I wrote at the end of January about my Audax challenge of riding 12 x 200km rides in 12 consecutive months and how my January attempt went slightly awry with a slight nav error, a slight crash and a slight chain jam that ended up being rescued at close to midnight from the upper slopes of the Kirkstone Pass on a gorgeous starlit night - it's all a bit self reliant this Audax business.

February seemed to whizz by (I suppose there are miles fewer days compared to other months!), wretched work intervened and I didn't get my 12 x 200 (hereafter referred to RRtY) started.

Forecast for yesterday (4/3/17) was pretty good, although some rain forecast for late afternoon/evening. To get my RRtY ball rolling should I do the same route that I attempted in January or choose another? A slightly flatter route might have been easier but hey, we're wellard us Audax lot! Having a go at one early in the month means a bit more time to do another if things go awry again.

The great thing about these Permenant Audax routes is that as long as you can prove you've done the route you can start anywhere you like on it and ride clockwise or anticlockwise.

After my crash in January, as the drivechain basically needed replacing, I opted for a single chain ring set up and have to say I love it. I'm not missing any gears that I had before and my bike now weighs a few grams lighter than previously did.

So, the route. From Ambleside the route had to visit Gosforth, Rosthwaite, back to Ambleside and Penrith (before returning to Ambleside to complete the 200km). From Ambleside whether to do Honister or Wrynose/Hardknott first. I decided to get the double header of Wrynose & Hardknott out the way first, and actually find them easier to do from this side rather than from Eskdale. A very fine day, little wind, not too chilly and even a hint of sunshine at times. After a few bumps and a glorious ride through Eskdale I arrived at Gosforth for a first snack.

On my last attempt at this route I rode the other way, tackling Honister first and then making a fantastically schoolboy nav error betwixt Buttermere & Gosforth. Not so this time, and the remote feeling Cold Fell followed, a lovely climb but not one to be done at home time on a week day as the Sellafield lot use this road as a racetrack!

Onward then towards the Honister Pass. This area of the Lakes is just stunning and the ride past Loweswater, Crummockwater & Buttermere was fab to say the least. For all the riding I've done in the Lakes I'd never actually climbed Honister from this side and what a steep little beastie it is towards the top. A stop at the café at the top was a welcome break.

A fast descent, through Borrowdale, into and out of Keswick, alongside Thirlmere, over the Dunmail Raise and Ambleside approached again. Rain was forecast and fall it did. A quick stop for another snack and the final 80km or so, an out and back to Penrith.

The Struggle was well, a struggle and half an hour or so later I was descending towards Patterdale in the dark. Luckily not too cold and the rain had reduced to a drizzle. However, enough to get me fairly soggy by the time I got to Penrith where I scoffed a bit more food and changed clothing. The return journey was without mishap and what a great thing it is to ride on unlit mountain roads at night in your own little bubble of light. Higher on the Kirkstone Pass the rain increased and by the time I reached the top of the Struggle I was in the cloud. Now, the descent of the Struggle is fairly 'orrid at the best of times - in the drizzle, cloud, and dark it was not the best bit of the ride. Torchlight was bounced bizarrely around in the cloud and I could hardly see the road, simply trying to follow whichever side of the road I could see. Eventually back to Ambleside, last proof that I'd actually been there and a quick (relative of course!) dash for home. I was fairly wet, cold and shivery by now and certainly glad that I didn't have that many km to go. So, success on, hopefully, the first of 12. Subject to having my effort checked and validated that is. Question  now is, which route to do in April? I may even go for something with a little less height gain, or there again......

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Comment by Corinne Black on March 6, 2017 at 17:49

Good going! Keep up the great work :-D

Comment by Mike the Bike on March 5, 2017 at 17:24

That sounds like a stressy day, but I bet you felt good when it was all over.  Once upon a time I would read an article like yours and immediately start planning my own version of the ride.  But with age comes the realisation that I must ration my gut-busting climbs or pay the price in dodgy knees and achey hips.  Well done sir.

Comment by Dave Rowe on March 5, 2017 at 17:03

That descent of the Struggle sounded positively brown trousers! If I am remembered for anything in cycling when I shuffle off this mortal coil, it'll be that I had the Liliest Liver for Descending Evah! Another great write up Andy!

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