Spring into the Dales 100 km


I last did this three years ago shortly after moving to Leeds, then 2016 was a year of surgery and no rides, and last year I ended up on the shorter Leap into the Aire after a travel-to-the-start cock-up.  The train from Leeds arrives in Mytholmroyd 6 minutes after the start, so I was always going to be ‘behind’.  I was happy that the ride up out of Hebden Bridge and down to Oxenhope was easier than on the first occasion.  Mist was lifting out of the Worth Valley ahead and the views were great.

Worth Valley from Cock Hill

The rest of the hills, of which the ride is entirely consisted, were hard going.  I got to the checkpoint at Earby around the same time as a few others, but got going again as quickly as I could, pausing only to down a banana.  The first control proper was at Gargrave and again I went into the Dalesman Cafe and wondered why there were so few of us in there, although this time my beans on toast were quite slow coming and rather low on the beans, so I’m not sure I’ll visit again.  By the time I left the controllers were also leaving and there was no sign of anyone else on the ride, so I started to worry that I’d be brining up the rear for the rest of the day.  Once off again I took a right turn prematurely but happily realised very soon and only added an extra km.  Some nice lanes around here.

Tea at the Dalesman Cafe Yorkshire lane

I saw a few other riders but wasn’t sure if they were actually doing this ride or just happened to be going the same way.  I lost a couple of them near Bolton Abbey where we crossed the Wharfe so maybe the latter.

Bike at bridge over the River Wharfe

Blimey that bar bag is fugly.  Arriving at the control in Keighley I was happy to find quite a few others and felt like I was on a calendar event after all.  Rossi’s cafe is great.  The person serving took a bit of convincing that yes I did want a large coffee; it was a small bathtub but I had found the ride hard going and it was just what I needed.  With that and a chocolate-topped flapjack I was ready for the final 20 km back over Cock Hill.  I actually enjoyed this climb both ways, it’s long but doable, in contrast with some of the steeper hills on this ride which in the latter stages had me asking “what the actual fuck?” when I saw the walls of tarmac coming nearer.  I did make it up them all though.  It’s not quite the hilliest ride I’ve done (the Season of Mists is a 2.5 AAA and got me a gold badge), but it is fairly early in the year, and they are just unrelenting.  Thus my top-of-cock selfie is no reflection on Calerdale, which I was quite happy to be welcomed to.

Top of Cock Hill Top of Cock Hill, looking south-ish

Spring into the Dales 2018 route

117 km, average 18 kph (oh dear), riding time 6:29, total time 7:51, 2.25 AAA

Scottish Borders Randonee 200 km


An adventure often calls to mind, or requires, or both, a book.  This ride was to be a little adventure, and a little book was borrowed from the library; John Buchan’s John Macnab.  Sir Edward Leithen and friends are experiencing what would probably be diagnosed today as ‘mild to moderate depression’ and end up playing poachers on three Scottish estates.  Being away from their usual surroundings, physically challenged, and engaging in (what they perceive to be) a high-stakes game has the effect of making them feel ‘alive’ and improves their mental health. Now I find it an over-simplification to say that cycling keeps me sane, or that getting out on the bike makes me feel better; my current bout of depression started while I was riding more last year, increasing my distances in preparation for LEL. The lead up to and start of a ride are usually stressful times, not so much a question of physical ability (I’m reliably full-value, reasonably confident in my own slow ability) but social anxiety.  The early stages can be uncomfortable with riders in close proximity, but as groups form and people find their pace I usually get my own little space and settle in to riding alone.  Seeing people up on the road ahead, out of touch but a reminder of being on the same ride, is all I need.  In general I find audax psychologically beneficial on a longer timescale than the ride, and sometimes not during the ride at all.  It’s the sense of achievement, and in retrospect the shear bloodimindedness of it all, that I value. Some rides I hate the majority of the time I’m there (I won’t name the only one that I’ve resolved never to do again), but other times I do experience absolute joy in the moment. Like Leithen and his friends, once we sign up for a challenge something about the commitment keeps us going, no matter how foolhardy and indeed unnecessary it is.

cycling silhouette

So it was that I came to be emerging from my frosty tent on Selkirk leisure centre’s campsite one Saturday morning in March. There were no other campers and I had the newly refurbished facilities to myself, indeed I should have come in and slept in the warmth of the toilet block, but instead I wriggled into a down jacket and woolly hat at 4 am.

