The last three days have been a blur. The transition from Carlisle to Slaidburn was one of the most incredible cycles of my life, with no exaggeration. The ride was by no means the longest we’ve taken part in, but with regards to duration and sheer physicality it remains the closest I’ve come to being broken, and to admit that is quite a thing.
The day started out as normal, with flowing hills and shitty tarmac. The fact that it was Meg’s last day with us before she was due to return to Kent made the situation a little more challenging. It’s no great secret that I find it difficult to remain motivated without her, but the significance of her not being around had impacted on my mood for a fair while and I think it had an effect on my cycling.
There is very little point in relaying our exact journey, but suffice to say that by the time we’d got to Dent in the dales we were fairly knackered. The pace dropped by a fair few knots, and after a few hours of grinding out the mileage and getting into a rhythm, we made our way into the village of Kirkby Lonsdale, just to the most westerly part of Yorkshire, where we were met by our replacement support crew (Phil – hard-line communist and committed tinkerer, and Chris – Through The Keyhole-esque home botherer; both wonderful friends) and Trudi and Julian Materna (TN from the forum).
There is something about a person who greets you with Haribo, cake and jelly beans that suggests you’re going to get on. Despite having never met up with Trudi and Julian before, the conversation degenerated very quickly to the point were innuendo and general rudeness became staple fodder, and before we knew it the time had flown by and it we had to get on.
From Kirkby Lonsdale to Slaidburn is approximately 14 miles, but I don’t know much about the distance. I don’t really know much about the terrain, the contours, the geography, the type of road. any of it really. I only remember the pain, and the desperation, and the utter, utter cruelty of it all. The hills were so steep, and so unforgiving, that any grace or technique was cast aside and a grim ballet of winding, grinding and wailing from both the bike and myself followed.
But I didn’t fucking dab. Get in.
And yesterday was a breeze. Lancaster, to Preston, to Wigan (my old home), to Warrington, to Chester. All completed very quickly, with the assistance of cake and a nice fella from STW called Tony, who waited in a bloody car park from God knows what time to ride for twenty minutes with some fat fella from Wadhurst. You couldn’t make it up. What an amazing guy. Except for when he offered my a race and proceeded to whup me up the hill towards Ashton. There is no glory in whupping a man with incurable cancer who’d just completed 60 miles.
And besides. I let you win.
Posted on: August 3, 2010 by bullheart