I wanted to do at least a 40 odd mile ride at the weekend, with a plan of tapering thereafter for the Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross. I'd noticed that Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue were organising their Mary Towneley challenge and that would fit the bill nicely. Also I am toying with the idea of doing another 24 hour mountain bike event in October, so thought maybe riding a little further, and at night would be good.
So a plan of sorts. I'd ride from home up the Pennine Bridleway and get to event HQ in Waterfoot for 8am. I'd take it nice and easy on the way there, then stash my bag and lights, and bomb round the MTL.
The picture above was taken on the obligatory pre-big ride test ride. Everything worked as it should and my light's batteries were fully charged.
I'd estimated that it was about 43 miles to Waterfoot, so at 2am I left Hayfield. 7mph was all that was needed to get there for 8ish. A steady pace.
I'd not got the top of Lantern Pike, and I had to stop and raise my saddle, then raise it again, then straighten my saddle. Ahh, the seatpost is slipping down. That grease earlier I'd applied eh. So stop again and tighten the clamp up properly. A few minutes behind schedule already. No worries, nice and easy to make that up.
Just as I ride off the top of Lantern Pike, niggle number two. My light gives the low battery indicator. When the battery was new it would last 3+ hours on full power. Now within 30 minutes it was already low. I had 3 batteries in total but this was a bit of a blow. If they all had the same sort of capacity I could be in big trouble if I tried running them at full power. I did think about turning round and going home, but reckoned if I rode on the lowest power setting I may be lucky. Worse case scenario was turning round later on the road with my back up flashing light.
With the light on the lowest setting it was a real struggle moving at any sort of speed. I was having to push harder than I would have liked on the uphills to try and keep up any semblance of speed, whilst dragging the brakes on the downs.
Even though I'd ridden the section as far as Uppermill recently because of the lack of light I managed to miss the PBW signage on a few bits. I swapped to battery number two at Diggle as from here on it was unknown territory. I tried running on medium power on a couple of downhill bits, but again I got the red light of low power much sooner than I had hoped for. So back to slower than I should be going speed.
In spite of the issues I was having an ace time. I have a mate who overuses the word special, but it was special, riding through the night on my own with the moon and stars offering nearly as much light as my bike had.
I'm not a get up early person so it's very rare I get to see a sunrise like the one above.
With morning came relief. No more worries about battery life. I also started to lift the speed.
At around 7:30am in spite of not knowing the area well I did know that I should have been much nearer to Rossendale than I was. My GPS said I had done 41 miles, and my GPS map showed that I was at least 10 miles away. I had been 10 miles out with my estimate.. I was going to be lucky to get there for the 9am start.
Rushing I missed a couple of turns which cost me more time. Oh and the promised wind and rain started.
I made it to Waterfoot about 9:30 as the weather worsened. I'd missed the event start.
I sat in a bus stop ate some food and pondered my next move.
I could have ridden the MTL, but was aware that the last three hours of efffort had put some hurt in my legs. Oh an looking up towards the hills I could just see thick mist. I knew I could do it, but it wold have been messy. Though I did fancy doing a few more miles. A phone call to home and I found out I could get on the Rochdale Canal at Heywood which would take me into Manchester.
Getting to Heywood was horrible. Lots of busy roads. The canal was well a canal. I was bored and wanted to be home. I picked up the road back into Manchester after a while and took my chances with the Sunday drivers and the head wind.
At Manchester Piccadily 10 hours and 22 minutes after leaving Hayfield, I ate Burger King and took the train to New Mills. I'd lost an hour of time faffing with things.
80 miles and 7000' of climbing. I was tired when I got home, but not battered. Good to go for the Three Peaks.
Lesson learned. I have 2 new sets of bike lights ordered.