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Le Terrier - The new "Legbreaker"

by Adam Tranter

Like an English Bull Terrier, this ride is compact, bold, strong, agressive and has real bite.

Lanacaster is a great town, and one of a handful of 6 cities designated a cycling demonstration town back in 2005.The city council have done a great job, upon entering Lancaster (covieniently, but quietly close to the M6) you can see the cycle lanes. Ashton Memorial, in Williamson Park, with it's fabulous Tropical Butterfly House (well worth a visit), dominates the skyline. The view of the city and surrounding area including Morecombe Bay is superb. The event hopes to start at the park in future years.

I met up with our guide Bob Muir and some of the team from Lancaster CC, for a full recce of the 80 mile course.

We set off in superb weather. Within 3 kilometres, we slipped into the countryside. Our warm up didn't last long into the ride, as comes the first big climb - Jubilee Tower. Having featured in the Tour of Britain, it's a brute of a climb with some fairly steep sections of 15% or more.

It is well known that during the Tour of Britain, local rider Ben Greenwood broke away from the peleton, chased and caught two Belgians and went on to record the fastest time up the climb, an incredible 7 mins and 22 seconds.

Well we managed around 12 minutes, roughly, from top to bottom! Expanses of sky above the wild dramatic sweep of open moorland was a welcome sight to behold.

Truely within the realms of the Forest of Bowland, and area of outstanding natural beauty, we were rewarded with a smooth and fast descent down off the moors to the tranqueil villages below.

The majestic Bowland Fells pushed the clouds upwards, stamping their domination on the landscape. The area is home to many rare birds, symbolised by the specially protected Hen Harrier. Within the rural villages of Yorkshire, we headed south to tackle the exposed, but steady climb of Harrisend Fell. We were lucky - brilliant sunshine, not a cloud in the sky and no wind.

There are several cattle grids on route, some care may be required if wet. Up and down over Jack Anderton Bridge, we slipped into the picturesque village of Chipping after 25 miles. Please note the official feedstation
is 60 miles into the ride, so I would suggest taking some of your own nutrition, or as we did, stop at the well visited cobbled corner cafe for tea and cake!

The route will be well signposted and each rider will also be given a detailed route card as backup - just in case.

After a brief stop in which I devoured an Eccles cake and Grande Latte, we got back into a rhythm, for the second section of the ride.

Ultra quiet - the roads are even named "Quiet Lanes"! To be honest, I think the Forest of Bowland, for me, wins the award for the quietest roads in the whole of England. This could also be measured by the large amount of
cycle clubs, cycle tourists and families out in force on bicycles. A true hidden Gem for cyclists.

After 30 miles in Whitewell, the road forked, steeply, up to the right, for a climb that lasted awhile. The view across the valley was awesome.

 

We were on such rural backroads we didn't encounter any cars for ages, it was uncanny?

After reaching Slaidburn and turning sharply left, the road rose steadily for another long climb. I hung onto big Graham's back wheel all the way to the top, matching his pace, him seated, me out of the saddle, gazing at his rear wheel, keeping the gap down to inches.

We regrouped before the roller coaster descent into Grizdale Forest, clearly visible ahead. The road rose up again, pitching different gradients as we climbed up to 422 metres above sea level to the top of Bowland Knotts. A fantastic climb, superb scenery from forest to moors to the very top.

The view was truely stunning, in the north, the three Yorkshire peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent. To the south the reservior and Forest of Grisdale.

All that effort is rewarded with a super 3 miles descent with a slight upward section. If you gun it, you might not have to pedal too hard ...

Be ready to turn left and keep your eyes peeled for the gate at Mewith Head that might be closed and a twisty little section at Badger Ford Bridge.

At the crossroads in Slaidburn, we turned left and came across the Forest of Bowland road sign for a steady and not too steep, climb onto the exposed Tatham Fells.

