Sunday, 10 August 2008

Darlington - Swaledale - Bowes - Barnard Castle - Darlington

If you ever look at a map and decide that the bridleway between Melsonby and Richmond looks like it would be a great way to ride to Swaledale, don't ride it. Pushing your bike through nettles and brambles then over boggy grassy fields seriously takes the edge off a ride, as well as producing the great low average speed of 7mph you can see below.

Luckily, there's a road alternative which means that I can do the rest of the ride again. That's a good thing, because it's a great ride. The descent off Fremington Edge is great and riding to Tan Hill is suitably epic.

Having no water between Hurst and Barnard Castle also dragged the speed down and made the climb up the valley from Langthwaite seem a very long one. For future reference, the shop in Bowes is only open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and the public toilets in Langthwaite are currently closed for renovation.

For the two bottles of water between home and Hurst and the two between Barnard Castle and home, I used nuun tablets for the first time, bought from Nick at Nixon Interactive. It's hard to say whether they made a difference, but the ride home from Barnard Castle was a lot easier than when I've done it before and I feel fine today, which is pretty good considering I had no water for the middle third of the ride.

The big tyres were pretty draggy on the road, not helped by the skinny tube in the rear tyre making it a bit flat. I'm pretty sure that I could have ridden the off-road stuff on the 45c Panaracer Cinders I have in the garage, if a little slower than I did on the bigger ones, but the road bits would have been a lot less draggy. I think some Small Block 8s would be a better tyre for me than the Nevegals, at least on this bike.

I'd planned on riding the bridleway between Whaw and Tan Hill, but the weather and lack of fluid made the road a safer option. One day though.

Food: 20 jelly babies in one jersey pocket (100% of my RDA for sugar!) and 10 dried apricots in another. Four slices of toast with honey in my bag. Should have taken more - I bought two iced fingers and a bar of chocolate (and two litres of water) at the Coop in Barnard Castle.

Distance: 70 miles (map)
Climbing: 4199 feet
Surface: On- and off-road
Time: 10 hours
Weather: wet
Bike: Solitude Singlespeed (34:18, with 2.2″ tyres)

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