Selkirk campsite Selkirk campsite

After the past few weeks of cold and snowy weather which had resulted in a number of audaxes being cancelled and the innvocation of the ‘severe weather policy’ it was a pleasant surprise to see the sun. It was too late for the original route of this ride though. We were riding the ‘snow edition’, with the road from St Mary’s Loch over to Tweedsmuir remaining closed because of snow. We missed nothing though, this was a cracking route and that sun stayed out all day. There were a couple of ice patches in the morning where the road was in the constant shade so I could see how those high narrow roads could easily stay blocked for some time.


Navigation was not demanding on this ride, and a good part of it was familiar. Essentially ‘left out of Selkirk sp Moffat, 53 km’ was the first section. The A708 is a great road, I’ve ridden it in the north west direction twice before so it was great to be going the other way – of course you see everything from the other side, but also the climbs where you can see the landscape more slowly are reversed. The sun was high enough and the road often on the southern side so that we were mostly riding in the sun. My left foot was quite happy but my right in the shade was still numb with the cold. The roads were in pretty awful condition in many places, here the problem was less large potholes but more the general overall lumpy surface. The route slowly climbs through snowdrop-filled Yarrow, then becoming more moorland.  The hills slowly closed in, but stilll the narrowing burn flowed down, down; back the way we had come.

St Marys Loch

Eventually the top arrived, and the border with Dumfries and Galloway. Here were a few patches of ice but I was happy enough that just going straight and braking in between them would avoid any problems, especially with the road quiet enough to move right out when needed.

Top of the Pass of Moffatdale

There were patches of snow on the hills all day and at the tops of the passes we rode alongside them. Keeping the right temperature was a balance all day long, climbing in the sun was warm but as soon as a shadows and descents appeared zips were pulled right up again.  Stretches of the road around Grey Mares Tail had been fully resurfaced recently and the previous vibrations were soon forgotten, although there were still a few lumps and after one I noticed a rubbing noise. I’m having an ongoing battle with rear mudguards and on stopping in Moffat I realised this was yet another break.  This is my third rear guard of the same type…what’s the definition of a fool, someone who keeps doing the same thing and hoping for a different outcome?  I think I should just switch to gaffer tape suspended by mudguards stays, which is more or less what I have now, albeit interspersed with bits of actual plastic.

Moffat was a trip to the Rumblin’ Tum, reliable as a quick provider of nice grub and possessor of a stamp. The controls were nicely spaced on this route, all about 50 km apart and before a climb. This climb was the Devils Beeftub (A701), local from my youth when I was fat and unfit, and being driven/driving up this way I always dreamt of riding up here one day. Having done this with 600 km in my legs on LEL I knew it would be fine, and it really is a great climb, on and on but never too steep.

Devil's Beeftub

Over the top and the road meets the start of the Tweed, to be followed now as far as Innerleithen. I thought about crossing it yesterday by train in Berwick, and wondered how long it would take the snow patches that were melting today to end up in the sea off the east coast.  We briefly cross Scotland’s watershed on this ride, which coincides with the regional borders around Moffat.  I wondered whether it would have been any different in Buchan’s day; probably not much, the snaking burn and road and the shape of the hills must be fairly unchanged.  The roads were still quiet, among the few cars passing I noticed a Bentley.  After a little while I met it again along with another car, stopped in the road, and realised there was a third in a low ditch on the other side. It had gone through a wall and was lying on its side with the windscreen smashed out. I stopped to see if I could help but they said they were fine, there was someone still in the car but they seemed to be engaged in banter with one of the others (“at least it’s not raining” etc) so I hoped that was a good sign. Soon after I set off an ambulance passed and then a couple of police cars.

