Challenging Times

On February 25, 2013 by kelletcycles

Lune Racing Cycling Club’s Coal Road Challenge, a 67 mile reliability ride, is fast becoming a regular fixture in the North West cycling calendar. The focus is the climb of 500m road in the Western Dales. This was the route between Dent and Kirkby Stephen market and was regularly traversed by pack-horse trains. It also served the colliery above Garsdale and was known locally as The Coal Road.
However such a high road can be challenging in winter, as BC Commisaire Gordon Helme and I were reminded when we drove round to check the route before the event. In some places ice hard snow covered the road. It was obviously too risky to use on the day. We had had to provide an alternative route 3 years earlier when similar circumstances prevailed. This involved the fast ride down to Sedbergh followed by turning into Dentdale to rejoin the original route at the bottom of the steep climb to Barbondale. This added about 3 miles to the ride but avoided the big snowy climb.
The 97 riders chose one of 3 graded groups to suit their level of fitness. Group S1starting at 8-30 was aimed at older or those wanting a more steady pace. S2 30 minutes later was for younger or sportive rides. The S3s, the racers, were a further 20 minutes behind.
The route via Ingleton and Hawes crossed the 3 Peaks area before turning to Garsdale Head and the halfway control. Here bottles were recharged and a selection of gels and energy bars were provided by sponsor Vanillabikes.com
Having to abandon the climb of The Coal Road the riders continued to Sedbergh before tackling the climb to Barbon. The return route via Kirkby Lonsdale, Arkholme and Hornby led to the final flat miles down the Lune Valley back to Bull Beck. Most riders were back within a period of an hour to be presented with their certificate by 7 year old Katie Greenwood and to regale each other with details of their ride.
As ever, in cycling, such an event would be impossible without a team of hardworking helpers, generous sponsors and enthusiastic riders.
My thanks to Kevin and Tracey for help on the day and bars and gels. To Charlotte, Tony, James, Haydn, Michelle, Tom and Katie who once again did all the work on the day. But also the riders, without whom it would be very lonely and cold standing by the roadside at Garsdale Head.
Thanks
Brian G

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