The Long Ride

My longest single day ride to date!

Strava Cycle Ride – Wakefield to Flookburgh 3rd June 2016

To keep me on track to a fitter and healthier life I need to keep setting challenges for myself, if I don’t, I fear I will lose my way and slip back into my old lazy ways.

How my Long Ride came about
What to do for my BIG birthday… humm… I wonder???? I wanted to do something ‘I’ would enjoy but I wanted to include my family and friends. So I came up with the ‘Birthday Camp’.

I love camping, the outdoors, beautiful scenery and cycling. Perfect, I can have them all in one! We have camping equipment and we are a country brimming with stunning scenery so it wouldn’t cost us a fortune to do it.

When I thought about ‘Birthday Camp’ I had in mind a distance of about 45 miles from home to the camp. A nice gentle ride that I could take my time over, leaving me plenty of energy to enjoy the weekend and also go out for short rides whilst I was there.

Problem was ….. leaving it late to book. I had only come up with the idea a few of weeks prior to going and trying to book a campsite in the school holidays isn’t easy!! After days of 2 of us looking we had to look further afield….. and that field got bigger and bigger and further away!!!

by the time we found a campsite we were over 80 miles away! 86 to be precise!!

BUT will be worth it
0 miles on the clock Wakefield to Flookburgh

Not going all the way
I knew straight away that I would not be riding all the way. The furthest I had ridden previously in one day was about 48 miles, a few miles short of the 86 I would need to do to get to ‘Birthday Camp’ in Flookburgh, Grange-over-Sands.

It was agreed that when I had had enough Michael, who was taking all the camping gear and setting up, would came back and collect me in the car. I felt a bit better knowing there was a bit of a safety net BUT…..

…As time went on and I began to tell people what I was doing for my ‘big birthday’, most of their reactions were …. Call that a treat! You have to cycle there!.. My reply would immediately be … oh I know I won’t cycle it all so Michael will pick me up when I have had enough.

I narked myself. I kept hearing myself say it … I know I won’t cycle it all so Michael will pick me up when I’ve had enough….

hear something enough and 1, you either start to believe it or 2, you do something about it!

Lucky for me the week before ‘birthday camp’ a group of us were cycling Sustrans Sea to Sea route. 138 miles split over 3 days. A blinking good training session ready for my ‘birthday challenge’ (I assure you it wasn’t training!).

I had been out training for c2c and Jay took me out a couple of times but not by half had I done enough. I had hoped that Jay would ride with me to Flookburgh but he didn’t initially seem that keen. He wanted to cycle it but at HIS pace, which is slightly faster, well much faster than I travel! BUT in the end the boy came through and said he would cycle with me for as long as needed him than he would finish on his own (as long as it wasn’t midnight when I gave up!).

And off we go
We set of at 9.30am on Friday 3rd June. There was a bit of a nip in the air so the jacket was on, I knowing that by the time I had got to the top of the road it was probably coming off … unfit and all, I heat up like a pressure cooker!

I had looked at our route the day before and made notes of distances between each town. Wakefield to Bradford 13 miles, to Keighley 10 miles, to Skipton 9 miles and so on all along the route.

BUT will be worth it

86 miles was far too daunting a distance for me to contemplate but breaking it down into small sections made it seem more achievable. I ride 10 miles a lot, I ride 20 miles quite a bit, so in my head each of these distances is ok. If I just keep doing 10’s and 20’s I am sure I can get to at least 50 miles.

That was my target, if I could do 50 miles that would be over half way. It wouldn’t now the furthest I had ever ridden as I had just beaten my previous longest ride on the c2c by doing 56 miles in one day, yippee!! There’s always a challenge to be had when you are challenging yourself against yourself.

50 miles would get me to Settle….. I like Settle

Jay the pace
From the off Jay tapped out a lovely pace. It always takes me a few miles to get into my stride so we were steady away. On the map it looked like the hardest, biggest HILL!, was from Wakefield to Bradford, another reason for Jay making sure I didn’t do my usual and set off too quickly.

Getting ready in the morning, I was a little apprehensive about the whole ‘cycling all day’ thing BUT every mile I did I was enjoying it more and more. That was a surprise! Perhaps I’m REALLY beginning to enjoy this cycling malarkey!

Coming through Bradford was more than a little hair raising!! You have to run the gauntlet of 4 lane traffic, roundabouts and lots of traffic lights.

stick to your line, don’t be intimidated, be confident and you will be fine

It would have been far more enjoyable to follow tracks and minor roads to our destination but that would have added MORE miles to my already mammoth ride, so a direct route it was.

A650 to Keighley – A629 to Skipton – A65 past Kirby Longsdale – Minor Roads to Join short section A6 – A590 to Meathop – B5277 to Flookburgh

Going on?
With each section I ticked off I felt more and more chuffed with myself. We’d been cycling 5hrs and had reached Settle…. Yes … chuffed!!!

I had thought that if I made Settle anything after that would be a bonus BUT then I got to thinking (I know, lethal for me!). Last weekend doing c2c I had done my longest all time ride of 56 miles …. Hummm…..

only another 10 miles to equal it, 11 to beat it!

Jay was always checking with me to see if I was ok, if the pace was alright, was I eating. When we got near Settle I needed a ‘nature break’ but that meant leaving our route to ride into Settle, that meant EXTRA miles … no way … I’ll hold it!!

We carried on knowing that Ingleton was only (look at me… ONLY!) another 10 miles up the road. We needed the loo, fluids and a break so we stopped at a garage on the outskirt of town. The garage assistant told us there was a loo at Country Harvest so we rode on a couple of miles to visit the loo rather than the trees.

Whilst I was answering the call of nature Michael called Jay to see how we were doing and if I needed picking up. Jay relayed the message to me on my return ……

….. If you want picking up, it will take Michael on hour to get to you …..

I surprised myself by not thinking about my reply too much. It was going to take him an hour to get to me, you don’t just sit there and wait you would obviously carry on cycling towards him so that would be another 5 miles or so racked up.

Jay had just announced that I had officially ridden my furthest ever at 57 miles. Yippeee!!

If I did another 5 miles that would be that would be 63 miles done. That would leave 23 miles to go. Bloody Hell for 23 miles I wasn’t going to give up and hitch a lift!

On the whole I felt ok. My back was killing me as was my hand and wrist. I downed some pain killers and we went on.

I couldn’t think about the prospect of actually cycling the whole route. I could only think about the next section and the one after that. It seemed to have worked so far.

You had to laugh
We came off the A65 onto minor side roads and farm tracks. By this time, we both needed to investigate the trees a little closer! Jay first, and would you believe it out of nowhere 3 cars! What!! The hedgerows weren’t going to give me much cover so we carried on. Every time I went to stop … another car!!! Were they watching us!!!

Imagine, a farm track, no wider than 10 feet, thick hedgerow either side. It was a beautiful lane and the smell of the wild flowers and ferns was wonderful. Yes, the perfect spot. Not very deep but plenty of hedgerow on either side. Jay was behind me. I stopped gesturing to him where I was ‘going to go’.

As I looked back to dismount … you will not believe it…… we couldn’t and just started howling with laughter. Chugging towards us in the middle of nowhere, an elderly gentleman on a mobility scooter. It was hilarious (probably one of those, you had to be there moments!).

I was absolutely bursting but the kindly gentleman stopped for a chat, you do don’t you if you come across someone in a place like that. At any other time I would have chatted for an age BUT ‘I needed to go!!!!’…. And yet another car! The lovely gent went on his way so the car could pass BUT more importantly I could SING to NATURE!!!! At long last!
We rode along and kept bursting into laughter about the randomness of the encounter.

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And from laughter to bloody hell!!!
Coming off the minor roads we had to join the A590 which we hadn’t realised from the map how busy a road it was. Blinking Nora the traffic was flying down it, shit!

We scoured the map to find another route but there was none. That’s it we’ll have to go for it. And we did. I have to say riding through the centre of Bradford is nothing to cycling down the A590! Shit I was scared.

Jay was up front trying to keep the tempo higher than what I had been doing just so we could get off the road as soon as possible. He kept thinking he was dropping me and dropped back but I told him I was hanging back so if we got hit by a car hopefully it wouldn’t get both of us. I was scared, what if something happened to Jay?!

BUT will be worth it
47 Miles SETTLE

There was a quick swerve around a badger that had most certainly been hit by a car and was laying directly in our path. We reached the roundabout which would see us turn left onto B5277 taking us all the way into Grange-over-Sands.

As we came off the roundabout there was a layby, we stopped, looked at each other and both went .. ‘shit that was scary!! Only 13 more miles to go!

You got to be kidding me!
Jay looked at the map ….. ‘about 13 miles to go, how you doing?’ I was knackered. My back hurt, my hands and wrists hurt and I was flagging….. ‘I’ve had enough now, it needs to be over’..

We set off again knowing I only had ‘less than 3 lots of 5 miles’. At this point thinking about 13 miles was far too much. 5 miles isn’t far so I broke down the remaining miles…. 5 + 5 + not even another 5! Yes!

My Strava dropped out as we came into Grange-over-Sands at 81 miles. Jay having a Garmin computer kept reception so take a look at his Strava for the last 5 miles …. It’s a F’ing killer!!!!

Jay Strava Cycle Ride Wakefield to Flookburugh

BUT will be worth it
Jay the Pace

As we cycled along, me thinking, just keep going almost there, I looked up ……….. bloody hell!!! …. ‘are we going up there! … Jay, ‘yep!’ …. ‘Oh for F’s sake!’

We climbed a ‘little’ hill but it felt huge. On again with a bit of a downhill and guess what?…. ‘you’ve got to be sh*ting me!’

You can tell how tired I was by the constant barrage of expletives that ran from my mouth like verbal diarrhoea!

‘Aargghhhhh!!!!! You’ve got to be kidding!!!!!! Aargghhhhhhhhh!!!!! ‘please someone make it STOP!!!!!!!!’

I was literally clinging on to the climb. In the big scale of things, it wasn’t ‘big’ BUT after 81 miles it was the biggest climb I have ever done!

We reached Flookburgh and turned left for a mile flat to the finish.

Flaming Nora!! I had actually done it! Chuff me! I had actually achieve! I had actually completed something I had set out to do! Chuffing Nora!!

86 chuffing miles!! Crickey, you did it! And there was none more surprised than me!

I could feel myself welling up and I hugged on to Jay thanking him for getting me there with all I could muster.

He had done it! Jay had nurtured and guided me all the way and for that I will be forever grateful. His support had enabled me to achieve. Thank you Jay.

Our reception committee
We stopped at the entrance of our ‘birthday camp’ for the obligatory finish photo then set out in search of our ‘birthday tent’ at Lakeland.

Jay had been keeping Michael informed of where we were and as we rode up the lane our supporters were there to cheer us in!

BUT will be worth it
Crowds rush towards us in celebration of our triumph!
BUT will be worth it
Crowd swells as we celebrate our triumph!
BUT will be worth it
Brothers in arms!

…don’t cry you idiot!… I just wanted to burst into tears…. The realisation that I had actually made it with the support of a lot of people.

People that may not have been there at the finish BUT

The guys that came out to train with me
The guys that led me from start to finish of the C2C
The guys that arranged and set up ‘birthday camp’
The guys that supported ‘Wakefield to Flookburgh’ ride

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I have had an incredible month of cycling and birthday treats. It’s a month in my life I will always treasure.

Oh, and thanks to the guys for all your sympathy, NOT!, when after cycling c2c and 86 miles to Flookburgh WITHOUT injury, I fell over a blade of grass and ended up in A&E with thankfully no more than a twisted ankle, which I twisted again 5 days later on another birthday treat to Pateley Bridge on a 2 day walking ‘chilling out’!

BUT will be worth it
My loosing fight with a blade of grass

That walking malarkey is dangerous!!

With a glow in my heart and treasured moments of a wonderful time in my life, I will sign off for now and bid you all peace and happiness.
Jo x

P.S. Wear your cycling helmet!

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