Just before Broughton we turned off and I was now on unknown roads towards Peebles. There was a mountain bike event on, and I think full suspension would have been useful just for the road surfaces here. I was generally uncomfortable now and a little miserable, and looking forward to a stop in Innerleithen. I’d calculated that Melrose, the final control, would be too late at my speed for a cafe so wanted to sit down and have a warm drink here.  Some sort of cyclists’ gravity means that those of us who are slower needed to ride further to find a cafe with space, but the Whistle Stop Cafe was a nice find even if their till clock was running an hour fast on the receipt (stilll within time limits!). My back was sore, which I know is because I had done no core exercises recently, so I had some ibuprofen here (bad habit from LEL) and it was much better for the rest of the ride.

Out of Innerleithen and we were again on a bit of LEL. This had been the end of a beautiful stretch back then, and I remember how weird it was descending these deserted moorland hills to suddenly find a golf course. Again it was great to experience the roads in the opposite direction, and as the road climbed along the Leithen Water and the hills drew closer in I decided this is definitely one of my favourite roads.  The sun was sharp on the moorland hills and the roads empty, and I choked up a bit at the beauty of it all. It seems that the only thing that makes me cry these days is cycling and associated reminiscences.

Leithen Water Dewar Swyre

Then we turned off towards Heriot for an info control, before heading south for Stow. We followed the railway line for a while, which had brought me down yesterday and would take me away again tomorrow. This is the most ‘new’ (previously Beeching’d) railway line built for a considerable time, and if it didn’t exist I wouldn’t have been up here riding. Thanks to the Scottish government, and David Steele if I remember correctly.  So far the route had been steady climbs and descents but after Stow (unless going off piste which was an entirely reasonable option, good choice Lucy McTaggart) there was a shocker of a hill which had me cursing at the org at the top. Apparently this featured in the Scottish hill climbing championships in 2017. I soon forgave him as there were some great views here.  Passing a wind farm I heard the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh as the blades of a close mill rotated.  I’d heard similar before, unheralded, in the dark, but never before had I ridden through their shadows, racing towards and through the shadow of my bike going in the opposite direction.

Now we could see the Eildon hills above Melrose which would be visible for most of the rest of the ride. I got a bit confused with the route sheet (my confusion not the directions) and then there was a road closure but the guy working on it let me through and a local reassured me I was going in the right direction. I’d had a walk around here when I camped for last years Moffat toffee so once I could see the Chain Bridge I knew where I was going and headed straight for the Co-op, and crossed paths with Lucy. I’d done pretty well so far not to over-eat but here I had a sandwich and a big twix which I pretty instantly regretted; riding on a full stomach is never comfortable.

Eildon Hills Bridge over the Tweed

The final leg went out to another info which was a bit confusing as the route sheet described it as a T-junction, which did exist a bit further up the road. It took me a while further along the route to be convinced that I’d made the right choice. Lucy had left Melrose before me and arrived at the finish shortly after with an extra few kms so it seemed I had done. As usual the final 10 km seemed to go on forever but once again there was no navigation required so I didn’t bother with my head torch and so couldn’t see how far was still to go or how fast (or indeed slow) I was going, I just practised a bit of being in the present, which I’ve been working on recently. Keep going and you’ll get there. Sure enough almost out of nowhere a T-junction with the A7 appeared and there was the arrivee right next to it – I’m glad I was paying attention and didn’t sail on back down the hill to the town centre only to have to climb back up again, like a few others. Plenty of food at the finish which was great, and I did it in 11 hrs 30 which I was pleasantly surprised by.  Then a freewheel down to the campsite, shower and bed. I was quite happy that the clocks went forward as it meant one hour fewer in a frosty (again) tent before getting the first train to Edinburgh from Tweedbank the next morning.

