This is a great story about one of Stoke's many popular sporting challenges - in this case, the Cat & Fiddle Cycle Challenge, organised by Rourke's Cycles in Cobridge, in support of Cystic Fibrosis Care. It draws riders from near and far - in Erin's case, from Wyre Forest CRC.
I decided to ride the Cat & Fiddle Challenge in 2016 because I wanted to support Cystic Fibrosis Care whilst taking part in a challenging ride with like-minded people. Having just finished the 2016 circuit racing season and continuing to race cyclocross, I expected to complete the ride with relative ease, oh how wrong I was... The Cat & Fiddle Challenge is one of the hardest rides I've ever done.
It was 6am on the morning of the 16th October 2016. It was bitter cold as you'd expect at that time in the morning, but there was a gentle breeze and the cloudless black sky was littered with dozens of polar white stars. Well 16th October 2016, I thought you were going to be a lovely day. As mum, dad and I drove towards Stoke on Trent the sky became greyer and a blanket of sombre cloud sprawled across the sky. The heavens began to open.
We arrived in Stoke-on-Trent. After savouring every moment of being sat in the warm, dry car whilst contemplating impending doom, we got ready to ride. We fastened our helmets, zipped up our rain jackets, clipped into the pedals and delivered the first revolution. My dad's always right, he's got an excellent sense of direction... we had a few difficulties finding the start of the ride didn't we dad?
The rain had begun to subside, and the sky had been freed from the suffocating clouds. It was all going fantastically, then we reached the Cat & Fiddle climb. I'm a terrible climber, my mum and Craig gave up on waiting for me, but luckily my dad stayed, offering words of encouragement and starmix. We reached the summit of the climb, the relief washed over my legs, we began to descend. We reached the bottom of the descent, but, haha guess what, that wasn't the top.
We finally reached the summit of the climb out of Buxton and the sense of achievement was great. There was a fierce cross wind and a layer of fog had fallen decreasing visibility, the beautiful views of the Peak District had seemingly morphed into the moors of Emily Bronte. We went down the first descent, and my faith in gravity was restored, the second descent was even nicer; a 17% gradient allowed us to near speeds of 40mph.
We were 35 miles into the sportive and I could've quite easily stopped there, sat at the side of the road and waited for the broom wagon.
The last 20 miles of the ride were character building to say the least, I thought we'd never finish. I was going so slow up the rolling hills into the finish... I'm surprised I didn't topple over to be honest!
The finish line was a more than welcome sight, I had two slices of chocolate cake and a few sausage rolls, they made it all worth it really! On reflection I did enjoy the ride and I owe it to my wonderful dad for getting me to the finish, thank you for giving me a push up the last few hills! Xx
55 miles ridden, 3835ft climbed and 1501 calories burnt.