The road to L’Eroica Britannia 2015

It starts with the best news I can hear “happy birthday baby, I’ve booked you some time off work we are going on a trip” swiftly followed by a card with a couple of entry tickets to L’Eroica Britannia. The whole lot planned in advance, a great surprise. We set the dates for the 19th to the 22nd of June, looking forward to a weekend of Peak District and Vintage bicycles.

June comes round and we leave at 7 in the morning for the 5 hour journey from Bournemouth to Buxton where we will be staying. Charlie is very well prepared with bags, bike, and all packed the night before! even finding us great accommodation roughly a mile away from the town centre at Fern Farm cottages. On arrival we were greeted by the owner Dave and with a broad Derbyshire accent he chirped “y’here for’t cottage?”. Now being the first person we had spoken to since leaving Bournemouth, and even though it was only five hours away, it hammered home how far we had come. We settled in fairly quickly to the converted stables and headed out for a walk into the immediate countryside, through the wood, up to the top of Grin Low. This Buxton spot is topped by Solomon’s Temple, a castellated single story monument with 360 degree views around the local area. Buxton itself has some great architecture and worth a good look round.

Saturday morning and the weather wasn’t perfect. It was that typical foggy, British, saturated air, rain worsening at any moment kind of weather. But that wasn’t going to hold me from getting a quick morning ride in (that I had spent an hour the night before mapping on Strava). The bike I had brought with me was a 56cm Scott foil, kitted out with Ultegra 6700 10sp and FFWD 35/50mm aero wheels, that I had on temporary loan from a friend whilst I had stripped my Ribble R872 for rebuild. The Scott is a great looking bike and fast on the flat thanks to the wheels.
The Foil, with Adamo test saddle.

Suited and booted I set out down through Buxton town centre and up out on the A5004. The first climb out of Buxton is the type of climb you have go out of you way to find in the Bournemouth area. Its long and is relatively steep, enjoying this so far! Dropping over the peak of the climb and into the next valley I head left onto Goyts Lane into a pretty large cloud of mist, water is now starting to collect on the frame and the brakes aren’t as effective as once were. Half a mile on and a right hand turn reveals a very long straight descent that, in the dry would be ideal for kamikaze high speed runs, in the wet made for a tentative brake finger numbing five minutes. A sweeping left hand through the trees followed by a short right hand takes you across one of the few dams in the area that even in the inclement weather gives great views across the water, and from the yellow signs I see also forms part of the Eroica route.

 The view back across the dam. Weather included!

Over the dam I turn right onto The Street and the road starts to point skywards again, this is a long and arduous climb that I’m forced to use the granny ring for (but i blame that on the choice of wheels obviously!) with the weather worsening as I go. Again as before at the top of the climb and dropping down into the next valley the weather worsens and its now raining on me, I give it another mile or so but now cant really see more than 100ft in front of me. I decide to turn back, the conditions are bad, I’m on someone else’s bike, I don’t want to be lost, and i certainly don’t want to miss out on the show. Back down The Street, across the dam, up Goyts lane climb, and down back into Buxton. With each climb, descent and valley the weather improves to the point I can actually see the sun breaking through the clouds when I get back to the cottage. I check my Strava, only 12.6 miles but 1230ft of climbing. You would have to ride for hours at home to reach that…….. anyway, in the shower, breakfast, then off to the festival………..

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