Friday, 13 September 2013

Way of the Roses Day 2: Earby to York

And at that moment Spanners knew our Coast To Coast ride was over

We've been fairly lucky on our expeditions so far - expeditions is probably making us sound more intrepid than we are but still over all the miles we've covered we've not had many mechanical failures. Chef got a flat as we dipped our back wheels in at the end of our first C2C and his panniers fell apart early on that same trip but they were easily overcome and we've not really had any big problems. Not until Day 2 of the Coast to Coast, a beast of a day. Hilly in the morning and miles and miles to cover in the afternoon. In fact this was due to be our longest ever day in the saddle with 80 miles to cover.

As the route skirted Grassington we headed up and down the rolling hills. At our level of cycling (truly amateur) your ability to get up hills is often dependent on you hitting the right gear at the right time. Myself and Spanners came down a short decline and both tried to hit the hill at the same time. I smugly went pass Rich as he shouted "balls" as his gears and chain clunked and clicked as he tried to find any gear he could. The clunk and click turned to a crunch as Rich ground to halt and shouted a lot worse than balls.

I assumed his chain had come off and kept pedaling for 200 yards. Then it became clear that it was more than just a slipped chain. His chain had snapped, a brake in the chain that Rich knew he couldn't fix. Despite his Spanners nickname, he'd trimmed down on the amount of tools, nuts, bolts and general weight he'd carried with this time. Yet this didn't matter as he'd never carried anything to fix a broken chain with him in the past and certainly hadn't got anything now.

At this point he knew there was nothing he could do. Even if he could push to Grassington or we could ride there, get supplies and get back it would still put us back hours that we didn't have to spare. Neil and Jon were not long behind and soon took in the grave situation. "I've got the tool to fix the chain" said Spanners "but I don't have a spare link". "Oh I've got one of those" said Jon. Well we thought Spanners was going to make love to him there and then, from desperation to elation in five minutes Spanners was happy as anything as he set to work on fixing his stead.

Happy as a pig in mud or a biker with chain muck on his hands Spanners set off with his bike back in full working order. The pace had been steady all morning, knowing that we had a fairly bumpy morning, a big climb before Pately Bridge and then lunch after medium climb out of Pately Bridge it was going to be flat all the way to York.

The climb before Pately Bridge certainly didn't disappoint and this time the whole team were up to the challenge. It's amazing what a days cycling in your legs can do for you. While the legs felt yesterdays work they also had more to give and we all pushed on, keen to get a photo at the highest point of the route.

We stopped at each point that seemed the summit, ready for that much sought after photo. We remembered from our early plans that Nidderdale was a point of reference so we had our picture there. Was that it? Nope.

Surely Highpoint View, a farm, was the highest point?

Each corner we came around there was another short incline, nothing testing, just frustrating as we tried to have that photo to celebrate the metres we'd climbed since we left Morecambe and sea level. In the end we never got that photo, as we crested what turned out to be the top of the hill there wasn't anywhere to stop and we were already thinking of lunch - or I was, as I became known as "Stomach".

Heading down in to Pately Bridge is some ride, I certainly wouldn't want to do it in wet conditions. I seem to remember in a blur Neil and Jon missing a corner and having to adjust as they came down. It is unbelievably steep and I couple only tip my hat/helmet as I saw riders at the bottom setting off to climb it.

Arriving at Pately Bridge we hunted down the local chippy and tucked in to protein and carbs washed down with energy water. Well that's what we told our bodies as we enjoyed a deep fried feast. I later found out that my Grandad used to go cycling with the owner of the chippy years and years ago. There are only hills out of the place as far as I can work out so they must have had some good cycling miles in their legs.

After the short climb out of Pately Bridge we were on to the promised flat heading to East Yorkshire. Having had constant climbing since we left the seaside we were enjoying the flat for a change and soon were in Team Pannier train mode. Slip streaming each other in a long line, getting the miles in the bag while the weather was on our side.

The weather had been fantastic so far and watching forecasts we could see there was a bad weather front chasing us, we needed to keep moving. For now though even the wind was behind us and we sat comfortably at higher speeds than we ever used to travel at. With less weight on our bikes and an understanding of what's involved we were able to tick off those miles comfortably. You wouldn't have thought it was going to be our furthest day in the saddle.

There wasn't much else to tell from that point onward, we simply churned through the miles and in really good time we arrived at York. Well that's how it seems now looking back on it but as the picture above shows we were a bit tired when we hit Ripon for a quick ice cream / banana stop. Getting in to York was easy. We even found the Purple Palace easily after brief directions from a bus driver. The Premier Inn was just next to the route and that felt really comforting after the detour of the day before. After depositing our bikes in the rooms and a quick change we were out in the neighbouring pub with a taxi ordered to take us in to town.

Quite why Neil was kissing Jon's head I have no idea, maybe it was in celebration of completing 80 miles, maybe it was finding a great spot in the sun to have a beer or maybe it was for convincing me and my stomach to put off food for one more beer. It was a late night by the time we'd finished our Chinese banquet and got our taxi home but the hardest two days were done and it was due to be pretty flat in to Bridlington the next day.

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