Day 2 : Thirsk to Edinburgh
Stage 6: Thirsk to Barnard Castle 42miles 15.2mph.
I awake before my alarm having had 5 hours sleep in a luxurious bed and think of getting back on the road. Any thoughts of a quick get away are thwarted by my poor attempts at re-tying my drop bag which I’ve filled with too much stuff and I waste a good 15 minutes in a befuddle daze before I give up and head back to the control for some food.
The control is quiet and I head out alone in the morning sun. There are a few riders but not at my speed. I pass one, only to miss a turn and have to overtake her again, slightly embarrassed the 2nd time. I really shouldn’t have turned the beeps off on my Garmin.
Pretty uneventful leg and before long I’m crossing the Tees and heading into Barnard Castle Control, my mind clearly on the climb of Yad Moss ahead.
Stage 7: Barnard Castle to Brampton 52miles 13.5mph
Now on familiar roads I head out of the Control and into a cross/headwind as we climb the long long climb of Yad Moss. There’s not many riders around and I’m happy enough with my pace, which I’m managing by watching my HR and keeping at a steady number. I try not be put off by being overtaken and know that we still have a long day ahead of ourselves.
I pass the time on the 90 minute climb (1,200ft over 14miles) by counting the snow poles and guessing how many I’ll pass before the top. My first guess is 70, but I get to 199 before I finally crest the summit and head down to the cobbles of Alston and on to Brampton.
Stage 8: Brampton to Moffat 47 miles 15.6 mph
A head out alone and thankfully my pride stays in tack as I get onto the Scottish loop before the first Southbound riders passes me. I stop at the border for another obligatory photo which I ask some German tourists to take. They can’t quite believe how far I had come, and to be honest neither could I.
Mostly I was alone on this leg but on familiar territory I didn’t mind too much. There wasn’t much for it but to get my head down and crank out the miles. Moffat control was a welcome relief to the boredom from the B7076.
Sitting down on the low bench to take off my shoes was a challenge. My lower back was very sore and gave me some concern, but I was focussed on getting to Edinburgh for the night, ideally before nightfall…
Stage 9 : Moffat to Edinburgh 50 Miles 15.2 mph
Back on the road at straightaway up onto the Devil’s Beeftub, a 6 miles climb up the side of the valley with a very steady gradient. It’s a lovely climb, if that is possible, picking a gear and a steady HR you just tap out the revolutions required until the crest appears and then you have a long long descent into the Tweed valley.
The evening sun was interspersed by some rain showers and rainbows and I was happy enough to ride on my own on familiar roads, knowing I’d soon be back in Edinburgh. There were only a couple of other riders on the road and I up the pace to chase down their red lights only to be disappointed that their speed isn’t compatible to mine.
One red light stubbornly refused to get any closer but the chase keeps me amused as we reach the outskirts, where I chanced across a friend on their motorbike just as I made the catch. We exchange greetings as best you can at 18mph. I wasn’t for slowing until I had got to the control and I had been fixated on getting there for 10pm, doing repeated equations of the average speed required to make it. The meeting bursts my LEL bubble a little – a reminder of a life outside of cycling and eating…
The excellent Loanhead railway path was a breeze and we sail through the city’s outskirts with ease and are soon at the Control a couple of minutes before 10pm (I find out later the Edinburgh controller had arranged for the many chicanes to be removed – thanks Martin).
Another familiar face is on duty outside the control and we chat as I lock up the bike for the night. Taking my shoes off now becomes a major issue, I struggle to bend and my lower back is in agony. Getting into a taxi becomes my biggest challenge of the day.
The Taxi driver can’t comprehend 450mile/ 39 hour journey from London and even more amazed, having seen the state of me, that I was planning to get on my bike in the morning to repeat the journey south…