Solo Cycling Adventure Day 4: Leeds to Peak District

Today I really feel as if I am heading home. Not only am I getting closer to Nottingham but the Peak District also feels like another home to me.

After yesterday’s 67 miles I have another 60 to do today. Three days in a row of tough climbs have left my legs feeling both solid muscle and weak at the same time. Jo has kindly washed my cycling clothes so I don’t have to set off smelly today. I also have a sandwich and snacks tucked away in the panniers.

The Route

I plotted all of my routes on Mapometerand they seem to have worked fairly well. Setting off, I am soon on the Trans Pennine Trail. I really don’t remember deciding to spend so much time off road but I follow this trail for many miles.

It is at times pleasant and pretty but at others gritty and grotty. Huge muddy puddles litter the way and despite the lack of incline, the rough terrain keeps my speed down. At one point I hit a huge bump and both my panniers pop off the bike. I had been hoping to whizz through the first half of today, before I hit the climbs, but it was not to be.

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This Feels Tough

For the first time on this adventure I feel a little lonely. I have enjoyed some solitude and will happily do another solo adventure. When you are struggling though, it’s nice to have some one to turn to. The weather is not helping, during the whole trip, it feels as though I have only seen the merest glimpses of the sun.

As I come off the Trans Pennine Trail the climbs start. I know they are not going to be easy when I see Tour de France slogans written on the road. If the 2014 Tour took these hills in then they are not going to be easy. It starts to rain.

The fatigue in my legs is really starting to show now. Even the slightest incline has me down in the lowest gear and it feels as if I am cycling through treacle. As I wobble up the inclines I look forward to emerging into the beauty of the Peak District.

The Peak District

The ups and downs of Mortimer Road finally throw me out onto the heather clad moors of the Peak District. Now the rain is being driven towards me by wind. Despite this I am hopeful. Soon I will have a few miles of descent and then only around fifteen, rolling miles to my finish point of Youlgreave.

I descend towards Ladybower Reservoir, hoping the rain will ease as I get lower. Descents are always a great reward for all the pain your legs have gone through. Reaching the familiar village of Bamford I stop to add more clothing layers and scoff my lunch.

As I set off again I hear a rattle. This quickly becomes louder. I stop the bike; is something loose? Has something got caught in the chain? Perhaps it will stop in a couple of miles. It doesn’t.

Pulling over in Hathersage I spot some men loading road bikes onto their cars. One of them greets me and asks how far I have come. By now I am fairly sure the rattle is the bearings in the front wheel. The gentleman listens and agrees. He suggests I head back towards Hope and stop in at a cycle shop on the way.

My Heart Is Sinking

Inside I already know this journey could be drawing to a close. Walking into the bike shop I explain the situation but am told they are extremely busy and don’t have time to help. One of the guys comes out and confirms there is probably a cracked bearing in the front wheel. He doesn’t have time to do anything more.

My solo cycling adventure is over.

Heading to Hope train station I feel bitterly disappointed. Yes, today has been hard but I knew I would make Youlgreave and then be able to cycle back to Nottingham the next day. I can’t quite believe how abruptly my wheel has stopped play.

Looking At The Positives

This trip has been amazing. Travelling alone, carrying all I need with the bike, it has reiterated how important it is to step out of your comfort zone. I was nervous before I set off but needn’t have been.

Travelling alone has meant taking things at my own pace. Stopping where I wanted to stop. Chatting to who I wanted to chat to. Finding my own route.

The kindness and encouragement from people along the way; both friends and strangers, has been lifting. One friend even offered to send a new wheel to the Peak District, Special Delivery! Remote support has been wonderful too; Facebook and Twitter comments have really boosted my trip.

I’m The Steady One…

All the time I have been on my adventure my sister has been doing something far more epic. Sian had major surgery just a couple of months ago and was determined to continue with her ambition to complete the London-Edinburgh-London RideAs I write this Sian has just completed this amazing feat (that’s 1441km!) within the 100 hour cut off.

I am truly in awe of this achievement. My parents wonder what they did to deserve having to worry about two daughters cycling, on their own, around the country, at the same time!

Sian is raising money for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) along the way. You can read more about her ride or sponsor her here.

As for me…I will be getting the train back to Hope once the bike is sorted. From there I will cycle to Youlgreave and then back to Nottingham. This is unfinished business!

Never Miss An Adventure!

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Thank you to John Rice for the photograph

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