So the idea sounded nice and simple. Both of us needed a 600 to complete a Super Randonneur series and couldn’t get on any of the calendar events in a PBP year due to timings, so let’s do a DIY, and why not route test the LEL 2013 route as well. So after a bit of fiddling with routes we came up with this lot that passed the organiser’s scrutiny:
- Spalding (join LEL route here)
- Market Rasen
- Skeeby (not on LEL route, but we stopped at the travelodge)
- Barnard Castle
I decided I was going to be paranoid and collect receipts at controls as well as rely on the Edge 800 for tracking.
So we set off from Nottingham Station at 7am on the Friday. Gorgeous weather, blue skies and dry. After about 30 minutes we stopped to take off arm warmers and I had to change the lenses in my glasses for something darker. The hill out of Woolsthorpe was a bit of a lung warmer, but a nice test of things to come. Was a bit concerned with how I was going to cope with the northen sections of the route as I’m not really a grimpeur and my lowest gear is 36″, once that’s been deployed the next drop is to the old shank’s 24″ one. But more on that later. The ride across the fens was pretty good, very slight wind occasionally but nowhere as viscious as I’ve had on other rides across them which lulled us into a false sense of security. We controlled at a desserted Garden Centre in spalding with that ever present Audaxer staple of beans on toast and a pot of tea.
Now we turned north and things took a bit of a change. There’s not many North/South roads across the fens that aren’t reasonably sized trunk roads (or at least used like them). Though the traffic wasn’t the worst of the problems as we now settled into a headwind that was going to keep us company all the way to Moffat, though we didn’t know that then. On the flatter roads of Lincolnshire we worked as a pair making good time. Was impressed with a Typhoon landing closing the road and Conningsby. Thinking we’d miss some of the headwind and be able to make up time on the other side of the humber we stopped for lunch at Woodhill Spa as we knew a decent cafe there from the skeggy ride.
Unfortunately the wind hadn’t died down so we got back into formation and pushed onto Market Rasen where we had the other audax staple of Frijj on the forecourt of a petrol station. Coming out of MR we had a bit of a break from just grinding into a headwind as the climb onto the Wolds appeared. Luckily it was about the right gradient to get into a nice steady tempo and make some progress. But then plenty of downhill to Barton and the bridge, which you can see from miles away so gives a nice target to aim for. Managed to negotiated all the cyclepaths to cross the bridge successfully, though we did end up ‘hopping’ a couple of kerbs near the visitor’s centre, but this was probably because we didn’t actually look at the rotue sheet? Got seperated a bit by the terrain which wasn’t helped by ending up at different spots in Pocklington, and the discovering there were 2 CoOps there.
By this time we knew that the wind was in for the rest of the ride and that we’d lost a lot of time on the first couple of sections, so our original plan of being in bed for midnight was looking very suspect. Especially as we were now entering hill country. This section had one of the real highlights of the route, we passed through the grounds of Castle Howard as the sun set aboyut 21:30/22:00 and it was glorious. We pulled up around the top of the hill to see the monument, then dropped towards the first gate and then rose to the second gate with the obelisk lit up, absolutely gorgeous. We then had fun cycling the back roads to Thirsk through the darkening night with badger, foxes and rabbits for company. Then we had the company of Thirk’s youthful inebriated inhabitants while we quickly got a bank receipt and headed for Skeeby. Some more quite road bashing and a final scary mile up the hard should of the A1 and we collapsed into the room for 02:30 @ 350km, which put us about 2 hours behind out predicted time. And we hadn’t expected to be that tired after day 1. Though I had just set myself a new distance record, so at least something was looking up.
Low points of the day? The wind, the slowness and dropping my iPhone again (hence no photos as I was too worried about doing even more damage).
High Points: Castle Howard, the Lanes to Thirsk, and generally feeling pretty good all day.