Monday, August 27, 2018

The Tiny Flat One

After my DNF in Scotland but then not really feeling all that bad about it at all (I did "only" do 3530km) I decided it might be feasible to do a 200km ride this weekend to make sure I got my August RRtY in.  No point in dropping all the balls right?

I had a Perm ride in my in-tray.  An organiser-published routesheet and card which can be completed at a rider's liesure - once they have paid their entry fee.

I could have done it on Monday to get better weather but by Saturday afternoon I was already itching to get out on my bike so I decided to ride the wave of enthusiasm and head out to Thorne early Sunday morning to get a run on the traffic.

The ride from Thorne, through Bawtry to Gainsborough of 40km wasn't so bad.  A bit main roady but dry and pleasant enough riding past the fields.  I started with a bit of a head wind, then cross winds.  I stuck to my plan not to race too hard this time and pottered around 21-22kmph.  Occasionally I strayed up to 24 - 26 but this was mostly when I experienced brief bouts of tail wind.

I had toast and tea at Rosies at 10:30 but that was too early for lunch so carried on out into the fens and flatlands at 11.  The weather gifted rain as I left the cafe and I quickly walked back under the smoking shelter to put on my waterproof coat, shoe covers and rain legs.

As I left I realised I'd forgotten to fill my water bottle but still had about half a bottle left so decided it would be OK until lunch. 

As 11:45 rocked by I started to feel a bit concerned.  There were few places on the radar until Caistor which would have involved a detour.  Thankfully at 11:50 I started to see signs for "Uncle Henry's" and sure enough, a farm shop materialised on the horizon.  I didn't really fancy the half-mile long lane to reach it but decided not to look the gift-horse in the mouth and continued in.

The bike parking was some horrible self-made wooden frame which was hungry to eat rear derailleurs and spit the bike back out without any gears so I walked around the back and locked it to some scaffolding tubes cemented into breeze blocks.  Great until I realised the one I had locked to was completely free-moving.  5 more minutes down the toilet.  I promised myself I wasn't going to stress about time today.  I nearly upped and left - but a quick Garmin reccee confirmed there was nothing for miles so thankfully I persevered.

The cafe operated an Ikea-style one-way system to make sure you saw ALL of the products on offer.  Having located the cafe and secured a table, I had to do two laps of the one way system to get my bottle off my bike and then find the toilets.  By the time my food came I was nearly livid! but then relaxed and felt lucky as a steady stream of people with reservations and people without reservations quickly filled the remaining tables.  Just in time doesn't do it justice.

My sandwich was not a terrible rip off but also insufficient to get me to Cleethorpes so I had to do the decent thing and have cake too.

I was right to stop, I covered quite a few miles before I hit civilisation again.  There was nothing on the route out and then I passed the point of my turn-back.  With still 40km of out-and-back to do, there was nothing really until I got to Waltham.  There were a few more turn notifications to give me something to do except for look at fields but little else along the way to Cleethorpes.

It was still raining outside but now I at least had a hill to look forwards to. 

Given the name of this ride, the routesheet contains the disclaimer, "This ride is not completely flat it includes one section over the Yorkshire Wolds..."

The route finally took me away from main and B-roads and on to some lovely lanes through quaint Lincolnshire villages (or was it Yorkshire? I lost count).  The hill was a little taxing.,I certainly hit my lowest gear, but it was not too long and I was soon correcting the dent in my average speed for that 25 mile section.  The descents on the other side were fast and empty of cars with only one section of bad road surface.

Cleethorpes had a little bit of life to it.  We are, after all, still in season.  The cafe I stopped at had a few seats remaining but most others were taken up with soggy holiday makers and soggy, bored kids.  Hot chocolate and an Eccles cake were all I could muster.  Nothing too sweet and sticky. 

I didn't dawdle, although I did stand under the hand-driers for a while and ring my gloves out into a napkin or two.  I'm gutted I forgot to ring-out my socks. 

