I looked out of the window this morning and thought
"Top to toe waterproofs!"
And it seemed like that was going to be the order of the day as I headed to Coniston.
I was meeting Stuart who had driven up from Preston to come and cycle the full route with me. :o)
The first climb up Hawkshead Hill made it clear that I wasn't going to be climbing quickly today.
You know how cyclists develop these legs that are like Steel Hawsers..?? I don't seem to.
Soggy Spaghetti is a far better description - well that's how they felt!! By the time we reached Clappersgate, the rain had stopped, but the wind hadn't, and it was clearing up nicely and I was getting much too warm, so off came the waterproofs, and amazingly it stayed that way all day!
As the climbs progressed to the top of Kirkstone, I did wonder if Stuart might get a bit frustrated by my slowness, but if it did, he didn't let it show :o)
I descend reasonably competently though, and there was a tailwind to Ullswater, so that section was very pleasant.
Remember I said that the road at the Troutbeck Inn was going to be closed on Monday? Well that IS what the sign said!
They were in the process of closing it as we approached!! I DID ask if it was only going to be closed for today, and was told that it was......... I'll work out a workable diversion ;o)
A66 - strongest wind so far!!!
I was one of those days when I was very pleased to have strong rider whose wheel I could follow - without it I'd not have worked any harder, just been much slower!!
Even in Stuart's wind shadow, I still couldn't stay with him on the slight inclines. Spaghetti legs just didn't have it in them!!
That said - we made really good time to Keswick, and the ride up Borrowdale with the skies clearing and the sun coming out was spectacular in the extreme :o)
I insisted on a toilet stop at the Toilets at the bottom of Honister. I expected the National Trust Man to try to get me to join again - but he didn't. I'm already joined :o)
Climbing Honister was OK. Not quick or spectacular, but adequate. It was very windy on the second part out of the shelter of the trees, and the descent was also wind-retarded.
But we made Buttermere Youth Hostel and in pretty good time.
I was also OK on Newlands - still slow and if I'm honest, I was REALLY feeling the fatigue in my legs - and was focusing on the Cuppa tea at Cyclewise :o)
The descent was brilliant - a tail wind and no brakes from the top today.
I have just checked my Garmin, and it reckons today's top speed was 50.9mph :-O
Shhhh! Don't tell the wife ;o)
The climb up Whinlatter I took very easy! And the guys at Cyclewise were as friendly and welcoming as they always are.
Rich asked me if the spoke he replaced was OK - and I said it was, but I thought I'd knocked the wheel out of true - so off it came and he checked it out for me while I was making tea for me and Stuart.
It was one of those days when one cuppa wasn't enough for me - so I had two and a couple of bits to eat. So we were there a little longer than normal, but to be honest, *I* needed it!
As we were leaving Rich told me that he'd also adjusted my indexing as it was slightly off.
I hope they realise just how much I appreciate their support, because it IS phenomenal!!
By now it was a glorious day and the next part of the route simply flew by. I was much revitalised by the Cyclewise Refuelling Stop, and as you know, I really like the rest of the route.
Fantastic surprise on Cold Fell - a car I thought I recognised was parked on the top section, and in it was Andy with more Flapjack. It's things like this that have made this whole experience so much more than a simple endurance event.
It has become a complete experience, and one that I'll never forget. With any luck it will also benefit Macmillan Cancer Support too :o)
Anyway - Andy, that flapjack absolutely hit the spot when it was eaten at Calder Bridge. :o)
The ride in to the base of Hardknott was lovely. A bit of helpful wind, AND the cloud base was OFF the Fells.
I mused whether I'd keep my 100% record for continuous ridden ascents of Hardknott, and so did Stuart :o)
We both did!!
Actually - I was very pleased with the way that I climbed it today.
The descent was nicer too, because the road was mostly dry. I caught up with Stuart after the bridge at Cockley Beck, and we rode the flat bit together chatting :o)
He whizzed off up the climb again, and I just poddled my way to the top, and caught him up again near the bottom.
The ride out to Little Langdale was very pleasant again. More traffic today than there has been up until now, and only ONE impatient BMW driver. I've been quite lucky on that front, and most of the drivers on the minor roads have been very friendly and thoughtful!!
As we climbed up to the main road and back towards Coniston, I glanced at my watch. "Blimey," I thought "We'll be under 9 hours - I really didn't expect that!"
We were! 8:45 in fact, which is my fastest time around the course to date! And on Wet Spaghetti legs!!!
Thanks to Stuart - you were fantastic company and made what has been physically the hardest day so far a really memorable one.