2016 – My Cycling Year

Well it’s New Years Eve 2016 and it’s not been a great year for me. My Mum died after a long battle with MND but that wasn’t unexpected and it finally brought an end to a really difficult few years. I’ve also finished the year with over 3 weeks of flu and bronchitis, which has put a bit of a dampener on Christmas.

More positively I got back cycling again in 2016 after a bone disease problem had put me on crutches for a couple of lengthy spells in 2014-2015, so 2015 had been a late and very cautious start on the bike after Easter but I could step things up again to a reasonable degree this year, getting back up to just over 2000 miles. It still wasn’t a year for either ultra-long distances or major events with the risk of problems coming back but it was pleasing to get going again without too much fear.

The highlight of my cycling year was Eroica Britannia in Bakewell in June, a great vintage event in a brilliant atmosphere and I enjoyed putting together an old steel bike over about eight months leading up to it.

I did the 89km middle distance ride with a friend from work Steve Carter, which added to the fun and we finished in decent enough shape, although the same can’t be said of the bike with the cotter pin bolt working loose. Sad to say it’s still in the shed caked in mud and straw from the waterlogged showground at the finish but I have bought some new French cotter pins and will be getting it ready for Eroica 2017 shortly.

Another particularly memorable ride was a training ride for Eroica we did just a week before the event, which also turned out to be my second longest of the year at 100km. This was also a bit of a mud-fest with a tough few miles of accidental off-road and navigational mishaps but we happened upon a lovely route beyond Hartington into Staffordshire.

There was also a good day out on the first day of Eroica, cycling to work in Dronfield in the morning, then in the afternoon down to Chesterfield to watch Lizzie Armitstead win the Women’s Tour stage on my local roads, followed by a ride out to Eroica afterwards, then home in the evening. 

I also had a cold but fun day out watching the Tour de Yorkshire, I cycled up to the top of Greenhow Hill from Menwith Hill to spectate. It was freezing and a blizzard a few minutes before the helicopter rose up Greenhow ahead of the leaders but miraculously the sun appeared for the race to pass.

Early in the year I remember a couple of chilly winter and spring rides in various nice parts of North Yorkshire when visiting my Mum in Harrogate, particularly one in the cherry blossom villages around Aldwark bridge and another with a few miles of accidental cyclocross between Knaresborough and Ripley on the vintage bike.

Also a bizarre local Peak District ride on the old broken road up Mam Tor from Castleton. Somehow getting off the bike to step down one of the gaps in the road the front derailleur cable clipped the chain and ended up threaded through a link by some weird/magical mishap, so I had to turn round and roll back home the best I could. That one took some working out, it was a newish chain and the link must not have been flushly fitted and sufficiently open at the opportune micro-second for the derailleur cable to slip through and seemingly close up again. I always carry a magic link now after that!

Another top ride was at the end of May when an old friend from London brought his bike up on the train to Macclesfield and I cycled up Winnatts Pass and over Kettleshulme/Rainow to meet him, then we cycled back in the sunshine over the Car and Fiddle and via Millers Dale to Tideswell for a cafe lunch with the family, then we carried on down to Hope Valley.

My son’s birthday in May involved a nerf-gunning party in Matlock Bath, so I cycled out to that but took a wrong-turn in Matlock and ended up adding a huge climb over the Riber Castle backroads before eventually joining them for fish and chips and the amusements.

July was difficult with my Mum dying, I did take the bike out for a nice nostalgic spin around all the local places in Wharfedale she had lived in when she was young though, from Otley through Ilkley, Menston, Addingham and past Bolton Abbey and Denton, where my cousin had recently got married and one of the last big family gatherings my Mum could be part of.

My birthday fell the day after the funeral and my wife Carol and I got out for a sunny spin around the southern end of the Peaks from Parsley Hay around Ilam and Thorpe with a bit of a difference, we hired a couple of e-bikes for the day. Good fun for a change and impressed but I wasn’t converted! 

Our family holiday in August was a great adventure, cycling coast-to-coast on The Way of the Roses Sustrans route from Morecambe to Bridlington over 6 days.  Whilst not quite the challenge of the C2C-in-a-day sportive I did back in 2013 it was nevertheless far from easy terrain through the Yorkshire Dales in particular and was a really rewarding family achievement. 

September saw a couple more memorable rides, firstly a 93km day over to Tatton Park in Cheshire to watch the Tour of Britain stage that Ian Stannard won, coming back over the Cat and Fiddle again. I didn’t get a particularly good view of the finish with the size of the crowd but watched it unfold on the big screen with a pie and pint.

