“Shall I call an ambulance?”

Saturday’s adventures…

As planned we headed out to attempt three of the TdF hills. The planned route of around 80 miles, had an elevation of about 8,000 ft, but we managed 27 miles of it and just under 2,400 ft.

Despite keenly watching the changing weather forecast regularly throughout the week, and realising that it would be wet and windy, we underestimated the effect of being up north and being up a big hill. It’s cold up there, and the weather is unpredictable.

We decided on quite different kit, but that is fairly normal as I feel the cold. I decided upon bib tights, waterproof socks, jersey, arm warmers, a waterproof and my Sealskin mitts. Ollie chose a Jersey, shorts, arm warmers and fingerless gloves.

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The first 20 miles were okay. It was rainy on and off, my arm warmers were off, my raincoat was on, off, on…and Ollie was happy with his choice of kit. However, after the 20 mile point we began to struggle. Ollie’s fingers were too exposed to the headwind and driving rain which was battering us, which meant that he had to keep them warm by putting them into his mouth. I was okay kit wise but the wind was sapping my energy. But the 20 mile point coincided with the first of the three major hills, between Buckden and Hawes, which went on and on and on. Ollie was kindly either waiting for me, or racing up the hill and then coming back to get me – so that he kept warm- whilst also keeping his hands warm, one at a time.

The 20 mile point was like entering a time warp, the hill lasted forever, there was nothing; no civilisation – just moors – grass – water – sheep. I think it even got to the point where there weren’t even any sheep. And then there was snow. Not just sleet – snow. Snow and wind. Still I was okay, but Ollie’s fingers were increasingly cold and painful.We got to a steep downhill section, which frightened me so we had to get off and walk for a little way. After that though, my fingers also became cold, even though they had been wrapped up in my Sealskin mitts. I began to compare the ride to that of Boxing Day and Ride 100, in terms of miserableness. But then it got a little worse;  a passing Landrover splashed me, and I was soaked through.

 

We carried on, miserably, shivering and desperately looking for a pub to warm up in…and eventually came to the cobbled streets of Hawes. We blindly followed the streets until we came across a Coffee shop – Herriot’s – where we dumped the bikes and went straight inside to a friendly welcome. We perched on seats and ordered hot chocolates, which I downed almost in one. We pretty much immediately decided that we would terminate the ride and that one of us would get a taxi back to the camp site to pick up the car. As we sat waiting for lunch, drinking the hot chocolate Ollie’s fingers warmed up nice and quickly, but I continued to shiver uncontrollably in my wet clothes.

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Ollie and the Cafe owner, Glenn, were increasingly concerned about my inability to warm up – Glenn and his wife Liz tried to find me a hot water bottle but decided to offer me the use of one of their Bed and Breakfast rooms, so that I could have a hot shower. He gave me a walkie-talkie and instructed me not to collapse. The shower, on its hottest setting did the job, but I was back to shivering once I got out. However Liz kindly let me borrow some clothes so that I wouldn’t have to put my cold wet Lycra back on, and I spent some time under a hair-drier.

 

In the meantime, another kind couple offered Ollie a lift back to the camp-site, and Glenn ‘sold’ Ollie a room for the night – so Ollie headed off to get the car and Glenn gave me a key to a new room. The end of our camping adventure  – I didn’t even manage two nights!!

 

While Ollie was away I ate my lunch soup, chatted to some other cyclists and fully recovered.

 

We finished off our route on Sunday – so still managed to do all of the hills that we’d planned to do. Photos below…

 

Buttertubs Pass

Buttertubs Pass

Climbing Buttertubs

Climbing Buttertubs

Posing on Buttertubs

Posing on Buttertubs

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Buttertubs

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Buttertubs Pass

 

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Reflection on a year to treasure

Wow, it’s almost a month since I last posted.

Today is my birthday! 🙂

So I thought that I would briefly reflect on an interesting year. In fact one of the best years.

