So the day finally dawned ( a dull grey as it happens) and I dutifully headed off to Aireville school in Skipton. It looked like I was going to be on my own as the two Andrews had decided to only do the short version even though they'd entered the longer ride.
Once registered and set up with the timing kit I was ready to go. The route was a bit different from that initially promoted with a teasing set of warm-up climbs on a loop through Stirton then it's a convoluted route to get to Malham and the first big climb of the day, the Cove Road. I've been down this but only gone up on a mountain bike. Fortunately the difficulties are short lived and soon I'm passing the photographers to hit the rolling section over to Arncliffe. Well it's rolling as far as Darnwood House, then there's a steep bit, a very steep bit that's about 800m long. (The OS map has the steep bit at the top but it's actually the bottom bend) Lungs bursting I head over to Arncliffe and down Littondale, getting to the food stop at Kettlewell four minutes later than my 2hr target.
Refreshed and restocked it was time for the big 'un - Fleet Moss. I'd done this a couple of months ago with Cath again on a mountain bike. Time to see what it was like on a roadster. Hard is the answer! It was the first time I've used the lowest gear on this bike, even so it was just fifteen minutes from Oughtershaw to the summit. The descent was a blast, even holding back I got past 70Kph which is a bit scary on a road you haven't ridden before.
I was looking forward to a nice ride down Wensleydale but the organisers had other ideas taking us up to Semer Water via some nasty climbs. Then down to Bainbridge and across to the other side of the valley. I got caught by a couple of riders who asked if I wanted to join them. Cue a 3 man chain gang blast at between 45 & 48Kph down to Redmire and the second food stop. Time to here was just over 4 hours.
The other two soon left me behind on the next section and I just managed to catch them at the start of the climb over to Coverdale but at this point a general lack of biking fitness kicked in and I got left behind, this time for good. After a nasty little loop that seemed to serve no purpose other than to put more climbs in to the route it was time for the long drag up Coverdale. Not my finest hour! I ended up having to walk the two steepest sections on the final climb to the col. Then it was just the headlong rush down Park Rash to the final food stop in Kettlewell.
The final section down through Grassington and Burnsall then over Halton Heights is best characterised by my attempts, not always successful, to avoid cramp. Embarrassingly, I had to stop just 300m from the finish. A few stretches and I crossed the line in 7hrs20mins (though the official time will be a bit longer since that doesn't take in to account the stops).
Some food then the bike home. I managed the first hill but the big one I just got off and walked (thanks to the biker who stopped because he thought I was in trouble!!). The cramps nearly returned on the final slight incline.
Unfortunately rehydrating is going to be slightly hampered by the fact that our water ran out yesterday morning - bottled water and beer then!