So last wednesday was my leap ride, another attempt to bank some miles and add a few climbs too. Felt a lot better and again keen to get at it, it was weirdly mild and nice to not have so many layers on. Plan was 70 miles including Park Rash, hill climb rated 9/10, via the Dales Bike Centre for cake! Park Rash came along soon, a gel carefully timed to take action on the hairpins. Something I have learnt is that to climb steep hills having balance is a huge advantage. I can control the bike at very low speeds which allows me to catch my breath and remain steady, not wasting energy on having to push harder to ride faster where less balance is needed. This comes from the core work I have done over the years and some natural ability I think. I zig zag my way up, looking far enough ahead to see the best line and where the 'rests' are ( a gradient of 18% is a rest from 25%!), I try to keep calm and keep breathing under control, often singing to myself to get a sort of rhythm. I just take one bit at a time and try not to look too far ahead and freak myself out with how far there is to go and how steep! These type of climbs are very energy draining and the most exhilarating to get to the top of, I usually announce loudly 'I win!' meaning I have beaten the climb. So, I managed Park Rash ok, however the thought of Hardknott and Wrynose are scaring the sh*t out of me still!
Following a lovely stop at the Dales Bike Centre where we refueled the steep climb out was really testing and I had that awful sinking feeling of empty legs etc After 50 miles and a long stretch of a headwind on a gradual incline I was crying into my handlebars for the first time. I honestly felt broken. How on earth was I going to get back to the van in Gargrave? Where had this feeling come from? If there had a been a train station there I would of got on it. I battled with it, it was a new sensation, completely lost and trapped in my head with a body not responding. Emma said I had to go there at some point to get stronger- I hated it. There was no train station so there was no choice, 30 miles to go. Forced more food in and kept pedaling. Had to have a really stern chat with myself about how I have been to darker places and this is why I was doing it, because I was healthy enough to try. I climbed more hills, swore a bit, laughed at the extremity of it and of course got back to the van, I will never forget that place and that demon can help me round the 80-90 miles planned for the lake district this weekend.
Again, thank you so much to those of you that have donated already, if you have not and would like to please click here. It is for Macmillan and they really help people with a different set of demons