Since my last birthday I have:

  • been accepted to ride in a sportive I didn’t even enter
  • started this blog, to discuss the sportive which I didn’t even enter
  • projectile vomited, thanks to a bike ride
  • met the perfect man
  • inducted this same man into the cycling world
  • met some amazing cycling ladies (Dame Cycling)
  • competed in a time trial thanks to those ladies
  • joined a cycling club
  • ridden on an airfield, during the night
  • …and experienced being engulfed by a peloton
  • ridden in the sportive which I didn’t even enter (with the support of a couple of Dames!)
  • …in a hurricane, I will have you know
  • completed a century (but not the sportive that I didn’t even enter!)
  • raised £1,100 for Dressability
  • passed multiple Masters modules
  • competed in a team triathlon (something I would never previously of considered doing)
  • bought a tandem
  • started a new job
  • ridden 3,361.90 solo miles
  • ridden 67.7 tandem miles
  • completed 242 hours on my solo bike
  • completed 4 hours in the Rear Admiral’s saddle

All topped off with a cycling birthday treasure hunt of 31 miles, which resulted in me finding my presents right back at the start!

Finding the second clue at the top of the White Horse hill.

Finding the second clue at the top of the White Horse hill.

Treasure! Right back where I started!

Treasure! Right back where I started!

I think Ollie wants more cakes... amazing present :)

I think Ollie wants more cakes… amazing present 🙂

A fairly quick post, but thank you for your support and to everyone who has made this year so special.Thanks for the boost to the Carbon Bike Fund, the winter gear to keep me warm on these cold days and the games to play when I just can’t be bothered to get out on the road. Here’s to the next one, to all of us getting into the sportive that I did sign myself up for, and to some party planning for the big 3-0.

Laura x

A nice summer hobby

Ciao,

Two weeks ago, Ollie and I were spending the weekend cycling in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. Yesterday, wearing bib tights, and four layers up top, we regretted not wearing overshoes and thicker gloves. As we cycled through freezing fog the water formed a white layer of droplets over the fabrics of our gloves and tights. It was chilly to say the least and it’s only October. In fact, it is only the third time that we’ve worn any winter gear. The Italians don’t know what they’re missing, but we do. To quote Ollie;

This was a nice summer hobby wasn’t it! Time to find a new one…

As promised in the last post, after handing the carbon machines back, we had a week off of pedalling – though the week wasn’t without its attempts; a couple of days after returning the bikes in Sirmione we attempted to hire a pedalo but it had been an overcast day so the owner seemed to have decided it wasn’t worth opening up. We arrived in Venice, where bikes are banned, still craving some pedalling so we planned a trip to Lido. Lido is the only Island on the Lagoon which has motorcars; bikes are also allowed and they actually have a ‘Boris Bike’ scheme too. On our final day we took the Vaporetto over to Lido for a day trip with our intention being to tour the long, thin island by bike, but sadly we couldn’t work out the instructions so we had to walk instead.

In addition to being the only island which allows cars it is also the beach resort of the Venetian Lagoon; though the start of October is out of season and much of the island was closed. The hotels all close down over the winter and the beach is less accessible. We wandered along the quiet beach front, sat on the rocks, had some food in the company of some crabs and then wandered to the other end of the beach to see what we could find. What we did find was rather odd. At the end of the main coastal road, in the heart of the tourist district is a gated area, inside of which there is an infrastructure of roads and buildings. However the gate is locked, the buildings are broken and the area is deserted as if it had been hurriedly abandoned. On the gate is a sign, however with our limited Italian, we could only translate one word; Contaminated. Very very eerie, but fascinating – Google didn’t provide us with any answers and Google Maps has the area greyed out, which suggests that the area was abandoned before 2005-2007 when Google did the majority of their mapping work (I think)! I doubt we will ever find out what it was, but it was like something out of a boy-film (Zombies, the end of the world etc…)

We returned home on Tuesday of last week and dived straight into trying to attack the mountain of laundry, in addition to going back to work on the Wednesday and, for me trying to catch up on my studies before lectures this week. Back into the university term means that all fun goes out of the window and there’s only time for work, study and chores (and hopefully the odd half an hour on the turbo trainer). Though after yesterday’s ride I can’t say that I am too disappointed – I am definitely back into a hating cycling phase; I really struggled yesterday, ended up frustrated and cut the ride short for my own sanity and to let the boys enjoy a faster pace. It sounds like I made the right choice, too, since there were some killer hills, although I did spend most of the hour that I was alone getting lost. My Strava map shows just how close I was to the end before taking a wrong turn and diverting away from the course to add a few extra, unplanned miles.

As we enter the school and winter period I suspect there will be less to post about, I don’t tend to have many adventures on my turbo trainer! That said – there are a series of winter sportives, which I intend to check out at some point.