Friday, 27 August 2010

C2C Day 2 - The Clone(d Sheep) Wars

As we cycled out of Reeth (at an unspecified time) we had little idea of how long the rest of the day was going to be. The route was flat to downhill road for the first 70km, followed by a couple of cheeky road climbs, before hitting the off road sections across the North Yorkshire moors. Our experience of the day before had left us uncertain about the moor crossing, as with all the rain it could be saddle deep in mud. Still, there was good weather forecast for the day and we even had a scraping of suntan lotion on.

The 70km passed quickly, with just the occasional piss stop to break up the flow (there's a joke in there but you can work it out for yourselves). We stopped at a village where a couple of locals pointed us towards an open pub and a closed shop. At least I assume they were locals, as the pub wasn't going to be open for another week and the shop had at least three "Open" signs. The shop was probably the most poorly stocked convenience store since the closure of the Artyk Non-Stock in Siberia. We surveyed the shelves, rejected the tinned sweetcorn, Frey Bentos pie and shoelaces, and chose the biscuits instead.

Onwards and unfortunately upwards. After an unexpected half hour on a motorbike racetrack we turned off the road, and onto the off-road. This was shockingly rideable, meandering through the woods and gaining height quite rapidly. We didn't actually ride it though - but we could have if a) we'd really wanted to and b) didn't have knackered legs. This trail led up to the moors, the trail of truth that would resolve our fears of a four hour trudge through a boggy mess.

At the top of the climb we were greeted by this.


Deceptive isn't it? That boggy mess looks almost like a dry, hardpacked, slightly rocky trail, surrounded by purple heather in bright sunshine and a 10mph tailwind. We stopped and prodded the ground. This was promising... very promising...

We almost flew along, taking care not to run over any walkers, dogs or other cyclists. Sheep were different though. The sheep were... evil.

Dun dun duuuuuuuuur!

Your standard evil sheep would stand in the trail, forcing you to slow down until you were almost on them, at which point they would run along in front of you a bit before leaping aside.

Your enhanced evil sheep would stand in the heather, at the side of the trail, then leap in front of you as you came close, causing violent braking, cursing and slight moistness "down below".

And then we came across the most evil of all sheep... the ninja sheep.

The ninja sheep nearly killed Darren.

Picture the scene. You are riding at 20-25mph down a narrow rocky track. You spot a bunch of enhanced evil sheep on the right hand side of the trail, and prepare to brake whilst watching them carefully. As you get closer, they scatter into the heather, away from the trail.

You relax, and release the brakes.

False. Sense. Of security.

You have fallen for their trap.

Ninja sheep is waiting. Ninja sheep has buried itself in the heather on the left hand side of the trail. Ninja sheep is undetectable, a stealth sheep.

As you come alongside ninja sheep, it explodes from the heather like a woolly IED aimed at your front wheel...

At this point I screamed, and it wasn't even my wheel ninja sheep was aiming for. Darren shouted "duck" (or something) and somehow, no doubt the result of years of Quantocks badger avoidance, managed to leap the ninja sheep. Then ninja sheep was gone, in the blink of an Oakley clad eye.

We made it off the moors without further incident and with plenty of fun. The last 20km were a drag, forever uphill, with a 25% climb followed by a 33% climb. Round every corner we thought "it's got to start going down soon, surely the sea has to be at sea level... or pretty close". Yet on and up we continued. Finally the road flattened, and with just 2km to go, we plummeted down. I think we were still on the road, although judging by the speed of the descent we may have simply rolled off a cliff.

Robin Hood's Bay is your Hollywood seaside village, all quaint houses, souvenir shops and fish and chips. Oh, and tourists, lots of them, who tried their best to knock us off in the last few hundred yards of the ride. Compared to the sheep, they were amateurs.

So finally, after 240km of riding, 10km of hike a bike, and 30km in a car, we came to the sea.


Smashing.

(Thanks to Becky and Caron for the support, and the lady who took the picture at the end. I doubt you're reading this, but if you are, that was a lovely jumper - don't let anyone tell you otherwise)

More pics here
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