The days are definitely getting longer, but still too cold to ride early mornings and not yet enough light to ride freely in the evenings. So I’m stuck to carving out time in the week to ride during the day.
Ride 1 – Chatterbox run
Strava told me my year’s ride total stood at 457 miles when I left, so I knew breaking 500 miles would be the challenge for the day. This was to be an easy ride out, no pressure on myself; the weather station in the dale was showing the road temperature still well below freezing, so I planned to take care and watch out for ice. Today would be about miles, not time.
I stopped on the way down Harperley Bank to take a photo of that view I told you about last time and rolled on to Wolsingham for another photo stop. This is going to be a problem with regular rides: finding new photos to take.
I was cycling into a biting cold wind and though sunshine filled the valley I could already see storm clouds forming up ahead to dump snow on the big hills. At Frosterley I noticed the diversion signs had gone, so I took the back road over the Wear bridge and up to Stanhope past the temporary fix to the landslip problem.
Dogs out on the road at Western Hopeburn Farm chased round the bike. Paying more attention to them than the road, I hit an icy patch and the bike slid. Hard-wired self-preservation drivers kicked in for all of us: the dogs lost interest in me as suddenly as I lost control of the bike and somehow I stayed on and made it round the corner to the last stretch before St John’s Chapel.
I know my route up to Chatterbox is 21 miles and the way back 20, so I needed to add at least a couple of extra to break 500 with today’s ride. I toyed with the idea of heading on past St John’s Chapel up to Cowshill and turning back before stopping for lunch, but the “Last Cafe in the County” announcement on the board outside Chatterbox was all I needed to abandon the idea. When I stopped I’d been riding for an hour and 39 mins. Three minutes faster than last time – so much for an easy ride out.
Lunch was as wonderful as always at the Chatterbox. £1.95 for a bottomless coffee & homemade flapjack – what more can a cyclist ask for? The list isn’t long.
Back on the A689 after 50 minutes cycling down the dale, I looped round the A689 toard Bishop Auckland and made my way home the back way. 43.6 miles. Job jobbed.
Ride stats: 43.6 miles, 1,679 ft, 02h 52m 48s
Ride 2 – Roll out in the sunshine
Another sunny day to squeeze some miles into the week. Even though I’d already got to my weekly target of 40 miles, I didn’t want to leave this week’s total more than 30 miles down on last week’s.
So a quick ride to keep warm in the cold with a couple of climbs thrown in at the beginning to get my legs up to working temperature.
I headed into Bishop and out to West Auckland on the bypass, then retraced the route home. Simple, quick and effective.
Ride stats: 18.7 miles; 888 ft; 01h 11m 46s
Week’s total: 62.0 miles; 2,567 ft; 04h 04m 34s