John McNab

Leithen and his co-conspirators fully exercise and exorcise themselves in John MacNab.  Taking themselves out of their usual surroundings and putting themselves ‘in danger’ was sufficient to shift their minds.  I was actually surprised by the turns the story took in the later stages; [spolier] the recognition of friends and the security that their place in society provides (so not actually ‘danger’).  You can’t read John Buchan now without gagging on the racism, classism and misogyny, but this one has a strong female character and at least some self-awareness at the end.

It’s an over-simplification to suggest that feel bad -> go for an adventure (long bike ride) -> feel better always works.  Perhaps it’s rather that making myself do these things keeps a wolf from the door.

Scottish Borders 200 km map

207 km, average 21.6 kph, 9:42 hrs riding time; 11:30 total time


Mini-north west passage 120 km


Last year I did the longer (200 km) version of this ride; looking at the route is hard to believe it’s only an additional 85-ish km.  This was far more pleasant, starting and finishing in the light.  It was certainly long enough for me to be doing having not ridden anything long for sometime.

You need to be fairly confident riding in traffic for these rides as they are mostly A roads, and I did have a number of daft overtakes and close passes.  Eavesdropping on a conversation at the cafe control one bloke was saying that the 200 km is thought to be the oldest on the calendar and probably originated as a local club reliability ride pre-Audax UK (est. 1976), but no one remembers.  Certainly the roads would have been quieter then.

It was cold and wet at the start and riders were coming and going, some seemed to be on the 200 km (which started an hour earlier) and only just starting, so at 8.55 am I decided to get on with it rather than wait around.  Perhaps I missed some information about a road closure (which turned out to be passable by bike as is often the case) but I don’t know.  The route follows canal and railway line through Littleborough and Todmorden then head up to Holme Chapel and Clivinger, which is a nice section, the steep valley sides had a dusting of snow on the top.  Then through urban Burnley and Nelson before Blacko, where I stopped to take a photo for comparison with the last one.

Bike and signpost in Blacko Signpost in Blacko Bike in Blacko

The weather was backwards on this occasion, it got better as the day went on.  Over the highest point of the ride then down to Lisburn for an info control.  This was nice steady climbing.  Then a lower flat section, where a road closed sign blocked the route but I continued on and there was still half the road left (and no work being done at the time).  Unfortunately the road surface was littered with debris and I soon heard a noise coming from my front tyre.  I stopped just 3 km short of the control to find a piece of glass and a slowly bubbling tyre.  I don’t get many punctures so I’m not very fast at changing a tube.  I managed to break a tyre lever, and the roads weren’t very clean so I was spreading mud and probably worse over my hands and tights, but at least it wasn’t raining now.

Tyre levers

Eventually I got to the Country Cafe control in Waddington, recently visited on the Season of Mists.

Tea and pot

After this a nice profile of Pendle Hill is available when there is less cloud.  It did lift later.

Pendle Hill

Back over the Ribble and around the edge of Blackburn.  Here the route directs riders to turn right at a roundabout for the M65, which was horrible last year so I had spent a bit of time on google street view and found that I could cut it out by going along the towpath underneath (Leeds and Liverpool canal).  The sun was putting in an occasional appearance now and there had only been a few spot of rain (and hail) so I stopped to take off my waterproof and replaced it with a windproof gilet.  Up over Oswaldtwistle Moor, where I thought I might expire last time.  So much tamer in the sunlight and it was easier than I was expecting.  Another ‘highest point’ of the ride (303, 297 and 295 m peaks).

Oswaldtwistle Moor

Through Haslingden and Edenfield, then the final climb up to Ashworth Moor Reservoir.  I was looking forward to this as it had been one of the few highlights of last years ride.  It’s a nice road with good views but the overtaking traffic took some the enjoyment away, especially on the fast descent when a car came past into oncoming traffic then promptly turned left, causing me to brake.

