Friday, May 31, 2013

Why Can't All the Days be Like this one??

So, Grasmere for the Bank holiday, a day ahead of schedule, and the weather just turned out lovely. Instead of having to ride the detour route of 44 miles from low Wray to Grasmere, via Hardknott and Wrynose Passes on Saturday, I woke late and enjoyed the fact that it was not raining or windy at all.

I now had an interesting choice: Take a day off to rest, or ride the detour route in reverse, starting and finishing at Grasmere, without the bags. It was a tough call to make, really. on the one hand, it was included in the full route plan but, on the other (and given both past hill experiences and the current pain in my legs) it was very likely all I'd do was ride out to the hills then walk the bike up them. kinda pointless, really. In the end and after much consideration, I decided to go with the day off option. I knew that the previous days off had not been long enough rest for my legs to recover much at all, and that I had a relatively easy week ahead of me, to be followed by some seriously big days, so decided that if I could give my legs every chance of recovery prior to the last big push, i'd be dong my self a real favour. Saturday, therefore, was spent enjoying a stroll round Grasmere village, some reading time at a pub, and generally a bit of a sit down. I figured that I could make up any shortfall in the mileage at the end once I got to the top of Scotland.
Some quintessential English countryside that lifts the spirits at a glance.

Sunday came soon enough and it was time for the last big day until next Friday, from Grasmere over to Middleton-in Teesdale - 65 and a bit miles. i was excited at the weather forecast which was for sun and light winds, and cracked on by 8am. I have to say that today was how I'd imagined/hoped so many more of the days might have been: Sunny, calm, rolling hills that offered a challenge but didn't crush the soul, and breathtaking scenery.

It made such a change to not be cold, blown around across the road, or coughing up a lung as I pushed the bike up a hill. I arrived at the campsite in Middleton by about 3pm, allowing me a relaxing wander around the old town, before chilling out by the river that bordered the campsite. The 65 miles over the dales was very enjoyable, with the ghostly calls of the curlew mixing with the shrill whistles of the farmers working their sheepdogs and the slightly comical party-favour squeaking of the lapwings. Every now and then, the over excited oystercatchers would spoil the mood, but on the whole it was a great place to be! Knowing that the next day was a short 20 or so miles over the Pennines to Edmundbyers - where I'd be taking a day off to wait for my old friend, Mel, to come back from a family holiday in Scotland -just helped relax me all the more. That short ride was a bit cooler, just as atmospheric and I made it to the hostel before noon and, more importantly, before the rain hit! The day off passed with ice on the knees (taking advantage of things I found in the hostel freezer), and Wednesday saw me polish off a final 12 miles to get to Burnopfield, just outside Newcastle, for another day off. A bit indulgent but, come  Friday, I'd be back on the big days, with a 51 mile, a 65 mile and a scary 76 miler in quick succession. The rest could have been very valuably timed! More importantly, it allowed me to catch up with an old friend that I'd not seen for about 13 years, and re-establish a connection that I hope will be easier to maintain now I'm back in the UK. Keep your eye on the site, I hope to get another update covering those days sorted out by Sunday (or monday if the weather/other incidents delay things!). Oh, and just for the record, the current mileage total, allowing for route changes, is (drumroll, please)....917.18 miles! I'm on the final push for sure :-)  Once again, thanks to everyone who has donated, your contributions are hugely appreciated. Keep passing the word around, there's not far to go until we hit both the targets! Gambatte!

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