3 counties tour

Just back from the first real distance ride on my bike in quite some time, a circular route that took me from Cumbria into Yorkshire and Lancashire and back again. The route is around 53 miles / 85 kilometres with a reasonable amount of ascent including one major climb.

From Kendal I took headed north-east towards Greyrigg and Tebay before eventually turning off to follow the quiet B-road that winds it’s way through the rolling foothills of the Howgills down towards Sedbergh.

I made reasonable time into Sedbergh, reaching the bustling Market town in around 1 1/2 hours and with the sun attempting to break through the leaden sky I decided against turning for home and instead set my head down towards Dent.

Passing numerous weary looking folks competing in this years Fellsman race, I headed south into Deepdale and began the long climb up and over towards Ingleton. With one other cyclist for company I sat on their heels as we dropped down the gears as the gradient increased, never horrendous but consistently hard-going. I couldn’t work out whether my fellow cyclist was glad of the company or incensed that having past me on the fast flat lanes of the valley, he couldn’t shake me off on the steep climb around Whernside but we chatted briefly before we parted ways in Ingleton.

From here my lack of cycling fitness suddenly reared to the fore, a strong and gusting wind buffeted me sideways, the busy A65 felt thunderously busy, the Tarmac rutted and uncomfortable and a light drizzle started to fall. At that moment I felt a long way from home.

I had no choice but to put my head down and keep going, focussed solely on reaching Kirkby Lonsdale. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable, at times my bike felt like it was swerving violently only feet from the many cars and lorries that cursed by. Leaving Yorkshire, I passed briefly into Lancashire knowing that the Cumbrian border was just a mile or so away and so a few minutes later I reached my home county again and left the gusting roar or the A65 behind and rejoined the quiet lanes. I free-wheeled into a bustling Kirkby Lonsdale, my legs having a brief respite before I joined the undulating back lanes, homeward bound towards Kendal.

The milestone read ‘Kendal – 9 miles’. Thank-god for that I thought. By now my quads were fading in and out of muscle cramp and fatigue; after what seemed like an eternity I reached another milestone, ‘Kendal – 7 miles’. I swore, surely I mist have gone further than 2 miles and if I hadn’t what the hell was the remaining 7 miles going to feel like. At times I closed my eyes, my legs burning as I drove up and down the countless rolling hills. At last I saw the station inn, my marker that the worst was over, that Kendal was close and that it was essentially downhill from now on.

I rode through the town centre at a leisurely pace, keeping my legs cycling if nothing else than to avoid cramp setting in and headed into the countryside again, home was just a few miles away.

85km. 1100-1200m ascent (?). 4 hours 10 minutes.


About Richard Talbot

An accomplished fell-runner as well as being a keen climber and mountaineer. Since 2005 he has worked for the UK based manufacturer Mountain Equipment and is currently Director of Product. He has worked in the outdoor industry for over 15 years.
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