Two coasts, six bikes (2019, Cumbria & Yorkshire)
Updated: Jun 17, 2019
We’re not even halfway to Whitby. We’re maybe a little over a quarter of the distance, on our first day of the trip. It’s been a long day already, longer than we wanted. We’re standing in a country lane, somewhere in the western Yorkshire Dales. It’s raining heavily and we’re all very cold. Even with wet weather jackets and overshoes, several hours in constant rain have left us sodden and shivering due to our chilled torsos.
We set off in what seemed like a different country and season, but was actually the west coast of Cumbria the same morning. It’s taken us much longer than expected to get to this point, partly because of the punishing hills and partly because of a broken gear cable that meant Ed couldn’t use his lowest gears. Matt is valiantly riding Ed’s bike, jamming his cleats into toe clips designed for trainers, out of the saddle on most climbs. We visited three bikes shops in Windermere before we found an amazing place that did a proper repair.
So why we are standing still, cold and soaked? John’s crank arm has just come off his bike. The whole thing along with the pedal, has actually come off his bike. Steve is waving it as we all guffaw with gallows humour. But secretly we’re all also wondering how to avoid being stranded out here, with no big towns or villages anywhere close. There’s another thirty miles or so of hills that we need to cover, and being still in the increasingly heavy rain isn’t a good situation.
Instincts kick in though. Plans are formed. G has already set off back to the nearest village to find a wrench that could help us get the crank arm back on. Matt has headed up to the only farmhouse in sight to get some help. Ten minutes later he returns with a tool that fits. Steve’s role as team mechanic takes over, G is retrieved and a few minutes later, we’re back in business.
We set off towards Aysgarth again, a sprint through driving rain and plummeting temperatures. In a short while, we’ll face winter storm conditions at the top of the Dales and a race against the dying light to arrive at our accommodation for the evening. Tomorrow we’ll do it all again across the Dales and Moors, with soggy gear and hills that include a 40% section that looks like a wall. Our trip will cover 280km and over 4,500 metres of climbing. And we’ll eventually arrive in Whitby, the clouds clearing for the last two hours of our trip like a divine reward from the universe.
For now though, we’re just pedalling hard to get the blood flowing and hoping to hit a steep hill soon, in an attempt to get warm. No-one’s complaining. Somehow, this is adding to the fun.
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