The B&B at Thirsk had been a psychological crutch for us as long as we’d been talking about LEL. It would be at 1000km meaning we were well on the way to the finish, and would provide a much needed boost of hot shower and comfortable bed. We had arrived at Meadowcroft at 10-30pm. After a short while sorting my kit out, I showered and was dead to the world by 11pm. We’d decided on a bit of a lie-in so would meet for breakfast at 7-15am. I awoke at 6-50am feeling both refreshed but concerned. My legs had gone into recovery mode and the muscles were stiff and sore. Both knees were also stiff and it was painful to walk downstairs to a marvellous cooked breakfast.
I removed my crossbar bag and dosed myself up on Nurofen, we met Steve who had stayed at a nearby hotel, and were ready for the road at 8am. The ride to Pocklington took us back over the Howardian hills although this time it wasn’t in the dark. The roads were narrow and poorly surfaced in many places, and the countryside was very pleasing to the eye. We couldn’t believe that we’d smashed through it in the dark because with hindsight, we’d been very lucky to do so without incident. We were all very stiff so were moving quite slowly. My right knee wasn’t troubling me so I was quite relieved, although my left knee was sore as it was doubtless not used to taking so much of the load as it had. What was a real problem was my backside. No amount of shuffling about could get me comfortable. It meant I was riding a hundred yards then standing up on the pedals or fidgeting to a position that didn’t hurt. Steve looked in better nick than us, spinning quickly up the hills ahead, only getting caught by us as we descended quicker.
By now I was counting down the miles between controls. I was at that point where mentally I could only function by breaking things down into ever smaller chunks. Every so often someone would crack a joke or say something that seemed disproportionally funnier than it actually was, but we were getting quieter and quieter.
We rolled through Pocklington and then over the Humber Bridge again and into Market Rasen. By now it was 4-30pm, and we’d seen sunshine and showers. The wind was also against us. We stopped at a pharmacy.
“Where’s your moisturising cream?” asked Chris.
“Is it for your face?” replied the lady pharmacist.
“Erm, let’s just go with yes,” came the reply
Anyway, stocked up on cream for our bums, we arrived at the control. We concluded it might take 3 to 4 hours to get to Kirton and of course, when we set off it started raining. And I punctured. Then didn’t find the tiniest bit of flint in the tyre so ruined the tube. There is nothing quite so demoralising as changing a puncture in the rain, when you are behind schedule.
I’m not quite sure where it was but at one control we were interviewed by the film crew. At the time I didn’t really know who I was, where I was or what day or time it was, so I can only conclude that I babbled incoherently. As did Chris. I will apologise now if that somehow ends up in the final edit and I look like a right tw*t.
We arrived at Kirton at 9-30pm. Chris and I resolved to continue to St Ives as per the plan but Steve’s earlier energy had gone. He was completely shot, and not really functioning properly so made the right decision and managed to book a bed just in time, as more and more riders were coming in looking spent. Very quickly the control ran out of beds.
We set off across the Fens in the dark and were soon alone on featureless flat roads riding into a headwind. The only thing that was visible were our lights. We’d passed a couple of riders early on and left them behind. The stars stood out dramatically against the coal-black sky with no light pollution to diminish their brilliance, and it was completely quiet, save for the whirring of wheels on tarmac. Occasionally we’d make reference to the inappropriate joke we’d made on the way north and dissolve into fits of giggles, but we settled into silence as we struggled on. The miles were counting down demoralisingly slowly and we seemed to be going slower and slower. On the way north a gentle caress of the pedals had seen us riding at over 20mph. Here we were grinding it out relentlessly to make 13mph, the bravado a distant memory.
We literally fell into St Ives at around 2:50am and joined a bunch of cyclists sleeping in the hall, shadowy husks of the men that had set off only a few days earlier.
Ride Stats : 187 miles in 14hrs 19mins at 13.1mph average. 5267ft ascent, 7300kcals used. Average HR 105bpm