On the last section through Rochdale I was unsure of a junction (named destination on route sheet wasn’t on the sign) but fortunately another rider appeared at the red light and said his GPS was indicating right.  Maybe this is where I went wrong last year.  We got separated at other lights further along (where a driver stopped and asked me if I would send my camera footage to the police if he went through the red light – I was able to reassure him he was quite safe as the thing on my helmet is a light, but the fact that it can be mistaken for a camera is no bad thing), but he kindly waited up ahead to make sure I was still on track.  The last few junctions were a repeat of my way in from the station but when I called a left (which cuts a little corner off) he decided to go with his GPS so I arrived a couple of minutes before him.

Howard, which his name turned out to be, and I both took advantage of the veggie pie and peas option laid on for finishers at the pub.

Pie and peas

Back to the station and there was some very nice light on the hills we’d just come over, and the last of it did its best to make Rochdale look appealing.

Bike at Rochdale station

Establishment-names of the ride: Fecit Farm, and Only Foals and Horses stables.

Mini-north west passage route

122 km, 7 hrs 32 mins, average 9.9 kph

Slightly longer pootle to Tadcaster and Bolton Spa


A cold day, glad of my four top layers and thermal tights. Toes never had feeling.  Routes around this way are very much dictated by river crossings; Tadcaster (no photo) and Thorp Arch, just after which I recognised a control from Goodbye Xmas Pud.  Happy to report that although it was a slow ride my hill climbing and weight are both improved since then.

River Wharfe at Thorp Arch/Boston Spa Near Bardsey Stocks near Wike

Route map

51 km, av 20 km/hr

Ingleborough again


Off the bike and a fantastic weather forecast, so revisited Ingleborough although this time a linear route from Ribblehead to Horton. It was a Sunday so the trains were few and far between…happily the pub was open, and the waiting room in the station was warm and dry.

Whernside and the Ribblehead viaduct Pen-y-ghent Path up towards Ingleborough Towards Whernside Ingleborough

Top of Ingleborough Top of Ingleborough Top of Ingleborough Top of Ingleborough Top of Ingleborough

Ingleborough Limestone pavement near Horton-in-Ribblesdale Paths in the Yorkshire Dales

Route map

Ingleborough: Hewitt, HuMP, Marilyn, Nuttall; 724 m/2,375 ft

Peculiar Old 200 km


I had some quite bad head stuff going on during this ride so I haven’t written it up properly. It was a corker though. Incidentally that Snickers lasted me up until Melrose on the Scottish Borders Randonnee (24/03/18) at which point I chucked it in the bin because I’d had a vomiting-incident a few data before after over-consumption of peanuts.

Very strong easterly wind, the leg from Fishburn to Middleton was right into it, lucky not to be blown off.  According to People Who Know we are talking 35 mph: https://www.windfinder.com/report/copley/2017-10-28. Some nice tailwinds after that.

Langleydale, Middleton-In-Teesdale Langleydale, Middleton-In-Teesdale Lunch in Middleton

River Tees, Whorlton River Tees, Whorlton Signpost

Peculiar Old route

200 km, 11 hrs 45

Season of Mists



Last year I rode Mellow Fruitfulness (50 km) as a sort of ‘return to audax’ after time off the bike recovering from surgery. This time I went for the 100 km option, knowing I’d be behind from the start as the first train from Leeds gets to Mytholmroyd just after 9 am (the start time). Happily I wasn’t the only one, there were two others on the train and several more at the start, including Bob Bialek who was changing an inner tube at 9.10 am.  It was a mild day and the only thing that could be claimed as mist was a little low cloud on first entering Lancashire. Later it was sunny and the arm warmers came off. The ride starts as it means to go on, up to Heptonstall and over the cobbles. I stayed on the bike this time, although it was bloody hard work. Then it’s the Long Causeway, which has entered my ‘favourite roads’ list. Great views looking back into Calderdale.

