Sunday 20 May 2012: Descending to Nateby
What a difference a day makes! Today's ride was epic and quite fantastic. I've gone from totally flat and lethargic to completely buzzing in less than 24 hours. I think a lot of the problem yesterday was simply the body hanging on to all its energy reserves for today's huge effort. It's a while since I've experienced this, but it used to be a common occurrence when I was running ultra distance mountain races of up to 100 miles. The day before the race the legs used to feel ridiculously heavy and if I tried to raise even a jog it felt as if I'd never ever run before.
Early on in my running life I very nearly pulled out of an event because I was feeling so tired the day before - and then promptly stormed around! After a while I began to ignore those feelings of lethargy, even to the point where I regarded it as a promising sign, and actually got worried if I felt good! I'm sure it was the body's way of stopping me expending any unnecessary energy and keeping the glycogen stores topped up to the maximum. Damn clever really. The body just knows.
So, despite the jet-lag, which meant only 5 hours sleep, and the continuing runny nose and chesty cough, I set out the door just after 7am to cycle the 16 miles to Grassington for the start of the event. I think that steady ride out did me good. It set the tone for a sensible pace and made sure I didn't set off in the event too fast, something I've been guilty of before. By the time I was on the road proper most of the riders had already left and it was very quiet. All the way to Hawes it didn't feel like I was in event at all! Once over into Swaledale though I started picking people off in a continuous procession of riders and that helped me to gradually raise the tempo.
The only aim of the day was to get in under 8 hours for the 110 mile route to achieve the Silver Standard, but by the time I got to the Moorcock Inn I realised I was well up on that schedule and, still feeling quite strong, decided to push on to see what sort of time I could get. Starting late I never really found anyone to ride with and the only group that went past was just a little too quick for me, but I was in the mood for a solo ride today so that wasn't a problem. Actually, the only problem was dealing with all my spare gear as the sun came out and the day warmed up much earlier than predicted. I just about had enough pockets to stuff everything into.
The legs held up fantastically well. I enjoyed the whole ride, with no bad patches, and finished in a respectable 7hr 33min, comfortably in the top third of the field. Photography was well down my priority list today. I really enjoyed the continuity of just rolling up and down all the hills, with no inclination to stop, despite some really beautiful vistas. This is taken from the top of my favourite descent, the road dropping a full 1,000 feet to the village of Nateby about 3 miles away. There is good visibility throughout and, with luck and a clear road, you barely have to feather the brakes the whole way down. It's such a rush! I hope this shot gives some idea of the scale of the terrain we covered today. There were 8 of these big climbs covered in the ride, hopping from one dale into another. I think this is the best cycling in the entire world!
I finished in good style and decided to just hand in my timing chip and carry on home. The legs felt fine and I thought they might stiffen up if I stopped. The ride back went very quickly and I got home at 5.30pm, 10 and a half hours after leaving for 142 epic miles in a truly grand tour of the Dales. I'm kind of glowing with a sense of satisfaction at a job well done, and relishing the fact that I must be fitter than I realised.
Finally, a quick thank you for the wonderful feedback to yesterday's Hawthorn tree. I'm so grateful for the hearts. I had a big smile on my face last night! Thanks also to quite a few new subscribers. I really appreciate your interest. I might struggle (again) to respond to many people tonight. Life seems just a little hectic at the moment. And I should probably try to get an early night.