Number one bit of advice for newbie doing the Fred Whitton

by adambird   January 25, 2013  

So I'm leading a small band of newbies on the Fred Whitton in May. I'm sorting them out with a training plan and am fairly confident that, if they do it, they'll be fit enough.

Has anyone got any gems of survival advice you would give them?

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Get your gearing right and don't head off up Hawkshead Hill And Kirkstone like a loon.

Oh - AND learn LOVE climbing and look forward to it. Many people set themselves up to fail by being scared of the climbs

.....aspiring to mediocrity Big Grin

Mr_eL_Bee's picture

posted by Mr_eL_Bee [68 posts]
25th January 2013 - 19:01

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Thanks, wise words indeed Smile

We're close to the Derbyshire so Hindersnitch Lane up to Crich and Riber Lane will feature heavily in training. Hopefully I can them to appreciate if not love hills.

Re gearing, a couple of them have triples but for those with compacts would you go for a 27 on the cassette?

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posted by adambird [5 posts]
25th January 2013 - 19:05

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27 or 28 especially if they are newbies.
Those on a triple will likely have 30x26 as their smallest ratio, and that is small enough for most on the later steep gradients

A compact with 34x28 is only very slightly larger and fine for those who are a little bit stronger.

I'd caution against the gearing being TOO small I've seen a triple with 30x32 and the person using it was moving so slowly they couldn't stay upright - mostly people can't control the torque and fail to keep the front wheel on the ground

.....aspiring to mediocrity Big Grin

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posted by Mr_eL_Bee [68 posts]
25th January 2013 - 22:33

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Re: the cassette, yes, 27 at least if not 28, 29 or even 32 if you want to get over Hardknott Pass. Hardknott is more like an obstacle course than a climb and is a serious test of the will as well the legs and sense of balance. You will need plenty left in the tank to get over Hardknott and Wrynose after 100 miles so there is really no need to cane it before you get there. You don't want to be walking up Hardknott in road cleats as you will totally wreck them. If you are close to the Peaks, I would head up to Edale and Castleton and do Mam Nick, Bargate and Siggate past the quarry and Winnats Pass. Winnats is horribly tough just like Hardknott and would be great practice. Long Hill between Whaley Bridge and Buxton would be good practice for Newlands or Kirkstone.

As far as advice for the day is concerned - get a good night's sleep beforehand, eat well the night before and in the morning and keep on eating during the day. Take food that you like along rather than a pocket full of gels and energy bars. If you go mad on that stuff you will just end up feeling or being sick. Make sure that your bike is in perfect working order. There are large sections of the ride that have no mobile signal so if something goes wrong you could be a long way from help. It's a long day out so be prepared for all eventualities.

It's a genuinely beautiful ride and for the well prepared it is a fantastically rewarding day out but don't underestimate it. I loved it and could go on forever about it.

Ah! Condor

posted by Bedfordshire Clanger [312 posts]
25th January 2013 - 23:04

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Good point!
IF any of your group think that they might need to walk the steeper inclines (Honister and Hardknott) Get them to use SPD's rather than road cleats.
Though ideally they should aim to ride them (using just enough effort to keep rolling and keep balance) as it's actually a LOT easier than walking!!

.....aspiring to mediocrity Big Grin

Mr_eL_Bee's picture

posted by Mr_eL_Bee [68 posts]
25th January 2013 - 23:25

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don't underestimate the back section to cold fell. it's really draining, even though there's no categorised passes in it.

if you're running compact i'd go with whatever the biggest cog you can fit is. I was on apex and 34/32

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7396 posts]
25th January 2013 - 23:52

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The trick with the section from the top of Whinlatter to Gosforth is to get in a decent group, especially over Cold Fell which is almost always in to the wind.

Check the weather the night before so that you know where the headwinds will be!

.....aspiring to mediocrity Big Grin

Mr_eL_Bee's picture

posted by Mr_eL_Bee [68 posts]
26th January 2013 - 0:07

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Last one from me!
It's really worth riding the significant bits of the route beforehand.
Forewarned is forearmed.
Oh and remember there are NOT just 6 Passes to climb - there are 14 climbs of note!

.....aspiring to mediocrity Big Grin

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posted by Mr_eL_Bee [68 posts]
26th January 2013 - 0:10

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Just trying to take this all in. Awesome guys thanks.

Bedfordshire Clange, I can quite imagine that you could go on about it Wink

Sounds like we should make sure we at least stick together (5 of us) for the back section for both aerodynamic and psychological reasons.

I'm really looking forward to it. Hardknott Pass seems to have gained almost mythical status thanks to this challenge. I've done Winnats, Riber and many others this side of the Peak so I'm actually quite relishing the prospect. Need to lose a bit of weight first though, Christmas was too kind to me.