So, the ride back.  Well, it rained a little less hard but there must have been the dry front coming as the wind suddenly got very blustery.  I nearly lost my grip on the bars a few times.  The h
ill was a little more sapping in the opposite direction.  The downhill was more thrilling and I got to see the view along the Wold instead of climbing up it. 

It felt good to make the turn towards home and realise I had only 15k to go to my next stop and then a 40k ride to the finish.

Just as I thought it was safe to stop and take my waterproofs off in favour of dry clothes, the heavens opened again and put me in my place.

Although I knew I was out of time for the windmill cafe, I went to see it anyway then headed into Kirton Lindsey for a receipt.  At 6pm, I simulated dinner with a packet of Doritos, a chocolate croissant and a cold laté.  I stood in the doorway by the heaters for a while then, to get a sit down on the only bit of dry wall in the place, I sat right next to the bin to finish my Doritos.  At least it was a clean bin, or the cool temperatures were keeping any odours at bay.

I joined the north-bound road alongside the river trent.  Checking the Garmin, I had around 5km of riding straight North before turning around and riding back down the South side.  I'd not normally describe the M180 motorway to Scunthorpe and Doncaster as majestic but when you look at it from Fen level, sweeping over the flood planes it looks like something from Northern France or Holland and I have to admit to being impressed.  That was nothing compared to the Keadby King George V bridge that I crossed.

Better photo here

Onto the South-bound ride, to my relief the wind had dropped and I was putting out enough energy to warm up for the first time since climbing over the wold.  The rain legs came on, the lights went on and I set about the last 30 kms.

I counted them down most expectantly but the route did deliver comfortable lanes riding with brief stints on airport service roads, fenland lanes wide enough for only one vehicle, tiny humpback bridges over streams and a sudden arrival at my destination - so sudden I skidded as I turned into the Co-op at full-speed when I nearly missed it.

Chocolate milk was the finishing order and perfectly price reduced water melon for easy-consumption on the way home.  My van provided the perfect cover from drunk people walking home from the pub for taking off wet gear and putting on civilian clothes.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Borderlands Late Season Explorer

Me (in green) and TSK (in blue/yellow) at the start, thanks to Rob Imrie for the pic. 
My camera stayed firmly in my bags this time.
The night before the Borderlands was wild and windy and I foolishly forgot that although the Tipi is strong in the wind, it can be a bit flappy.  I shouldda parked it near the road (hedge).  I shouldda booked a hotel but I didn't and so, the night was disturbed and shit but hey, when I got up the next morning my RHR had dropped down to 46 so yay for that.

Uneventful beginning in that it was brilliant and fast. I got in with a decent group and when they dropped me I had a steady stream of riders to draft or ride alongside for a chat including Derby Mercury Fixie and Tache.

I got recognised for my blog on TAW by a fellow racer, which was nice and talked to a lot of people about the forks.

My clothing choices were perfect in a thin, long sleeve patagonia top and my wool Isadore jersey and Rapha shorts. I coated up when the rain fell and when I stopped everything dried out pretty quickly.

I went out fast into the head-wind to do as much riding as possible before the U turn at 150km, meaning I would get as many hours as possible of the tail wind home before it dropped at 7pm.  This was the only bit of weather planning I managed.

On the way to Eskdale Muir, I got dropped by the group then Tache caught me up and we chatted for a while side by side before he surged ahead on the climbs.  It started raining properly this time and I stopped first to put on my rain coat then caught him up also coating-up.  "I knew I was gonna get wet but I dinnae realise it would be so soon".  You and me both sunshine.

He rode ahead and then I was caught by Derby Mercury Fixie.  I shamelessly wheel-sucked for a few miles.  I mean whilst I would have got on the front and done my bit, he seemed happer at 23.4km/hr rather than 21 kmph.

We all puddled in to Eskdale Muir tea shop to be treated to sausage and beans on a bagel and coffee.

After Eskdale the sun started to come out again on and off.

Really, I should have dropped the idea of racing the headwind as at Gretna the route turned east-then-west and all bets on the North South wind were off.

I bought a few snacks from the control for later, made the man's baby smile then nipped back into the shop to get the receipt I'd forgotten what with all the chatting.

