Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Witches' Challenge sportive

Clarion house sign Outside Clarion House
The 65km 'half' sportive set off at 10.00 and the route went straight up the notorious 'Rake' - an incredibly steep hill with adverse camber that is regularly used in the National Hill climb champs.After 3 days riding and still using my fixed I opted out of this challenge and took a more relaxed route to the top of the hill where I joined onto the fast group. 
It took about 15 miles to get out to the true country side and we swept up the early starters as we went. The first major climb of the day was Waddington Fell, which came before the feed zone in Slaidburn. After some flapjack that was almost as tasty as our own Mrs Paul's special recipe we carried on with the final leg of the ride which showed off how beautiful Lancashire can be. There were great views, very steep hills and long drags along quiet roads. 
We passed through Grindleton, Chatburn, Pendle, Barley and Roughlee to the finish at the Clarion House where we were served tea in enormous pint mugs and ate local cheese and home-made soup. 
The Clarion House was funded by the Nelson Weavers Association and built by the Independent labour Party in 1912 to be run as a non-profit co-operative. Walking into the cafe is like stepping back in time, it still has its original features and is decorated with photos of Clarion cyclists and memorabilia from the labour movement. The cafe is only open on a Sunday but attracts ramblers and cyclist from across the region. If you are in the area pop in to one of the original cyclists' cafes.
Jez took the day off from riding to give his knee a rest and helped his wife Tink time keep (thanks Tink!). I managed the 65km in 2hrs 54mins.

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