Saturday so the fruition of a ride I have been wanting to complete for some time. My sister lives in Keswick in the Lakes and I have been looking at making the ride from home in Burnley up to Keswick for ages.
We had planned a visit and as the forecast was looking good I decided late on Friday that it was too good an opportunity to miss and announced I was riding up (this was after several glasses of red!).
There is something about getting your kit ready the night before, all laid out with various combinations just in case the weather wasn't as predicted, almost like you have started already.
5.30am saw me do the cyclist's shuffle from the bedroom down for breakfast hoping that I managed this without waking the entire house.
I love this time, fantastic light of early morning, the peace that engulfs the house, the smell of fresh coffee and eating breakfast with the anticipation of the day ahead.
6.33 with the skill of an SAS solider I leave the house and head off on empty roads - sheer bliss as the cold helps just to sharpen your mind.
My route was through Burnley, Nelson, onto Gisburn, Settle with the first planned stop at the butty van at Kirby Lonsdale - a famous meeting point for bikers.
The early morning miles with little or no traffic went by without a hitch. The only drag was the Settle bypass as it seemed to go on forever and the wind had appeared in my face and with no one to share the load it felt a little soulless. Mind over matter and I told myself I wasn't far from a brew and cake stop! It worked a treat and I dropped onto the bottom of my bars and kept the cadence high. Even better I was ahead of my schedule having planned to be here by 9.30 I pulled up at 9.10!
The next stage was up to the M6 junction with the aim of heading off the main road to Windamere A590 and using the back lanes instead. However I missed the turn so headed along the A590 just in time to catch the early traffic heading for the southern lakes. Those coach drivers really like to see how close they can get!!!
Revenge was sweet as a mile before entering Windamere the traffic was grinding along bumper to bumper, to all who made room for me to pass safely I thank you to the lady who first tried to push me out into oncoming traffic then run me off the road I hope you were filled with joy.
A quickish stop to refill my water bottles just out of Windamere and I was back traffic hopping all the way to Ambleside.
Once out of Ambleside the traffic vanished and I had the road pretty much to myself which was fantastic as the weather was warm and the scenery is stunning. Out of Grassmere and I faced the long steady climb over to Thirlemere with the promise of eating my mars bar at the top my legs kept spinning along.
My aim had been to keep a steady pace for the entire ride with a focus on keeping my cadence high rather than trying to blast the route and go for a quick time. That was the theory at least, but just before the climb out of Grassmere a spotted a sign for Keswick 16 miles and a quick time check showed it to be just leaving 11.30. My aim was then to be at my sisters for 12.30.
A fantastic decent into Thirlemere was followed by keeping low on the bars and winding the tempo up in an attempt to meet my deadline. The last couple of short climbs just before Keswick felt like mountains to my legs and slowed me far more than I would have hoped.
12.35 I arrived at my sister's hotel to be greeted with a cup of tea and croissant and my 8 year old on his bike asking if we could go a ride!!!
85.4 miles completed in 6 hrs including stops - maybe not an epic but certainly a good day in the saddle.