A little bit late but the blogs seem to be a week or so out of date at the moment, I'll catch up.
We headed over to Ilkley on a day that appeared windier than forecast and rather cloudy and parked up amongst a host of cheap cars and expensive bikes. Having got Cath sorted and away, I dropped from the long course to the medium as I didn't feel I was fit enough for the former.
With my electronic tag checked at the start it was off towards Otley. This was much easier than the last time I'd been this way as there was no headwind. Then it was a simple matter of turning north and heading towards Norwood Bank, the first of the main climbs. Not too bad but very rough surface in the lower half but still got nowhere near the 7mins that it supposedly should take according to the 100 best climbs book.
By now the club teams were out and zooming past me. A couple of peculiar loops took us to the A59 then it was the long climb up to Greenhow Hill. Mostly this is steady going but there are a couple of dips with steep climbs leading out the other side. I caught Cath on the second of these. Then it was in to the wind and down to the food stop at Grassington with a very nasty road surface at the foot of the descent to Hebden (Yorkshire Council take note!). I got to Grassington in 2hrs9mins which I was fairly pleased with as 2hrs was my fast target time.
After some refuelling and restocking of water I was on my way again heading towards Halton Gill and the next big climb. On the way I teamed up with a rider going at around the same pace which helped with the effort in to the headwind. No more big teams passed us so presumably they were all doing the long ride. The main part of the climb, being sheltered, was OK but as soon as we got on to the flatter bit at the top we were faced with a strong wind which made getting to Settle hard work.
Getting out of Settle meant Stockdale Lane, which is steep especially after 50 miles. By the time it came to the descent to Airton, my glasses had steamed up and I nearly wiped out, just seeing a huge hole at the side of the road in time.
More food and refuelling at Airton then I missed the others leaving so ended up doing the last section on my own. No big hills for the most part but lots of short steep ones to slow you down. The one big hill is saved for the end - Langber. I wasn't looking forward to this with 80 miles in my legs. As I approached the second steepening I could see my earlier companion struggling just ahead, fair to say I struggled as well. When it came to the main climb I could see that the efforts were taking their toll on him and he came to a halt about halfway up slumped over his bike. I came to a halt about 50 metres earlier and walked the rest.
After that it was a few miles of more rolling terrain before the descent in to Ilkley and the finish. My bike computer showed 6hrs 19seconds but with the food stops my actual time was 6hr20mins - bronze standard. Cath came in about an hour later looking about as tired as I felt. I think a lot of people had a hard time as on the medium route only two riders got a gold standard (by just a couple of seconds) and only 17 got silver. Still it was a good ride out.