Anyone living in the UK reading this on publication date will know that yesterday was another horrible one weather-wise. It was also my day allocated for crossing the Pennines and Yorkshire Dales with my longest distance yet (122 km) and greatest ascent (1967 m) -running totals: 1604 km, 14869 m) – that total is also 4 miles short of the 1000 mile mark for the metrically challenged!
The weather stayed dry, but with a very strong northerly (therefore cold) wind for the first big climb of the day. As I was going up this I was encouraged by adverts for a café at the top – only to find the inevitable closed sign…
I pedalled onwards and eventually a café associated with some caves came into sight and I bolted into it for coffee and cake.
While I was in there, another long distance cyclist came in, only the third that I have seen (as identified on the presence of loaded panniers) but the first that I have talked to. He was doing a coast to coast run on behalf of Suicide Prevention and taking 4 days over it. He had only started cycling 6 months ago and it emerged that his charity was due to his grandfather committing suicide on the D-Day anniversary last year. It was only after he died that his war record was discovered and it turned out that he was one of the first ashore on D-Day whose job it was to dynamite his way through the barbed wire on the beach to let his fellow troops follow. Bad dynamite had led to a return to his landing craft and a bullet wound to his leg before he was successful. He then saw quite a lot of his comrades killed. He received an award for this bravery but it seems that PTSD can lie latent for many years. It was a shame that my Grandfather’s armoured division was not bigger still – that armour saved a lot of lives. I wished my fellow cyclist the best for both his cause and his ride.
The rain came as the general drift of the route turned northwards into the wind and at the start of another long climb. The top of the hill here was miserable and I could hardly see due to water on my glasses. I did though register a couple of snipe flying off (new species). The bit that hurts on the hills though is not so much the long climbs (or descents) as the incessant little climbs. The short descents are soon over, so it feels like one long climb into the wind and rain. I was very cold (shivering) by the time I arrived into Settle and was glad to be able to get into another dry café and add some layers of clothing. This did not seem like the English summer weather that I had looked forward to.
I was very pleased to see Fi (later joined by John) who were kindly giving me a bed and delicious supper. I initially worked with, and later shared a house with, John near Aberdeen in the early 1980s and I think had introduced them to each other then. They had moved away later so it was good to catch up with them. John had in turn introduced me to Dawes bicycles – so has a link to this ride. It was good to see them and to catch up a little.