Our fourth "Cold Dark Rides" follows last week's example and plunges up and down the steep climbs and deep valleys of the Lake District National Park. This week's guest isn't afraid of a classic climb though. The brief for some of our favourite local riders, brands and photographers was basic: give us 5 photos and descriptions of the places you love to ride and a bit of blurb on yourself. Over the coming months we'll be sharing their secret climbs, epic rides and favourite spots here in the Road Gauge and on Instagram.
Adam McRae is a young rider based in the heart of the Lakes, in Ambleside. He's regularly climbing the "middle-Fred" passes and recently braved the October floods for some bottle-cage deep antics. Worth checking out his Instagram feed.
Born in England’s wettest valley (Borrowdale), in the Shadow of Scafell Pike and Honister Pass, Adam came into the cycling game late having travelled the world. He'd tackled a couple of Iron Man events before realising his passion was really the bike (none of that yogging or paddling - Ed). So he hit the road. Hard... and that’s where he feels his heart is!
You’ll find Adam pushing it out on Honister, Newlands and Whinlatter passes early doors most day and this year he will be riding with Northern team Crimson Performance as a development rider. Good luck Adam - see you at the Capernwray Road Race!
Newlands Hause || 1.7km, 12% average
Newlands Pass has to be in my 5.
Newlands is worth every pain inflicted pedal stroke not just to say you made it to the top in one piece but for the speedy decent all the way back into braithwaite but be wary of the herdwicks ;) (Sheep. Crazy sheep - Ed)
It’s a climb where you can get into a rhythm and enjoy the views. Bloody love it. It can also be one of the toughest roads in the Lakes when the wind is blowing down the exposed hillside into your face.
Rosthwaite to Ambelside ("The Struggle") Loop || 4.5km, 8.4% average
Climbing the infamous "Struggle" from Ambleside ticks a few boxes for me - but it's even better if you throw in a beautiful loop taking in much of the classic FrEd.
Stunning the entire way, and easy on the legs in between the climbs.
I took a mate of mind on his loop from Manchester who I’m racing with next year and he was blown away, he could not believe he hadn’t been before.
Fast fast fast.
Early mornings is highly advised for sunrise up Kirkstone Pass 👌🏻. "the Struggle" just can’t be beaten.
Honister Pass || 3.8km, 6.6% average (but 30%+ in places!)
The Honister roller coaster is on my door step, so it’s a must. My own pain cave.
Whenever I head up here by then end I’ll know where my fitness is at. It's a real love hate relationship with this monster of the Cold Dark North. Savage from either side. You have to try both ways to decide your "favourite" approach to the iconic Slate Mine at the summit.
Hawkhead/Wray/Sawrey || Consistent and regular 10% climbs
Up and over woodlands and around Coniston. Easier on the legs stunning all the same. Rolling roads and maybe a touch of cross in the woods' trails.
I’m not often down this way but The surfaces are 👌🏻 and getting lost in the woods is always fun. Narrow but quiet lanes with savage little pitched roads are what these part of the Lakes are famous for.
Buttermere Valley || 5-6km from the summit of Honister to the base of Newlands
Buttermere beautiful Buttermere. In between Honister and Newlands, the Lake always makes you look over your shoulder "just one more time" to take in view as you descend down - it's also one of the best descents you can do from the Slate Mine (but only once you've navigated the hair-raising first 200m of 25%+ gradients) .
I pass here if I’m also heading out to Loweswater or to the coast over Cold Fell out to St. Bees.
You can find Adam out on the roads around Ambleside and Keswick and the Northern Lakes - but you might have to get up pretty early or be prepared to brave the worst conditions known to cyclists. His Instagram is here.