Saturday, 25 June 2016

Eroica Brittanica

21st June 2016

Today I had a ride out a steady 26 miles to have time to reflect on the last few days and to stretch my legs after the long drive back from the Peak District. This time I was out on my Titanium ‘Qoroz’ a little different to the last three days riding when I used my ‘Vintage’ bike my ‘Gazelle Trim Trophy’ but was it??

Friday lunch time had my eldest son Richard loading up the camper to drive up to the Peak District to take part in the ‘Eroica Brittanica’

a 3 day festival of cycling, but! With the twist that the bikes have to be pre 1987, have a look at the website to get the full picture.
Richard rode the 100 mile event last year for the National Trust Team, this year we were riding the 55 mile route, but not for the National Trust. We decided this year to use a campsite off site as last year facilities were not great, very crowded, and not very level! As it happened with the bad weather it was a good move as vans did have a problem with mud! We had none, a nice hard standing and wonderful facilities, heated toilet block and spotless facilities highly recommended and we will be back next year. Its situated at the top end of the Monsal Trail at the small Hamlet of ‘Blackwell’ some 8 miles from Bakewell, but, its uphill back and a stiff climb as well.

The Motorways were very busy so some 5 hours it took to get there, we pitched up, and got the kettle on, easy in the van, just plug in the electrics, we were even able to sit outside for a short time, before the drizzle set in.

But after the tea it cleared enough for us to get out on the bikes and visit the Festival, pick up our registration pack for the ride on Sunday. It was a steep 12% road descent for the first 2 miles before joining the Monsal trail at Millers dale below Tideswell all the way to Bakewell. There are some fabulous Via ducts here, two were built because of the volume of traffic. After a lovely ride down the trail through several well lit tunnels we queued to get in the festival site at the Bakewell showground. We went straight to registration to get our goody bag and registration details, again a small queue as it was already busy, even though it was only 5:30 on Friday evening. The site was also very, very, very wet and muddy.
A quick look round and a visit to the cycle jumble gave us a real feel for the atmosphere. After an hour or so we set off to ride back up to the campsite, as we were starting to feel hungry, good job we had a cheese pasty in our pockets, enough calories to get us back up the hill.

Saturday dawned, chilly, grey and not much hope of a nice sunny day. There was a slight drizzle in the air, fortunately it didn’t come to anything and the day gave us occasional spells of sunshine raising the temperature, much to our approval. As we both had leg warmers and long sleeve jerseys on.
We set out to complete the 30 mile route, as signs were already in place for the following day, so it was down the hill again to Millers dale before a stiff climb up to Tideswell, a busy place today as it was their ‘well dressing’ celebrations. Leaving this behind we could see our next target on the hill several miles away, Great Hucklow, a long climb but we easily managed it on our Gazelles [Richard built up a Gazelle Champion Mondial which is the next model up from mine with all tubes forks and stay made of Reynolds 531 tubes and equipped with Shimano Durace groupset, sourced mainly from Belgium Ebay , and shod with his Royce hubbed wheels] great views across the Peak district from the top.There was a really good long descent down to the village of Eyam, well known in history as the plague village, yet another climb out and up to Monsal Head, where we sat, admired the view and had lunch, it was quiet for a weekend.

Another long fast descent followed 30 mph+ a lot of the time, we joined the Monsal Trail again at Thornbridge Hall where the local MP built himself his own station next to the station used by the public!
The trail was quite busy now with families and dog walkers cycling and walking before we arrived at Bakewell station for another visit to the festival. This time queues were massive but! Fortunately, we now had our wrist band pass and were able to walk straight in. The site had dried out a little but still very muddy, a visit to the NT stand to say hello before a visit again to the cycle jumble and other stands with cycling themes. The two Gazells created a good interest from others with questions about models and differences etc. it was good to talk bikes and have so much interest in our bikes. After a couple of hours we set off to ride back up the hill again and getting back to the site we had ridden 32 miles and 2700 feet climbed. A pleasant evening and an early night after washing the bikes down after the mud of the site, pinning on numbers and sorting clothing for the morning, we planned an early start.

Sunday was big ride day, the grey skies were not promising but the forecast said it would stay dry all day but rain setting in around 5:00 ish.

Up at 5:45, tea and breakfast, kit up and then we were off, this time we headed off down the A6, 7 miles of wide downhill with some good bends to test your riding skills,  bit of an ‘alpine descent’ being Sunday it was very quiet, the sun actually started to shine as we were hitting 35 mph at times and by the time we arrived in Bakewell at 7:15 we had averaged 20 mph, a really nice start to the day, a fabulous descent, to be recommended !!

