18th June 2013
Year three of the Rivers Ride…and I’ll be back for my third spin around the West Cumbrian circuit. But I’ll level with you, I had to think long and hard about it. Why? Well, the 2012 ride was the most wet and miserable day imaginable.
It poured all day. Chucked it down. And then some. It was only after the event that I learned riders were being turned back from Newlands and Honister passes, due to the appalling conditions. I’d somehow made it over a little before that decision was made. Made it over after a fashion. It was awful. I didn’t see another cyclist and now I know why! It’s a cliche about roads being turned into rivers, but that’s what Newlands Pass resembled.
So, given organiser Andy Beeforth has personally guaranteed a dry, sunny and pleasantly warm September Sunday for 2013, I’m willing to give it a go. Andy’s a chap you can trust. He told me so.
Also, the lure of riding a chunk of a Tour of Britain stage just a day pefore the pro-peloton proved a key selling point. I suspect they won’t find Honister as horrible as I do, but I know they won’t exactly enjoy it.
The Rivers Ride 2012 has since been trumped on my league table of wet misery by this year’s Fred Whitton Challenge, reckoned by most to be the toughest one-day sportive. It includes all of the main Lake District passes.
Driving, freezing rain in the latter stages forced some riders to abandon. There were cases of hypothermia. Shivering lycra figures huddled in silver survival blankets at the end created a scene reminsicent of a casualty clearing station. I knew I wasn’t in a good state over the closing miles. I’ve never been as close to quitting a ride. Arguably a triumph of obstinacy over good sense, although my wife would say simply riding the Fred Whitton amounts to that. And a puncture coming down Wrynose didn’t help. My tyre/wheel combination is ridiculously tight fitting at the best of times. How I managed to change it with shivering, shaking hands, and shivering, shaking everything else…well, I don’t know. So, that’s 2013’s grim horrible ride out of the way. Everything else will be fun, fun, fun! Excepting, possibly, Honister.