Then a few days later I put in my longest ride of the year at 107km, this was over into Staffs Moorlands on a gorgeous day,  out to The Roaches and up Gun Hill and back via Longnor.

Finally the main autumn rides that stick in the mind were early morning local ones, climbing up above the Hope Valley mist hanging below, a damp Sunday ride to Buxton B+Q back through the Monsal Trail tunnels and another round the Derwent Dams then over the tops and down through some very autumnal woods in the rain to Ladybower. 

So all in all 2016 is a year I’m glad is now over, in spite of the numerous bad bits (don’t even start on Brexit, Trump, David Bowie, etc) I’ve had a decent enough cycling year and the best since 2013 with plenty to build on for a fuller 2017 on 2 wheels hopefully – just got to shake off the endgame of this bloody cold to get going again! 

Happy New Year!!

Way of the Roses Day 5 (York to Skerne, 64km)

We said our goodbyes to my Dad and our dog Tilly who was spending the week with him in Harrogate, got the bikes back onto the car roof and drove over to York station where we had finished the day before.

We only cycled a few hundred yards round the corner on to Micklegate though and stopped for a York cafe breakfast to set us up for the day, so it was about 10:30 by the time we started the ride proper.

We took Henry through the cobbled streets and past the Minster, which I hope made a lasting impression on him. We knew we had our longest ride ahead though, so we didn’t stop other than for a quick selfie …

Navigation out of York following the GPS trails on our phones went fairly smoothly and it didn’t take long before we got to Stamford Bridge. The surfaces and scenery were pleasant and changing … 

… but weren’t quite as exciting after the Dales but with a decent rate of progress to compensate. We stopped for an early snack outside a pub in Pocklington …

After Pocklington the climbing began as we headed up into the Yorkshire Wolds, an area that was new to me and a lovely surprise. Henry again left us miles behind and Carol started to worry, so I chased after him and caught up by the village of Huggate at the top of the Wolds.

We regrouped here but there was nowhere to eat, so carried on although now getting tired and hungry. We thought it was going to be much easier going on the descent but hadn’t counted on the headwind, which made us pedal hard to go downhill.  So the last 90 minutes or so were fairly arduous, although still dry. It had been grayer and cooler today with the wind but the sun came out for the finale on tiny lanes navigating around big, flat open fields, increasingly busy harvesting.

We finally made it to Skerne, a little village about 5km from Driffield, where we had booked a farmhouse B+B for the night. It was a lovely, comfortable but very small converted pantry.  We were again exhausted after a long day in the saddle, so Carol and Henry made the most of the facilities, whilst I jumped back on the bike and raced up to Driffield station to catch the next train to Hull. From there I caught another back to York and picked up the car, then a few supplies for a late night feast but it was well after dark when I got back to Skerne, it even seemed a long trip with an engine and dual carriageways!

Day 5 64km (our longest) with 268m ascent. Total now 253km after 5 days, with 1891m ascent. Just half a day to go!

Way of the Roses Day 6 (Skerne to Bridlington, 35km)

So on to our final day, we had covered 64km the day before so that we’d only have a shorter 35km final leg over to Bridlington on the East coast.

After a delicious Full English at the B+B in Skerne we perversely headed north-west to start, through Driffield then meandered in a more easterly direction through lanes and villages in the full throws of harvest, pretty much all the vehicles we met were tractors. We stopped in a very rural village post office to buy stamps and thought we may not get out before dark. We were all feeling the efforts of the previous days now but it wasn’t too strenuous or too far, which made it easier to keep going.  

Our main stop for lunch was at Burton Agnes, where there was a lovely old hall. We didn’t go round it but enjoyed an hour in the delightful cafe garden, sampling the Ploughmans and Wold Gold beer in my case.

After that it was more and more agricultural scenes under open skies as we steadily climbed towards the high point just before the drop into Bridlington.

The final run into Bridlington was a little but of an anti-climax, the biggest and least pleasant roads since Morecambe really, they could do with finding a more pleasant finale.  Eventually we turned right and down through the quaint Old Town though, as we’d recently seen in the Dads Army film. Then another mile or so and we came down to the North Bay finishing point, where we took the obligatory photos at the marker boards and dipped our wheels in the North Sea. A family were reading the boards in front of us, we wanted to jump up and down and say yes, we just cycled all that way, I’m not sure they would have believed us. 

