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Ride Reports

Saturday 7th October 2017

Two plucky riders opted for today’s promised wet tour of the Howgills. This was definitely one of those routes designed by M C Escher. Steve Hopkinson and I set off, immediately climbing up a steep leafy track on which yours truly lost rear wheel traction, in cool cloudy weather, knowing that this was not going to be an easy day out.

We made good progress to Barbondale, surely one of the finer dales, opted not to miss out the 6 mile loop of Dentdale, and were by half eleven tucking into generously filled breakfast barms at Smatt’s Duo in Sedbergh. I opted for the protein-rich option of sausage, bacon and black pudding on granary, Steve, clearly watching his waistline, opted for the diet barm: sausage and bacon on granary. Suitably nourished, we set off, again immediately climbing.

Traditionally, café legs wear off after a bit of a spin. Today they didn’t. Steve had considered a couple of possible shortcuts but, not quite believing the reality of the route statistics, we rejected such nonsense and opted for the full route.

Several miles later, our average speed now somewhat below 10 mph and legs pleading for mercy, I suggested to Steve that we discuss shortcuts. It turns out that there were no remaining easy options. To cheer us up, the weather forecast immediately come true: the light rain persisted down upon us for several miles, allowing us to award ourselves Niner medals.

I became increasingly focussed on just how much effort it was taking to make the tenths digit of my Garmin’s odometer change. Every descent seemed so short, sharp, narrow and laid to lawn that no respite was had. Every ascent seemed to come consequently straight after a tough effort.

A farmer set his flock of sheep down the road towards us. We didn’t grumble at this forced rest.

The persistent rain turned to fine drizzle. The route continued again uphill. Killington Lake showed off its disturbing foamy shore.

Eventually we noted that the elevation profile on our Garmins was beginning to look less ominous. Then there was an actual lengthy and swift descent. And then Steve announced there was only a little over a mile to go.

We failed to kill any drunkards on stag weekends in Kirkby Lonsdale, although when I finally worked out what one of the Neanderthals had yelled at us, I did briefly consider putting this right.

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