This weekend was all set-up for walking and camping in the Peak District, with my friend Clive. But due to circumstances both Friday and Saturday had to be cancelled. Not sure if we’ll be walking tomorrow, though.
Now, I’d put off another friend, David, who wanted to go cycling in the Peak District, but with a quick txt we organised for him to come over Saturday morning.
I did some hasty route planning using Google Maps, trying to avoid places we’d been before to give him some variety. We’d done a 35 and 50 mile route previously, so I thought we’d get a little bit more ambitious, maybe 60 miles. In the end, we followed a route that took in Chesterfield, Barlow, Baslow, Calver, Stoney Middleton, Eyam, Foolow, Bradwell, Hope, Edale, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Dove Holes, Peak Dale, Millers Dale, Litton, Cressbrook, Monsal Head, Ashford-in-the-Water, Pilsley, Chatsworth, Beeley and back to Chesterfield – a total of just over 70 miles.
Part of my plan has been to take a camera with me on these rides, but I haven’t been able to find a handlebar bag I’d be happy with – it has to be waterproof and be able to house 2 bodies (Fujifilm X-T1s) and 2 lenses – attached. The lenses I favour at the moment are my Fujinon XF10-24mm f/4.0 and Fujinon XF18-55mm f/2.8-4.0. I have been narrowing down the shortlist of bags and at present I favour the Ortlieb Ultimate5 Classic handlebar Bag although I haven’t been able to handle one yet to see if the cameras will fit – no-one seems to carry them in stock. I now have the dimensions, so I’m looking at different configurations, but only once I’ve physically put them in the bag will I know if it’s suitable or not. So no cameras on this ride.
So once we got to Eyam, and were passing the church a bride and groom came out and would have got into an amazing vintage car. Had I got the cameras with me I could have grabbed a few shots, but begrudgingly carried on internally cursing the fact that I’d missed a wonderful opportunity.
Moving on, I knew there’d be some challenging climbs en-route, the first being the ascent via Hope and Edale to the top of Mam Nick (by Mam Tor). This took us just over 40 minutes, so no short climb! And I think it’s one of the hardest in the Peak District. I was experimenting with my gears and pushing a higher than normal one for me, and also getting out of the saddle, again unusual for me.
But it felt good so I carried on. On rounding the last bend before the summit I decided to ‘go for it’. And the result of that “Final Push”, the name of the segment on Strava, I came joint first on the leaderboard for my age group (55-64). Given that this result came out of the very last strava segment before the summit, after 40 minutes of climbing has chuffed me no end. You can see the results in the image at the top of this page.
To put things in context, on the overall leaderboard I’m 50/2654 10 seconds behind the top dog.
More stats for the ride here.
Mam Nick had taken a lot of effort, so David and I were glad to be descending (most of the way) into Chapel-en-le-Frith. I knew of Stocks Cafe just off the main street in Chapel so we stopped there for coffee and cake, or in David’s case 2 cakes. My chocolate tiffen cake was fine and so was the coffee, but David’s carrot cake was a disappointment. But the staff were very friendly and helpful (they refilled one of David’s bottles) so it wouldn’t put me off going again.
More climbing (see a theme running through this post) this time to Dove Holes and more after Peak Dale. We passed Buxton cement works in the distance, at which point David realised just how far we still had to go! Next, we passed through Wormhill, Miller’s Dale and then onto Litton. From there we descended into Cressbrook before climbing the 1 in 6 hill known as Monsal Head, the name given to the famous hill climb that takes place there, annually. Fortunately, it’s quite a short climb and we did it in less than 4 mins, although Malcolm Elliott holds the record at 1:53, I believe.
From the top we headed towards Ashford-on-the-Water where I made my one and only navigational error, missing the turning for Great Longstone. No biggy, as we joined the main road heading back to Baslow. We turned off for Pilsley and headed through Chatsworth Estate and on to Beeley where we stopped to share a banana before heading up the 1.6 mile Hell’s Bank.
This was the last major climb before home and I encouraged David by telling him that a certain Peter Johnson tomorrow would be climbing Hell’s Bank 41 times for charity and to get himself into the elite group of riders (at present only 66 in the world) who could call themselves “Everesters“. An Everester has to ride uphill a total of 8848m (the height of Everest) in one go i.e. the Everester can’t sleep at anytime during the attempt, but they can take as long as they like. So climbing Hell’s bank once was a doddle compared to 41 times. Not sure David was convinced.
We did it and got home safely. A brilliant ride! Now, how much are we going to pay for it tomorrow?