|Kirkstone Pass descent - Lake District National Park|
|Full English Breakfast in London!|
After the Bike Across Belgium, it was a 'recovery' week in London working out of AECOM's Aldgate office. Saturday morning found us in a cab headed to the Euston Station to catch the 10:30 Virgin West Coast train to Carlisle. It was easy traveling on a fast train arriving in Carlisle in just over three hours. Our hotel was adjacent to the train station, and since that is where the tour van was to pick us up on Day 1, it was only a short walk to drop off our bags (too early to check-in) and take a lap around town to get oriented and plan the day.
On the agenda for Carlisle; attend a vigil Mass, do a little shopping, check out some local sights, and get an early dinner. The tourist information office is in the middle of the shopping area, so some shopping was accomplished along the way. The very helpful person there recommended seeing the Carlisle Castle in the historic quarter.
|Military Life Museum|
Day 1 - Carlisle
On previous tours, we had booked the 'pre-night' stay at the first hotel of the tour. This time, the small Dalston Hall was totally booked from a wedding, so we stayed in town. As it turned out, staying in town was the best plan for this tour, as Dalston Hall is a converted country house located well outside of town!
The initial plan was to eat breakfast early and get picked up early by the Ciclismo van to assemble the bikes at Dalston Hall. But since there was no garage or covered area there to assemble the bikes, and it was raining, Henrick, one of our guides, convinced the desk clerk at the hotel in town to provide a meeting room to assemble the bikes. The bikes were assembled with time to spare and we waited for the rest of the group to assemble for the van transfer to Dalston Hall.
Enrico and Henrick (our Ciclismo guides from the 2016 Ride Across Southern Italy) would be leading this trip. Frankly, having this dynamic duo lead the trip was one of reasons this tour was on the to-do list! We met them and the rest of the group in the pick-up area at the steps of our hotel. With the assembled bikes secured on the van's roof-rack, we made our way to Dalston Hall for lunch and introductions.
|Dalston Hall Hotel|
|Enrico provides the safety brief and Garmin lesson|
In addition to the normal safety brief and Garmin instructions, Enrico reminded us that we would be riding on the left side of the road for this tour. So left turns would be like right turns, right turns like left turns, and roundabouts are clockwise, not counter-clockwise. Also, unlike many pedestrian cross-walks in town, there would be no reminders at intersections to 'look right!' Ugh, we just decided to follow Henrick until we got the hang of it!
|Riding on the left side of the road!|
|Rocking the Ciclismo jerseys provided at the start!|
|Enrico and Henrick provide the trip overview|
With the customary aperitifs, Enrico outlined the route for the next week of riding. This is Top Guide Ciclismo Classico route. These routes are investigated and designed by experienced guides to add the catalog. Enrico mentioned this one was inspired by the tremendous support the Tour de France race received when it spent its first three stages in England several years ago! The tour debuted last year, and this would be its second edition!
|Elaborate dessert to cap off a fine meal|
Day 2 - Carlisle to Ullswater
|Riders assemble for the morning brief|
|Narrow hedge-lined lanes...|
|...with on and off showers|
|Paved farm path with 5 gates to open and close|
|Many sheep/goats seeking shelter from the rain!|
Finally, a residence and then the White Horse Inn appeared in our path. Shaking off the rain, the barman noted that a) we were 30 minutes ahead of schedule, b) where was the rest of the group, and c) wondered how wet and muddy our shorts were before we sat down on his upholstered chairs.
Assured we were clean enough for his establishment, we ordered coffee/beer and prepaid for our lunch before the rest of the crowd appeared shortly thereafter.
|Soup and Sandwich lunch|
|Signs for the Coast to Coast (C2C) bike route|
|Turn-around for extra loop|
|At the High Cascades Carpark trail head|
|Interesting falls accessed from easy hiking trails|
|Deep forest reminiscent the Appalachians|
|Pennies hammered into a fallen log for luck!|
Henrick pointed out that a local custom is to hammer a penny into a fallen log for good luck. At first, this tree looked like it was covered in an unusual moss, on closer inspection, there was literally no room to hammer in another penny, so we would have to rely on other sources for our 'luck.'
|Debby in a light shirt, yours truly in layers!|
|Ullswater Lake at dusk|
Day 3 - Ullswater to Kendal
|The route goes that way!|
|Waiting at a RR crossing|
|Leaving Ullswater lake, headed toward the climb|
|Not so bad as we start to climb in a cool mist|
|WHAT... 20% ahead?|
As Phil Ligget would say, "the peloton has shattered on this climb!" The last few Ks of the climb looked like the carnage at the end of a long brevet as the riders worked through several 20% ramps and inevitable false summits! Some rode, some walked, some got in the van!