After Gretna I saw TSK riding the other way and he gestured to me to stop.  He had not recovered from the sickness he's suffered for the last two weeks and was riding a loop to the finish.  I kissed him goodbye and set off on my journey alone.

As I set off up the climb to Alston, the sun came out properly for the first time and I tucked my water proof away.  I felt good as I was ahead of quite a few people.  I enjoyed the climbing and the wind riding but battling through this section used up a large proportion of the day and a large proportion of my energy so only a few hours of tail wind were left.  I bounced up the cobbles in Alston to the tea shop but now I felt like I'd burned myself out.  Still, it was nice to know that I had done "the hard bit".  Tea and cake went down well and I got to see the highest village in England in the sunshine.

The cafe wrote me out a receipt so I had to stop at the petrol station to get a time stamped one instead.

Down the hill was wind assisted and I took great pleasure in cheering to all the other riders going in.

I enjoyed every moment of the ride back to Langholm and was still in my shorts and jersey going back.  I did a double-lap of the village deciding where to eat.  I really fancied a sit down meal but the pubs didn't look tempting enough for me to go to the effort of locking my bike up outside so I ended up in the chip shop.  I have thought a lot about whether my meal choice in Langholm affected my outcome later or I should have gone to the shop for a salad or a sandwich but the haggis was too tempting and 1.5 hours later I was at Eskdale Muir feeling fine and chatting with the staff whilst eating apple crumble and custard and throwing a double Gin Mudra at the Bhudist temple as I rode past. Look mum no hands.

When I left Eskdale Muir it had started to drizzle so I put on waterproof coat, knee warmers and my rain legs and set off slightly warmer and now into the night proper.  I was blessed with sightings of: an owl; a hawk I thought was going to pick me off on the climb; two hares - one which I chased down the road for about 300m before he found a turn-off he wanted to take, the other which sprang 4 feet into the air to clear the grass at the side of the road; and most alarmingly, a deer who, captured in my headlights had a think about darting into the road in front of me until I roared like a lion which scared it into going the opposite way.  I think I frightened myself as much.  That was good for a few adrenaline points.

As I pulled onto the A7 in Selkirk it started raining properly again.  Thankfully I was already wearing all the layers so I didn't need to stop.  I stayed on the main road all the way back as there was hardly any traffic and found myself a cash machine to do the midnight control

At 00:10 I gingerly  rode back to my van through the drunk Herriot Watt students then climbed into the van and stripped off all the wet clothes and crawled into the sleeping bag for 30 minutes kip which would get me back onto my accellerated programme (a 1am departure from Gala).

My logic behind the short sleep was a turbo kip which wouldn't give my body chance to seize up but just enough to let my brain think it had had a sleep.  In reality, I didn't know whether to stop or not but as it was raining I decided 30 mins sleep couldn't hurt, it might even give the weather chance to improve.

 When I resurfaced it was still raining.

The couple next door had just got back.  I had missed my alarm (I never turned it on).  They were the only reason I woke up.  Otherwise it could have been a big mistake on my part of sleeping through the control... or was it?

I sat up and TSK attempted to pour some real Waitrose food into me.  A grain salad went down surprisingly well.  I chowed back some smoothie, rejected the cookies, stuck some random salty snacks in my pockets then started shivering violently.  I put on 3/4 length leggings, long waterproof Omm trousers and my Oh-Shit coat with my Omm waterproof coat over the top with a hood to keep my head and hair dry.  I know I was in Scotland but in August I really shouldn't have been dressed up the same as I would for a winter commute.

 I very grumpily set out back into the rain, trying not to accuse TSK of it all being his fault because this was most definitely my own idea and I then hated myself for being so stupid.

I didnt have half the things with me that I meant to but I was fed up with standing about in the rain so I started riding my bike.  I wish I could tell you I had instantly felt better but I didn't.  I got a bit lost in town then sat on the A7 for ease.   After 5 minutes in the Oh-shit coat I was too hot so stopped to take it off.  I stopped in a bus shelter which was actually a box of swallows, pissed off at me for disturbing their nests and I got tweeted at and dive-bombed in the darkness for 5 minutes.  My gloves were already sodden and slapped noisily onto the bench.

In Selkirk I went too far up the A7 road, missing the turnoff for the nice, local road that runs alongside the river.  Realising my mistake late, I turned off down a footpath which steepened then turned into two tracks of concrete flagstones with cement between them and a handrail down the middle.  I know I'm good at bike handling but I just prayed there were no steps and slithered my way down, praying I wouldn't slide off as I was likely to knock myself out on the handrail and no-one would find me till 6am when someone's dog started to lick up the remnants of my spilled brain matter (yes I was wearing a helmet and I should shut up).

The footpath did not deliver any steps, it did however deliver two tarmac speed bumps, presumably to prevent moped use which succeeded in lifting both of my tyres off the road in quick succession.  I have no idea how I spilled out of the bottom still alive.

Through Selkirk and onto the Moffat road I was soon reminded of the horror of this road's surface.  It hurt my bum when  I sat on the saddle and my feet when I stood on the pedals. My right big toe in particular was suddenly hammering into the toe box on my shoes.

As I reached the top of the first rise and started to go downhill the snoozies started.  I nearly lost it on a few corners and often found myself swerving across the road as my brain lurched me awake just as I was about to crash into the undergrowth. Each time the immediate rush of adrenaline kept me alert for around 20s before it started again. This was not safe but there was nowhere to go to be safe.

I  checked the profile. Not only was I but half way up the climb, I also had a very steep section at the top to do. I had only ridden 30k of an 80k out. The back would be the real killer and it wasn't like I didn't know what was to come as I'd ridden this route on the 400k ride: 50km of climb followed by repeating this broken road.

Even the lauf forks weren't giving me any respite and where I was climbing I was out of the saddle, giving my bum a break but resting too much on my hands and wrists which were starting to feel over used and acheing badly where I leaned on them. With the broken road surface and my dehydrated head I felt like my shrunken brain was bashing into my skull with every pebble and headaches seared through me.

Raindrops ran down my light making patterns on the road and the light reflected in the occasional drip off my helmet made me think a car was coming but there was nothing there.  Occasionally another rider going the other way cheered me on with encouragement to keep going but then they were gone and I had the blackness to myself again the the falling off - but not quite - would recommence.

As I approached Yarrow Feus I could see a bright light in the distance.  In between the feelings of anger at their inconsideration for my eyesight, I also thought I would use their light to help me find the paracetamol in my frame bag to at least end my headache.

As I realised it wasn't a street light but someone's outside light, set well away from the road, my thoughts of paracetamol turned to thoughts about stopping.  It was a very attractive prospect.  I decided to go back.  I turned around in the road and started riding over the section I had just done. It was hard and it hurt. If I kept going I would have to endure this pain later. If I stopped now that would be it for my RRtY and my PBP pre-qualifier. I shrugged, I could deal with that.  No! Wait! What was I doing?  Throwing away 8 months of rides! Then I remembered the Super Brevet and  turned back around and kept going. It felt good. 20s later I was falling asleep again.

15 minutes later I thought I could stop there and get Andrew to come and get me.  I could give Andrew directions to Yarrow Feus but there was nowhere for me to shelter in Yarrow Feus so I kept going.

I  got off to push the bike up a  small slope to do something different for a while. 20s later, I tripped over the pedal as I meandered across the road half asleep.

I got back on and rode for a bit. At least it was quicker. I checked my average speed.  For the rest of the ride when I had been being slow my average was 20kph. Now it was 14.9. I hadn't even stopped to rest and I was below the ride allowable minimum speed. I hadn't even reached the steep bit yet.

I tried going back again and then remembered that road surface. If I was going to stop I needed to find somewhere Andrew could come and find me in the van. I was literally getting to that point where it was no longer safe to continue.

Unfortunately with the rain and my slow speed, I was getting colder and it didn't even feel safe to stop either and now I needed to pee as well. The though of pulling down wet leggings was almost too much to bear. The thought of pulling them on again really was too much to bear. I carried on snoozing down the short descent before it turned up again onto the lake shore. I had forgotten about this lake. I was sure there was a campsite or a car park here.  2h 45 after I left the van, I started looking for the car park.

I tried to think positive thoughts to keep my mind off the pain and the darkness but I just ended up thinking about shit at work and I tried to remind myself that I was out here, enjoying my bike to get away from the shit at work but that just made me cry because I wasn't enjoying riding my bike either.

I tried thinking bout Ireland but it just made me feel sick like I couldn't cope with the excitement and the pure perfection of that race.  I was jealous that I couldn't just roll out my sleeping kit then and there.

Why was I even doing this? Was I even enjoying myself? (NO). I used to have a rule that if you're not enjoying it anymore stop but that was before I discovered racing. Would I enjoy racing now? What did I buy this bike for? What will I do with it if I don't enjoy long distance anymore? Why is it no longer comfortable? Why cant I keep my eyes open?  Why did I convince myself I can enjoy this when clearly I can't?  Who am I doing this for?

I  knew I needed to eat but all I had with me were crisps and marmite cashews. I fancied sugar but had none. I downed he last of my sugary drink from some time ago and only had water. I left the sweets I bought at Gretna in the other waterproof in the van. Why did I change my waterproof?

Finding anything else would involve stopping and touching with wet hands things that I didn't want wet hands to touch, like my jersey pockets, still dry thanks to my Omm waterproof.  My sleeves were piss wet through though, thanks to the hygroscopic motion of water up sleeves from my wet gloves.

Finally some tents appeared on the lake shore and across the road a wooden building that looked like a village hall, glowed cheap blue paint reflections through the rain.  Some kind of outside light flickered ominously like every bad poltergeist movie there ever was.

I randomly wondered if there would be any shelter by the building - a porch would do... or the toilets!  Those ones - right there!  By the signpost! Now then! Hopes were dashed just as quickly.

My rapid dismissal of any qualms about the prospect of sleeping on a floor covered in someone else's piss were just as quickly dashed by the disappointment of a pay-machine (would I have the right change?) which said 'shut' on the price. Double slap-down.

Round the back, the disabled loo was firmly locked (no pay to pee here) but it did have a plastic lean-to roof shelter which included that elusive dry patch of concrete.

My fate was sealed.

I rang Andrew immediately so that I wouldn't go into hypothermia before he got there. It took me a while to get the phone to work as the screen was saturated and it thought all buttons were being pressed at once and I couldn't find a dry surface to wipe the screen on.

With him on his way, I set about making myself as warm as possible. Suddenly the brain started working. I guess it finally had something it could get on board with.  The waterproof came off and the oh-shit coat went back on - a bit damp but it is synthetic so it should still work.

It seemed like the only dry long sleeve top I had with me was my wind proof so I stuck that on underneath the oh-shit coat and ditched my wet club jersey.  The windproof went on inside out of course because that was easier than turning the sleeves the right way out with wet skin.

The waterproof hung up to drip dry in case I had to carry on to find Andrew when he couldn't find me.

I kept my wet leggings on over my wet 3/4 tights and wet wool socks. Even if they were wet they were keeping the breeze off. I found a dry fleecy jersey but rather than re-juggling the oh shit coat one more time I decided to wear this jersey over my head for extra warmth.  The club jersey went over my knees like an old lady blanket as the body was dry and insulating but the sodden sleeves hung down by my side and slapped on the floor.

I slumped against the door of the disabled toilet.  After a few moments I popped around the front and put one of my rear lights on a picnic bench to indicate my position to Andrew and hoped no-one would helpfully pick it up as they passed.

I had crisps and I tried to use them but they wouldn't go down so they sat, opened by my side. I had made the right choice to stop. So why would the sleep now not come?

I tried lying down but it was too cold so I had to make do with my head on my knees and I snoozed.

Two guys turned up and joined me in the dry space.  It was a pair from Derby Mercury.  We talked a little. I had thought I was the lanterne rouge but they'd caught me up.  I enquired about my neighbours from the Gala car park and they reported that they were also on the road behind us.  The guys changed tops and ate then packed up again just as Andrew arrived. It was dawning and a little bit of me wanted to go with Derby Mercury but having summoned rescue I felt like I should use it.  I checked the weather for them.  The rain was due to ease of at 6am - in 1 hours time - and cease completely by 7.

