The Secret Climb
For reasons I don't fully understand I find myself entered into the local White Rose Classic, on the calendar again at the end of this month after being cancelled last year. I thought I was done with this event, except the organisers have added an additional climb, one of my very favourites, to make the event even tougher than it already was. That got inside my head. This new route might well become definitive now and I want to be able to say that I've ridden it. I'm short on bike training so I reasoned that the tired legs from Sunday's long run with Forrest would usefully add to the training effect of a long ride today.
I have to admit that I find it hard to summon up the mental energy for long rides these days. It took me until after midday to get my head into gear and out the door. I kept finding things to do. I looked north out of the kitchen window and imagined the landscape ahead, converting the hundred-mile route I had planned on the map into the real thing. I was set on a ride through Swaledale, linking together three of my favourite climbs, plus one new one. It felt like a very long way. Of course, it is a very long way. One day, I won't be able to do such rides but all the while I still can, I feel it like an obligation to do so. I can't feel good about myself otherwise.
Of course, once out on the bike, the miles pass quickly, especially on such a beautiful day. The whole route was staggeringly beautiful. I was soon over Park Rash and descending Coverdale, through Redmire and over the moors again to drop into Reeth for my pit stop. Once there, the commitment had been laid down for a long slog back home. I was spurred on by the recent discovery of a new route out of Swaledale. There's a secret un-signposted road that offers a spectacularly wild and steep ascent. I discovered its existence last summer when I spotted another cyclist - on a road bike - from the other side of the valley. There's a challenge now laid for Bex, to first find this climb and then ride it ... if she hasn't already?
Going over Fleet Moss as the final act of a long day out was a toughie but, once over the top, it feels like it's all downhill, even if it isn't. It was strange to be riding into Ilkley on deserted roads at 9.30 pm, still with plenty of light to spare. There was no power in the legs on the last hill home but at least some energy. It's possibly the toughest ride I've done in four or five years: 101 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing. One more long training ride and I think I'll be ready for the event.