Fresh from a 24hr race the preceding weekend, I receive an email from Alan, saying he'll be leaving Staveley at 4am on Saturday morning. The weather forecast was excellent.
Friday came and I had a low level stomach bug. Fine preparation for a weekend's bike riding.
Friday night, and I was in bed for 9. A few hours of kip, then a 1am reveille to drive up to the start.
Alan was readying himself when I arrived in Wilf's car park. Gone 4am, and our 3rd man Craig had not shown up. At 10 past we set out, to see Craig (who needs a better alarm clock) getting ready.
At 4:14 am on the bridge, Alan says "GO".
I ride with Alan for all of 5 minutes. He was on a mission to get a good time, and was travelling much lighter than I. I couldn't keep up.
I did my own thing,took a few pictures, and enjoyed the easy riding as far as Coniston.
Unsurprsingly I was a lot slower up here than when I rode it last on my cross bike.
But I was a whole lot faster down towards Dunnerdale.
The next section past Stephenson and Stanton ground down to Seathwaite was unusually dry. I have had a bike go axle deep in the bogs round these parts but not this time.
The last drop into Dunnerdale.
At the Newfield Inn, I stopped for a coke and crisps. Also I put some ibuprofen on my left knee which had started giving me some gyp.
So far, things had been easy, now for the proper hilly bits, ie the rest of the route.
Past Harter Fell, down into Boot. Then up towards Burnmoor Tarn which I recall being much more rideable than it was for me that day.
Down in Wasdale I forego the pub (most unusual) and I take aim for the Black Sail pass, which heads first left, then, right round the shoulder of Kirk Fell pictured below.
I descended the same route, over 30 years ago on foot, of which I have no memory. The horrors of dragging a laden bike up over the top and down the other side are likely to stay impressed on my mind for at least a short while though.
Some 15 hours in, I eat a sandwich at the Black Sail YHA. My knee is really rather sore. More gel needed.
Here's the view of the drop down to the YHA. (Ridge running R to L)
After a while enjoying the evening's rays I dragged myself up to continue my journey. In my tiredness I'd forgotten what exactly the next section to Buttermere entailed.
Oh yes, Scarth Gap, hike a bike up the hill, and mostly hike a bike back down it. What a joy that was.
At the bottom my knee was screaming at me. In a moment of lucidity, I checked my leg extension on the bike. Ah, nowhere near fully extended. My seatpost must have slipped down, I raised it hoping to alleviate some off the pain.
It did to some extent but even with the saddle raised the climb up Honister pass was painful. Damage had been done. I may have even walked the top bit of Honister, but as there were no witnesses I may have just dreamt that bit.
Nearing the quarry it started to rain and the temperature dropped off. 71 miles and 17.5 hours would have to do. I put up my tent and got some kip.
The alarm went at 4am, and I was away for 4:30.
Some easy miles to Keswick, and then a bit of a climb round Lonscale Fell,before a blast down to Threlkeld.
As I started the climb out of Threlkeld 3 dogs came charging towards me. One of which bit me. Thankfully I had my protective leg warmers on over my socks, so no blood. I had a four letter word conversation with the owner.
The next section to Pooley Bridge felt harder than it should have done. I'd not budgeted my food very well, and had eaten all my butties the day before. I was now sick of sweet stuff. So was in need of proper food.
At Pooley Bridge I ate 3 ploughman sandwiches, which took some doing. Refuelled, the next section to Martindale was a blast.
When scanning the route at home I'd completely overlooked the bit over Beda Fell and its 1000 feet of climb.
Down at Brothers Water, those butties had worn off. The ibuprofen gel was having no effect on my knee now either. 10 hours on the go, and I was tired.
Forcing more sweets in me I knew there was about 20 miles left to do. The first 3 1/2 would entail 2000 feet of climbing. Push a bit, rest a bit, lie on the ground a bit.
Looking back down to the valley floor (L).
Now, the logical conclusion of a route back to Staveley from High St, would be continue South at Limefitt Park. However this is a Goldsmith route. More hills needed.
So up Garburn Pass and over to Kentmere next.
Time for a quick cheesy selfie atop of Garburn. Then 3 involuntary dismounts, on the bouldery descent down to Kentmere.
Oh, and out of Kentmere another 400ft of climbing before the downhill back to Staveley.
I arrived back at the car, A total time of 38 hours and 56 minutes, with 131 niles and 22,500 of ascent clocked.
A much tougher route than I had anticipated.
My feet stayed bone dry all weekend though.