Monday, 27 June 2016

Yorkshire Dales 300

There's a bike outside the shed, I push at the door and a voice says "There's three of us in here", "Any room?", "Maybe". The three are laid out lengthways in the shed but there's space to lie down across the opposite end.

Bivy bag out, strip, get into dry clothes and into the bivy. It's 0045 I've been up since 0300 yesterday and riding since 0800. I'm knackered.

Some pre-start nerves showing.

The second running of the Yorkshire Dales 300 ITT was proving to be a little harder than last year's affair, an extra twenty kilometres of mainly off-road riding at the start meant that getting to resupply points before they shut meant pushing hard.

I'm mostly on my own, occasionally I'm with another rider but generally there's no-one else in sight so I'm left to ride at my own pace conscious of the middle 'T' - time. A rider passes me descending in to Coverdale but he's too strong for me to keep pace with and the elastic snaps. Soon after my gears begin making an awful noise which no amount of fettling will deal with. It's only after riding through a deep puddle that the noise stops and the penny drops - the chain needs oiling. A cheeky request at a Buckden cafe and the chain gets a healthy dose of 3-in-1 oil which does for the rest of the ride.

The weekend's forecast had changed almost daily, the latest had given showers in the afternoon. Heading up from Kidstones the first of them passed over, not too heavy but you definitely needed cover. A few more showers in and around Castle Bolton then on the top of Harkerside Moor a big shower hit. With only descending to do I'm getting cold.

I get to Dales Bike Centre five minutes after they "have shut" but Stu knows we are coming and is keeping the cafe open a little longer, ace man. I'm surprised to see some of the fast guys just leaving, I didn't think I was that close to the front. Once inside a look at my GPS stats shows why: an average moving speed of 15.5kmh with just 32 minutes of stops. A bit of that will have been dealing with gates, oh and the chat with the farmer at Thornton Rusk. Coffee and soup hit the spot while the rain subsides.

Mike (who would eventually finish third) at Dales Bike Centre cafe. Stu having a giggle.

Heading up Fremington Edge I get a slight spasm - cramp! I don't want a repeat of last year so a different strategy: straight off the bike and walk until I feel better. It just so happens that I'd have been getting off and walking a few metres later anyway and it's the top gate before I begin riding again. It continues like this for the rest of the day, twenty minutes or so riding then a bit of a spasm so walk but at no point am I incapacitated with a full attack.

I can see clearly now the rain has gone!

Mike (the rider who'd passed me in Coverdale) passes me again at top of the descent to Langthwaite and I don't see him again - he rides through the night to finish in third.
About to descend to Langthwaite

Rainbow from Great Pinseat
I carry on over Great Pinseat and am approaching the descent to Gunnerside Gill when another rider catches up with me. This time I find the right line, except it's too hard for me so I walk it all. The ride out along the gill edge is as good as ever and then down to the pub in Gunnerside. It's taken three hours to do the 20Km from Dales Bike Centre to here. A couple of quick pints of orange and water then I'm on my way.

My new companion decides to stop near the top of Buttertubs Pass to have something to eat and it's the last I see of him. The blast down the other side is chilly in the evening temperatures and it's a relief to pedal along to Bainbridge. I see some lights on the climb up the Roman Road, soon it will be my turn.

Despite it being a further distance to this point than last year I feel much fresher but even so there's no way I can ride through the night so I need somewhere to bivy.

It's half four and someone's alarm goes off. It's quite light outside and the four of us make our preparations to get going. No hanging around, the midges see to that. One lad's away then a few minutes later two of us head off. We end up riding the rest of the day together.

Pennine Bridleway bridge over the Ribble.

The climb over Great Wold is a push, the descent on a rigid bike interesting. The last rider from the overnight stop passes us at Ribblehead but stays just within sight until Feizor. Timing now is critical, too quick and the cafe at Feizor won't have opened so take it steady whilst still making progress. Drop off from the limestone plateau and then it's the lovely lanes into Wharfe and around Austwick, I even manage to ride the clapper stone bridge usually it's blocked by walkers. We get to Feizor at 0845 and the cafe doesn't open until nine. A minute later and they've opened! Coffee and full English, good portions too.
Ali and Dave having breakfast in Feizor cafe

The young lad is having saddle problems - the top section has unbonded from the post! While he's finding a workaround we carry on. Climb, descend, climb, descend. Although it doesn't feel like it we are  grinding down the remaining distance. Rewater and an ice-cream in Malham and we are a group of three again and ride together to the end.

The final climb up on to Barden Moor is a walk for all three of us until finally the angle eases and though there is still some climbing to do it's nothing to what's gone before. We enjoy the moorland singletrack then it's just a blast down the estate track to the road, one section of farm track and it's just road to the end.

Once on the road I find some energy in my legs and it's hammer time, push on as fast as possible in to the headwind slowing only for the final hill. There's some sort of fair/concert going on in Skipton High Street so a bit of local knowledge to get round it and we are in the final straight.

We roll into the yard together. "Well done" says Stuart "joint eighth." Final time was 31hrs53 almost three hours quicker than last year.

Anyway, here's the facts and figures ...


1 comment: