A cocktail of corkscrew trails, slick fire road and Lakeland lanes await beyond Cartmel the home of sticky toffee pudding.
When: Sunday 15 May 2016
Where: Cartmel Race Course, Cartmel, Cumbria, LA11 6QF
Why ride it? The HQ of Cartmel Racecourse may look a tranquil green and pleasant land of mild hills rolling hills but the route heads north out towards the Lake District and imposing mountains. The Grizedale area is home to some tricky trails with fast fire roads and of course plenty of classic Cumbrian climbing.
The Grizedale Grizzly is deceptively rugged and a very challenging day out.
As the title of the event suggests, much of this ride takes place within Grizedale Forest. It covers a colossal area and is a wonderful wilderness resource, custom made for cyclo-cross bikes. The Grizedale Grizzly offers a huge array of terrain; from picking your way between small rocks, pedalling through boggy ground, powering up grassy banks and hurtling down gravel forest roads, there is plenty to test your skill. Of course, your physical fitness will also be put to the test.
Rolling out of Cartmel race course along quiet narrow lanes, edged with the distinctive Cumbrian drystone walls the first few miles are an easy warm-up. The surrounding hills look gentle from a distance but hide steep gradients that pack a punch later in the ride.
1. The Claife Clatter – Skill and fitness are required to conquer the first part of this loose rocky segment before being rewarded by a flowing forest road descent.
2.Biketreks Bash – Loose slate makes for a challenging surface on this undulating section. Keep your speed up to power over the rocks.
3. Final Fandango – A little sting in the tail to finish off weary legs, this is the last effort between you and a large slab of sticky toffee pudding.
The south Lakes offers lots of little hills rather than the dramatic mountains of the north Lakes – its scenery more chocolate box than the dramatic mountains of the north Lakes, but it is no easy option. The little hills have a kick to them and the accumulated climbing of just under 2,600 metres will take its toll by the end of the route.
The route features 11 off-road segments in the 63 miles of the full-distance Massif route, making up 41% of the ride. Most segments are either rocky, gravel path, broken tarmac or slate. It is really only in the first off-road segment that you are likely to encounter mud. On a dry day this is a fast, grassy bridleway; on a wet day it becomes a very challenging slippery affair. Even on the wettest days, other than the first segment, this course never becomes a mud-fest.
This event has some of the most technical climbing of the Adventure Cross series, but only in short sections. Both the Strada Sterrate and Claife Clatter will both require concentration and skill to pick your line over rocks and a constant application of power to cope with the gradient. Although not a technical climb the Corker La is physically the toughest on the route as it is both steep and long, nearly a mile of continuous uphill effort and one that will make both legs and lungs burn. This climb is only on the Mini Massif route. Most of the descents are on fast and flowing forest roads, a fun reward for the climbing.
The final run-in to Cartmel includes a long section of disused railway. Flat and relatively smooth, it is a tempting spot for a burn-up as you’re getting close to the end. Don’t get too cocky and start racing your mates to the line just yet though – there is one “Final Fandango” still to come. This aptly named final stage drags up gradually before a rapid descent and a final very steep but short climb, guaranteed to put the hurt into tired legs. Keep something in the bag for this section and you’ll be able to power away from your mates.
Post-ride, don’t forget to take advantage of Cartmel’s culinary pedigree as the home of sticky toffee pudding – nobody can say you haven’t earned it.
If you are a Strava user, for a more detailed look at the route map and a 3D route profile click here.
Mini Massif: 46 miles (42% off-road, 58% on road)
Technical terrain difficulty 4/5
Wilderness Riding 4/5
Local Bike shop: If you are already in the Lake District head to Biketreks in Ambleside for knowledgeable info on local trails from owner Andy. If you have just popped of the M6 on your way to Cartmel head to the new Giant Store in Kendal for any last minute bits.
Enter at: BookMyRide.co.uk
Other events in this series are: