Struggle by name struggle by nature
Last sunday the 26th May I attended the Struggle Dales cycle sportive event that I mentioned in an earlier post. Starting out of Harrogate the day promised 108 miles with 9600ft of climbing which somehow was an understatement (more on that later).
As if specially ordered by the event organisers for the day to make the ride even more gruelling, the weather was epically foul for this time of year. With hard rain, hail at times and worse of all a strong head wind for the first 40 miles. If it wasn't hard enough cycling up the first 3 categorised climbs the strong head wind presented a constant battle having to pedal hard even down hill.
Riders seemed to be dropping like fly's at the first feed station that came at only 28 miles. Reports of fallen riders or guys that were just too tired and cold to continue seeking the comfort of the broom wagon and a foil blanket until it arrived.
Once past the tough climb of Malham cover and heading north the eastwardly wind turned from a head wind to a cross wind and later the rain dropped and for a while the wind was behind us. Helping us along and giving opportunity for tired legs to recover.
The climb of Park Rash is well known for being brutal and this was the first time I had personally been up there. I must say the reputation wasn't over sold. The first ramp up and hairpin are exceptionally steep, reaching 30% at the turn. It was at this point I started to struggle for momentum and traction, I somehow managed to get my front wheel into a pot hole and when pushing against it managed to spin the back wheel out and topple sideways still clipped into the bike. Unfortunately this happened just before the photographer who had positioned himself at the apex of the turn. At least he had the decency to wait until I had picked myself up, and as its so steep it makes it impossible to clip back in, I started to push up until the gradient eased slightly.
I then managed to ride the remainder of the climb which rarely drops below 15% and again its 25% just before the summit to finally kill you off.
The next feed station was very welcome and much needed coming just a mile before the penultimate climb of the day Hartwith. After that there was enough respite to recharge before the final climb of two stoops and then mostly downhill back to the HQ finish. Now just to revisit the details of the ride mentioned at the start of this report, somehow we managed to accumulate 10,800ft nearly 1500ft more than advertised, you could say a bonus but one i wasn't exactly grateful as I crawled towards the finish.
After the horrid start to the day I was really pleased to complete the ride and must say it was really well hosted and managed by the organisers, along with managing the venue, catering, food stations, route marking (very clear) they had to deal with what must have been an increased number of drop outs and injuries, all whilst putting up with the same horrendous weather.