sunday. When I arrived in Ingleton, the thermometer was still reading 1 degrees. However, warming up on rollers in the sunny car park, soon got me going, and I decided to take off the leg warmers for the first time of the year. It was something I later regretted as it never really warmed up. I was pretty chilled by the end.
The first 10 miles were pretty encouraging, it was quite fast, though the bit of downhill always helps. Then it was the first long slog up north to Kirby in Longsdale and Sedbergh. The rest of the race was all about a slow decline of average speed as the initial burst of speed gave way to increasingly tired legs and hilly terrain. I perhaps spent too long looking at my speedo. You don’t go any faster, watching the average speed drip steadily downwards. The road surface didn’t help. In some parts it was super-smooth – obviously having been re-tarmaced. But, in other places, it would be more akin to the pave of Paris-Roubaix. On one hard drag out of Sedbergh towards Garsdale, there was a super rough bit, and agonisingly (on the wrong side of the road) there was some super-smooth tarmac. But, I had to stick to the ruts and hope my handlebars wouldn’t come loose with all the rattling. Sedbergh district county council must be have the budget to resurface only 7% of its roads every five years. By the time they’ve resurfaced one part, everywhere else has deteriorated.
The nice thing about the Circuit of the Dales is that there are some super sweeping descents, where you can pick up some nice speed. It’ nothing super steep – they are descents where you can still pedal. I made use of top gear of 56*11 quite a lot. These descents do at least partially make up for the hard upward slogs.
At Hawes, you make a tough right hand turn, on a steep climb up to Horton in Ribblesdale. The first section is steep, then there is a long drag, with quite a few false flats. You are rewarded with a great view of Ribblehead viaduct.
In normal times, you might pat yourself on the back for making it up the hill and stop at ice-cream van by viaduct, but there is still a few more miles to finish a very tough 50 miles.
You kept hoping for a strong tailwind, but the wind was hardly in evidence. The last 16 miles felt like a headwind, though it might just have been the dead legs.
I took about 2 hours 6 minutes, a bit slower than last years shortened course. I didn’t stay for results. Unfortunately, I also woke up with bad knee from previous days exertions. I would like to do a sub two hour ride one day, we shall see.
Update results here
|1||Richard Handley||Rapha-Condor JLT||02:01:54|
|2||Simon Bridge||Manchester Wheelers Club||02:04:00|
|3||Hugh Carthy||Rapha-Condor JLT||02:04:59|
|4||Tejvan Pettinger||Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team||02:06:24|
|5||Julian Ramsbottom||Scunthorpe Poly CC||02:08:00|
|6||Dean Robson||Somerset RC||02:08:53|
|7||Ian Stott||Blackburn CTC||02:09:11|
|8||Jonathan Shubert||High Wycombe CC||02:09:36|
|9||Alexander Royle||Banjo Cycles||02:10:28|
|10||Henry Springall||Richmond CC||02:10:33|
Thanks To Ken Roberts for excellent photos