UKC

Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker Break Peak Classic Rock Round by Bike Record

© Tom Randall

Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall - AKA the WideBoyz - have made the second known timed round of the Peak District's Classic Rock routes by bike. The pair completed the 12 gritstone routes included in Ken Wilson's book Classic Rock, covering 17 pitches and 55k of cycling in 7 hours and 30 minutes.

Getting used to the tandem.  © Tom Randall
Getting used to the tandem.
© Tom Randall

In June this year, Wesley Cole and Will Gould climbed all of the Classic Rock routes in the Peak District in under 11 hours, cycling between crags. Their challenge, and the subsequent UKC article about the experience, inspired the WideBoyz to give it a go themselves. 

'Tom initially sent me the article from UKC, saying "This would make a fun day out!" Pete said. 'Immediately it looked like something I'd want to do, so it was decided. Wesley's round did inspire us, as without the article it's unlikely we would have done it.'

Tom had previously considered attempting the Hard Rock round. 'I think either Graham Hoey or Neil Foster had told me that it was a remaining challenge,' Tom told UKC. 'As for the Classic Rock, I have to say I'd avoided it as originally I thought it would have to include a single route that's absolutely miles out in the Pennine area [Red Pencil Direct (HS 4b)].'

Taking preparation for the Peak District Classic Rock by bike challenge seriously.   © Tom Randall
Taking preparation for the Peak District Classic Rock by bike challenge seriously.
© Tom Randall

In classic WideBoyz style, they did away with convention and opted to ride a tandem bicycle — a challenge in itself — having already envisaged a tandem cycling objective for next year.

'We'd done the research on finding a bike hire place in the Peak and someone friendly enough to let us do something a bit different,' Tom said. 'Neither of us have properly ridden a bike much in the last 10 years, so the first 10 mins of trying it out was a bit of a mess!'   

'I'd never ridden a tandem before, but before we started the clock, we had about 5-10 minutes of riding around and deciding who would be at the front and who would at the back,' Pete added.

Tandem bike parked outside a convenience store.  © Tom Randall
Tandem bike parked outside a convenience store.
© Tom Randall

The pair did little in the way of training other than eating "excessive amounts of food" the previous day. Logistics-wise, Tom prepared the cycle route using Google Maps, while Pete planned the climbing by studying a few guidebook photos.

'Needless to say both of us weren't exactly 'excellent' at these tasks, so it kind of made things a little bit of a shambles,' Tom explained. 'On the first route we didn't really know where it went, even while we were mid-route.'

The WideBoyz during their Peak Classic Rock tandem bike challenge.  © Tom Randall
The WideBoyz during their Peak Classic Rock tandem bike challenge.
© Tom Randall

Nor had the pair anticipated attempting the round during a very hot day in the midst of a heatwave. Pete happened to be back in the UK from Norway for just one week, and time was limited. 'The day we did it was the only day that aligned with us both, so it was then or never,' Pete said.

Pete on Technical Slab HS 4a.  © Tom Randall
Pete on Technical Slab HS 4a.
© Tom Randall

To save some time, Pete and Tom both soloed all of the routes, most of which are cracks — the pair's strong suit. 

'They are all well within our comfort zone, so it seemed much nicer to just solo everything and not have to carry ropes and rack,' Pete explained. 'Since we're biking punters, we needed all the help and lightness we could get on the bike.'

Overall, the challenge was "pretty epicless", in Pete's words, save for the route-finding issue on the first climb and the struggle of dealing with the heat. 'It was pretty savage at the end of the day by the time we got to Birchen and Stanage,' he said. 'Also, my legs were not used to cycling, haha!'

Keeping cool with popsicles.  © Tom Randall
Keeping cool with popsicles.
© Tom Randall

On this first attempt, optimising speed wasn't the priority. The duo stopped for Bakewell pudding and ice cream in Hathersage, plus they were simultaneously filming a YouTube video (filming each other mid-route, stopping for interviews, etc.) 'The challenge could go so much quicker,' Pete said. 'We weren't hanging around on the day, but we also weren't that quick either.'

A hard slog on a hot day.  © Tom Randall
A hard slog on a hot day.
© Tom Randall

Wesley and Will completed their first round in 10 hours, 57 minutes. The WideBoyz knocked three and a half hours off this time, completing it in 7 hours 30 minutes.

'I'd say this challenge could definitely go under 5 hours if you were really going for it, prepped and had done a bit of bike training beforehand,' Pete said.

Pete below April Crack.  © Tom Randall
Pete below April Crack.
© Tom Randall

Commenting on the new record, Wesley Cole told UKC:

'Will and I were really pleased to see Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker had completed the Peak Classic rock round. The fact that they did it on a tandem adds to the adventure and shows that there are so many ways you can get out there and enjoy climbing in the Peak. Hopefully it will inspire others to make their own adventures and try the round, which is really accessible and offers some fantastic climbing. A shout out to Katie Mackay who has also recently done the round on foot and Jeremy Windsor and his climbing partner who took a leisurely road ride between crags. We look forward to hearing about others who try the round and their own unique approaches.' 

Pete also believes this round is very achievable for many people, as the distances are not too far on a bike and the climbing is "relatively straightforward." He shared a top tip for those considering giving it a go.

'I'd definitely recommend this as a good Peak challenge, and my advice to anyone doing it is to stop for Bakewell Pudding in Bakewell,' he said. 'Make sure to buy medium or large as the filling to pastry ratios are much better.'


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