Fittingly the sun came out to greet us once more for the finish, a whole 6 day transpennine trip without even a drop of rain. The cost of the trip was covered as a last treat from my Mum just before she died after a four year battle with Motor Neurone Disease only the month before, she did very much like her sunshine and I like to think that special arrangements were perhaps made for us from above!

So day 6 was a short 35km with 134m vertical ascent, which brought our grand total to 288km over 6 days, with 2025m of ascent (2km into the sky!). The official route distance is 170 miles = 274km, so our little detours and deviations for accommodation outweighed the shortcut around Harrogate. We had only gone and done it, zero preparation but a family coast-to-coast adventure ticked off.  

We had a bed and breakfast booked in Bridlington for that night (Friday), so we made our way down to the South Bay and Carol and Henry settled in whilst I walked to the station. It was only a short train hop back to Driffield for the car this time and then we headed out to the seafront in Bridlington in glorious sunshine. 

By happy coincidence friends from our home village in The Peak District (including Henry’s best friend Matt) were staying quite nearby in Pickering and headed over to see us, so we had a long walk around the harbour then up Bridlington promenade to meet them at North Bay, back down and up the prom again with them, then finally another stroll with fish & chips back down to South Bay and home for the night – as if we needed any more exercise or fresh air!

Bridlington was beautiful in the sunshine and we were all suitably impressed, although the holiday wasn’t quite over yet.  We had booked a bell tent up at Bempton Cliffs for the weekend, although the weather changed drastically on Saturday and Bridlington in the wind and rain wasn’t quite so appealing. Still after the magical weather for the ride we didn’t mind too much, we considered giving the camping a miss but mustered up the spirit.  The rain eased off and we were just left to contend with the strong winds on a cliff top but at least we hadn’t had to put the tent up, it was our first attempt at glamping.  

We visited Flamborough Head lighthouse and the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs, wrong time of year for the ever-elusive (some might say mythical?!) puffins but we saw some impressive gannets on the cliffs there. We also had a windswept afternoon on the beach at Filey, where I had last visited over 40 years earlier.

So we finally headed back to Harrogate to pick up the dog then back home to the Peak District after that, tired but happy with our achievement after a really superb ‘holiday’ – well we don’t really do conventional ones!

It’s the kind of thing Carol and I had done in the dim and distant past, cycling in The Ardennes once and another time from St Malo down to Santander (a story to tell another time) but it was good to find we could still survive/enjoy such challenges together twenty years later and that our ‘little boy’ of thirteen is more than ready to handle it too.  

I don’t know quite what we’ll do next but the consensus was they would be keen for another cycling adventure (and they were the driving force for this one, honest!). 

In terms of what we’d do differently in future whilst it was useful at times having the back-up of the car/mobile wardrobe I think we’d be more than capable of just supporting ourselves, it would just be a matter of restricting the weight on the bikes as much as possible to keep it enjoyable for everyone (would have been quite easy in good weather but of course you can’t count on that!). I have in mind some Apidura type seat / frame / handlebar bags in mixed Goldilocks-style sizes to spread the load, not cheap but preferable to heavy/unbalanced pannier loads I think.

Accommodation is a little tricky needing family rooms, if on my own I’m happy to wing it and use Booking.com at the 11th hour/end of the day.  With the family obviously we need to be more realistic and book in advance in peak season, so it becomes a balance between playing safe on the daily distance and covering enough ground in the time available.  

Having family to stay with for a couple of nights mid-trip helped keep the cost down and change the dynamic a bit.  Whilst not an option in most areas I think perhaps building in 2 nights in one place and a rest-day to do some non-cycling things would be a good idea.
Ideally with a few warm-up rides to overcome the initial settling in period then I think about 50km per day would be about right for us (3-4 hours ride time) but this needs cutting for the really hilly days and some slack or back-up plan for the bad weather days to keep it fun.

Premier Inns and the like are definitely a good thing too if they are close to the route, they have plenty of useful and reliable facilities and feel like total luxury after a hard day in the saddle, without costing too much or feeling like they don’t really want scruffbags messing up the place like some more upmarket places. Or compared to the relative squalor of a rowdy hostel as we found in Ingleton!

Using our iPhones with the Cyclemeter app worked well, everyone could navigate independently when needed and the ‘find friends’ function is great when you do lose each other. Just each knowing how far you’ve gone against the total is good and better than relying on (not believing) my ‘not that far now’ gee-ups.

