Horses for courses
It's taken seven years to retrace my wheels on this route. I suffered today! I don't talk about that on my last outing which is a bit annoying so, just in case I choose this route again. Eat more!
I knew I was tired, with lactic legs on Fleet Moss, which doesn't bode well for not being half way round nor having completed less than half the ascent. I bought a sandwich in Hawes, not long after my photo, but by this stage, I should have already eaten more of my bars and been in less deficit.
I didn't have to do the whole route but the hill to the left (for the short-cut to Ribblehead) looked epic - my food hadn't kicked in - although this was simply putting off the inevitable - and some.
It's a few miles around to Garsdale Head and I had a few beans back for the old coal road. I was pleased I was here and despite the crawl, enjoyed myself as I reached the higher ground and began my descent into Dentdale.
With the two biggest hills out of the way, the climb back up to join what could have been my shortcut road was very enjoyable, followed by the wonderful descent towards Ribblehead.
I was packing in the bars by now but it was all a bit too late. Of course, there was plan B, which involved the whole line of stations from Garsdale Head, through to Settle to whisk me straight home. This was becoming increasingly appealing but, given it wasn't Plan A, particularly difficult to choose. At one point, I told myself sharply to catch the froggin' train - at which point, I succumbed and said, OK. I paused at Horton-in-Ribblesdale to eat, check the times and work out where best to catch it from. I discovered two things.
Firstly, sunset was an hour later than I thought.
Secondly, I had another hour and a half before the train arrived in Settle.
I decided to waltz to Settle on the pretty back road to Giggleswick and find a cafe with times to spare. I was looking forward to the train and mainly, avoiding the killer hill out of Settle which although lower, is evil and had been on my mind for some time.
But then something happened.
I staggered into Settle, went for my old favourite - jacket potato with cheese and a latte; sat on a bench outside Ye Olde Naked Man cafe; and had my legs stretched out, slightly downhill. With food inside and a proper rest, suddenly, I realised I might be coming round.
With twenty minutes to spare, I decided to get back on my bike and try out the road towards the hill. I texted Rich to say I'd either see him just before sunset or text from the train shortly.
I found myself half way up and all was very well! Time for eco mode home. I developed a new tactic to keep me in the moment rather than counting down the miles which was to set a point not too far away that I was looking forward to seeing. This varied wildly from tiny bridges to lone trees, emerging vistas and familiar tourist spots - NEVER a hill!
And I was singing! Not because I needed to sing my way home but because I was in my element. Not once did I look at my computer to check the miles remaining and eventually, I walked through the door (not fell through) - with miles left in my legs. Hurrah!