Today, I was feeling a little bit sore and stiff from yesterdays efforts, especially across the shoulders from all the bike wrestling on those steep ascents but, after some breakfast and coffee, felt pretty good and ready to go again. The forecast was of course for heavy rain and moderate to strong winds.
Today, I wore exactly the same attire as yesterday as it all worked so well. I also enjoyed riding fixed so much that I decided that the trusty fixed gear should be treated to another day out in the countryside.
So, off I set with the intention to ride a reasonably flat sixty miles / one hundred kilometres. I took the same route as day one, all the way out of Leeds, through Headingley and out on Otley Road, bypassing Otley itself and following the road all the way up the dale through Ilkley and on towards Addingham and Bolton Abbey.
Other than the rain, it was a fairly uneventful journey, the purpose of which just to get some easier kilometres in towards the total.
Onwards past Bolton Abbey, it took some self control not to stop at all the excellent cafes clustered around the area but I rode on through. This is where the weather worsened, the gradients increased and the wind decided to make an unwelcome appearance!
I had decided a loop through Grassington would be appropriate and hopefully give me enough miles but, with all those hills in my legs from yesterday (along with the previous two days riding) the lactic acid was building up on every short climb, never mind the longer hills. What was a reasonably enjoyable ride before soon became harder and harder as I used more energy (even my emergency banana wasn’t helping here) and it cold colder, wetter and windier.
I do a lot of my cycling by myself from virtue of cycling through the week when most people are at work but the good company and camaraderie of yesterday was still fresh in my mind and it made the loneliness, solitude, drudgery and quite honestly, misery of this ride all the more apparent. It was a stark contrast to yesterday where, no matter what went wrong or how lost we got, spirits remained high.
The roads were in a terrible state also with hidden potholes, some collapsed verges and regular floods, some coming up and over bottom bracket height which meant my feet got soaked They were already getting damp but it was manageable and they were staying warm-ish but they started to go cold and, soon enough, numb. Although it’s that numbness that seems to manifest itself as pain. I think I’m starting to get trench foot
Onwards and upwards I went. (My easy/steady flat ride wasn’t quite turning out as I’d planned with nearly 4,900 ft of ascent by the time I retuned home!) I stopped briefly for a photo opportunity and then through Burnsall, Threshfield and finally Grassington I cycled. I’d forgotten how steep some of the climbs in this area are – there’s a few twenty percent gradients to tackle and my legs were screaming by this point.
I would have have liked to stop in Grassington but I had the feeling that if I were to stop, I might never want to start again. I needed to feel like I was on the way home before allowing myself a break. After Grassington is the village of Hebden. I stopped briefly to check the map, take a photograph and, with a disappointing ‘bleep’ my phone crashed…. Again. I was furious, cold, miles away from home, running out of water and with only a couple of oatcakes to keep me going, morale was at an all time low. Not to worry, I thought, I brought my camera today too as I promised to try and get some more pictures. I took one with my camera which then, in a beautiful display of technological solidarity with my phone, showed the low battery warning and shut down.
I’m not pregnant, that’s my gloves stuffed up the front of my rainjacket!
Oh well, the only thing left to do now was to head for home. Down Hartlington Raikes, through Hartlington and into the very picturesque village of Appletreewick. I needed a lot of willpower not to stop here – I’ve visited both pubs previously and they are friendly, warm, cosy and both sell exceptionally good food. I would have just curled up by the fire and slept had I gone into either.
From Appletreewick, it’s a familiar road down to Barden, across the river and up through Springs Wood onto the road back to Bolton Abbey. From there, it’s a fairly straight forward ride down the valley to Leeds so I figured it was safe to allow myself a stop. Besides, I’d run out of oatcakes and water so needed a refill.
I wanted to visit the Tea Cottage as it’s one of the places I’ve never been before. Local sausages, mashed potato and home-made gravy sounded fabulous as did a freshly ground coffee. That ordered, I took out my phone and swore at it for a while. That did the trick and it sprung into life. More swearing.
At last the food arrived! It was awful. I have never had such a miserable lunch in all my life. Two, tiny supermarket sausages, smash and packet gravy. Oh, and instant coffee. If I wasn’t so cold, wet and drained I might have found the energy to complain but instead I just wanted to get it down and get on with the ride. A quick visit to the toilet (to warm my hat and gloves under the hand drier before putting them on again) and it was back in the saddle. I treated myself to a winter collar and silk glove liners for an extra bit of warmth and luxury on the last stretch.
Despite the disappointment of lunch, it certainly did the trick and as luck would have it, the rain had eased off to drizzle. A straight ride back the way I came and that was today’s 108 km done. Unfortunately the ride recording stopped at the great Raikes End phone disaster but a trip to Bikely soon had the final figures. Another unfortunate effect of these mishaps is that my Strava total is now 305 km when it should be 393.5 km which is much more like it. So, more riding tomorrow and hopefully a social one!
Link to Strava:
Link to Bikely: