Monday 2nd April
Today was supposed to be a 58 mile cycle but after seeing the weather forecast there was no way I could spend 7 hours cycling so I needed to find a shorter route. Instead of sticking to the coast I could cycle 30 pretty hilly miles along the A road to my destination, it’s a shame as I have been told how beautiful the cycle down to Barrow-in-Furness is, but I wouldn’t see anything in the weather conditions so it wouldn’t make any difference sticking on the main road. I was warned that there can be quite a lot of lorries on the stretch I was going to cycle on, but I figured that since it is Bank Holiday Monday the amount would be greatly reduced (in fact by the end of the day I think only 3 lorries passed me).
Since I was only cycling 30 miles it meant that I could have a later start, which luckily my Warm Showers hosts didn’t mind. Before I explain my cycle for the day I know how many of you worry about me so I would like to tell you that I am sitting in the warm and dry writing this and I’m very happy and still have a smile on my face, so I would like you to read this knowing that!
The forecast was for relentless heavy rain and strong winds, so I dressed in waterproofs and thought I knew what I was to endure. The route files showed about 1000ft of climbing for every 10 miles so I was also prepared for the hills. These started pretty much from the off and the first 6 miles seemed to take forever, but my waterproofs were still functioning at this point so I was dry inside. I was very happy with my neoprene wetsuit gloves (bought somewhere in the South West) as my hands were staying warm and dry.
I stopped to take a photo at the top of the hill and then came the first descent. I put my thin buff over my face and began to go down. The rain had turned to ice at this height and at 30mph the wind was hitting my face hard, there was a small gap between my hat and my glasses of a couple of millimetres and this was stinging like never before, in the same way you get brain freeze but starting on the outside of my face. The ice felt like it was bruising me every time it hit my skin, even with a protective layer.
I was pleased when the next hill came and decided that I was much happier climbing at 4mph than descending and that I would happily spend the rest of the day cycling uphill, but of course this wasn’t the case. The rain was absolutely pouring down and climbing felt tough, I couldn’t see through my glasses very well so the scenery certainly wasn’t proving a distraction so I started singing about my situation to a beat that I needed to turn my legs in order to ascend the steep hill.
The Lake District hills in the background were covered in snow, I wish that I could have appreciated the scenery but any energy left over from moving my legs was being used to concentrate on the road ahead. I managed to take a couple of photos but it was too cold and wet to take my gloves off for long!
As I turned the corner at Whicham to head North West again the wind really hit. I assumed that I would be protected by the hills to my East but I couldn’t have been more wrong, they were channelling the wind in every direction battering me around the road. I really started to struggle to keep my trike on the road, and at one point a gust hit me and no matter how hard I tried I was pushed into a bush. I’ve never experienced such high winds, it was very hard to predict the gusts and exactly which angle they would hit me from. In places I was struggling to descend as the wind was blowing me back up the hill! I really wanted to get to where I was staying for the night but it was just becoming too dangerous. I was being blown all over the road, I couldn’t see through the rain along with being soaked through and absolutely freezing, so the minute I saw a pub I stopped and sheltered inside.
It was as I got off my trike shivering that I realised that I had again lost the top of my flag. There was absolutely no question today: I wasn’t going back to find it. In fact with the weather conditions as they were it was obvious that I could not continue cycling.
I looked at the weather forecast which predicted that the 50 mph winds would drop to 30 mph which would be manageable so I had a very long lunch. Before I left a couple of locals wanted to help me make a flag as I didn’t feel safe cycling on the road without one. They were very resourceful as within no time I had a piece of metal, an old high vis top and some tape! Many hands made light work and within no time we had fashioned a new flag, not quite as slick and streamline as the one I lost but I am very happy with it!
The winds died down a little and I cycled up a couple more steep gradients before reaching the BnB, my destination for the night, near Holmrook. I discovered another slow puncture so before taking all my wet clothes off I took off my wheel as I need to check the tyre properly.
I’ve spent the evening in a jacuzzi bath, washing my hair and checking inner tubes. The weather looks wet again tomorrow but nowhere near as bad! And as I said at the beginning I am still smiling 🙂