Ok, fourth day into this second Leg and I was absolutely stuck to the road - more than any other time previously. Often I've struggled on the first climb of the day (Challacombe, Rhigos, Whinlatter) but got my legs working after that. Not this time. It was a grovel from start to finish - not helped by bouts of nausea and headache - but had no option but to just get on with it.
Despite feeling less than special however, I never had any really difficult, doubting moments - even on the 9 out of 10 difficulty Chapel Fell (into a headwind). The whole day was just one paced and slow. Very slow!
Having completed No.48, Peth Bank, we needed to start heading back to Hampshire - to avoid yet another midnight finish - but with the '50' mark so close I decided to pinch a couple of short ones from the 3rd Leg schedule. Matlock wasn't too much of a diversion and broke up the 6 hour trip, therefore Riber and Bank Road became Nos. 49 & 50.
I hadn't ridden Riber since the 1987 National Hill Climb Championship so I had hoped to drop the pacing strategy and give it the 'full beans'. Well it was never going to happen with those legs...even less so when, as we descended into Matlock, the rain came down. Rain and moisture on the road surface is the hill climber's worst nightmare when the gradient goes up at 20% or more.
So something else to concentrate on and I had to stay balanced on the bike (leaning not too far forward to keep weight over the rear wheel for traction purposes) and pick my line on the road. There were a few nervy moments but in the end the job got done and the '50' was reached. It felt good. It's not been a straightforward route to get to this point so - as Helen pointed out - it was important to acknowledge that and savour it.
50 left and 5 days to do them in. Probably across two legs as I'm dependent on my fantastic voluntary support crew - but likely to be very soon. 50 in 5 may seem an unachievable average but I have now covered all the most difficult logistical areas and also the majority of the most difficult (and long) climbs.
It won't be easy but it's still on!
Summit of Hartside (awesome 'caf' as well!)
St. Johns Chapel near Chapel Fell (nice of them, eh?)
Chapel Fell (headwind...all..the...bloody...way!)
Top of Chapel Fell
Top of Winters Gibbet (I was swingin' all right...)
Vids to follow...