I think there is a special sense of accomplishment when you complete something you were convinced that you couldn't do. By lunchtime today I messaged Rachel to say I was done. I had no idea why I was doing this and didn't want to go on. She sent back some positive and encouraging words that made me think, OK just try for another hour. By 5.20pm we were in Wigan and done for the day. It doesn't matter what that thing is, but if part way through you cannot see the end in sight, it means more if you somehow make it to the end. It's one of the things I love about A to B rides: they offer little alternative but to finish.
This morning started with a rude awakening. There are no flat roads out of Hawes and we started climbing within a minute of leaving the hotel. This is not great as I take ages to get going at the best of times. I've taken to doing a 30 minute warm up ride ahead of every club ride because I struggle with the pace otherwise, no matter what the speed.
The road out of Hawes was the first of 7 numbered climbs on my Garmin. I don’t know if you have this, but Garmin switches to the climb profile on anything it counts as a proper hill. This can be useful to help you pace yourself or can massively demotivating when you are not feeling good. Another three numbered climbs turned up with the first hour on our way to the Ribble Head Viaduct. By the time we reached it I was knackered. We had been following the same form as yesterday: Trevor out front and me in a one man groupetto behind.
By lunch at the Gisborne Trial Centre café we had only covered 50km but almost a thousand meters of climbing. I had also had a fall. While riding up a 7km hill I had stuck my sunglasses on my helmet as they were steaming up. They fell off my helmet, I tried to catch them and bang, I hit the deck knee first. Maximum idiot points for the day. Trevor was insistent this evening that I didn't need to share this, but I explained that the blog (and YouTube channel) have been built on telling the truth. If I mess up, I share that too. There's no point in sharing a carefully curated version of the truth.
Anyway after lunch I got a second wind. Actually that's an exaggeration. I found a way to ignore the voices in my head telling me to stop. My legs didn't work any better, I just found a slow rhythm that worked on the hills.
When we finally left the Yorkshire Dales behind and entered Lancashire, it started pissing down, of course it did. There were still two Garmin numbered climbs left, both over 3km long. But even after they were done, the route was still up and down. Is there nowhere flat up north? There were a number of tiny hamlets at the bottom of stupidly steep climbs and even Trevor was fed up. I think. It's hard to tell if anything affects his metronomic cadance and placid exterior.
We skirted around Preston following the Lancashire Cycle Way and then out of nowhere dropped onto the Liverpool to Leeds canal. This was 15km of flat pleasent riding and a great end to the day. It looked like it went all the way into Wigan and a friendly local confirmed it took you to Wigan pier. With about 5km to go Komoot told us to leave the canal and ride on the parallel cycle trail. This was a mistake. The trail was waterlogged and 1km later it looked like both us and bikes had been sprayed with pig slurry. I was convinced we had no chance of getting these bikes into our room at the hotel. We searched for a car wash with no luck. On the road into Wigan Trevor spotted a bloke with a power washer cleaning a wall and asked him to hose the bikes down. In London I'm sure the bloke would have told him where to stick his bike. Up here he just laughed and pointed the hose at us and the bikes.
Five minutes later we were on our way celebrating like we had won the lottery - well, it had been a hard day.
A fat dirty burger and three beers later at the hotel maintained the happy end to the day. Given that I would have happily climbed into a broom wagon five hours earlier, I'd say that's a win.