September 1, 2012, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 2 Blog: Day 8 – Kirkby Lonsdale to Wetherby

So let’s start today with mishaps, because that’s how the day started: Simon’s chair collapsed under him at breakfast. He alleges sabotage on the part of the Support Team, for a cheap laugh (and it did get a lot of laughs); they have another explanation.

The second mishap occurred on Settle Hill. Mike’s momentum became so slow he was more or less stationary and just keeled over. Fortunately Kate is a really fast draw with her camera and got a picture (and Mike is fine by the way). That tells you something about Settle Hill, of which more anon.

I was again late out, same reason as the last couple of days, and Nick held on for me. We decided to head straight down the A65 to the first meeting point at Settle. Although this is a fast and winding road, drivers were much more considerate than on the A82. It was also a better surface than recent days, and we had a bit of a tailwind. It was a fast ride. We picked up Steve near Clapham and Chris R just outside Giggleswick.

Chris R and Steve went straight on to the hill, Nick and I had a coffee at Ye Old Naked Man Café in Settle and waited for the others. When Andy, Gavin, Kate, Chris J, Karen, Penelope and Mike arrived we set of for the hill.

Settle Hill is relatively short but has an incline of 25% (or 1 in 4 in old money) and is a standing start. There is also traffic in both directions which limits your options on tacking. Only six riders made it to the top without stopping: Andy, Chris J, Chris R, Gavin, Neville and Penelope. The rest of us either just lost momentum, hit a pothole to turn the front wheel or just fell over. It is that difficult and once you are off, it is well-nigh impossible to get started again.

When you get to the top your reward is a two mile climb, not quite as steep, but very testing. After that a long, fast descent through lovely villages like Airton, Hetton and Cracoe.

We pulled in at Linton where Karen grew up and met Jane who now lives in her house. Mike’s late father also has a seat in the Parish Church, so it was a special visit for both of them. Then on to a lunch stop in Grassington, where we stoked up on carbs for the next climb. At the café we we were spotted by a former student, who is also an External Examiner. He kindly made a donation via the Support Team.

After Grassington we split up and I rode out the rest of the day with Chris J, Karen, Kate and Penelope. We immediately faced a seven mile climb to Greenhaw. It is really steep in places and rises to almost 1,400 feet. It was one heck of a pull. But the views from the top across Nidderdale were breath taking. A nice ten mile descent to Harrogate followed, and on to Wetherby, both fine towns, but not great cycling roads.

Tonight for dinner in Wetherby we were joined by Paul’s son Simon, Steve’s partner Jenny and Gavin’s brother in law Paul.

Now, some updates on team matters.

I’m afraid I have to report a double traffic violation. No, it’s not Neville, but our Garmin Master or Maitre de Garmin (Neville, Chris J, sorry about the missing circumflex over the i, I can’t find one on my keyboard). Anyway, within 10 minutes in Harrogate Chris J had gone up a one way street and then through a red light, because Garmin said go.

Speaking of Neville, today was a ‘where’s Neville’ day. Early speculation had him on urgent business at the House. But he was on the ride, on a slightly different route and he got in first, a yellow jersey for Neville.

Actually, I forgot to mention yesterday’s yellow jersey. Despite his ‘Bourne Ultimatum’ style minibus chase to run down Chris J’s Blackberry, it was not Chris R. It was either Andy or Gavin, but they can’t decide who arrived first.

We have had no punctures today and that means Andy retains the pink bell. But we have a problem, the bell has disappeared. There is speculation in the team that Andy himself may have something to do with this, to avoid the possibility of scratching his special bike. I am appealing to his family to persuade Andy that if he knows anything about the bell, to encourage him to own up.

Accomplishment of the day: it just has to be the six riders that got up Settle Hill, so well done Andy, Chris J, Chris R, Gavin, Neville and Penelope.

Quote of the day: again goes to Kate, but can’t be repeated.

Team of the day: the Support Team, who in addition to their daily duties found the time to acquire another pink bell and have already fixed it to Andy’s bike for tomorrow.

Around this point on the John O’Groats to Land’s End ride we learned that ‘Moves Like Jagger’ was top of the download charts and it was immediately adopted by the team. There is no equivalent at present, so I have suggested they adopt ‘Summertime’ by TJ Bilham. He is my Nephew and it is his first release.

Today’s ride was 73 miles and in glorious conditions all the way through to Harrogate. We were all in before 5pm, so time for washing kit and starting the Day 8 blog. I may even get off on time tomorrow.

Total mileage now stands at 618 miles. Tomorrow we head for familiar territory, Lincoln is our next stop and we are looking forward to a couple of days of flatter terrain after the relentless climbing of the last eight days.

Finally, thank you again for all your comments on my LC2 Blog, we all enjoy reading them and appreciate your support, so keep them coming.

Professor David Greenaway


Posted in Life Cycle 2