I just plotted the routes using Strava and the Sustrans Way of the Roses map and emailed the gpx files to us all to upload to Cyclemeter in a couple of clicks.  Battery life was a worry but in practice with the shortish daily distances we were fine, just charging up from spare batteries at cafe stops and religously recharging phones and batteries overnight. I tried just using Strava maps for longer battery life but the orange route lines were easy to confuse with nearby Strava segment lines, so decided better to stick with Cyclemeter. It also has a few more features, like route profiles to show progress vs the hills for the day.

Another good thing is to have a small ‘tri-bag’ on the top tube/stem for sweets and treats on the move, they are good to keep spirits and energy levels up and act as rewards along the way as part of the daily routine. I’d make sure we had one each next time.

I think stopping little and often works best really, not eating too much in any one meal but making sure you don’t go into the red without the opportunity to refuel out in the wilds. That was a bit of a problem at times with the big hills in the Dales, as Carol doesn’t like the idea of restarting cold at the bottom of a big hill after a cafe stop but if you don’t then you sometimes won’t get another chance for another couple of hours, by when it’s too late. I should have picked up more bakery treats when passing through small towns as back up for these points.  Henry baked some banana flapjacks before we set off and a Tupperware box of these was great.

We were lucky we had no major mechanicals and just my one puncture when solo on the ride back to Morecambe on day 1. Obviously you need some tools for essentials but again worth keeping light and minimal I’d say, provided you’re within reach of towns for assistance in the worst case. 

Henry will have a new bike for next time but his single-chainring Islabike Beinn has been great and got him up all but the 2 worst hills (20%+) without walking. Lightweight quality bikes for kids are so important I think, even more so than for adults. He has had 2 that have seen him through from 6 to 13 years old, we even got back more 2nd hand on eBay selling the 1st one than we originally paid for it, so much better value than your average Halfords monster mountain bike in the long run.

Looking forward to our 2017 adventure(s) anyway, wherever they may be!

Way of the Roses Day 4 (Harrogate to York, 50km)

So we had left the official route just after Pateley Bridge and we would rejoin it just after Boroughbridge. It meant we didn’t need to back-track which eased our logistics a little but would still maintain a full coast-to-coast route and the distance. We would miss a nice section of the route from Brimham Rocks past Fountains Abbey and through Studley Roger deer park into Ripon but with family close by we could save this stretch as a stand-alone ride for another time.

We rejoined the Nidd Valley cycleway in Harrogate the following morning and picked up the Beryl Burton cycleway to Knaresborough. 

From here the terrain began to change markedly, the rugged Dales villages and landscapes being replaced with the lovely warm stone villages and flatter plains around York. First coffee/beer stop of the day was at Martin-cum-Grafton and the weather was again lovely. Progress was somewhat easier on the flatter lanes and we crossed the Ouse at the rickety old wooden roll-bridge at Aldwark shortly after. 

The next highlight was Beningborough Hall, where we cycled through the grounds and stocked up on picnic supplies at the farm shop. We couldn’t find anywhere suitably scenic to stop and eat it for several miles though, eventually settling for a bench in a village a few miles on. 

From here we took some quiet lanes leading almost into York, joining the riverside paths for the final few miles. We pulled into the Museum Gardens and had a brief lounge in the sun then realised there was an imminent train back to Harrogate, which involved a rather stressful and frantic rush through the tourist-hoardes and onto the train. Somehow we got split and ended up in different carriages with no door between but managed to get off together at the right point in Harrogate, from where it was a short easy ride back to base.  

We had finished the day’s ride by 4pm and were back by 5pm, feeling relatively fresh with the easier terrain, although we had covered a decent enough 50km but with only 156m of climbing today. We had enough energy left to round off the day by going out with my cousin Adam and my Dad for a meal at a country pub. 

So four days down now and going well!

189km total after 4 days, with 1623m ascent.

Way of the Roses Day 3 (Gargrave to Harrogate, 59km)

Our 3rd day started well with a Premier Inn breakfast, good preparation for what was going to be a challenging day in the Yorkshire Dales. The weather was wonderful, warm sunshine that lasted all day, even better than the previous stages. We stocked up on sweets and water at the start and headed back up from Gargrave to the official WOTR route.  It was distinctly uphill from the start, with the gradient progressively more challenging. Henry shot ahead and we got a bit anxious as a boy-racer screamed past us oblivious to all around, then we hit an unpleasantly busy stretch of road for a brief spell. All was fine though and we regrouped as we turned right on a corner onto one of the most memorable tiny roads of the whole trip, which took us up and down six miles of Dales scenery into Burnsall without seeing a single car.