I was riding ‘blind’ in a sense (although less so than last weekend when the routesheet was distance-less), and relying on mental arithmetic based on 20 kph to work out approximate arrival times at route instructions, after my computer died. Average speeds are not particularly helpful for short stages over hilly roads. Well that’s my excuse for missing the first info control anyway; by the time I realised, I’d climbed and descended again, and I wasn’t going back. I did take a photo shortly after the info in Cxx which I hoped would provide a proof of passage if it cames down to it, although I’m enjoying the ride so much that I don’t care about the AAA points on offer (edit: actually I did a bit).

The Long Causeway, Colden The Long Causeway The Long Causeway The Long Causeway

Travelling through the back streets of Burnley involved a bit of traffic dodging where priorities seemed to go out of the window, then it was up and along a ridge south of Pendle Hill.  The sun was out now, it was a cracking day.

Flanks of Pendle Hill

After a ‘R @ T’ I was faced with the view of a crazily steep road…surely we’re not riding up that?  Of course we are, is always the answer.

Sabden and Nick of Pendle

Down past the slightly battered gradient sign into Sabden and then up, up and a little more up over the Nick of Pendle.  This is a beautiful road, and the descent equally good, with a road wide and with enough visibility you can just let go.  Passed a ski centre as if the hilliness isn’t obvious enough, and then through Clitheroe.

Immersed in my mental arithmetic I couldn’t quite understand how the Mellow Fruitfulness ride fits into this one, but I had assumed they used the same first cafe control which isn’t the case. We stopped at the Country Kitchen Cafe in Waddington; when I arrived there were loads of bikes and it was pretty busy, although by the time I left there were only a few steads remaining. The cafe are obviously regulars at this sort of thing – in fact it sounded like the owner is a cyclist going on an eavesdropped conversation – an did an excellent job. Beans on toasts for me, I didn’t bother looking at the menu.  Climbing again after the control, and I was soon passed by a trio who were getting ready to leave just after me. I felt especially slow, I don’t think I passed anyone unless they had stopped for some reason.  Great views looking back towards Pendle Hill.

Pendle Hill from Waddington Fell Waddington Fell

Somewhere along here was another info control which asked how many chimneys were on a farmhouse. Now there were two brick chimneys, incorporating three chimney pots, plus another from a boiler or similar, so I just took a photo.  Poor Chris Crossland at the arrivee had clearly had queries from many riders and was accepting all possible answers.

Info control: chimneys

I noticed the development of a new noise which sounded like something coming loose, so I stopped in Slaidburn to check the bolts on rack and mudguards, these being things that have wobbled in the past. No sign of any problems. Slaidburn passed quickly, I felt like I’d already stopped too many times to take photos to do so again here. Then the route turns to head for home, south east and over the other side of Pendle Hill.  All afternoon the weather remained very clear, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent were visible in the distance.

Looking towards the Yorkshire Dales

Soon the source of the noise became clear, as a loud rattle caused me to look at the rear while riding, and I could see my mud guard had broken. I resolved to stop at the approaching T junction where I joined a group from Calderdale CTC who I’d been playing leap frog with recently. I am having no luck with mud guards, these were new just before LEL…I was expecting it to have gone at a self-drilled hole again but this fracture was straight across the top where there is nothing else happening. I was going to gaffer-tape it together but one of the others suggested cable-tying the stays to my rack which was a far batter idea (although it did then continue to rattle for the rest of the ride). My choice of red cable ties was questioned but I pointed out they matched my frame. As I whinged about this being my third failure, and the inability to purchase single guards (so if anyone wants a front one met me know) the chap wondered if the weight of my rear light (a bit like this although an older model) was causing the problem. I’d gone for a rear guard mounted light as when I bought the bike I intended it having a touring and an audax mode, the difference being the removal of racks and a change of tyres. In the event I’ve found it incompatible with decent sized saddle bags (they break mud guards…) and so the rear rack has become a permanent feature and one that could happily host a light. Actually it’s been doubly important in allowing me to add panniers for pre-audax camping.

