“It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth.”
Attrib. Thomas Fuller (Theologian), A Pisgah-Sight Of Palestine And The Confines Thereof, 1650
In case you were wondering, a Pisgah-Sight is a distant view of a, perhaps, unattainable object. No, I wasn’t aware of that either, but it turns out that it’s rather appropriate for my new challenge. Plus, I also suspect that with this challenge, it is likely to be dark for a fair amount of the time and not just before the dawn. But I am getting ahead of myself…..
Owning a bike shop in 2020 seems to have resulted in two things. First, getting very little sleep given the crazy levels of demand for new bikes we have seen, and second, during whatever limited free time you do have, getting out and riding one’s bike tended to be fairly low down the list of activities. I suspect that the second point is rather a product of the first.
But we got into cycle retail because we love bikes and riding them in particular. I mean, what the heck is the point otherwise. So I decided that once the new Criterium shop was up and running in the Spring, I would get myself back in shape and spend more time riding a bike. And what better way to motivate me than to sign up for a challenge.
The big mistake of course was then asking my wife to select the challenge. Those who have read our blogs in the past may recall Madeline’s Vatternrundan experience. You can read about that epic 300km ride here in our blog of the event but suffice to say, Madeline only measures cycle challenges as worthwhile if they involve long distances, lots of climbing and preferably a good mix of both.
“The Peak Epic is the one to do” said Madeline. There is some flimsy logic to this suggestion. We live slap bang in the middle of the Peak District very close to the Peak Epic’s start and end point in Bakewell. So we know the area and run and cycle around here a fair amount. Mind you, I also know when driving the Criterium Landrover on the vertiginous roads near Bakewell that there are plenty of places where 2nd gear is required to make it up to the top and rather worryingly, many of them are on the route of the Peak Epic. Longstone Edge, Higger Tor, Mam Nick, Pym Chair and Crowdicote are just 5 of the 14 classified climbs and they are all beastly.
Anyway, slightly against my better judgment, we found ourselves signing up although more accurately, it was Madeline that signed us up. Therefore, the Peak Epic Sportive, run by the splendid if slightly masochistic folks at Dark and White Events and which will take place this year on 6th June 2021, it is. What a way to celebrate the end of Lockdown.
Now for the best bit though. The bike. I’ve not had a really nice bike since my brother Paul and co-owner of Criterium Cycles sold my demo Bianchi Infinito CV to a customer and so I thought it was high time to put that right. So enter stage left the Bianchi Specialissima.
This really is one very special bike. Recently, the Specialissima, already an awesome bit of kit, was totally re-engineered and is now the bike of choice for the Australian-owned World Tour Team Bike Exchange. So if it’s good enough for Simon Yates to have a crack at winning the Giro this year, it’s definitely good enough for me and the Peak Epic. This is a real climbers’ racing bike. The carbon disc frame is just 750g but it is also astonishingly stiff ensuring all the power is transferred to forward momentum on the road. “The complete racing bike” say Bianchi and I won’t be arguing. In future blogs we’ll look a lot more at the specific build of the bike I am going to be using (because this one is going to be rather special) but for now, just enjoy the lines and look of the amazing machine. Incidentally, mine will also be in this rather lovely new colour – Greenish Blue. And yes, that really is what it is called so great to see the Bianchi marketing team really pushing the boat out on this one! Seriously, anyone who has seen it says it looks drop-dead gorgeous in real life so I can’t wait.
In the next blog, I’ll talk a bit more about the training schedule (which is already underway) and the bike spec. For now, I shall try not to look at the profile map of the Peak Epic Sportive too much. 105 miles and 13,100 feet of ascent? Splendid.