This is an Andy Corless ride, weighing in at 200km and 3.25AAA points (or 3,300m of climbing). The weather forecast was spot on – rain, rain, rain and wind. I arrived in good time but after a brew I noticed it was 5 minutes after the start time and so I set off slightly late (again!). I headed off up the A59 and started catching riders until I ended up at the front with a chap called Dave from Ilkley. The wind was behind heading north through Settle and the climb and descent through Hawes were relatively easy. Then it was up and over Buttertubs, which was shrouded in low cloud as the rain bounced off us incessantly. The descent was frightening in the strong crosswinds – my front wheel catching it alarmingly, wet roads and wet brakes making it hard to scrub speed off.
By the first stop in Thwaite everything was wet and scrambled eggs and coffee was very, very welcome. As we were finishing the next couple of riders arrived – all equally dishevelled.
Leaving the stop meant putting wet kit back on, and for a while I struggled to get warm. Then we turned right off the road and I saw the 25% gradient sign. Riding a hill that steep with streams of water running down it is not really my idea of fun, but at least it warmed me up.
Another couple of hills and descents brought us to How Steam Gorge and the second cafe. After refuelling and putting dry socks and gloves on (which were almost instantly wet) we set off again. At Pately Bridge the climb out was utterly brutal (the last lump on the profile above), being long, steep and into a horrible headwind. In fact we only had 30 miles to go at this point and the next 6 miles took me an hour! Even when I crested the hill the wind was so strong, and the landscape so exposed, that I had to stay in the little ring to make any progress. Any descents were terrifying because the rain was driven hard into my face to the point it hurt, and the roads were full of streams of water and gravel. This was perhaps the toughest 10 miles I’ve ever ridden, and I was by now on my own. At these times, although it’s a physical effort, the mental side is horrible, until the road entered some cover and provided some respite.
The last section was down the A59 and I arrived back at a locked HQ first, catching Andy out slightly. Dave arrived a couple of minutes later. I’d like to say it was fun, but it was really more of an ordeal. In sunnier weather the route would be fantastic so I’ll definitely be doing it next year.
Ride stats : 125 miles in 8hrs 2m at 15.6mph average. Approx 10,000ft* climbing, average HR 140bpm and 5953 kcalories used
*my Garmin has developed a bad habit of not recording altitude properly