As the adventure capital of the UK, Cumbria – the Lake District holds its fair share of events and sportives for those more active types especially cyclists. From now until September there is a steady stream of cycle sportives to suit a variety of abilities but many learn towards the hardcore cyclist out there. It’s quite obvious when you think about it due to the nature of the roads.
The biggest most popular and most famous of the Lake District cycling races is the Fred Whitton Challenge, challenge being the operative word. I have the pleasure this year, as I did last, of being head of the support team for my husband taking on this challenge. My car will be a travelling bike spares unit as well as catering facility. The only thing I need to do is to actually spot him this year unlike last! No one has let me live that down!
The Fred Whitton is a gruelling 112 mile race. Starting and finishing in Coniston taking in nearly every Lake District pass with the utterly ridiculous Hardknott Pass with its 30% gradient thrown in towards the end. Scenic it is so for spectators and support teams there are far worse places to be stood around, the scenery however is not a factor for the riders! At the finish, plenty of wobbly legs and hugs from friends and relatives, everyone with a look of joy that it had finally come to an end with many saying “I never want to see that bike again”. Despite this, most people don’t just do it once and it is one of the most entered and oversubscribed events in the country!
There are many of these lunatics that are local to Cumbria and the Lake District but a massive amount come from all over the UK which require somewhere to stay. For self catering accommodation then the Lakeland Cottage Company have a huge choice of Lake District cottages with many being in Coniston itself. B&B accommodation can be found in Coniston as well as peaceful retreats like the Cuckoo Brow Inn B&B Lake District which happens to be dog friendly for anyone bringing the whole family (!) and is also a pub that serves food and local real ales, just what is needed after a ride and a half!
The Fred Whitton Challenge will be taking place on May 12 2013 and all the proceeds go to charity each and every year with the two main recipients being The Dave Rayner Fund and Macmillan Cancer Support. The last few years have also seen donations to the North West Air Ambulance and the Duddon & Furness Mountain Rescue Team who give invaluable support to the event each year. “The Fred” has raised over half a million pounds in the 13 years it has been held.