Saturday, 19 July 2014

Fleet Moss

After completing the climb up to the top of Buttertubs Pass it was still quite early in the day and time for breakfast. I drove down into the village of Hawes and tried to find a shop that hadn't only just opened and actually had properly stocked shelves. Don't get me wrong, Hawes is a lovely little place with a lot of shops but I seemed to get there before they were all open. I settled on a couple of pork pies, and a slice of chocolate cake. Hardly a great breakfast but it was at least full of sugar and carbs.

For the energetic 100 climbs rider there is always the option to combine Buttertubs Pass and Fleet Moss into one ride as they are so close together. In fact the climbs I rode on the 21st June are all very close together so it would be very easy to plan an epic day out on the bike bagging climbs. 

Hawes was busy getting busy for the Grand Depart of the Tour de France which was due to take place on the first weekend in July and the place was full of colourful banners, bunting and seemingly every conceivable variation on using the bicycle as street art. It was great to see.

The climb up Fleet Moss, as with so many I ride, started with a descent. The top part of Fleet Moss is a almost dead straight 20% ramp. Riding down it from where I had parked the car was as thrilling as it was dicey; the road surface is a bit rough in places and even my ever capable Uncle John was getting bounced all over the road. Not sure how fast I was going as I no longer ride with a bike computer; the speed I do uphill is so slow its depressing to see it displayed and when going downhill I reckon if you have time to look at a little screen on the handlebars you clearly aren't going fast enough.

You have the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere at the top of Fleet Moss

Once at the bottom of the climb the first section on the way back up was a 17% gradient ramp up from the valley bottom. It is only a short uphill section and once you reach the top of it you are greeted by a nice rolling bit of road that tracks the edge of the valley. The day was starting to warm up nicely and it was a really pleasant bit of road to cycle along. This easy section goes on for about a mile but before long you are greeted by the site of the 20% section of road stretching out ahead of you over the landscape. Got to hand it to the road builders of Yorkshire, they don't bother with pansy hairpin bends; they just build their roads straight up and over anything that gets in their way!

At this point in the climb I stopped briefly to activate Ass Cam TM before tackling the really steep stuff. At this point I was passed by a couple of cycle tourists enthusiastically trying to spin their pannier laden bikes up. As the gradient got steeper they started to get slower and then eventually decided that pushing their heavy bikes was the only way to get up the climb. This presented me with a problem. As regular readers of this blog will know I'm pretty damn slow on the really steep stuff and once I hit bottom gear things get even slower. There was no way in hell I was going to risk getting passed by a couple of cycle tourists once I had passed them ( I really do ride that slowly) so I had no choice but to keep the bike in a higher gear than usual and keep on cranking the pedals round. It wasn't pleasant and sent my ever fragile right knee into a painful spasm but there was a point of pride to defend. I did manage to keep a decent gap over the tourists behind me but I got slower and slower as I ground out the pedal revs. The slackening of the gradient at the top of the 20% section was very welcome and I found the rest of the climb pretty straight forward from that point on. The top of the climb feels very bleak in comparison to the lower slopes but the two final bends aren't anything too taxing and I had a fairly easy ride back to the car.

Pretty much every stretch of road in Yorkshire seemed to have cyclists on it, a lot of them tacking the hills with a full touring set up complete with panniers. 

I had to chuckle once I got back to the car and started putting the bike away; the two people on tourers crested the top of the hill and said 'well done' to me. They're the ones who hauled panniers up the climb and yet they were telling me well done. I of course told them well done and said I hoped that they had a decent days riding ahead. My next challenge was the climb up Oxnop Scar and my right knee clearly hadn't appreciated my efforts to push a bigger gear up Fleet Moss so I would have to take it easy.

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