The thirteenth annual running of the Fred Whitton Challenge – the grand-daddy of all the other UK sportives – had 1700 lined up to ride; 1370 decided to ignore the weather forecast (wind and rain by the afternoon) and set out on the 112 mile ride around the Lake District.
The ‘Fred’ is run in memory of Fred Whitton, a former stalwart of the Lakes Road Club. The ride starts and finishes in Coniston, and the route includes the climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose passes. Hardknott is one of the toughest climbs in the UK, with 30+ percent inclines, and riders are faced with it at the 100 mile point.
‘Fred’ expert Rob Jebb of Lakes bike shop team Wheelbase managed to get round in just under six hours; many other riders took 11+ hours.
Physio Ali Mills did her first Fred Whitton in 10 hours 22 minutes and raised over £3200 for Macmillan Cancer Care.
"I had ovarian cancer 10 years ago and Macmillan paid my rent for 2 months which I’ve never forgotten. Being so unwell makes you see life a little differently and to be healthy and fit is a luxury and not to be taken for granted.
"I started cycling 2 years ago and got the bug. My partner is an awesome cyclist and so is very encouraging and supportive. I had heard of the Fred Whitton cycling challenge; people I know have done it and then I watched some of it last year, I swore I would never do it, it’s ridiculously hard!"
But did it she did.
Event sponsor Saddleback – and provider of neutral support – said it had replaced six wheels and made four conversions in single speeds for riders who snapped chains.
Chipps Chippendale of Singletrack magazine rode the Fred Whitton on a Seven Cycles Sola 29er converted to road use. More pix here, including side on shot of Chipps’ bike.
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