As we arrived in Bakewell the last of the 100 milers were setting off, in a cloud of Union Jacks and led by the Mavic service vehicle, from the Tour De France.
We joined the ‘throng’ of a large group of riders for the first offs of the 55 mile route at 7:30 am. It was a great atmosphere, vintage bikes of all makes and ages, as well as the riders !!! all ages and sizes.
We were soon huddled at the start line and with a wave of the Union Jack we were off, Rich and I found ourselves at the front of the ‘peleton’ despite setting a very steady pace, we were joined by an Italian, who it turned out had ridden the original ‘Eroica’ in Italy. We joined the Monsal Trail at Hassop Station, and worked our way up to Millers dale where we turned off to climb near the campsite and up to Chelmorton, a long climb that had us all strung out. The Gazelle was riding well, managing the gearing easily, saving my bottom sprocket for things to come. After the ascent it was time for descent, down to Hartington long and fast, a little more trail in-between, but this time more bridleway than Trail, very stony at times, so it was steady riding to avoid pinch punctures, and damaged rims.

Biggin appeared after 22 miles [ in our case 30 miles!!] this was the first feed station of the day. Continental breakfast of Chiabatta roll and cold meats and cheese with bananas, apple pies washed down with San Pelegrino orange or Lemon. There was a queue, but it was pleasant to talk bikes with others as we waited, it was disappointing there was no tea or coffee though. Fed and watered we set off on the next stage over to Cromford all on Trails. The riding was good on a good surface most of the time.Some incredible engineering where the route crossed a couple of steep valleys, almost dam like in construction. When we got to Middleton Top it was the steep incline. Rich and I stopped and had a quick look in the engine house used to pull trucks up the incline, all the steam engine still in place, very interesting. We set off down the steep and loose trail, 12% with drainage channels running across, brakes full on, just managing to slow enough to keep control, remembering my MTB skills of keeping my ‘Bum off the back’’ but! I couldn’t have stopped quickly if needed. At Cromford it was more food, but this time there was tea and coffee, and cake and ice cream!!! It was a lovely atmosphere there was loads of food, so we topped up as we had another 20 miles to go, lots of uphill over Lea, Tansley etc. above Matlock.
We were still going well, coping well with the gearing, the bikes riding well, was I missing my modern bike??? Not at the moment, very comfortable riding.
 The climbing up over Tansley etc had us on busier roads and long drags of climbs, when the road turned down, to the village of Beely a really good descent we followed two riders in front, watching their lines on the corners, taking care with traffic coming up hill as the road was quite narrow, we again touched speeds of 30mph + before we hit the valley bottom and the very busy road into Chatsworth Park. We cycled through the park to our final feed stop at one of the many side buildings in Chatsworth estate,  where we were served cocktails and scones with cream and jam, we forfeited the cocktails and had water but managed to down a couple of scones as final fuel to get us over the final 15% hill before the steep descent into Bakewell. We left the feed station and joined a line of slow moving cyclists up the hill followed closely by many vehicles including a bus!
We turned off the B road and immediately hit the 15% hill, it was standing all the way up, several riders were walking, although getting tired we summited in good time, now for the final steep descent, a couple of hairpin bends this time, where it was difficult to knock off speed enough to clear the corners without extreme caution, the bends were damp and loose gravel, I am glad we were only in a very small group, we exited onto the road to be cheered by spectators, the final bit of trail before entry to the festival site and the finish, crowds lined the road in, children holing hands out for high fives, it was a lovely greeting before the final line, a final stamp, tokens for beer and pies!!!

We watched others arrive, people arriving in large groups of riders, women in frocks, having done the 30 mile route, vintage road bikes, of varying quality with riders dressed in appropriate period jerseys or clothing. It was a real spectacle. We had tea, before a long conversation with a pair and their Tandem, a period 60’s ‘Motobecane’
We had birthday cake back at the NT stand before leaving it all behind to ride back up the hill for a shower and a welcome rest. It was great fun riding back up the trail as many of the 30 mile riders coming down the trail to finish, most dressed in period costumes on appropriate bikes, all having a great time, but! It had now started to rain, as promised. We made our way up the hill, taking off our waterproof jackets after the tunnels as we were getting very hot. We climbed the last hill up to the campsite, arriving back at the van just as the rain became very heavy, a wonderful hot shower, mug of steaming tea and dark chocolate digestives, 72 miles covered today, 5400 feet climbed and 3990 calories used, a great day out. We sat and watched the rain coming down, wondering how many managed to escape the rain before finishing their ride.
On Checking our ride on Ride GPS we discovered that we had being cycling downhill for 2 hours and 10 mins!!! No wonder we enjoyed the downs! Although the ups were not as bad as we thought either, the Gazelles gearing  coping admirably [or perhaps we were fitter than we thought].

It was a really good cycling weekend, lots of talking bikes, tubing, parts, makes, accessories etc.

Monday dawned , very wet and windy, so it was a damp exit from the Peaks as we headed back to Somerset and Dorset. Back next year?? Expensive but a good weekend out, a good test on an old bike, brings back lots of memories of my days living close to the Peak District, and the training runs we used  to do as part of North Notts Olympic Road Club when the Monsal trail still had trains running on it!!

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