Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sense of Achievement (2)

....promised to be breezy but thankfully dry. That's how part one ended.

I could have posted about the return journey on Sunday night but I wouldn't have done it justice. It was probably the toughest thing I have ever done in my life - and did you see that jigsaw I did the other week? Seriously, at times I was questioning my intelligence, judgement, existence even. Why am I doing this? Why did we come this way? Where is this wind coming from? Why didn't that van stop and offer to take me home? Why did I have so much to drink last night?

It was downhill from Guiseley at first and we made decent progress. Then the hills started. They probably weren't that bad but the wind made each uphill stretch longer and steeper and there was no rest on the downhill parts. If you stopped pedalling you simply stopped moving. George had a puncture in Ilkley and another in Skipton. We were stopping frequently and not feeling like we were making progress. I have done half marathons years ago and a full marathon once, and have felt bad at stages but you know that if you put one foot in front of the other you will get there in the end and you can see the miles disappearing behind you. The lack of progress on this ride was demoralising. We went up a hill in East Marton and it seemed like years later we were going up another one in West Marton and they were only about 2km apart. It was potentially soul-destroying and I even said at one resting place the I would be going into the train station if we passed one at Clitheroe. George was bearing up well and he almost smiled when we found Everton were 2-0 up at half time. When we eventually got to Clitheroe there was actually a bypass so we didn't get near a station, thankfully. The bypass had a pleasant downward slope and there appeared to be shelter of some sort so we cracked on a bit and started to believe we would make it home that day. There was a mad hailstorm at Osbaldeston and we were out in the open. It was about 4.30 and almost pitch black. We just had to dismount and turn our backs until it stopped. Soon after there the sky brightened and we parted just before Preston. The rest of the ride was almost a dream. I had eaten as much as I could but there was nothing left in the tank. I got home slowly but I got home and that was the main thing. It was 7.20. Yes, it was an achievement but I was questioning at times whether or not I really had any sense.

After a couple of days off I removed the bags and did a swift 20 odd miles today (Tuesday). It was breezy but I've been through worse.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sense of Achievement (1)

I thought I was ready but couldn't get the bags on the bike properly so I set off a bit late from here on Friday morning. I had to peg it a bit to get to Euxton on time to meet George. Fortunately I made it just before him and we set off through Chorley towards Blackburn. That was easy enough but it was quite a complicated route after Blackburn and my maps weren't detailed enough so we went wrong a couple of times. We didn't lose too much time though and, even with George fancy tyre puncture we met Phil on time at Crosshills. He took us through Keighley on his chunky mountain bike and then we enjoyed a nice stretch of the Leeds Liverpool canal followed by a monstrous hill up to his place. We decided to drink first and eat later so we ventured into downtown Guiseley and enjoyed a few pints while watching the Leeds - Many World Club Championship game and what a game it was - a great advert for Rugby League? We eventually ate in an empty restaurant with a carbo-charged Italian meal and some decent red wine. Back at the house there were a number of family members so we socialised for a bit and then I decided enough was enough. George doesn't know the meaning of that word.

I came around on Saturday morning to the sound of a howling gale and rain battering the window almost drowning out the snoring of my companion. It was 7.40 so I turned over and drifted off again. An hour later it was a bit lighter but all the noises were the same so I lay there wondering how we were going to get home. I must admit the train entered my thoughts as I drifted off again. I eventually surfaced at about 9.30 and checked the weather on the laptop. Full blue rain all over the North of England at 9.00. I moved on to 12.00 and it was clear apart from a small blue spot in the middle. Great stuff - that meant the rain would stop sometime between 9.00 and 12.00 and we should be ready to go. By about 10.30 we had eaten enough and were ready to go. The rain stopped and the sun came out and we left in good heart to face the journey home which promised to be breezy but thankfully dry.

(To be continued)