This morning we awoke to a nearly cloudless sky and beautiful, dry, warm, sun! It was actually hot in the tent! We both forgot to set the alarm last night but no matter; we have been waking up every day between 7 and 8 mostly of our own accord for a week or so now. I find it pretty amazing given how generally exhausted we are at the end of each night.
Tara seized the opportunity for a 'free' shower while I tore down camp. She returned absolutely glowing and refreshed to make us a french toast breakfast while I continued to re-assemble our things. We left around 10:30 to set out for what would be our longest (intentional) day cycling so far, about 35 miles.
The first 10 miles were some of the most demeaning miles I have ever spent on a bicycle. We were happy to be off A-roads but the beautiful, almost cartoonish scenery, and quietude of the B-roads also brought with it what felt like an endless series of ridiculous hills. I can definitely feel myself getting stronger as the days go by but the combination of headwinds and hills really got to me early in the morning. I'm not strong enough yet! At some point though, I did give in and the huge gusting headwinds became comical to me in a masochistic sort of way.
After a gruelling (and beautiful) 10 miles or so we stopped to eat, talk about how we were feeling, and figure out what we needed to get over this hump to enjoy ourselves. I am trying really, really hard on this trip (and in life) not to look to the future or the past to recall something better as a way of coping with hardships. I am always trying to enjoy each moment and for the most part I am successful. Realizing that goal for the first portion of today was very, very hard.
We decided to dig out our rarely used iPods from Tara's handlebar bag and set the work ahead to music. Having something to focus on other than the wind or the hills helped immediately. I could physically feel my entire body relax and give in to the situation. With a bit of new found perspective and some epic music to set the scene I enjoyed myself for the rest of the day.
About 15 miles into our trip we stopped in Kirkby Lonsdale to pick up groceries. While Tara was shopping (I stayed outside to watch the bikes) I spoke with three older ladies (the three Js) about our trip and their own cycle holidays from years gone by. Just as we were about to leave another older couple walked by, the husband immediately recognized by Brooks B-17 saddle and was pleased to see they were still being used. He and his wife too used to take cycle holidays and they told us several stories before we finally departed for our destination of Settle.
For the next 10 miles Tara took the lead and cycled like an absolute madwoman. Until today there has never been a moment where I had trouble keeping up with her. She must have been on a mission or something because I could hardly keep her pace. I am not complaining; it was great fun chasing her and I was incredibly proud. Here is a photo of her collapsed after her bout of speed-freaking:
A few miles later we enjoyed a big downhill(!) into camp where a nice couple let us charge our laptop in their caravan while we made camp. Tara made spaghetti while I tried to catch up on work. We planned our route for the next week or so and hit the sack, exhausted from a successful 35 mile day.