23 March 2012

Ride report: Monyash Monster 100 km Audax

This was our third time in the Peaks, but only our second with bikes. We wanted to get away from the Southeast, and head North for some hill (ish) training. Although, again, the UK is not the Pyrinees nor the Alps, it does have some steep and short bumps.

I happened to come across a couple of Audax events starting/finishing in Hathersage, a very convenient location for non-motorised people like us. Sent the forms in one mad day, along with the registration for some other events. We had signed up for 103 km, in March, with 2200 m climb. This meant 2.25 AAA points by Audax UK standards. Great stuff.

Despite some rain hitting our tent overnight, and a very misty morning along with light rain and cold, we somehow managed to get in to Hatersage's Pool Cafe in good spirits, just past 8:30 am. The atmosphere was picking up, and you could see plenty of riders departing already. The official departure was at 9 am, however the organiser allowed a rolling start from 8 am. We took it easy and went for the "full value for money" option. That is, start after the official 9 am kick off and take it easy throughout the ride. English breakfast, and a bacon roll, were eaten within minutes. We're becoming so English, aren't we? Oh yes, we also had the obligatory tea.

Admittedly, Brits win over cooked breakfasts!
Just minutes before 9 am, we were off with a bunch of others. The first hill came very quickly, turned off a main-ish road out of Hathersage and up we went. One rider was already walking here! The hill was actually quite gentle and very enjoyable, again, reminding me of the North of Spain with all the green fields and wetness after a night of rain.

I reckon Lucy's got climbing potential!
Quiet lanes at the start of the ride
Ups and downs followed, with a few step descent sections that we would not like to do in reverse. Which is what, by accident, we did on the following day! The ride had various category 5 (the easiest categorised climbs!) and a couple of category 3 climbs. At around km 40 into the ride, we hit one of those category 3 hills. Oliver, the organiser, was taking pictures of riders going up that hill. I pretended to look cool and strong, stood on the pedals, accelerated, and almost fell in front of his camera. The roads were still wet and as the road turned left, the gradient increased. Not a good combination for my tyres' gripping abilities. Somehow I managed to sit down quickly, recovering the grip and putting the smile back on time for Oliver to shoot at me. Once I got up the hill, I took a few pictures of the people behind me.

Lucy follows Oliver (the organiser) on the way up 
A few km later we reached the half way stop, which was also a control. Brits love their cakes on bike rides (and in every other situation, I guess) as much as we Spaniards love jamón. The pub did not obviously sell any jamón, but the cakes were delicious. Sticky toffee cake, tea, and scone time it was! No guilty feeling here, as there were still plenty of hills ahead that would make good use of all the extra calories that we had just ingested.

Audaxers controlling at a cafe in Monyash
The route continued on heading back North. More ups and downs, though legs were still feeling ok. More info controls went past, where you are supposed to answer questions such as "miles on descent sign" and the like. One of them was strategically situated in the middle of a complicated descent, with gravel, but we were pre-warned on the brevet card. Got the answer and carried on downhill. To just then go back up. Relentless hills here. A sign that reminded us that the Peaks was only made a National Park in 1951 was a cement factory, with its giant chimney, that could be seen from here on until the rest of the ride near Heathersage. Quite contrasting, definitely.

Passing very close to our final destination of Hathersage on our right, we got on a road that circumnavigated our campsite (North Lees area) and went past the famous Stanage Edge, a climbing mecca in the Peaks. Despite the uphill gradient, we were nearing the end of the ride, and the views were spectacular, so we did not mind. 

Stanage Edge, and Lucy

Myself and the rock in the background
Soon that last hill was over and we joined the downhill back into Hathersage. I particularly enjoy this, hitting the maximum of the day here at 68 km/h.

5 km to the end, all the way downhill. Lucy merges with the sheep
Back in the Pool Cafe, we handed over our brevet cards to Oliver. I think we completed the ride in just under 7 h including stops and faffing, at a moving average of 16 km/h or so. Pretty slow, but it was a hilly one. And Lucy's got her first AAA points. I now need to persuade her to do more of these bumpy rides. She seems to enjoy the hills after all. And she's pretty good at it, not walking a single one this time. Some more food at a local cafe and a great view of the rainbow over the Edge was a nice end to a perfect day of cycling.

Lunch at 4 pm, never losing my Spanish traditions!
Hathersage, bottom right corner. Stanage Edge ont he left.
The route looked like this for those interested. Definitely recommended, especially if done clockwise. Much steeper if anticlockwise!

1 comment:

  1. You couldn't ask for a better rainbow picture. Nice shot!