The gang met as usual at breakfast today, and Rob gave his introduction to the day’s ride, with warnings of road conditions, ideas of where to eat, sights we might wish to see, and any nuances of the route. There was a sense of foreboding: Andy had described this as the ‘Queen stage’, Rob as the hardest of all the stages we were to do, and I remembered that it was pretty tough in the other direction four years ago. And it was harder than four years ago, because it was ten miles longer: the usual hotel in Clitheroe wasn’t available, so we were to go further, to Mellor. In retrospect I thought Rob and I could have been a little more upbeat, channeling our inner Henry V at Agincourt: there was a lot of climbing, true, but we were cycling through some beautiful country, and those of us who outlived this day would certainly stand a tip-toe whenever JOGLE was discussed. But in the end we all had stomach for the fight, and off we went.
I left first, to maximise my chances of arriving before 5:00. I was surprised that no one caught me for a while, so I took a few photos along the way. It was pretty desolate, but quite beautiful. At this point it was what we cyclists call ‘lumpy’, but there were no really scary climbs.
As I went on, the ride entered North Yorkshire, as a sign made very clear (there was no such climb indicating that we had left Yorkshire, I must say). Around this time I was caught by Amardeep, Carl, Les, Jamie and James, but I managed briefly to get ahead of them and take photos of them climbing a 15% slope. I was interested to see their pain faces, but they seemed remarkably unaffected! Here are John in orange and Les in yellow.
At this point the weather was overcast but pretty dry, and we continued to ride over open moorland. The weather remained OK, and I was beginning to think about having some coffee. I bumped into Rob, who had parked the van by the side of the road, and we agreed that Ingleton was a good bet. Ingleton is an attractive village, and there is a slightly complicated story about the place that involves Arthur Conan Doyle. I like stories involving Conan Doyle—my earlier LEJOG blog mentioned the village of Musgrave (which we passed yesterday) and how the Sherlock Holmes story The Musgrave Ritual influenced TS Eliot when he wrote Murder in the Cathedral. In this vein I might add that Eliot’s description of Macavity the Mystery Cat was based on Conan Doyle’s Professor Moriarty. The second line of the poem reads “For he’s the master criminal who can defy the law” and the last two lines read “Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time/Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!” As Eliot himself said, Good writers borrow, great writers steal.
Anyway, Conan Doyle’s mother lived in nearby Masongill, and when visiting her he would have arrived at Ingleton railway station. His subsequent journey by cart would have passed through Holme Head. When Conan Doyle wrote A Study in Scarlet he was going to name his principal character Sherrinford Holmes. That same year, however, the church of St Mary the Virgin in Ingleton was rebuilt to the design of famous Liverpudlian architect Cornelius Sherlock. Coincidence? I think not.
I found a coffee place in Ingleton, using my four-year-old local knowledge, and met Amardeep, Carl, Les, Jamie and James. I had a big cheese scone and a cup of coffee, and after chats about the relative merits of Garmin and Wahoo cycle computers (Wahoo for me) I set off, a few minutes after my chums. By now it was quite hot, and I had taken off my arm warmers. This may have been a mistake. At first all was well. The scenery was as impressive as ever, and the physical features of the land reminded me of many a geography lesson with Mr Elliot. I only wish I could remember the names of some of those features.
But then it was the first really tough climb of the day, at about 34 miles. You can see it on the route profile at the end of this blog. Clucking bell. It was over five miles long, and I had to stop a few times, when the gradient got to about 15%. I didn’t take any pictures during the ride, but I think the image below is taken from the end of the ascent, looking down. It gives no impression whatsoever of how tough it was.
And then it stared to rain hard. My camera stopped working, and I couldn’t be bothered to reach into my back pocket for my phone, so from this point on, no pictures. Let me summarise the next 25-odd miles by saying that the downhills were treacherous and the two remaining climbs exhausting, each occasionally getting up to 18%. I mean, I wouldn’t have wanted to have been anywhere else, but it was really hard. The last climb, fortunately, brought us into Mellor, and Rob was waiting to put our bikes under a tarpaulin before loading them into the van for the night. I’m hoping that it’ll be dry-ish on Tuesday morning, so that I can clean off the mud and just make the bike a little more presentable.
Amardeep, Carl, Les, Jamie and James had already arrived at the hotel when I arrived at about 4:30, but Andy was still on the way, having had a gear cable replaced, and other members of the gang didn’t arrive until 6:30. That’s a long, wet, exhausting day on a bike, and real credit to Sonjia, particularly, for doing so well.
The main thing with respect to stats is that I increased my Eddington number to 51, which I am very excited about. I am now in the top 44% of cyclists, which at least is the top half! Otherwise, here is the route:
Our distance was only 68.1 miles, which is small beer by previous standards, but we ascended 7,064 feet, which is quite a long way. Imagine climbing a 1.3 mile-long ladder, carrying a bicycle on your back. I used 2236 calories, the most yet, so I felt justified in having a big supper!
3 thoughts on “Day 8—Ravenstonedale to Mellor”
Coincidentally, a few days ago I was listening to The Rest is History podcast about Sherlock Holmes and ordered a biography of Conan Doyle. The Musgrave Ritual is possibly my favourite Holmes story. I can highly recommend that podcast series.
Well done, that sounded really really hard and I was feeling your pain even reading it. Nice reference to Larry!
I am in awe Jim. The stats alone make me reach for a cup of tea and slice of cake.
Love to hear anything about Sherlock Holmes……
See you at the end (lunch?)