Cheshire Cat 2012 Review

This is now my fourth Cheshire Cat, I first entered back in the day when they were held at Knutsford Leisure Centre and you had to go down the day before to sign on. The refreshments back then were a plastic cup of orange squash, how quickly times have moved on! I also entered in 2010 and last year too.

Getting Started

Last year there was some trouble with people starting and finishing (ie: 3000 people tried to set off at the same time meaning massive queues and upset people). This year they had implimented a new queueing system where you were put into coloured pens with a set start time. Everyone got a coloured sticker to put on the bike and this was strictly adhered to. It meant everyone set off on time with little waiting around and the roads were pretty quiet because of it too. Everything is sent in the post so you could just roll up and get going.

The Route

This year there was a new route for the 75 and 100 mile options which would take us over Gun Hill. I have to say, even though the gorgeous weather helped, the route was much better than previous years. The scenery was stunning. The climb of Gun Hill, after the first feed station and before Wincle, was a good addition as it is a legendary climb in the area used by the Tour of Britain.

Mow Cop

Of course the Cheshire Cat wouldn't be the Cheshire Cat without Mow Cop. The Killer Mile sees those that get to the top without putting their foot down get a medal back at the HQ. It's a tough ask, it climbs at around 16% until the final 200 metres elevates up to 25%. Last year I managed to get to the bottom of the 25% part, this year I wanted to go all the way. And I did. I kept it steady at the beginning, keeping my breathing deep and steady. Although my wheel slipped a few times I kept on going and found I was climbing well. Eventually I got to the 25% part and off I went. Out of the saddle, pushing down as hard as I could I found I was moving up pretty easily and before I knew it I was over the top! It was a great, great feeling - although my heart at over 200bpm was saying different!

Hills, Hills, Hills

After Mow Cop you're into the lumpy stuff for around 20 miles. After a decent into Congleton, you're just as quickly climbing out over Biddulph Moors and Bridestones; this is a horrific climb out. It is mind numbingly boring and (for me anyway) very slow going. The route then rolls up and down until the first feedstation. After a quick stop you're onto Gun Hill, the first steep bit caught many out thinking this was it, only for it to descend before starting a bit later on. I've never climbed Gun Hill before, it isn't a bad climb, tough in parts but is over pretty quickly. You then have a few miles rest before you enter Wincle. Wincle is notorious for it's couple of tough sharp climbs. Your heart and lungs definitely get a good work out for sure.

Loving The Flat

The best thing about the Cheshire Cat is that all the hills are over and done with early on. After which it is flat out back home. I love the second part into Goostrey. We do it on club runs quite a lot and you just thrash it out. I caught the tail end of a fast group where we rolled along at around 25mph. The run back to Crewe, takes you into Nantwich which is again pretty flat but a bit boring. As you reach Church Minshull your legs are on fire and you're just willing them along. I unfortunately had the pleasure of riding with James Risk, a promising youth rider (ex-Weaver Valley and now Sportcity Velo), who gave me a lesson in how to rip someone's legs off. I don't think we went under 20mph all the way home.

I arrived back at Crewe exhausted but over the moon. Risky had done a great job pacing me back home. The goody bag at the end had some nice gifts such as free High 5 waterbottles, gels, wind buff and helmet and a Purple Harry shoe sanitizer.

If you're looking for some good early season miles, which are testing but not too testing, then add this to your diary. The Cheshire Cat is a must for any cyclist.

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