Sunday, 2 August 2009

L-E-L Day Two

Washingborough to Alston
323 km and 2041 metres of climbing

5 a.m. in Washingborough came around far too soon and much of the preceding 4 hours was spent not so much asleep as just not quite awake. I made the mistake of having nothing to rest my head upon, and after a night on a hard floor was as stiff as one of the floorboards themselves. At least the earplugs and the buff rolled down over the eyes worked in generating a quiet and dark sleeping environment. This would help later.

Breakfast was taken in the Community Centre, whilst glowering at the rotten weather outside. Foul weather gear again then. The wind had also swung round to be mostly Westerly. Not good. Much of the next section, when not heading North, would be into the wind. Leaving at 5:35, I was already over an hour behind plan, and could not get going. I was bemoaning this at the time, little did I know that it was to save me from much, much worse later on.

Wragby was the first control of the day, a quick check-and-go to confirm that we had added the necessary miles to make up to the full 1,400 kilometres. Then the westerly wind made its presence felt. The Fens have no protection from the wind, and there was plenty of it. Progress felt slow, and worse still was tiring. The total leg of 105km is far too long for me to do without refuelling, and I was in dire straits by the time I got to Kirton in Lindsey where Holt's Stores came to my rescue. This was the first point where I was asked what was going on. People had seen cyclists a-plenty of multiple nationalities since the night before, and were genuinely interested in what was going on. Perhaps next time the Audax UK publicity machine may get wider coverage. Fed, and with well wishes from within the shop, I set off again for Thorne.

It was a long time coming in the wind, and I finally rolled into Thorne at 10:25 where the Danial Webb hospitality machine was efficiency itself. Food was on the table almost before I had sat down, and my tired legs were soon being well refuelled.

I managed to get in and out of the Thorne control in 35 minutes, but it was apparent that I would not make it all the way to Coxwold without some form of mid-section sustenance. A garage provided the necessary sandwich which was later consumed in Sutton on Derwent whilst sitting on a bench beneath a conker tree when the sun eventually came out.

Unfortunately the sun brought with it thunderstorms, one of which broke completely overhead at Bubwith with the lightening and thunder almost simultaneous. What do you do? Keep cycling out in the open? Hide under a tree? In the end I stopped at the side of the road to gear up for foul weather in the midst of rain rebounding up 2 feet off the road. By the time I had my wet weather gear on, it had almost stopped. The wind was still horrid.

Shortly before Coxwold, the hills start again and at this point I started going better. It seems that I don't do 'flat' that well since my style is to coast or freewheel often to get small recoveries among the effort. You can't do this on the Fens into the wind. Nonetheless after a stinker of a hill at Crayke, I was glad to see the sleepy village of Coxwold in the distance. I finally rolled in there at 15:36, just over an hour and a half behind schedule.

Frankly, at this point I felt like packing. The 190km of Fens and wind had really taken their toll and I was very very tired. Coxwold control were ready for this and administered Coca Cola and Pasta, together with other carbs. By the time I had climbed out of the village, and checked in at home once I got a phone signal, I was ready to go again. The next section, though hillier, was only 52 km to Middleton Tyas.

It was also eminently forgettable. I remember almost nothing of this section except being in company for the first time. Problem is, I can't remember who. By this point the brain was on the way out. However, I apparently took this picture near Newby Wiske. Looks more like France than Yorkshire. Full feed and leisurely stop required. Arriving at Middleton Tyas, I was fed quickly and put back on the bike in next to no time. So much for the leisurely stop. It was already 19:45 and I still had 75km to go over Yad Moss to Alston before bed.

The first section just seems like a series of small climbs and I was surprised to find the legs actually stronger as the ride progressed. Just as well given the state they felt they were in at the end of day one.

On this section, you can see the Pennines looming in the distance for quite some way out, and by the time you reach Barnard Castle, you can tell you are in for a workout. Given that it was also already dusk, this workout would be in the dark.

Middleton in Teesdale seemed to be miles from Barnard Castle, and it was already way past 10p.m. before I got there, with all the Yad Moss Climb to come. In retrospect it was probably best that I couldn't see how long it went on for.

The road past High Force was a noisy place, not from traffic but from the sounds of rushing water from the River Tees below. It must be a real sight in daylight. It was around here (I think at the High Force Hotel) that I caught sight of Paul, Rider 121, with whom I would ride a lot of the later sections. He was suffering from an attack of the dozies and was sitting down to snooze and recover before tackling the remainder of the climb. The only steep section of Yad Moss is near Langdon Beck, and it was here that a Dutch rider passed me and disappeared uphill. Some distance further on, with about 3km of the climb left, I could still see his rear light blinking in the far distance. On went the MP3 player, and I went after him. Even in "Lance Mode" spinning like mad, I couldn't catch him by the top, but was only about 500m behind him. At this point one of the most memorable points of my ride happened. As I came over the top of Yad Moss, I got into my best impression of an aero-tuck and went after him.

Descending Yad Moss following the snaking rear light of the bike in front round the bends at 65kmh, in the dark, at almost midnight, with Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive" blasting from the MP3 - priceless!

He was surprised when I passed. Not by the fact that I passed (he had a rear view mirror) but by the fact that I was still dressed in just bibshorts and cycling jersey. He was wrapped up like it was December. We both arrived at the Alston control at 00:01, as the spots of rain started falling more heavily. Bikes were hastily chucked on the grass and panniers removed. Inside the Outdoor Centre was a haven of warmth and dryness. Just as well. At 00:03 the heavens opened with torrential hail and even higher winds. Now that's what I call good timing.

It took another 10 minutes to gather enough coherence to find my Brevet Card and check in, and a further hour to eat drink and be found a bed. But I was found a bed. A real one with duvet mattress and pillows! Unashamed luxury for the next 5 hours.

Day 2 over
323 kilometres and 2,041 metres of climbing
201 miles and 6696 feet of climbing

Tomorrow we were going to Scotland, and its hilly up there


Paul/Sarah said...

Hi Clive, Hope you got the limo service home okay as I heard the trains were on strike. Yes, made it back in time 117h 30m. Could have been sooner but made a choice to rest knee at Gamlingay and use those 2 hours. Sorry I missed you at the end. With your permission, can I download some of the great shots you have taken. This site is a great account of the ride.

Datameister said...

No worries, I could send you them directly if you wish.

I probably won't finish my write up until the end of next week as holidays beckon.

Paul/Sarah said...

That would be great if could but dont know how to exchange details in a secure mode. So best if I wait until your finished. You can delete this comment when read. I dont want to fill your great site with conversation. Im not on facebook either incase your details were on there. Enjoy your holiday, you deserve it after that ride.

Datameister said...

Look for Datameister on "Yet Another Cycling Forum" and send me a Personal Message there. (you may need to register)