“Chris’s Spin is an annual cycle ride organised by friends, relatives, colleagues and enthusiastic cyclists to celebrate the life of Chris Martindale and to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK.”
Chris’s Spin 2016: four gratifications
Gratification one: taking the plunge to ride my fourth Chris’s Spin, and – amidst the gruelling work – being rewarded with stunning Peak District scenery and perfect cycling weather.
Gratification two: the people that make Chris’s Spin possible – planning the route, guiding and motivating people round, the labour of the Sandwich Committee and the mobile refreshment team… I never take for granted the time and infrastructure that makes Chris’s Spin possible, for the simple reason that this is what enables me to partake.
Gratification three: riding Chris’s Spin on my new dream bike and feeling that rudimentary contentment of cycling, which for me comes down to (through sheer effort and necessary concentration) an enforced meditation – moment by moment living and feeling alive, what a privilege.
Gratification four: connection – take the cheering and clapping welcoming team back at Ladybower Reservoir who always patiently wait for the riders to return, and the bonus for me of being greeted with a bottle of cold lager from the kind soul giving me a lift home. Chris’s Spin is an event run by kind and generous people. Indeed, the event embodies the spirit of cycling: if I’m not panting for breath on a climb, or bemoaning the next hill, then I’m smiling because I am surrounded by lovely people and beautiful nature.
Chris’s Spin 2014: my top five moments
This was my third year of Chris’s Spin and, I confess, this year was an exception for my undertraining and, goodness me, as a consequence, I really had to dig deep during some of those last ten miles. What made the experience as special and enjoyable as ever were the people whose organise the event: from the wonderfully patient and encouraging route organisers and riders, Ian and Michael, Nick (the-man-with-the car-and-squash-and-biscuits), to the women who prepare and provide the fantastic lunch. Below (under Chris’s Spin 2013) are details of the epic route, which takes cyclists through some of the best scenery and ascents and descents that the Peak District has to offer. The following are my top five moments from this year’s ride:
1. Making it up Mam Nick and Monsal Head with no oxygen break – trust me, for an anaemic on a heavy touring bike, it was tough!
2. Meeting two delightful boys as I inelegantly climbed up the tug of an ascent to Monsal Head, who, when I asked them, “can you see the top, am I almost there?”, took me so seriously. They diligently (and with the energy of childhood youth) ran on to inform me, “yes, you are almost there!”, and then, observing the extent to which I was struggling, asked with generous sincerity, “would you like a push?”. In my dishevelled, hyperventilated state, I replied, “no thank you, but thank you so much for the offer, I am just zig-zagging my way up.”
3. Chatting to Kate Cowell over lunch, who I had met on a picket line earlier this year. During the lunch I realised the connection of her to Chris’s Spin (she was the late Chris Martindale’s partner). What a lovely woman.
4. My cycling companions, who, while being extremely fit and able on their bikes, didn’t seem to mind at all keeping me company and guiding me through the route: my friend Neil, and the organisers’ Ian and Michael.
5. The end small congregation at the car park opposite Ladybower Reservoir who cheered and clapped my arrival back, how kind!
Chris’s Spin 2013: a lowdown of the route and the climbs
The route is approximately 52 miles long with ample ascents and a few fast descents, and it contains some of the finest scenery the Peak District has to offer. Anyone who is considering registering for a future Chris’s Spin, great; but also remember, you’ll need to train well, have a bike with good gear ratios, and come with a determined mind. There is a hardcore group of guys of all ages who make up the bulk of the riders, and these fellas are unpretentious, friendly, and good-spirited. (I rarely spot an uber alpha male!) What’s more, there is also a layer of new folk each year ready to push themselves to new limits, and the organisers Michael and Ian do a commendable and terrific job steering them through (including me last year). So off we go…
Starting at the Heatherdene car park overlooking Ladybower Reservoir, we turned left and then right onto a lane taking us through Thornhill and Aston. The mood of the ride became instantly tranquil as we gradually ascended with the river to our left.
At the end of the lane we turned right onto the main road towards Hope and then right again into a lane bearing round and left through the beautiful Vale of Dale and towards the *first big climb* of MAM NICK.
The Mam Nick ascent is 16% and 1.4 miles long! My advice: stick to the easiest gear, taking it slow and steady, and concentrate on your breathing. The middle section is the steepest, so you want to prepare for it. By taking it steady at the start, you’ll have the lungs and legs for the middle, and you’ll be able to recover your breathing during the end section.
At the top of Mam Nick we turned left and right (onto the B6061).
We then took a not-so-easy-to-spot lane on the left at Perryfoot (watch out for the barn). This was a real gem of a route: peaceful, rolling countryside. After, we turned right onto a lane, and then left heading through Weston, Tideswell and Litton. Skimming past Cressbrook and toward Upperdale and Little Longstone, soon enough we came the *second big climb* of MONSAL HEAD.
The road up to Monsal Head is 1:6 gradient (16.66%) and again my advice is to hit the easiest gear early and keep a regular high cadence while you can. Basically, attack it! This hill is steep and consistently steep, with the good news being it doesn’t go on for too long and the view at the top is magnificent.
At the crossroads we headed straight over towards Great Longstone (for a generous and diligently prepared lunch by the stellar women organisers of Chris’s Spin).
It was a left turn towards the *third big climb* of GREAT LONGSTONE EDGE.
To be honest I find the lane up to Great Longstone edge very hard on the lungs, as it’s a ‘long slog’ to the ridge. Once on the ridge, however, the gradient is pleasant, one can recover one’s breath while taking in the serene view of the valley to the right.
We kept on the lane through the Longstone Moor. At the end of the lane we turned right, and then right onto the A623 and left towards Foolow. This next part was a tad tricky to navigate, but basically we turned right and headed through Grindlow, Great Hucknow and Bretton. After that we took a right and right again towards Eyam and onto B6521. At the end a sharp right put us onto the B6001 and then a left to the *fourth big climb* of FROGGATT EDGE.
Froggatt Edge never gets steep – it is a reliably steady and soft climb. However, don’t be fooled, as it goes on for 3.73 miles so you do have to pace yourself. Stick to a comfortable gear, i.e. don’t go off hard and lose your lungs and legs. Oh and enjoy the view as you climb and climb and climb…
At the top we turned left onto the B6055 and then right onto B6450. At the end we turned right and at the fork we kept left. It was a left at the end of this lane at Ringinglow.
A steady climb from this point with a perennial headwind did remind me of my fatigue, still, this part of the route was enjoyable for its stunning expanse. At the first fork we stayed right and then took a right up and over the last significant hill (or two)! After the fast descent, it was right at the bottom to head back to the car park and a celebratory cheer!
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