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Fred Whitton experiences

daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 9,590
edited August 2019 in Road general
Afternoon all,

Having developed reasonable climbing legs, recently enjoyed ride London, and wanting to try an organised event abroad in the next couple of years, the Fred Whitton caught my eye, though I appreciate chances of being successful are diminishing year by year.

Just after peoples personal experiences, whether you went up with family (think 2020 is a one off as happening in June, is it normally half term week in May?), where you stayed, how tough you found the event, was it well organised etc.

I'm 4.5/5 hours away, so would likely take Friday off to drive up.
I have a passenger van, so if going solo, would have ample room to sleep in it, have camping cooking kit too, but not sure if you can effectively pull up in a layby or not, hopefully in June temperature might be kinder.
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Posts

  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    Daniel B wrote:
    Afternoon all,

    Having developed reasonable climbing legs, recently enjoyed ride London, and wanting to try an organised event abroad in the next couple of years, the Fred Whitton caught my eye, though I appreciate chances of being successful are diminishing year by year.

    Just after peoples personal experiences, whether you went up with family (think 2020 is a one off as happening in June, is it normally half term week in May?), where you stayed, how tough you found the event, was it well organised etc.

    I'm 4.5/5 hours away, so would likely take Friday off to drive up.
    I have a passenger van, so if going solo, would have ample room to sleep in it, have camping cooking kit too, but not sure if you can effectively pull up in a layby or not, hopefully in June temperature might be kinder.

    Strongly dislike doing sportives, but did do the FW in 2017 and it was absolutely brilliant. Stayed at the YHA in Langdale for 2 nights.

    Full write up of that is here - https://bit.ly/33xTHtF
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,295
    Done 4 times from the early days, most recently was 4 years or so ago. It's a great event - well organised - you do get some supporters out which makes it feel more like an event too. I've always gone up the day before and stayed over.

    One thing I will say is the weather has ranged from damp to absolutely wet and freezing through to strong winds - if it's in June it's more likely to be a different kind of event but up there you never know !

    The things that set it apart from most other uk sportives are the level of organisation, the support and marshalling on the road and the gradients. Knowing you have Hardknott Pass to climb at around 100 miles in does make a difference - whether that's a positive difference I'm not sure !!

    In decent weather it'd be a different kind of ride - whenever I've done it it's ranged from damp through high winds and freezing fog.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • It’s great. Just enjoy yourself at your pace, don’t worry about other people.

    This year there was a lot of ends of bells shouting at people to get out of the way or nearly causing accidents. Aside from that it can be funny when people fly past you on the flat in Borrowdale and then they’re pushing up Honister!

    Weather makes it either a joy or a nightmare. Be very prepared. This year it was frosty at the start but by 11 was in to the low 20s. 5 years ago it was a washout, with 30mph headwind on Cold Fell - abysmal.

    Anyway, do it. Been my favourite ride i’ve Done and only Sportive. If anything, training for it gets you out in the grim winter weather.

    Was planning on doing the Fred followed by the Etape next year, but the switch of dates has buggered that, maybe 2021...
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,441
    Sportives are a pile of censored , but the Fred Whitton is a brilliant event. It's not as hard as people make it... yes, the climbs are very steep, but there is a lot of flat in between them. People generally finish and don't abandon half way through, which is an indication that it is doable
  • trek_dantrek_dan Posts: 1,366
    Its a great event and a challenging route. If you enjoy the 'sportive experience' would recommend it, if not or if you don't get a place get a few of your mates together and do the routes on a summer days when the forecast is promising.
  • bobloboblo Posts: 360
    @ trek_dan That's what we did. We nicked the GPX and rode it sans 1000's of other divs on Hardknott....
  • roktrokt Posts: 493
    The Fred Whitton is a great ride, I did the very first one back in 1999, I think.
    I did it again around 5 years, you forget just how good the route is.

    Also worth a look if you're up north is the Ronde Van Calderdale in April.
    A much shorter route, only around 75 miles but with some hellish cobbled climbs.

    This weekend is the Barnsley Boundary Heroes Ride, three routes but it's the Ultra
    that separates the men from the boys, 95 plus miles with over 10,000 feet of climbing.
  • lakesludditelakesluddite Posts: 1,332
    There are places where you could effectively pull over and stay overnight - not sure if it's 100% legal but we don't seem to have that many coppers round here! I have seen a few camper vans on the road between Lowick and Torver (Google it) that runs by the side of Coniston Water, and they have obviously been there overnight (I ride past on my way to work at about 6.30am).
    As has been said before, the move to June means very little - it can be cold in the June mornings as it can in May. Plus - the last time I did it (2016), it was in the high 20's by midway.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    trek_dan wrote:
    Its a great event and a challenging route. If you enjoy the 'sportive experience' would recommend it, if not or if you don't get a place get a few of your mates together and do the routes on a summer days when the forecast is promising.

    Did I read about you can still get a time on the route - there is a time stamp machine set up along the route to encourage people to do it at other times of the year ?
  • boblo wrote:
    @ trek_dan That's what we did. We nicked the GPX and rode it sans 1000's of other divs on Hardknott....
    Not much of an argument; It's only a couple of hundred at any one time, and I'd rather do it with 200 divs on bikes than 20 divs in cars (and some other divs on bikes like you of course).

    And as many others have said already, the event has a really good feel and while there is nothing to stop you riding the route at any other time you are missing out on a great experience.
  • mamil314mamil314 Posts: 1,103
    I rented a van for some sportives and it works well for 1 or 2 cyclists with sleeping bags.

    I am hesitant to comment on FW itself as mine happened on a sunny day and, like with Paris-Roubaix, I felt I did not get the 'full experience' ^ ^ I'll just say do not underestimate Honister when everyone is already bracing themselves for Hardknott and Wrynose.
  • I've camped at at the National Trust site at Langdale in the past, and stayed in Windermere the second year I did it, riding to the start and back made it up to 200k+. If you stay at Landale you can drive over Red Bank to avoid the queues into Grasmere on the A591, though this wasn't so bad last year for some reason.

    The standard of riding seems to be pretty good to me, the only other sportive I have done is the Dragon Ride, and I haven't had any problems at either, I suspect both are hard enough to eliminate most newbs.
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