Spring into the Dales was my first ever audax back in 2010, and I’ve ridden it a few times since then. It’s a scenic route and I’ve been blessed with some lovely spring weather in the past. Today, however, was not one of those days. Due to a slight route issue I added a mile on and started at the back of the field. The first few miles is a big climb out of Hebden Bridge up and over to Oxenhope, which allowed me to reel in the majority of the riders in front. By the summit I was very hot in my five layers (yes 5!) but by the bottom of the descent I was cold again, and the intermittent drizzle had turned into something more persistent. At the first control I put a 6th layer on in true Pablo style but by now was getting wetter and wetter, and colder and colder. At the second control in Gargrave my first pair of waterproof gloves were soaked, so I put my second pair on (I’ve learned my lesson on audaxes many times!). These were meant to last me until the cafe control at 58 miles but had given up the ghost within the hour, such was the rain.
The wind had been carrying me to this point but as I turned East I was subject to some vicious crosswinds, and then south directly into the face of it. At Rossi’s in Keighley I was so cold I could barely get my phone and money out to buy the hot coffee and cake I desperately needed. My third pair of gloves went on and I was back out into it with the final climb back up from Oxenhope over the tops to Hebden Bridge. Gloves No. 3 proved about as waterproof as a tissue and within a couple of miles my hands were freezing. The wind was gusting badly now, across and into me as I climbed up the hill. At times it was downright dangerous and a couple of times I was nearly blown into the verge, despite leaning into it at a precarious angle. Downhill was probably more scary and I don’t think I’ve come down that hill any slower. Thankfully the wind receded along with the altitude and I got back to the HQ shivering with unfeeling fingers but happy to finish. It was cheering to be greeted by Peter marking cards but I didn’t stay long as I wanted to get home and get into dry clothes. Not my best day on a bike!
Stats : 72.3 miles in 5hrs 5mins and 16s at 14.2mph average. 5,484ft ascent (definitely more – Garmin doesn’t work well in the rain!), 3,251 kcal used. Average HR 128bpm