The Ashbourne Loop (Audax, DIY, 100km)

This year (2019) I want to do more rides from home, rather than driving to different calendar events. The permanent events are great but can add hours of additional driving time.  So I decided to branch out into the DIY audax world.

This was my first Audax ride this year and it made me realised how unfit I am compared to last year, I think it is related to the 9kg of additional belly fat I replaced over winter! Sarah also decided to join me which was great as we had not chatted since last year.  Starting at 7am was a late start for me but any earlier would have been very cold and required winter clothing and the day was forecasted to be “reasonable.”

The first 25miles or so were mainly flat with some smaller hills which killed your speed. When we pasted through Uttoxeter (8am-ish) there were a few cyclist milling around waiting for the club ride to start [route updated at Meir Heath to gain 1.5AAA points] and the Bull Statue (by Andy Scott) was standing tall on the roundabout, pointing the way. I knew that the Bull was on the roundabout so I had my ActionCam ready as I entered the roundabout.

The Bull Statue (by Andy Scott)

Five miles further down the road is Sudbury Hall (see below), which I was reliably informed by Sarah is linked to the BBC’s Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice dramatisation (1995). However, it is very impressive from the road.

Sudbury Hall

After crossing the A50 at 25miles, the road gradually climbs to Ashbourne. This is a nice and pleasant section as the climbs, for the most part, are of low gradient. However, it seems to take an age to cover the 10miles.

Arriving at Ashbourne, we had a little look around for a suitable cafe, which was not too busy and which had room for our bikes outside. Many of the cafes on the high street did not have space for the bikes. However, The Flower Cafe fitted the bill and there were a couple of cyclists already having coffee on an outside table. The service was quick and the food was lovely. I went for a child’s beans on toast, Sarah when for a sausage sandwich which was rather large. From my point of view, this was great as it will slow her down on the uphills in the next section!

The Flower Cafe, Ashbourne

The next 20miles were full of climbs, which was great as the sun had come out and the wind had slowed a little! The first real climb was the climb out of Ilam, which was longer than I remembered, with a steep kick towards the top. The road is a little narrow with sharp corners in places and the cars from behind don’t always wait to see what is coming before they overtake!

The next climb is a few miles later, which is a short single lane with broken tarmac (appropriately named: Wall Ditch) which takes you over to the Manifold Valley [route updated at follow the road and turn left at t-junction].  From here it is a steep climb out of the valley through Grindon to the top of the ridge.  This leads to a fast descent towards Waterhouses before turning onto the final climb (Petshill Lane) which pops out by Bottomhouse.

It is a very fast 10miles to Cheadle through Ipstones (corner shop) and Froghall. Between Froghall and Cheadle are a few climbs on busy roads with blind corners, so consider your road position. Personally, I dislike the section between Froghall and Meir Heath (the finish) as the roads are very narrow and do not allow for cars to overtake but it is the quickest way back home. The final climb up Grindly Hill to the finish line was not appreciated by my legs!