Well, the day is here! I ride from my hotel to the starting line in time for a 6:oo am start. The start is on a narrow alley in the old part of town. I get my card stamped by the officials and get in line. There seem to be about as many photographers and local dignitaries at the start as riders. I am among the first dozen riders or so and when we set off I am in the first wave.
We set off through the town and over the river Wye and then onto the Monsal Trail, and old railbed turned recreational trail. It is remarkable for the tunnels, bridges and old stations you pass along its course.
Off the Monsal Trail we wound our way on narrow streets into the first control in Tideswell. I was among the first two dozen or so riders to arrive here which turned out to be quite fortunate. I had my card stamped and got some food and water, but before I left many more riders had arrived and the queue to check in was quite long. This bottleneck would have been very unpleasant to be stuck in but I was on my way!
After Tideswell we rolled down a narrow lane and through some open country with many old stone walled fields. It was a beautiful pastoral scene in the early morning! We dropped into the village of Bradwell (I think) on a crazy descent, winding road, narrow streets and steep grades. With my ancient brakes squealing it was pretty sketchy but I survived! The next leg was through rural rolling countryside which I cannot pinpoint but was quite pleasant to ride through. All through this valley I kept noticing the lovely high country on our left and thinking, doesn’t our route turn left somewhere?
And then, there it was, the left turn. I looked up the slope but could not see an obvious route for the road but it would appear to me soon.
The grade started out reasonable at first, just 10 % or so, but then in a few places the pitch tipped up! Pride did not get the better of me and I stepped off for some of these pitches along with many other riders.
I had taken my vest off for the climb but over the top it got quite chilly. I didn’t put it back on for the long descent into Chapel-en-le-Frith and chose to just pedal faster. It took a while to warm up again!
The next leg included some more dirt sections alonside some old reservoirs. This was the roughest surface we have had so far.
Continued in T-minus 0.2