Friday, June 21, 2002

Friday. Yesterday my legs were 'pinging' they had a feeling of strength about them, which I remember from 14 years ago ! Whatever. Yesterday evening I went out to truly test that fitness ! Drove up to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Parked the car. Surrounded by fat walkers with ridiculously large boots and stupid hats (this is the English dales, not the bush or Himalyan foothills). Off I went, along a short stretch of tarmac then hit the first rough stuff on a bridleway over past Pen-Y-Gent to Littondale. Very rough stuff. At first I bumped along in a lower and lower gear as the incline grew. Lots of loose stones eventually forced me to walk, which set the scene for much of the ride. Up past Hull pot onto a boggy stretch of land. Here there were great deep ruts in the path made by trials motorbikes. They made the going impossible. Short ride, skid and stop before I fell. Brief stop up to my front hub in a bog. Did fall, wacked my shin. along a brief bit of made up track with a nice gritty level surface that lasted about a mile, then back to ruts, boggy ground with long deep ruts. The downhill bit into Littondale and a bit of tarmac was bits of walking and riding. Then a very steep track over to the next valley. A 350 meter climb along a zig zag rocky track, rideable in parts, then too stony in others. Well, could have ridden much of it without the rough surface, the gradient was sever but I could force it. At the top stopped to eat Salami, Primula cheese baguette. This was Horse Head ? 2000 feet, 608 meters. And did some naked worshiping to the ancient gods. Down the other side into Langstrothdale ? I think. This was better, rocky mostly rideable. Very nice final steep grassy stretch to the road. This went along I decided to do the hill over to Cam End. After the first steep bit I began to suffer, lower and lower gear. Then through the little village. Stopped to put it in the little ring. Then up the long miles uphill to the top. Really nice here, what a view, curlews calling. Left over the top and along to Cam Farm. Tarmac, then a track. Now its 10.45 and getting dark. Its a little cloudy, a half moon shining watery through high cloud. As the track got rougher I walked more. Stony, and all I could hear was the rattle of my chain clanging on the inner ring. Walk, get on, rocky bit off and walk. Straining to see the ground, on and on. Now 110.20 and really dark. Then a white stretch of made road, gritty but rideable, then tarmac ! Past High Birkwith, avoidind a hedgehog and back to the car. Washed some of the mud off my boots, and wiped it off myself. 20 miles, started at 18.40. Back at 11.50. almost 5 hours ! A tru epic and my first real mountain bike ride across real mountains.

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