Continued from T-minus 0.2
Our next rest stop at Ilam Hall featured a unique variety of refreshment, high tea, which included scones with butter and jam and a cup of tea. The village of Ilam sits in a lush valley, which should have been my first clue that there was probably going to be a big climb coming soon. This one, like many of the others was steep in places but not steady. You could power through the short steeper sections and then back off a little on the rest of the climb. The grade probably exceeded 20% in some places but was mostly only about 10% for a mile or so. It would not be the hardest climb of the day; still, it was a climb that got my attention!
Back onto the dirt we go. First, there was a little bit of single-track which led us back on to the Tissington Trail. We had been riding through wide fields and pastures, I would call it lower moor lands. However, the next turn onto the High Peaks Trail turned us down into the valley and the descent was very steep. It was a mix of firm and soft dirt, some wet patches and stone water bars at an angle. You had to be on the brakes hard, which meant you were in the drops. The grade was probably over 20% which put your weight far forward and then you had to lift the front wheel over each water bar. Hitting a wet water at an angle would be a very bad idea!
The penalty for failure was high if you did not pick a good line, control your speed or unweight the front wheel. We had almost a mile of this amusement before bottoming out. My Universal center pull brakes were screaming in pain but my hands had a merciless grip on the levers. By the time I hit the bottom and I had to stop and shake off hand cramps and my fingers were stuck in a claw shape. Sorry I have no pics of this section, I was a little too busy to take photos.
The rest stop at Cromford on the River Derwent, mile 83 was a lovely location. It was alongside a canal and I enjoyed a brief rest here in the sun. The tea and biscuits they offered didn’t really do it for me but I did find an orange soda and a snickers bar from a local vendor. Temperatures were probably only in the low 70’s here but it felt much hotter in the sun. Once again we were in the bottom of a river valley which meant only one thing, more climbing!
Continued in T-minus 0.4