It was one of those “good ideas at the time” when Walkers Cycling Club member Frazer Bell agreed to go for a Sunday cycle on Britain’s most demanding bike route.
Frazer, from Kilmarnock, had less than 48 hours’ notice to get in shape while his four psyched-up cycling partners had been training for months.
The aim was to ride the mega tough Fred Whitton Sportive route, consisting of 112 miles and 13,406ft of climbing over the main mountain passes of the Lake District. The most gruelling of them all, the infamous Hardknot Pass, has a sickening 30 per cent incline in stretches.
Having spent most of the year off the bike apart from some TT training, Frazer was facing a stiff challenge, starting not at Grasmere like the sportive does but at Troutbeck which hits the rider with two passes in quick succession, Hornister then Newlands. Both of these reach gradients of 25 per cent and, paired with the intense heat, didn’t make for a pleasant experience on the bike.
Some 30 miles into the ride, and having tackled 4000ft of climbing, Frazer opted for a detour from the recognised route to miss some of the biggest climbs.
This option, although less taxing, still provided a tough cycle of 70 miles with 6500ft of climbing.
Said Frazer: “It was much more than the 10 miles and pan flat routes I’m used to. It was a brilliant day out though and I will be back to do it again – but in full this time.”
And with a couple of months’ training in the bag!