Bullet biting time. I’m sorry. I was excited and tired and then life happened. Time to get back on track or no blogging will ever happen again!
Here’s how the story ended!
Cycling from South Shields was not the most enjoyable experience. My legs didn’t seem to be working and every rotation felt like I was cycling through treacle. I was hungry and, I had that horrible moment where every sign you pass points you back to the city you have just left.
I sent poor Neil (Goose) some pretty ‘sorry for myself’ messages and I think he was expecting to pick up a broken, crumpled version of myself. But, true to form, sweaty cheese sandwich and al fresco urination station later and I was back in business.
It was SO amazing to have a cycle buddy for such a long time. I had thought that Goose was just planning on joining me for half an hour on his lunch break but he kept me company for over thirty miles. AND he brought delicious cake. It was almost as if I had been given completely fresh legs. I may still have been incredibly slow but I felt brand new. I’m not sure I would have made it without that boost. Thank you so much!
To make matters even better, we approached another of my former homelands – Darlington. I loved it and made Goose stop to take daft photos in front of the sign.
The villages around Darlington are stunning. It seems that every time I go back, I am shocked by the beauty. This isn’t what one expects to find in the ‘industrial’ north east. If only it wasn’t so cold up there!
At the 65 mile mark, I was flagging again and it was time for Neil to leave but I knew that there was another Neil less than 10 miles away (my very good friends Sarah and Neil were waiting for me at her parents’ house). I dug deep and made it – my body and mind continuing to surprise me.
Upon arrival I had such a warm welcome and I just felt like I had landed at home. I loved this day and I loved the immense feeding that ensued even more. I felt guilty for a very brief moment in time – the generosity of my hosts a little overwhelming – but I really needed to food and Sarah convinced me that it was given willingly.
AND I found out that I had achieved my first ever QOM (Queen of the Mountain) It didn’t matter to me that my mountain had no subjects (I was the ONLY female to have ever attempted the segment according to Strava).
Everything would have been perfect had it not been for Neil (the non-cyclist) grabbing my big toe playfully… not realising that I had managed to win myself two dead toenails (so attractive)… YEAOOOOOOOUCH!
Come the morning, I certainly didn’t want to leave but I knew I had a big hill and didn’t want to underestimate it the way I had with the Honiston Pass so many days earlier. I set off in reasonable time, left my toiletries and got to say goodbye all over again to Sarah and her wonderful dad who had driven out to bring me my forgotten items.
I didn’t feel like I had much left in me but it was such a psychological win to see that I had fewer miles left at this point than I had been used to seeing on the count down almost four hours later. It helped that the scenery was absolutely incredible. I stopped to take a picture of Jervaulx Abbey but I really couldn’t do it any justice so I carried onwards and enjoyed the view selfishly – you’ll just have to visit yourself to see it all.
Pretty much the moment I passed the sign saying ‘Welcome to the Yorkshire Dales’, the climbing began. I’m not sure how but I managed to feel quite excited about it. AND THEN I FOUND MY FIRST TOUR DE FRANCE SIGNS. I was too excited for words and eagerly began trying to selfie myself silly… fortunately I was rescued by a lovely local guy, Edward Dent, who played camera man and chatted with me about the route. It was evident that the real climbing had not yet begun. BUT I was almost half way there – it couldn’t be too difficult.
I can tell you that it was pretty challenging. Then it began raining. But do you know what? I didn’t care. I was so excited with the feat I was about to achieve and I was so close to my goal. Yes, I got off and got on and pushed myself to the next pot hole or the next cattle grid sign but I was never in any doubt that I would get there in the end. I had already achieved so much and I felt unbreakable. And it continued to rain.
The descent into Kettlewell was the most terrifying feat of my life. Fully loaded, fully soaked and a 25% gradient snake wound down before it. The only thing that could make it more frightening would be traffic. Naturally it arrived on cue. I did see one nutter on his way up the hill as well… I can only dream.
My friend Alex who had recommended this version of the route had suggested that I stop in Kettlewell for a hot drink. I was dripping wet, making amazing time and pretty hungry so it seemed to make sense.
It was here that I met the lovely Penny who was out cycling. She shared her own personal story and I felt very touched to have been a part of that. She also donated to the cause and brightened my day. If only she could have done the same for the weather.
Teeth chattering, about two hour later, I emerged into the continuous downpour and began spinning for victory. I was cycling roads I’d travelled in the car many moons before; the past couple of days feeling very much like a cycle down memory lane.
And it was broadly downhill from there but not before I managed to overtake a man on his bike ON AN UPHILL!! Hooray!
I arrived into Skipton too early and I couldn’t get in at my brother’s house so I took myself to a local boozer, shoved some jeans on and treated myself to a delicious pint of cider. I was ecstatic. I had so much energy and I just wanted to celebrate.
I had made it. All the miles. Go me 🙂
Ooops! I didn’t take a finishing line photo!