Staff Peak (Audax, 100km, 2.7AAA)

I was having trouble fitting these rides in my everyday life, so I opted for a very early start (4am). As it was so early in the morning, Tittesworth Reservoir was closed and ideally, I needed a parking ticket to validate my start time. The only parking space which I could find where I was sure I would not be ticketed, was a small layby on the main Leek to Buxton road about 500 meters past the Three Horse Shoes pub.

Although the sun was starting cast its shadow on the main road, it was still very dark on the road past Tittesworth Reservoir and up Gun hill. Gun Hill did not feel as bad as people made out…. but it was my first hill of the day! After Gun Hill there are a few significant climbs which just keep giving. At about 10 miles from Tittesworth you descend down a small lane toward Macclesfield Forest – this lane is very unpleasant, as there are lots of holes, gravel and sharp corners. However, the cascading lakes are a nice place to take a few minutes rest. The sun had well and truly risen, but all I felt was an increase in heat and mist on my face. To be honest this did not change until I reached about 65 miles at Thorncliffe.

The problem with starting at Tittesworth Reservoir is that you descend all the way into Marple knowing that you have to climb back up the same roads. However, the reward of a coffee and a very pleasant and helpful customer service lady in Costa made it worth it.

The climb out of Marple was long but not as long as I thought it was going to be – it must have been the coffee! However, when you combine this with the climb to the top of Goyt Valley  (just before you drop down into the Goyt Valley) it was a long way and it was nice to take 10 minutes in the misty car park at the top.

The climb out of Goyt Valley to the Cat and Fiddle pub (or the main road just below) was lovely. I would 100% go back and ride this again. In fact, I am on the Goyt Peak 100 route later this summer. I was starting to think about breakfast at Longnor and I had convinced myself that the section between the main road (Leek to Buxton) to Longnor was mostly flat …. in reality I don’t think so! However, breakfast in Longnor was excellent (Cobbles Café: cash only).

The section to Manifold valley from Longnor was nice with some steep sections and if the trees were a little less dense, you would have a great photo of Thor’s Cave as you descend into Manifold Valley. The climb out of Manifold Valley was soul-destroying. I had a little walk. I just about got up.  The climb up through Upper Elkstone was equally as brutal and I had another little walk. I was glad to see the Mermaid pub, as I knew that I was only a few miles from the car and it was mainly downhill.

Arriving back that the car, I quickly packed away the bike and drove to the Three Horse Shoes pub for a quick glass of Coke and a receipt.

This is my second Peak 100 Audax and it was much easier compared my first one back in April, all the additional hours of riding have started to pay off…. but the belly is really not helping on the hills.


Organisor: Chris Keeling-Roberts

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