Sunday, 24 December 2006

5 hours non-stop in the Dales

After a 3 cafe stop ride a few days before this was a bit of a contrast. Silly really and a bit like not stepping on the cracks on the pavement, but I thought it an interesting challenge to try and ride a good route non-stop. That is no stops what so ever, no feet on the ground, leaning against walls, etc. The predicted onset of autumnal weather was also a spur as the glorious weather was obviously not going to last much longer.

The chosen route was around 110 km (80 miles) from Lancaster, past Kirkby Lonsdale, Dent, Dent Station and Garsdale, Apersett (near Hawes), Ingleton, Wray and back to Lancaster. Obviously I had to be well organised so pockets were well stuffed with food, and water bottles filled. MP3 player ready with a fresh battery in for a bit of on bike entertainment. Finally a camera at the ready for on bike photography, and extra challenge thrown in for good measure!

Leaving Lancaster just before midday steady progress was made with a nice tailwind crossing the Lune at Crook of Lune (negotiating a traffic light without too much difficulty) and on past the Redwell Pub and Arkholme. Clear atmospheric conditions gave good views, in particular White Scar Caves (on the return route) stood out really clearly.

Negotiating the busy A65 without a problem led to Devils Bridge, which was quite busy with a few midweek bikers. Straight past the cafe here of course! Weaving through the lanes towards Barbondale the MP3 player died, so a technical battery change was made on a nice flat section. Barbondale was busy with 4X4's, flat caps,binoculars and large over-sized aerials. I thought it was an early shoot, but a managed to ask one of the drivers what was happening, and it was some hounds being exercised! (so a fox hunt basically!). Shame they couldn't get out their 4X4's to get some exercise themselves.

Straight past the cafes in Dent, still with a reasonable tailwind and legs still felt OK. I knew a big climb was not far ahead, so refuelled on bananas and drink (without stopping of course). Also by this stage I'd managed quite a few few photos. After two hours the big climb past Dent Station and over to Garsdale was the next challenge. This is not a desperate climb, but it is pretty long, perhaps a couple of miles continuous climbing. Dramatic scenery and several buzzards and kestrels provided plenty of interest. As Dentdale receded and views towards Wild Boar Fell and Garsdale advanced. A steep drop to Garsdale head and the Moorcock and still a tailwind blew me on rapidly toward Hawes. At Apersett, just short of Hawes, I cut a corner along narrow lanes (under a viaduct being used by an abseil group from Low Mill). It was still a long climb away from Hawes into a pretty stiff headwind, and with legs starting to feel tired now the challenge was still very real.

Once past Ribblehead Viaduct I felt relieved as the head wind dropped and the Lune Valley came into sight. Some Isostar drink certainly helped, and I eat the last of the food supplies (pockets nearly empty now!).

Straight past the butty van and cafes at Ingleton, past two more sets of traffic lights and though a closed road (closed to cars anyway) brought me to the final stretch. At Caton I took the the cycle path by the river, and exactly 5 hours after leaving I was back in Lancaster. It did feel odd getting of the bike and touching the ground.

Only problem is now I will have to think of another silly challenge!

No comments: