Punctures are an inevitable part of being a cyclist. When you have 70 miles ahead of you, discovering one in Dave’s front tyre at dawn was the worst possible start to a day.
Thankfully, repairs prior to breakfast didn’t take too long. And after we’d all set a record for devouring a fry up the next leg of our adventure began.
Now and again we found ourselves not sure of our exact location. On one such occasion we ended up in a field containing a lot of cows grazing at the opposite end.
“Harmless,” we all agreed as we noticed one or two of the black and white beasts get to their feet. Clearly they’d spotted four bicycle pushers on their patch. Unfortunately they weren’t happy about it as they demonstrated by charging towards us. Thankfully their sprint in our direction began from such a distance that we had time to abandon our wheels and leap over a fence.
Once the cows had moved to the far end of the green space we returned to collect our mode of transport and quickly – very quickly – exited the area.
Initially returning to the saddle had been pain-free. A good night’s sleep had helped to ease the aches of the first day. Within an hour or two they returned and once again we all spoke of the gratitude we owed to the inventor of padded shorts.
In approximately the middle of the trail it branches off to Leeds, Sheffield and Chesterfield. This caused some confusion and eventually led to us leaving the route to discover exactly where we were.
“Barrrrnsley,” a man outside a shop informed us in a thick Yorkshire accent. That was exactly the answer we wanted as it confirmed we were still heading west.
The downside to being in the town that was featured in the Domesday Book was we were edging nearer to the Pennines.
Before entering the mountain range we learned from a sign on the trail that most people approached it from west to east, as the gradient favours that direction. That was something we could already attest to and were about to have further confirmation of.
Postcard perfect moors and reservoirs made for nice backgrounds, without distracting us enough from the climbs. At times it was necessary to demount and push the bike up the hill, particularly when ascending the 435ms of Windle Edge. Thankfully going down the other side of the area’s highest peak was an effortless task.
What we predicted to be the toughest day of our tour certainly proved correct. And it was pitch dark when we reached our stopover in Hyde. The place to lay our heads for the night was rooms over a pub on the eastern side of the town.
Inevitably the evening was spent downstairs sinking some well-deserved ales. Food arrived in the form of pizzas we had delivered from a takeaway the barwoman recommended.
A full day on the bike had created our hunger. The Saturday night crowd on the premises surely didn’t have the same excuse. Perhaps it was just the consumption of alcohol that made them stare in our direction once they sniffed our supper. Zombie-like, some of them even came over to ask if they could have a slice. When we explained how our day had been spent their requests relented.
Again, not many pints were needed to send us to sleep with thought of the last – and supposedly easiest – day of our cycle still remaining.
See the rest of the journey here.