Mudguard suitably botched the next stop was the control at Coldwell Activity Centre.  There had been an increasing number of people coming the other way on muddy off-road motorbikes bearing numbers, and this seemed to be an HQ for them too, after bombing around some fields here.  After two bits of cake AND a bag of crisps I felt ready to tackle Widdop.  I knew what was coming from Mellow Fruitfulness, but I was happy to make it up without stopping, making the most of my triple.  The rusty car from last time was still lying down the steep hillside.

Descent from Widdop Crimsworth Dean

The descent from the top is great but there are a few little ups to keep the legs working, and a crazy zigzag at the start of Hebden Water, before arriving at the Slack junction and rejoining the outward route.  I momentarily considered taking the signed and more major road to Hebden, avoiding those cobbles, but at the last minute went with the devil I knew better and back down through bone-shaking Heptonstall.

I rolled into the community centre while there were still plenty of people and bikes about, including this epic:

Recumbent trike

I don’t use Strava that much, as my phone can only just cope with 200 kms, but I did have it on today and happily that was enough to make up for my missing info control.

I spoke to Nigel and Bob, including more LEL debriefing.  Slightly less comforting was the Calderdale CTC chap, part of the group I’d seen several times, who came up to shake my hand and asked if I was new to this sort of thing.  Now I’m a long way off being an experienced audaxer, I know he was being friendly, but this sent me into an ‘I really am slow’ meh…it would be ok if I could cope with the sleep deprivation but LEL and BGB demonstrate that I can’t, so I do need to work on that time in hand.

Season of Mists route

106 km, 7 hrs 40 mins, 2.5 AAA

2016 – 2017 audax season


At the start of the season I got back in the saddle with a hilly 50 km.  Entering LEL in January got me planning training rides, ideally doing a Super Randonneur series (SR; 200, 300, 400 and 600 km rides in a season) in preparation.

LEL training graph

After a real struggle on an early 200 km I finally got back to the ranks of Randonneur on my 40th birthday, in the amazing surroundings of Mull.

Birthday cake and champagne

After that everything was progress, my first 300 km was splendid but definitely ‘type 2’, the second much more manageable.

Route map of 300 km Beyond the dales we know and Wigginton rides in Yorkshire

A 400 km was my first experience of riding through the night, and became a real slog toward the end; finishing with around half an hour to spare was a bit too close for my liking.  A 600 km pre-LEL wasn’t to be (twice), so I found myself at the start feeling inexperienced, amongst other things.  But LEL, even un-finished, proved to be an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience (even if I do it again I’m sure that first time will never be matched).  It was a real shift in my psyche, although it’s been a challenge to maintain.

JJ start, LEL Innerleithen hills sketch Climbing Yad Moss Peter and Erica at Brampton LEL brevet card

I thought I might have had more than enough of cycling for a while afterwards but that proved not to be the case, and I was keen to at least get my SR award this season.  Well, it didn’t happen, but I thoroughly enjoyed Blackpool-Glasgow-Blackpool nonetheless.

Blackpool Tower

Post-LEL I still have numbness in the thumb and first two fingers on each hand, and the left is pretty pathetic in terms of strength and dexterity.  I plan to get a bike fit (and possibly ahem a new different bike) once I get properly back in the saddle.  I did lower my saddle a little to try and prevent the recurrence of Achilles tendon pain (so far so good), and rotated the bars forwards slightly to try and keep my wrists linear while on the hoods.  There’s no way to tell if the latter has helped while I have continuing numbness, I just hope I haven’t caused any more damage.  I know nerves take a long time to heal.

I’m managing a few rides early this season but November will bring a challenge of a different kind with more surgery and the mind (and fitness) -rotting recovery that accompanies it.  The nature of it is such that I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back on the bike, and it might be best to try and get my final operation done as soon as possible afterwards and have an extended pause rather than off-on-off-again.  If I can help out at some rides during this time I’d love to.

I found some great software to create a heat map at https://erik.github.io/derive/.

2016-2017 heat map

Points: 14

AAA: 7.5

Distance (actual ridden, including DNFs): 5013 km (3053 miles)