The port and stilton are distant memories and the Quality Street box is already full of washers and grommets: time to put Christmas behind us and look forward to the new year. What are your cycling goals? If one of them is the Fred Whitton Challenge then you're certainly not alone: entries open today and the organisers are expecting it to be heavily oversubscribed, as ever.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Fred Whitton Challenge, it's a 112-mile classic that takes in all the famous Lake District passes in a day, starting with the 454m heights of the Kirkstone and finishing off with the 1-in-3 hell of the Hardknott and Wrynose climbs. It's about as hard – and as beautiful – as a day's riding gets, and for that reason it's a big date on the UK sportive scene. There'll be calendars across the country with Sunday 9 May already circled in red...
This year there are 1,000 standard places up for grabs and entries are now open. Last day for entries is Friday, and assuming there's more than 1,000 by then the places will be allocated with a draw, and succesful participants will be posted on the website at www.fredwhittonchallenge.org.uk. The entry fee is £40, which includes all the usual sportive gubbins such as electronic timing and feed stations, as well as a meal after the event and free parking. If you're riding in a group you can have up to four names on each entry form, to make sure that your mates get to ride if you do.
On top of the standard places there are 250 extra spaces up for grabs for riders who'll commit to raising at least £250 for the ride charities, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Dave Rayner Fund. Just send in your entry with a cheque for £250 and you're in, then you can badger your friends for the sponsorship cash. The sponsored places are offered on a first-come-first-served basis, and some of these extra places will also be used for people who have already guaranteed their place by raising over £500 in last year's event, or helped a lot with past events.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.