Here we stopped for a leisurely break, lying on the green by the famous bridge, accompanied by the local ducks. It was a little early to make it out lunch stop and we knew there was a long way and much climbing to follow today, so we mustered up the energy to carry on but could quite happily have lazed the day away here.

The next few miles were a little lethargic getting going again in the heat. We passed a very tempting looking pub bathed in sunshine at Appletreewick (we would never have managed a restart if we’d stopped) but shortly after that the really serious climbing up towards Greenhow Hill began.  This was really tough but a most rewarding challenge, great scenery and a sense of achievement for us all when we finally made it.  We split and regrouped many times and the climbing just went on and on. A particularly good point was where Henry and I came across a little lizard up near the summit.

These were at the summit:

This was a great and seemingly near-vertical descent then ascent just after the corner with the lizard. Henry & I swapped bikes briefly, Carol really threw herself into this hill (video clip):

Eventually we reached the very top of Greenhow and stopped for a break at  Coldstones Cut – a most surprising cross between an art installation and a working quarry in a most unexpected location.  There are strange suburban streetscapes hidden amongst curving pathways taking you up to the viewpoints over the quarry. All slightly surreal from the highest point of the route, 421m up on a hot day and marking the point where we’d risen from the Irish Sea and were now facing the descent to the North Sea for the second half of the trip.

We stayed a good while up here and then eventually headed down the huge drop from Greenhow Hill into Pateley Bridge below, so it was approaching 4pm before we finally had our lunch in the back yard of a cafe. 

By this stage we were pretty frazzled from climbing all-day in the heat and not having a great deal to eat. We really would have been happy to stop for the day now but we had however at least 10 miles further to go to reach Harrogate, where we were going to stay with my Dad (and meet up with Tilly our dog again). 

We were all exhausted for this final leg though and this last few miles was the toughest part of the whole week. We opted out of the climb to Brimham Rocks on quieter roads and stuck with the busier but slightly less steep main road. Carol really had to grit her teeth to keep going especially but she did it, I was impressed. Henry was great, don’t think he complained once but all our legs had gone.

Once we made it up to Burnt Yates then Ripley the going got easier as we followed the beautiful Nidd Valley cycleway for the last stretch, which took us to within a mile or so of my Dad’s house in Harrogate. 

It was already early evening by the time we finished and whilst Carol & Henry started to recover I got a lift with my Dad back over to Gargrave to pick up our car once again. Harrogate would be our base for the next 2 nights now at least and give us chance to get some washing done and catch up a little ready for the 2nd half of the adventure.

59km for the day with 755m of ascent.

139km total after 3 days, with 1467m ascent.

Way of The Roses Day 2 (Ingleton to Gargrave, 44km)

The route for our second day started and finished a few miles off the official route due to the difficulties of finding family rooms for the weekend at fairly short notice, having only planned the trip a couple of weeks ahead. The contrast in accommodation was quite extreme though. On the Saturday night we stayed at the Youth Hostel in Ingleton in a room with a pair of bunk beds, which was pretty basic for £100, without breakfast. No problem with that in itself but it felt a little on the wild side on a Saturday night and we couldn’t lock the door properly, so piled our bags behind it. Just as well as there was lots of shouting and drunken returnees until gone 2AM, including someone trying to join us! 

On Sunday night we had booked a Premier Inn at Gargrave near Skipton, about 3 miles off route but it was only £65 and felt like complete luxury, peace and comfort in comparison. Not to mention a cyclists dream multi-course breakfast!

In spite of the lack of sleep in Ingleton the day started well, waking to beautiful sunshine and a lovely swim in the open air pool in the village. 

We then drove down to Clapham for delicious bacon and egg sandwiches in a slightly weird cafe, so it wasn’t an early start by the time we set off.

The gradient began to rise and the scenery became ever more Dales-esque with stone walls twisting up through the hills and the day getting  sunnier all the time. Henry would disappear up the road ahead, Carol would set her own pace behind and I would flit from one to the other until we pulled up to regroup at a junction or a hill.

We snacked on wine gums as we made the first long climb up to Wharfe, this stretch was lovely and in very quiet lanes. A sporty women’s cycling club passed us on the next stretch down to Giggleswick, it amused us they were called Lancaster Bunnies. Henry was startled shortly after to meet his own bunny in the form of some recent roadkill, narrowly avoided.

