Rear wheel looking up. Arms cramping. No chance of stopping.

Descending Wrynose Pass at 100miles in – and I wasn’t anywhere near the KOM. Disappointing.

The Fred whitton challenge was a new one for me. Originally entered with riding it fixed in mind and then realising that wasn’t sensible – so that meant gears… “Multi speed Matt”

The Fred is a 112 mile loop with 4000m ascent over the hardest passes in the Lake District for anyone that doesn’t know.

The lead up

My first race of the season, WMBC, had gone well and I had another race in mind. The second round of the nutcracker XC series at Gandale. A course I used to go to with my Dad when I was very little to watch him race. It’s one of my favorite courses – old skool.

1

I’d ended up finishing 4th expert on a less than ideal day for singlespeed with strong head winds. My best result yet as an expert and I felt good finishing the last lap strong only just missing out to third in a sprint finish by a tyre width.

However, I’d still only ridden a few hours maximum and no where near the distance of the Fred – but the biggest issue came from not even having a road bike.

The Bike

I ended up going for a Kinesis aithein with 1×10 gear set up. 42t absoluteBLACK narrow wide front ring and 11/28 cassette. I also went for 23mm tubs on my CX wheels filling them with a bit of sealant to help prevent punctures.

2

After a few test rides (including one bad ride where I ripped the rear mech off) I was feeling happier.

The race

The weather looked bad leading up to the race, but on the day it turned out alright.

I started at 7am with my colleagues, Lee and James starting as little earlier.

The first 40 miles went well and I was travelling fast. I worked out I was averaging roughly 20mph. That turned out too be too fast and inevitably after forgetting to eat or drink, I hit Honister Pass hard and started to go slow. Descents are always my stronger point and once Honister was over I begin to recover and relax a little. Eat some food and drink some water.

Once I’d hit Whinlatter I was really starting to feel it – but it gave me a slight boost seeing Lee there. I’d now caught him for +1hr (I later found out I’d already overtaken James but just had my head down!)

I started to hold back a little and ended up spinning around 16-18mph along the worst section of the race before Cold Fell.

By the time I hit hardknott pass, spirits were high and I actually found it easier than Honister!

3

The descent down hardknott and Wrynose were too much fun. Th back was locked up a few times and it’s the first time I’ve had the back end out going round corners on the road!

The last few miles on the flat were spent pushing it to try and get under 7hrs. My gar in said I had a few minutes left and there was a group of five in total helping each other out.

My garmin ended on 6hrs 59. Official time was 7hrs 02 … So so close to an elite time.

Turned out it was good enough for 86th place. There was apparently around 2000 riders. I was happy with that for my first road sportive thing.

No rest for the wicked

The week after I decided to enter the north of England championships at Aske. It’s one of my favourite courses. Natural old skool XC racing.

The weather was warm but with a strong wind. I ran the same SS rigid setup on the FF29 as I had done at Gandale (just with a different back tyre that actually had some tread left).

I finished 3rd Expert overall. Pretty happy with that.

Another nutcracker

Another last minute entry to the Nutcracker at Parkwood Springs, Sheffield and a course I’d not ridden before.

As I’d not been before I wanted to do a pre-ride so we set off early and arrived in Sheffield in bright sunshine. Weather forecast did say it was going to rain so I fitted nobby nics and sintered pads… in short, in didn’t rain. I had a nice tan line though.

Usually before races I’m pretty chilled. Bike sorted and ready to race.

This time it was different.

30 minutes to go and my tubeless valve starts letting out air. On the practice lap my rear tyre went flat and I just thought it was down to fitting a new tyre – it wasn’t. I’m still not sure what it was but after fitting a new valve, then new rim tape and even new sealant it still wasn’t holding air so I decided to go to the dark side and fit a tube. Luckily it worked and it held up all race.

My first of the 7 laps was fast. I inevitably died and for the rest of the race I was in pain while being cooked from the sun.

4

One crash, one clif shot, two bottles and I was done. Took a little longer than normal.

It was a hard one. But good training for next weekend.

What’s next

The sync has had a new lease of life with tyres, cables and absoluteBLACK chainring. I’m thinking of taking this to the alps this summer!

5

I’ll be riding the Sam Haughton Challenge on the 14th June and then a new bike is getting a trip to Norway. Keep checking http://instagram.com/singlespeedmatt for the build pictures.

Must remember to get running a little more – I have a 73km running event with 5600m ascent in the lakes as training for the CCC.

One thought on “Into Fred and Beyond

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