Saturday, 23 April 2011

Maybe God loves me after all = SKIDDAW WIN!!

After 2 failed attempts at the Skiddaw Cheeky epic, the second one documented in its full horror here, Good Friday was forecast to be a lovely dry and warm day, and more inmprtantly, the kids were at their mums for the day, I decided that it was time to meet my nemesis.

This all sounded ace, however my riding as been somewhat curtailed of late and the prospect of 30 miles and 7000' of climbing did make me wonder it I would be physically up to the challenge. Only one way to find out.

7am Start and the chug up the M6 was almost without traffic, a good start to the day and I parked up at the bottom of the Latrigg BW at 9.00am kitted up and had a quick chinway with another biker who was waiting for his mates. He was doing the classic Mosedale / Back'o'skidda. When I told him my intended route he gave out a slow whistle and gave me that knowing nod that said he thought I was clearly insane.

Weather really was wonderful, only problem being that the heat had generated a very hazy day and the visability would not be very far at all, Great shame as there would be some stunning views on this ride. Joined the railway at the old station and spun along, great way to warm up the legs.

I was soon at Threlkeld and started the climb up to Skiddaw House. The Tarmac is a bit brutal (not to mention shit boring) but I was soon off road, passing the old Sanitorium and then on up Glenderaterra. Its a nice ride up here, most people prefering to take the more exciting Lonscale Craggs on the other side of the valley. The going is pretty easy, but the climb up at the end was pretty steep. It had also been resurfaced from the river crossing making it less of a challenge other than its steepness.

At the top, it flattened out and as I increased speed I heard the sound of bikes coming up behind, it was my mate from the car and his two mates. They had done Lonscale Crag and clattered down the DH. Had a brief chat as I held a gate open for them and they went on their way up to Skiddaw House. From the gate I had a good view of the first summit of the day... Great Calva.

Scooted along the access road and was looking for a way up when I came accross a very small track just before Dead Beck. This turned out to lead straight to the summit of Great Clava, but was pretty hard going through old heather and bog. Carried the bike most of the way up. Bloody windy at the summit which surprised me, the view over to Skiddaw, a target for later was good.

Here, I started to piece together our movements from the previous attempt and with the benefit of actually being able to see something, it was pretty clear where we went. Turns out we abandoned just before the climb up to the Knot, which was much more of a climb than I thought it would. Infact I was shouldering the bike up this fucker too.

Top of the Knot, the highest point so far and it was blowing a hoolie, I checked the map which way over to Great Sca Fell and then I got to the top of Little Scar Fell and the start of the fabled "Longest unbroken constantly descending legal trail" in the lakes.

It runs from the summit to the gate at Longlands. And what a fucking run!! I did have to pedal a couple of revolutions just to get over a stream crossing, but otherwise, you could get from the top to the bottom freewheeling. As it was I gave it the beans and was flying along fresh grassy singletrack at warp speed. It was just marvellous arriving at the gate completely pumped up.

Road work now to the start of Dash Falls BW. At the bridge over Hall Beck, I ditched the bike and sat by the stream, with my legs in it eating my dinner.

I remembered Donk going on about the virtues of an ice bath to get rid of Lactic acid so I thought I'd give it a go as my thighs were starting to burn a little. Surprisingly it worked a treat. After lunch they felt great allthough my feet were pissed wet through without too much prospect of drying out!

Next up came the climb up Dash Falls to the gate and what would be decision time. I always find this climb a bit boring, even with the great view over to Whitewater Dash and the impressive Dead Crags for close company.

I didnt make it up the last pull to the gate, in fact I didnt even try, knowing what was in store for me I elected to save my legs. At the gate, I thought for a minute about the full on Hero route and decided to give it a go.

The Ascent of Skiddaw here called for an immediate and brutal fist fight with gravity up the steep Birkett Edge and onto Bakestall. The climb was,, in my mind split into three sections, which will call twat 1, twat 2 and finally twat 3.

Twat 1, Birkett Edge was so fucking hard. Bike on back and ascending a monster fucking gradient after 21 miles and 4000' already under my belt very nearly had me saying fuck this for a game of soldiers, but I stuck with it. Stopping every 10 paces or soe for a breather, I judged my altitude against Little Calva across the valley and sadly, it didn't exactly fall beneath me, more like crawled.

I tried to get some pics to illustrate the steepness of the climb but it does not really do justice to the full horror of Twat 1.
Hairpin was the start point.
 So Twat 1 over with at the summit of Bakesall, I turned my attention to Twat 2. The top of Blake Hill. This was a cunning bastard, I could ride most of it but then the last bit just reared up slightly too steep and loose to get any grip on, so back on Shank's pony and pushed the bike to the top. Where was revealed Twat 3. The climb up to Skiddaw Man.
Very reminiscent of Helvellyn Little Man I though, and just as hope sapping. The first bit was fairly flat but as soon as the gradient increased my chain snapped. Bollocks. So Twat 3 had me pushing / carrying / crying, but on reaching the summit elated. Thank fuck for that. I was however, utterly fucked at this point. My legs were surprisingly ok, but my upper body, being a weakling was worn out from all the carrying.

Here I was presented with a choice. The almost Mystical technical feast of Ullock Pike, my original planned route, or the Bridleway plunge. I considered the options and even text Donk to get his opinion. Here I was, top of Skiddaw, blowing a fucking gale, I'm delirious, Ullock Pike Edge was rammed with walkers and I was on my own. Discretion won over Valour.

So off I set on the descent, and it was fucking brilliant. Bit cut up above the Zig Zags and the large boulders they used to pitch are showing through, certainly enough to make it technical, but for full on balls out fun, well it was ace and I was pretty pleased with the time (this is me, we are talking about). Top to the final gate at the bottom of the zigzags with 3 gate stops just over 11 minutes. The Brakes were fooking sizzling and all the walkers were pretty much clapping my progress arse over the back throwing meself around the hair pins!

 The final run down Latrigg BW was almost walker free and again was blasted down and back to the car. The end of a fucking brilliant day out in the hills!! 27 miles and 6200' of climbing but I dont believe My Tracks, it felt much harder.

View Skiddaw Epic in a larger map

1 comment:

D0NK said...

Epic indeed. 3 miles in 11minutes is pretty speedy too. Missing ullock was probably a good shout, you don't wanna be doing that tired, strong wind can easily knock you off line too.
Well done on finally finishing the ride :-)