Today was the big one, the category 2 climb over Tan Hill, although my confidence had grown on Winlatter, that was only a cat 3!
Lovely evening in the pub last night, great food, good ales, the day started today with a top breakfast, although i would have preferred my bacon a little more well don, Rob agreed! We all agreed though, how much we’d forgotten how good Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes are! We hit the road at 9:20am in horizontal rain, with damp cleats from the day before! Spirits were pretty high, but i think all three of us were pensive about what lay ahead!
We launched straight into the face of a steep climb with no warm up, but by the time we had battled to the top, the rain was beginning to ease, and we got to wave good bye to the Lakes….. Dan flipped it the bird! 😉
That was largely the last we saw of the rain as we pressed on West with the wind at our backs still, which was handy when I got chased by a dog! I couldn’t work out if it’s intentions were noble or not, so decided not to hang around and find out!
A sign post led us to Rutter Force where we stopped for a breather and a photo.
We rolled into Kirkby Stephen around lunchtime, marking roughly the half way point of the estimated 162 miles, but yesterday had added 10 miles to that! We stopped for a snack and another breather, in preparation for Tan Hill!
As we wend our way to the foot of Tan Hill, i misjudged the incline of a hairpin bend, and whilst Dan thrashed his way up the outside of it, i found myself grind to a halt on the apex….whoops! Before we knew it, we were climbing Tan hill, and within five minutes, Dan and I were pushing, whilst Rob opened the gap! Surprisingly, ten minutes of pushin saw us back in the saddle once again
I don’t think i can find words to describe parts of the climb up Tan Hill, everyone withdrew into their own dark place and got on with the battle. Added to the muscle torment, were the side-winds, what was on our backs previously was now pummeling us from the right with gusts powerful enough to push you metres sideways, it was sketchy!
We followed the road after a fast buffeted descent into a wall of wind, and ground to a halt, spending the next ten minutes pushing and watching Rob widen the gap to the summit! Shortly after, we were back on and closing that gap, arriving at the Tan Hill pub a few minutes after Rob, jubilant, the three of us!
We got quite a lot of respect up there!
On leaving the pub, one bloke commented, “Your mate’s hard, isn’t he!?” Rob replied, “Yeah, they’re both riding fixed gears.” To which he replied, “Fixed gear, really!? I meant because he was wearing a vest!”
The descent down Tan hill was hard work, a different kind of hard work, spinning the cranks as fast as we could manage, touching 30.1mph, arses almost bouncing off the saddles, with a fierce tail wind driving us ever on. We covered a lot of ground in a short space of time, for the first time being able to work a proper chain-gang taking turns on point as we munched the miles through Arcengarthdale, Swaledale and Reeth where we stopped for lunch. Lunch afforded me a good ol’ reminisce back to when I stayed there with my father in the poor house all those years ago! Good times, and a very different experience!
After lunch, we continued our slick chain-gang on through Richmond, making excellent time, as a result though, we missed a turn and ended up riding through Danby Whiske, still within tolerance of the route, and allowing me more reminiscing over the route I walked in 2000. We tangled with 3 roadies on the run into Danby Whiske, two older lads and a youngster. they rode with us a way, and on clocking the fixies, one of them turned to the youngster and said “Proper Hard Men these!”
Following Danby Whiske, the miles were beginning to take their toll, and like yesterday, our proposed route was stretching beyond the estimate of 70, and it tipped 80 miles when we finally rolled into Ingleby Cross, and tackling the final climb, my legs where living on borrowed time!
The old girl who ran the B&B had phoned ahead and forewarned Dan that she would be in the pub, at 16:30 when we arrived. We were skeptical of the timing, but rolled in shortly before 5….. How did she know!?
We had a few pints in the pub, then headed up to the house for showers, before returning to the Blue Bell Inn for good food and beer. Love that pub, exactly the same as I left it, the prices too!