Out of nowhere, you encounter the Great Stone of Fourstones - an absolute cracker. The large boulder is a relic of the Ice Age. Legend says it was dropped by a giant on his way to building Devil's Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale. Again a great view of the Three Peaks to the north.

The long and short course meet at this point and you'll arrive at the feed and timing station after 60 miles.

The next part is quite technical, some narrow "Irish like roads" (gravel with grass down the middle) over two twisty bridges with a steep climb out had my rear wheel required some weight to keep it from spinning.

My legs were now starting to hurt, with the all climbing that was on offer - starting to have an effect.

After a tree lined descent down into Wray, we stopped at the Bridge Farm Cafe. Not an offical stop but a great detour for those who wish to soak up the atmosphere of a truely wonderful day on a bike.

This may be good advice - as this is were the ride truely becomes a challenge!

The last 15 miles are very very tough, even for experienced Sportiver's, this could have you "begging for mercy".

Out of Wray there is a long, steep climb heading towards the real test - Roeburndale.

I have not experienced a climb quite like it! 

Initially you drop steeply down to river Roeburn, a scene of tranquility. All hell breaks loose just after the first of four gates (please keep them closed - they may have marshals to help). The road kicks up sharply towards Haylot Farm.

I struggled to turn my lowest gear of 34*25 on 25% plus gradient - this was a real shock to the system after 67 very hilly miles.

The next gate at the farm awaits you, and the next relentless part of the climb comes into view. I was gob smacked at the sight before my eyes, even more gobsmacked when I realised the valley below was well out of sight and plummeted ever farther down!

Care is required on these very rural and narrow roads, there is a sharp bend on a steep gradient, with gravel thrown in to top it off nicely.

My way foward was abruptly halted by gate number three.

My final compatriots Tim Norton and Simon Jones (Lancaster CC) didn't see the funny side of the non existant run up to a 25% hairpin bend within metres of the gate!

All efforts of power, technique and luck were required to get going round this brutal section, only to see the horrendous long and steep drag to gate number four!

We thought we were at the top at this point - but no it went on even further!

A truely brutal piece of road, that left me reeling - it may not be Hardknott Pass, but it's not too far off it either ...

Back onto exposed moors, the wind turbines rose quickly out of the landscape like the "machines" in War of the Worlds.

Not much time to admire the view. We descended down and crossed two bridges at Scout Camp for the next brutal gradient out of Littledale. It lingers on and on.

At the top, the coast line and Lancaster comes into view. Aston memorial is clearly visible, miles off in the distance - the first sight of the finish line!

Watch your speed on the long and narrow descent. After carefully continuing straight on at the cross roads, the last taste of climbing entered my very sore legs, with the short sharp pull up Stocka Bank!

It was a case of descending down into Lancaster, towards Williamson Park to finish after 6.5 hours ride time.

On reflection the 80 mile route was very challenging and a real "Legbreaker".

The last 15 miles were tough. The 80 mile route packed into over 2,600m of climbing. Indeed the 45 mile route still manages to pack in 1,500m too!

The rural roads, or aptly named "Quiet Roads" are truely unique. I cannot think of any roads anywhere else that I've ridden that are so quiet in England?

Let's hope it stay's that way! I would definately recommend this event to everyone. The Forest of Bowland is a spectacular place and a hidden gem for cyclists. Take my advice, ride it and see for yourself.

It wasn't just a bike ride, but an experience, all wrapped up into one challenging day in a very special area of the country. The event is due to take place on the 7th June, supported by Lancaster CC.

Be aware that there are only 400 places available and these are sure to sell out in advance. 60 places have gone already.

To find out more details about the event, please go to http://www.le-terrier.co.uk/, or to get your entry in directly, go to SPORTIdent.

Click here for a full gallery of images from our Recce Ride of the Le Terrier.

For full maps, profiles and GPS downloads, as expected, please go to the event details here on Cyclosport. 

Mark Harding
Editor, Cyclosport.org





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