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Old School Climbing

August 9, 2014 | 7:44 am

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to get around to blogging about it, but the second of my four rides in this years Four 4 a Cure challenge took place on 22nd June.

I was originally going to get up early and head over to Bakewell for the Sunday ride in the Peaks. However, when I looked at my start time (6am), I thought better of it. Given that Nikki and the children wanted to come and support me, we decided to all head over the day before, and camp overnight.

In the end, this turned out to be an inspired decision because the Eroica Britannia organisers had done such a great job in turning the whole festival into a Glastonbury for classic cycling. There were bands, a beer tent, loads of different food purveyors, and exhibitors of all kinds. It wasn’t all cycling focused either. A lot of the ‘atmosphere’ around the Eroica theme comes from its classic 30’s and 40’s focus and there were lots of people just focusing on that. Its obviously cool to be retro at the minute. The girls particularly enjoyed the retro clothing sellers – of which there were more than a few!

The Man of Steel statue from Le Grand Depart made an appearance…

As we sat listening to the bands as the sun went down, drinking and eating in the deck chairs laid out by the organisers, I could have happily gone late into the night, but I had an early start so didn’t push my luck!

Up early the next morning, I had a Bakewell Pudding for breakfast to start – believe it or not. It was actually part of our welcome pack from the day before that didn’t get eaten, and I wasn’t about to let good carbs go to waste with 100 miles ahead of me and the Peak District’s hills to boot!

Tradition at this event, which has been imported from Italy, suggests that to accompany the pre-1987 bike you have to ride, you should also wear similarly vintage clobber! Well, my bike is a 1978 Carlton, and the correct gear of the time wasn’t quite the wool based clothing that others were sporting. Besides, I wanted to wear my JDRF top! I met up with Richard and Martin from our cycling club, Tickhill Vélo, and we rolled up to the start – making sure we got our card stamped at the beginning.

Richard thought it would be a good idea to get an Espresso – just as we are rolling up to the start line!

“OK” I said, daftly. So, there I was rolling across the start line with a hot cup of coffee in my hand, raising it and saying “Cheers” to all the spectators. As I try to drink it as quick as possible, Richard and Martin have disappeared off into the distance!

They are both faster than me anyway, but this didn’t help my chances of staying with them. It took me about 4 miles to catch up with them, and that was only because we are had to slow down as we got onto the start of the Monsail Trail, and it got crowded. We rode together for the rest of the Monsail Trail and I got a shot of video as we were going along…

Out onto the next road section, however, and as soon as the next hill came along, they were both off! I am no climber, so watched them disappear into the distance.

The point of the Eroica event is to ride a bike that was built before 1987. My Carlton Corsair was made in 1978 but has a nice big sprocket on the back, so climbing was always well within my limits, even if it wasn’t as fast as a lot of the people going past me. What was good was the down hill bits! The Carlton is a steel bike, and with a fat lad on it, this means that there was a lot of weight for going downhill! As with the week before in the Yorkshire Dales, I often found myself overtaking all the people who’d passed me when climbing, as we crested a hill and went down!

The first breakfast stop came quite soon in, as I think the organisers wanted to make sure everyone had a hearty breakfast. As I arrived, Richard and Martin were just leaving. They didn’t want to hang around, as the last time they did the Eroica ride (in Italy), they spent a lot of the day by the side of the road mending mechanicals. I don’t even think they had a bacon sandwich…

I’m sorry, but this lad doesn’t turn his nose up at bacon! Even though there was a bit of a queue, and it took about 5 minutes to get a buttie.


I’ve just returned to this blog post seven weeks after the ride, and I still haven’t finished it. How rubbish! And I’m doing the third ride of my Four4aCure challenge tomorrow – RideLondon 100.

I’ll publish this and try and edit it this week…

Posted by Gareth

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