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posted by adambird [5 posts]
26th January 2013 - 0:44

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I would recommend familiarising yourself with the dibber points.

posted by Old Cranky [276 posts]
28th January 2013 - 13:20

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Mr_eL_Bee wrote:
Last one from me!
It's really worth riding the significant bits of the route beforehand.
Forewarned is forearmed.
Oh and remember there are NOT just 6 Passes to climb - there are 14 climbs of note!

I find it's always better to tackle a significant hill several times, especially when fresh. Did the Hell of the Ashdown last year, which goes up The Wall and don't think I'd have had the confidence if I'd not been up it several times before. It was the hills I'd not previously been on (Bayleys, Star Hill) that I really struggled with.

Not saying the HotA compares with The Fred, though.

Good luck - I need to lose about 20kg before I even consider trying those passes Smile

andylul's picture

posted by andylul [412 posts]
28th January 2013 - 13:31

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Sorry, me again!

Get your group to practise descending
One of the very noticeable thing on the Fred Whitton is the number of riders who are very poor descenders: tense and unpredictable; or just completely unaware in the prevailing conditions and a danger to both themselves and those around them.
Climbing is just hard work - descending needs 100% concentration and 360° awareness and is a skill that many overlook, but it's critical.

Remember also that the road surface on some of the descents, The metalwork and repairs on Kirstone, the rippling on the steep bendy bit of Honister, the Double Bends on Whinlatter, the 90° bends at Croasdale, the hairpins on Hardknott, especially the last one at the stone bridge and the bumpy fast straight bit on Wrynose (as a few examples - there are many more), makes already challenging descents even more so.

If you haven't access to anything like that, do some descending on MTB trails - the skills are the same!!

.....aspiring to mediocrity Big Grin

Mr_eL_Bee's picture

posted by Mr_eL_Bee [68 posts]
28th January 2013 - 15:42

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As Dave said, don't plan for the section from Whinlatter to Cold Fell to be a flat ride. It's all up and down - it really helps if you have a group to ride with here. Don't worry too much about Hardknott, once you've made it there you're nearly done and the vast majority walked when I did it a few years back (including me!)

posted by MattT53 [127 posts]
28th January 2013 - 16:08

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Mr_eL_Bee really good call on the descending. I hadn't thought of that. Will add it in the training program.

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posted by adambird [5 posts]
29th January 2013 - 10:23

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I managed to finish the Fred on Saturday my riding time was 8:45 I was pretty new to this type of challenge but who isn't the Fred is one of the biggest and most rewarding .if I was to give advise eat well a few hours before if you can then every 15 or 20 min or so into the challenge break your food up into bite size chunks then put them in your pocket drink when thirsty try a bottle an hour. I change my mech the week before and I'm really glad I'd I was on a compact 13x26 on my campag changed to 13x29 medium cage for the Fred and boy I needed every cog on the honister defo hardknott and wrynose passes advise on hardknott it kicks up straight away don't get to dishearten grit your teeth and go for it try not to swerve to and fro to much before your heart pops out your chest you will be half way where you can peddle easier and get your breath back and heart rate down so you can conquer the rest.go easy on the descents you have no choice kirkstone was brill but be warned half way down at 45 to 50 mph it shot me to the wrong side of the road just watch out for that bend but really you can see the traffic coming it was one hell of a descent the other descents are full of danger so please be careful make sure your breaks are checked out before you start the Fred.good luck the emotions run wild the last section when you know you are about to finish the Fred.

posted by Peter Consterdine [1 posts]
27th May 2013 - 7:10

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I have done hardknott pass wrynose pass 3 times I believe its 1 in 3 at steepest
I had to walk the last 200metres so spd shoes would be best Unless your a strong climber

posted by Billy Budd1 [2 posts]
8th May 2014 - 11:16

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Make full use of the feed stations - no point in rushing through. When I did it they were full of real food (sandwiches, cakes, tray bakes etc) and much better for you mentally than a day on energy products. Remember to drink too. There is a good chance the day will be cool and as such it's easy to not drink enough. When it's like that I take a drink every time I see someone esle take a drink. Not a gulp but I get through a lot more fluid that if I rely on myself to remember.

The year I did it, it was bitterly over Coldfell and we all got to the last feed station freezing to find they were serving tea and coffee. An absolute God send. We also snuck into the heated first aid room and sat down to tea and tuna sandwiches. It was a struggle to leave.

posted by adscrim [108 posts]
8th May 2014 - 11:54

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I went over Hardknott last week, the descent has now been resurfaced
, the road out of Keswick to Honister has been patched in place too.

posted by CheshireCat [4 posts]
9th May 2014 - 19:07

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...don't underestimate the weather, take some warm clothing, many riders failed to finish last year due to the cold, Calder Bridge was more an aid stn than a feed zone.

posted by CheshireCat [4 posts]
9th May 2014 - 19:55

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