Sunday, 3 July 2011

Hill no 41 – 83 Kirkstone Pass

The Kirkstone Pass is one that I have done before – I did it last year on the John O’Groats to Lands End ride I did. The night before, I had wisely swapped my 11-23 cassette out for a 12-26 and was very glad when I climbed that I had done so.
We had camped at the base of the climb and the evening before people were filled with apprehension and fear about the task that awaited them and nervousness about the task that awaited them.
What a difference a year makes – I was 100% sure that I would get up Kirkstone Pass this time – my only fear was how much it would take out of me as I had a lot of other climbs planned for today – and a lot of driving.
The night before we stayed in a campsite in Ullswater and had a really nice stay – dog behaved really well, we walked down to the local pub for a drink and the stream at the end of our camper provided lovely white noise that masked everything nicely.
However, we woke to the gentle drumming of rain and the weather had turned ugly on us – it made the Kirkstone Pass a slightly less appealing proposition.
But it had to be conquered, so it was on with the wet weather gear and up the hill. Wild,windy and steep, my travails were put in perspective by the nice couple on touring bikes that I passed going up the hill. “Hat” to you both.

Kirkstone is a "tricky" climb - its not a real beast like Wrynose or Hardknott, but it is plenty hard enough and in bad weather, the 20% gradient on the upper slopes can be a bit nasty. It is also a bit busier than other climbs I have done - the traffic can act as a stimulant some times and get you moving a bit quicker, but it can also work the other way and slow you down!

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