Day 2 of Andy’s adventure ‘The Crossing’ (is anyone else feeling just a little bit tempted to do this yet??)
The starting window for day two was 7-8am. They sold porridge on site and I had no trouble eating today, the bags were put on the van and we were all ready to go by about 7:15, despite agreeing the night before there was no rush. We were up and ready, so we set off in glorious sunshine. Within a couple of miles of leaving the campsite we crossed under the M62 and were riding through more pretty little villages and great countryside. My legs freed off surprisingly quickly and I was quite happy to be on the bike for another day. It was really noticeable how the landscape had changed, it was still hilly but there were more rolling hills than the sharp rocky landscape in the Lakes.
After about 2 hours riding we started climbing along a road. Quite steep but not too bad, then we came to what looked like the top of the hill, over the brow, round a slight bend and you could see this hill disappearing into the distance with an almost continuous row of bikes in front of me. This was bigger than I was expecting, day 2 is supposed to be easier! It just went on for what seemed like hours, and then someone rode past me on a road bike and informed me I was only about half way there. It seemed like every time you went round a corner there was more of it in front of you. 2.5miles and 1100 feet of climbing later I reached the top. I’d given up and was pushing by now; as was just about everyone else.
Once at the top I stopped for 5 minutes, had something to eat and admired the views; it had definitely been worth the climb! Setting off down the other side and we soon crossed the border into North Yorkshire. The advantage of having done all that climbing is we spent a long time descending. Unfortunately on roads but it made for a nice break from pedalling.
Eventually we turned off the road again; climbing didn’t seem quite so monotonous off road and the descents where brilliant, even the one where I ended up going sideways round a corner (unintentionally). One of the events photographers was on hand to catch the look of sheer terror on my face as I was convinced I was about to hit the stone wall on the outside of the bend – sorry, you can’t see the photo, I wasn’t prepared to pay £10 for them to email me a copy! It was somewhere on this section that I realised how many road riders where attempting the course. You could spot them a mile off on the descents, uncomfortable and tense would probably describe them best. I spoke to one guy who’d only bought his mountain bike a month ago thinking that would be plenty of time to get used to the differences. He was enjoying it but couldn’t believe how tough it was, he said if he did it again he’d want a lot more practice off road!
Another person who was relatively new to cycling had the right idea. He’d spend a small fortune on a bike specifically designed to cope with this type of terrain, so why fight it? Relax and let the bike do what it does. I thought that summed it up very well and from someone who’d only started riding this year. I know people who have been riding for years and still can’t relax and let the bike do its job.
The lunch stop was supposed to be at the half way mark but 35miles turned into 41 and I was definitely ready to get off and stretch my legs when I arrived. It seemed so late in the course I wondered if I’d missed it!
I joined back up with Gus and Guy at the lunch stop and we set off together. Guy and I rode together all afternoon but we did abandon Gus in a pub about 10 miles from the finish. The afternoon was fairly uneventful with very little climbing and just a gentle downhill all the way to the campsite in Northallerton. We arrived about 3:30, had a massage and a shower and headed to the bar area to see how everyone else had got on that day. The general consensus, which I’d have to agree with, was that it had been a long day sitting in the saddle with too much road for a mountain bike event. It had been a case of racking up the miles quickly and it had achieved that. We’d done 68 miles and nearly 5500ft of climbing and were now on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors ready for the last days riding.
As we were so close to the town centre we headed into town for something proper to eat instead of the burgers and pizzas supplied on site. We ended up with a Chinese but were still back and in bed by 10 ready for the last day…..