I was so tempted to go with them but in the end, even more tempted to get in the van.  My muscles were ok (given the circumstances) but my wrists and ankles were shot.

It was still raining and despite the DNF, the end of the RRtY and the Super Brevet for this year, I realised the place I needed to be right now was safe and asleep in the back of my van, not lying on the piss stained step of a toilet block or dead in a ditch on the A708 to Moffat. It was the right decision on this day.

So what did go wrong?

Head winds: shouldn't have fought them, shouldn't have taken off like a rocket to keep with people waaay above my fitness just for a tow.

Lunch: should have stopped sooner. Might have had more company that way later in the day.

Dinner: maybe chips and haggis not such a great idea on this one

Dresscode: I actually felt ok all the way back to Gala but then I got a soaking and decided to stop. Instead of wrapping myself up in my oh-shit coat I should have stuck with my previous waterproof layers which had worked well all day and maybe just added the wool gilet. Instead I sweated like mad in the new waterproofs and made the dehydration situation steadily worse.  I definitely want to get another thin wool jersey for wet audax days as it really did the job. Drying out quick but keeping me warm regardless of how wet.

The rain legs really are the best wet weather gear for riding legs except extreme cold.

Toes: the one that was hurting could have had a much shorter toe nail. BASICS! ARGH!

Un-tinted glasses. Forgot them. Could have made a difference if I didn't have to blink the water out of my eyes and stop falling asleep at the same time.

Lack of planning. I planned the clock on this one to the nth degree and,as it happens - I nailed it the plan and beat it. Where I hit the plan I did OK. Where I exceeded the plan I had gone too fast or not stopped where I should have. In doing that level of planning I forgot to think about feed stops properly and freelanced too much.  Where I needed a long sit down my only options were chippie or supermarket.  If I had ridden slower I could have done Brampton instead for good food.

Stopping: I know from TAW that when I stop, I stop hard. It takes me hours to get going again. Clearly we have also learned that stopping for 30 minutes is just not enough. My current theory is now I need to carry something to sleep under or in, in emergency sleep situations instead of trying to preempt sleep. I think I might have been better off keeping going from Gala with my bivi on board and getting miles under my belt whilst my legs were mobile before stopping only when I needed it.

Three hours sleep and sacrificing the fast plan would probably have had a much better effect than 30 minutes with some time in the tank for later.  Of course I can not know the outcome of this until I try it.

Eating: when it's wet I don't like to stop. The TT bars are currently in the way of my food bag. I have to be used to life without these for PBP so getting rid of my TT bars might improve my on the road feeding habits.  I'd be better off with two feed bags up front.  I scaled it down with the intention of stopping more... then didn't stop more.  The saddle pack, though lighter, didn't give me easy access to my lock so I half filled my only feed bag with the lock - which I then didn't use because I didn't stop

The oh-shit coat works and I did call for help too soon. I doubt I would have completed especially given how I feel today but I think I could have continued for longer to find out how I went.  I didn't die of hypothermia, in fact I was quite toasty in my coat using a damp jersey as a blanket and managed to help the Derby guy do up his coat because of it - which was nice.

Going too fast: Pacing is important!  At least beat my 300k record by 13 minutes - which ain't bad for an extra 800m of climbing.

It wasn't just mental. I was, and still am, in a lot of pain. More training. Some insole mods and possibly reverting to old shoes. Back strength. Arms wrists. Saddle bruising (no chafing yay!)

Headaches. Like the food, I stopped going into bags to look for anything and to keep everything dry. I need a lightweight removable bike light to supplement my immobile dynamo light for rooting for stuff in bags - particularly paracetamol which, on post-ride inspection were right there! Where they should have been.

No more camping before bad weather audaxes. Was fine in sunshine last time but I don't need a sleepless night before that again!