The big hill of the day (and steepest of the whole trip supposedly) was the climb out of Settle up onto the moors. Carol didn’t like the idea of stopping for lunch just before a big climb, so we topped up with Henry’s homemade flapjack and rode straight through, it looked nice though. The hill was a beast, cobbled at the bottom and really steep with the odd hairpin and harvest-time tractors and trailers to contend with. I struggled up and we regrouped at the top again.

The descent was long and fast, so the distance passed quickly after this. We were intending to stop at a tea room for a lunch break but the pretty villages we went through were tiny. We had one near miss navigationally, where I caught Henry on a corner and said I was just going to check for a cafe or pub. Henry followed me and although it only took a minute or two to realise there was nowhere to eat, Carol caught and passed us.  So we came back to the corner and waited … and waited … eventually thinking she can’t be this far behind. Luckily although phone signal was too rubbish to call ‘find my iphone’ worked and we managed to catch back up with her. Before we knew it we were turning off the official route again at Winterburn for the last few kilometres down to Gargrave, where our hotel for the night beckoned. 

So a short but very hilly 36km covered on day 2 in just over 2 hours of riding with 1 1/2 hour stopped. In hindsight we could have gone a bit further on this leg but our stopping points were somewhat dictated by late availability of family accommodation.

Approaching Gargrave I realised there was an imminent train back to Clapham to get the car, so I parted company at the hotel and sprinted for that, just getting on as it was already on the platform as I arrived. So I was back at the Premier Inn in Gargrave early enough for a bath before we went out for an excellent Sunday roast at The Woolly Sheep in Skipton to round off a very good day, all feeling good and going well.

44.4km today, with 537m ascent.

80km total after 2 days, with 712m ascent.

Way of The Roses Day 1, Morecambe to Ingleton (36km).

This is a little write-up of the first day of our recent family holiday adventure, cycling coast-to-coast from Morecambe to Bridlington on The Way of The Roses Sustrans route. 

Friends stayed over with us in The Peak District the night before and we had a detour to drop off the dog in Harrogate, so it was mid Saturday afternoon by the time we left Morecambe. This wasn’t such a bad thing though, as it was raining intermittently on the drive over but had stopped for our start and stayed dry for the whole trip.

Dipping our wheels in the Irish Sea wasn’t straightforward with the tide out and the infamous quicksands of Morecambe Bay, a quick dab in a sludgy beach puddle would have to do, along with the obligatory departure photos on the prom. We couldn’t find the Eric Morecambe statue but didn’t waste too much effort given the time of day.

An early navigational mistake taught me another quick lesson, it’s best to stick to the GPS phone route and rectify mistakes pretty quickly! We were soon onto cycle paths heading to Lancaster and I had it in mind that Way of The Roses made a thing of going through the red & white rose capitals of Lancaster & York, so took my eye off the phone map on my bars. By the time I realised the route skirted around Lancaster via The Crook of Lune we then had to cut through a housing estate, including the wrong way down a quiet one-way lane, to get back on track. So it seemed to take a while to escape the clutches of Morecambe and Lancaster and get onto better paths. 

Once we did the route was lovely along the estuary of the River Lune then canal paths and the Lune aqueduct. 

The terrain was pretty flat for an hour or so, then began to rise gradually as we clipped the Forest of Bowland in the next hour. There was one stretch of busy A-road we didn’t enjoy but otherwise quiet lanes took us into the foothills of the Yorkshire Dales. Even a Yorkshire born and bred lad like me was surprised how close to the West coast the county reaches!

The hills got hillier but the mood was still good, although it was near 5pm before we stopped at a nice quiet village cafe in a courtyard for cakes and coffee. The burst of energy got us up the final hills between Bentham, where we left the official route and Ingleton, where we were staying at the Youth Hostel.

So day 1 done with 36km covered and all still happy, although I then had to ride back to Morecambe to pick up the car. I’d decided it would be a good insurance policy to use it as a mobile wardrobe and escape vehicle if the weather or other problems derailed our progress, seeing as this was the first multi-day ride Carol and I had done in twenty years and the first for Henry. In hindsight we’d have been fine with some light bags on the bikes but I quite liked the idea of a few extra solo rides too to make it a bit more of a challenge for me too. 

However I hadn’t really had in mind the fading light and a puncture, so it was turning dark by 8-9pm in August when I got back to Morecambe. I devoured a Snickers and litre of milk at a garage whilst C+H had a nice pub meal in Ingleton, whilst for me it was an Indian takeaway at gone 10pm with limited cutlery in the hostel!

36km for the day with 275m of climbing (and an extra 36km with 148m climbing back to the car for me).