Sunday 23 August 2015

Day 7 – The Long One

After a night in Skipton in a number of different hotels we regrouped on the road north. My hotel was the furthest away and was probably the slowest in terms of breakfast service. Consequently the group had already set off, but no matter as Ray was on hand to make sure I went the right way – he’s obviously picked up on my navigational weaknesses. He assured me that the group were only a few minutes up the road so after a fast bit of time trialling I soon caught up with them.

We were now in the Yorkshire Dales and I felt on top of the world. This is spectacular countryside and as I rolled along I felt completely at one with my surroundings. Riding in places like this made me realise how lucky I am to be able to enjoy them. It never ceases to amaze me that true wilderness on this scale still exists in England.

Classic Yorkshire Dales riding
Spirits in the group were high with lots of happy chatter. As we rode up Wharfedale with Pen-y-Ghent on our left the chatter became more and more subdued as the main climb of the day came into view. The climb up through Yockenthwaite and Beckermonds to Oughtershaw was tough, very tough and long, very long. When we got to the top we all agreed it was the toughest climb since leaving Land’s End. But very satisfying to conquer, especially the last bit that ramped up to at least 20% which at the end of half an hour’s riding uphill at an average gradient of 12% put my heart rate into a new high! A very high speed descent, with a squealing of brakes signalled our arrival at Ray’s Diner for the day’s first refreshment stop.

We then whizzed along following the route of the historic Settle to Carlisle railway line as the splendour of the North Pennines unfolded on our right and fleeting glimpses of the Lake District appeared on our left. Our route follows a more easterly course so we’re not getting an opportunity to try of some of the iconic climbs of the Lakes. Perhaps that’s a good thing!

Our (late) lunch stop was accompanied by heavy rain so we all put on our wet weather gear. By the time we’d finished lunch the rain had stopped (perfect timing) so off came the wet weather gear and we were away. We arrived at Melmerby village to find it ready to welcome the Tour of Britain which passes through in about two weeks time. Yellow bikes were everywhere!

The rest of the ride was fast and largely uneventful - the only real point of note was a last steep climb out of Brampton and a delightful ride along the line of Hadrian’s Wall to our destination at Birdoswald and the site of Milecastle Fort. We had finished the longest day and are now over halfway to John O’Groats. Yaay!

Miles today 93
Total miles from Land’s End  562 (+ 17)
Miles to John O’Groats  424

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