The Clennell Colossus had 300 riders keenly lined up on the start line of this near 50 mile challenge wide in the majestic Cheviot hills of Northumerland. What lay ahead was over 7000 feet of climbing, amazing scenery and some of the wildest and most remote countryside England has to offer. Many had taken up the offer of the free camping the night before and hopefully those who had made it to the bar were in good order for a long day out in the saddle.
And then they were off! It took over 5 minutes for all riders to depart from Clennell Hall Country House onto 1.5 miles of gentle forest track. Any thoughts of an easy ride were quickly dispelled as the first hill was short and sharp and the procession of riders either committed to attack it all the way to the top or their legs cried out for a rest.
The route then largely consists of two main areas. The first of which is a succssion of forest tracks with some real high speed stuff going on. When you think of forests you norammly associate this with just endles boring riding flanked by trees. this is most definietly not the case here and the riders basked in the glory of the far off horizon views Northumberland has to offer.
Popping out of the hills at the first checkpoint it was time to hit the open country. The whole feel of the place changed and now everyone was open to the elements with a vast landscape spread for miles around. A quick look round Uswayford under the watchful gaze of the mighty Cheviot itself before heading down to tackle "the big one". Social media was abuzz after the event about the killer climb to Windy Gyle and rightly so. Trows to Windy Gyle can break you in so many ways - if your legs don't crack then your traction might. Unbelievably a few riders nailed it to the top even after the 30 plus miles of riding to get here - hats off!
What followed from the high point of the route was a 5 mile descent that represented everything that is good about open country riding on the high fells. Twisty paths, fast natural descents and constantly having the skill to pick the right route through the terrain. All of this led to Barrowburn cafe, now known as a bit of a life saver, which proceeded to refuel people with coffee, tea and a selection of extremely high calorie sandwiches!
Two evil climbs followed the cafe and then it was all gravy back to Clennell Hall for a real sense of achievement. The free t-shirt and medal can be worn as a badge of honour for completing such a colossal ride.
In review the event was about so much more than riding. Yes everyone had a fantastic time but also the local economy received a boost, we increased awareness on the tourism potential of the Cheviots and worked closely with all the people in the area to ensure smooth running. It looks like the Clennell Colossus will be back next year and the 12th June is the provisional date in the diary. Numbers will be restricted to 500.
Next up for riding in the Breamish Behemoth on 4th October going from Ingram. If the Colossus is the mad Daddy of the family then the Behemoth is his slightly deranged brother - more of the same please.
More on this later.
Barry Kemp - Organiser
High Fell Events - www.highfellevents.co.uk www.facebook.com/highfellevents/