Finally: Despite knowing that I did the right thing at the time, the pangs of envy I felt as I saw Tache riding back in the opposite direction at 5pm on Sunday were overwhelming.  I am on the radar for a late season completion - to be confirmed when I have come to my senses - or at least after I have eaten some lunch.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

A hilly day out

I went out for a ride yesterday.

I enjoyed TSK's company for the first 50k of the ride out to a little cafe bookshop on the edge of Derbyshire.  We stopped at Hope on the way for traditional second breakfast then lunched on oatcakes before he headed home in a round about way and I set off into the Goyt Valley to play on some hills.

First I rode over the Cat & Fiddle like it was the easiest thing in the world then dropped down into the Goyt at Lamaload reservoir and hauled up a few 30% rises in amongst the 20% ones.  After that it eased off to the usual climb over Whingather rocks and Pym Chair to drop down towards Whaley Bridge, from where I planned to ride to Glossop on main roads before heading home.

However, I got distracted by some fine little lanes coming off the Kettleshulme Road and joined them to do some exploring.  I wondered why my dad had never taken me this way when I was a kid.  The sign, "Not Suitable for motor vehicles" is sometimes welcome, sometimes bad news.  This one certainly had me on the brakes and then off them again really quickly as I hit large swathes of gravel.

I kept my Dignity (literally, managed to keep the bike up and me on top of it) then set about the climb back out as the needle hit 30% again and my heart rate hit 180.  I realised why dad never took me this way as I stared at the road, 4 feet from my face and started to haul up the other side.  Mind you, my legs were still in pretty good shape at this point.

I mean I'd only done 70km.

Down the other side and I dropped into a little village, looking at the Garmin I was heading for New Mills and then Hadfield.  It took me a while to realise that the village was Disley on the A6!  One wrong turn and I'd be in Stockport in 10 minutes.  I had inadvertently almost ridden to my parents house and still had to get home with my legs full of hill.

I set about finding a nice way into Glossop from Disley.  I squirrelled between Hayfield and Marple (Marple!) past places like Thornsett and Mellor - places I'd heard of but never been.  I popped out on to a main road to be passed by some knob in a blue fiesta who was clearly so threatened by me he needed to roar his engine as he passed.  OK the legs were starting to get tired now.

We both took a turn into the Rowarth road.  I hesitated at the end to check the map as there was a dead end sign on the post at the end of the lane.  There seemed to be a bridlepath through and I hesitated as to whether to go that way but concluded that: I had the right bike, it wasn't far, it's been dry, the benefit outweighed the inconvenience, I could always turn around and come back.  Both me and Mr angry overshot the lane into the village.  I waited patiently for him to roar past the other way whilst I turned around in the road then followed him up to the carpark whereby I passed him as he poured all his offspring out in the carpark, like a woodlouse releasing its young, and started heading for the pub.

I bounced steadily over the speed bumps designed to prevent intrepid motorists continuing.  I saw my bridlepath but continued along the lane in hope, only to find it barred by a Private Road gate so I retraced and tackled the gravel and baby's head boulders.

It was only around 300m long and spit me out onto another pleasant lane which eventually took me up to the Hayfield - Charlesworth road which I doubled-back on to join the Chunnal descent into Glossop.

Yeah, I was finally properly cooked.  It was 4:30pm and hungry.

A wavering motorist hanging right without any indicators then changing to a left turn had me slamming on the brakes and skidding in the road.  That woke me up and reduced me to a shaking bundle of mess as I walked into the Glossop Costa, by now in dire need of cooling down, caffeinating and a feed.

I sat on the bench outside.  2135m of climbing in 97km.  Oops.  That's good.  Only the Snake Pass to go. 

It took me a while to get warmed up but once I did I enjoyed the Snake immensely.  I didn't have much gusto left but I just churned it out. 1hr 44 mins to the front door, including a swing up to Moscar Top to try and sneak a few more metres climbing.

It was dinner time when I got in after 133km and 2688m of up.  Vaguely tempted to go out and bag a further 70km on the flat after dinner to round it up but not really.  The last stage of the tour was calling, to watch the presentation we missed last weekend.