Some Sportives are fairly easy, and some are hard. And among those that are hard, they don't come much harder than the Fred Whitton Challenge – most sportivists would think one enough, Leon Bond plans to ride 10 in 10 days.
The Fred Whitton is a 112-mile romp round the Lake District taking in Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott & Wrynose passes along the way, with a total of 2,300m of climbing. It's not the amount of climbing, however, but the brutality of the gradients that's the real killer. Hardknott Pass tops out at over 30%, and you'll find plenty of 25% gradients elsewhere on the route. Given the nature of the ride it's a big season goal for many a sportiviste. For many who've ridden the Fred Leon's aim of riding it 10 times in 10 consecutive days is quite mind boggling.
"The whole concept of doing 10 Freds came about as one of those silly conversations that you occasionally have, and it developed into something tangible to train for", says Leon of the challenge. "I was planning to run a 10 marathons in 10 days event with my wife, but I injured my knee in a way that stopped me running, but not riding. And so I looked for something that I could do while she was taking part in that event. We like doing things together like that!"
"I thought about heading off and doing a couple of Freds", continues Leon, as if that's no big deal. "When we got to talking about it, the idea of doing 10 alongside the 10 marathons that she was doing was suggested – and working on the principle that the training would be quite similar, it became my goal!"
Leon will be riding his ten Freds between 13 and 22 May and raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support, which is one of the Fred Whitton Challenge's nominated charities along with the Dave Rayner fund which helps to send young riders with to the continent to learn the art of international bike racing.
"Originally I was planning to raise funds for the organisation that was running the Marathons event", says Leon, "but although they were excited by the idea, they didn’t want me to do this while that event was running. So I decided to raise funds for Macmillan instead. They are the chosen charity for the FW, and I have both personal and professional reasons for wanting to support that charity." If you want to help Leon along on his way to his £11,000 goal, you can do so at his JustGiving page
Although it's a solo challenge, Leon won't turn his nose up at the offer of riding buddies for any part of the riding. "I’m under no illusions as to just how tough the challenge will be – isn’t that the whole point? – and I’m hoping to stir up some interest, and a few folk to come and play", he says. "Company and heckling is always welcome!"
Leon will be writing daily reports on his blog at http://10fw-in-10.blogspot.com if you want to keep up. And don't forget to sponsor him!
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.