I wrote last week about how difficult it can be to get out and ride when you're busy at work, so I decided to find a new way to get the miles in on the bike and get that all important Transcontinental training under way. Therefore I decided to set out on a 100 mile ride into the heart of the North Yorkshire Dales and test some new roads i'd seen but never ridden on before with a friend of mine Dovy. Check out the route here. I decided we would ride at 8am to make sure there was still plenty of time left in the day for other activities but waking up that early after a long week at work was pretty tough, especially when it was below freezing outside making for less than inviting conditions. However, with a little nudge I pulled on my many, many layer of lycra and munched down my breakfast before hitting the road.
The route was a great mixture of fast rolling roads, dry stone walls and quiet countryside with some stunning early morning views, taking in some well know destinations including Bolton Abbey, Pen-Y-Ghent and the Settle-Carlisle railway along the way.
Thankfully we were blessed with some early morning sunshine as we flew along the valley bottom on our way into the Dales, pushing a solid tempo to stay warm, with each misty breathe of air reminding us just how cold it was on the road.
We passed Bolton Abbey and the 20 mile mark in just over an hour and decided to keep the tempo high. In no time at all we arrived at the new stretch of road that would take us up and over Halton Gill towards Pen-Y-Ghent. This was a beautiful stretch of road about ten miles long with a long, category four climb sandwiched in the middle. I couldn't resist the challenge of setting a good time and maybe even going for a Strava KOM, so set into a rhythm and charged up the climb as fast as I could; I didn't get overall KOM, but the 2015 version is good enough for me.
Of course, what goes up must come down, and very soon the road snaked away towards settle, nestled in the shadow of the Pen-Y-Ghent. The shadow cast by the mountain had resulted in the formation of a thick bank of freezing fog - so freezing in-fact that my jersey developed frost and began to turn white.
Thankfully, the fog didn't last too long and before long we were blasting along the A59 in the morning sun towards Skipton. Somehow we forgot we were on a century ride so pushed the pace to a rather ridiculous 26mph, taking satisfaction in watching the miles disappear. Sadly though this burst of speed didn't last too long when suddenly we a realised our legs were a little tired and still have 30 miles to go.
Did we back off? No chance. We kept pushing and pushing, refusing to let our average drop below the 18.5mph we had so dearly clung onto so far! In no time at all we were back in Burnsall with very tired legs but still in great spirits. So with 80 miles down and feeling quite thirsty, we pulled in for a quick water bottle refill before setting off to chase down the remaining miles.
I would love to tell you all the last few miles were a blast, but in reality they were very tough and just five miles outside Leeds we came to the foot of the Chevin; a two mile long, category four climb. It was here that my legs really let me know that they were tired, screaming at me to stop, begging me to end the pain I was putting them through and pretty much refusing to turn the pedals. My heart rate was well above 190bpm and I was fading rapidly, but I managed to block out then pain and push over the top, nibbling on some Soreen to get some energy back.
The final five miles were hell as I battled with my legs to keep turning but thankfully we made it back and the whole ride was over in just 5 hours and 30 mins at an average of 18.4mph. The roads were fantastic and I'll certainly visit them again, but I have only one question for myself - Can I do that every day for a week for Transcontinental? Only time will tell...