|Regroup at the Pass|
|On the Kirkstone Pass descent, before it gets steep!|
|Great views and 20%+ downgrades!|
|At the top of a 25% grade!|
Less than 10 K's later, we regrouped in Hawkshead for lunch on our own. An ancient little village still intact from the 15th century. Beatrix Potter, author of the Tale of Peter Rabbit lived nearby. It was packed with tourists. The parking lot was nearly full, including several tourist buses. After finding a place to regroup and secure the bikes, we set off on our own. In addition to the finding a place to eat, we needed to find a pharmacy to reload the Excedrin/Advil supply and find some Voltran lotion.
|Best lunch, and possibly the best meal of the trip!|
|"Every day is a great day for cake"|
|Fully medicated with full tummies we ride onward!|
|Heading to the ferry|
|Ever been on a bike ferry? Me neither!|
The ferry deposited us in a recreation area on the other side of the lake. Enrico set up the van in the parking lot under a zip line. As we topped off bottles and grabbed snacks for the final push to the hotel, screaming tourists would zip by overhead!
The route through downtown Kendal was a bit tricky, but we made it through town to the Castle Green Hotel. As a fitting tribute to a climbing day, another half-mile uphill finish featuring a 5% average grade with a 10% max just before the hotel parking lot. Enrico was there to cheer each rider as we rolled in!
|Leaving the lake and heading towards the hotel|
|Of course, another hotel uphill finish!|
|Extra-loop to a pub|
Day 4 - Kendal to Hawes
Day 4 is a transition day from the Lake District to the Yorkshire Dales. The route notes describe the terrain as hilly and "leaves very little room for flat terrain!"
|Rolling hills, big views, rain|
|Before the heavy rain|
|Stone walls covered in moss|
|Entering the Yorkshire Dales National Park|
Did I mention that Ciclismo Guides are the absolute BEST!!!
More spectacular hills, descents, and fantastic view were the order of the day as we entered the fabulous Dales!
|Enrico: "Really, there is a flat spot, just ahead"|
|Arriving at the lunch regroup in the rain|
|Extra loop destination: Ribbleshed Viaduct|
Editors note: After posting a smart-ass comment on Facebook regarding the Ribbleshed Viaduct, and its alleged appearance in 4 Harry Potter movies (purported reason to complete the Extra-loop, as if we needed a reason ;-), an English friend provided these links that conflict with that description. Purported viaduct, Real viaduct, you decide. As if you can believe anything on the Internet, including this blog! Hat tip to Paul Scowen. Who was Harry Potter anyway?
|The descent to Hawes|
Rolling into Hawes, and coming upon a few members of the group unsure of the route, we compared notes and guessed that my computer was on the proper route and followed its track guiding the way up to Simonstone Hall just outside of Hawes. A classic estate on a lush hillside, that was converted to a hotel, was an excellent place to stay.
|Simonstone Hall Lobby/Patio|
Day 5 - Hawes to York
|A new guest joins the tour?|
|Gayle Beck Falls|
|Base of the climb leaving Gayle|
|The climb unfolds before your very eyes|
|Heading toward another 20%+ false summit|
|Reaching the pass|
|River Wharfe cuts through a farm|
|The Power of the Dark Side|
|More valley riding|
We reached Pateley Bridge for a light lunch before boarding a bus for the short transfer to York. Traffic is heavy in this region and Enrico said there is no scenic/safe way to cover the ground in the time we had on this tour.
|River Ouse in York|
|The Shambles in York|
|Our guide wrapping up the tour|
|Tour de Yorkshire poster in the Golden Fleece Pub|
|Heading back to the hotel after another great day|
Day 6 - York to Whitby
|WWI memorial just outside of York|
|Easy farm lanes with great views|
|Kirkham Priory ruins|
|A public bridal way through a farmers equipment yard!|
|Big Green Tractors!|
We continued through farmland, including the equipment yard of a farmer, to the town of Pickering. Another lunch on your own, and the guides recommended a fish and chips place on the main street.
|Classic fish and chips!|
We went on ahead into town and found the fish and chips place as Henrick and Enrico secured the bikes. A few minutes after we were seated, Henrick and Enrico walked-in! The great meal confirmed the choice and we all headed back to the bikes.
Back on the road, the farmland finally gives way to the North York Moors National Park. A stunning landscape with high grassland/tundra one would see in the Sierras, only to sharply descend in to a lush valley, then climb back to the tundra, then repeat, and repeat, and repeat!
|"beware the Moors"|
|These guys didn't mind us passing through|
|At the final regoup, several more climbs to go|
|On the descent to Whitby|
|The North Sea and Sandsend, just a few Ks from the Hotel|
|400 meters along the beach, then up to the hotel!|
|Our very authentic guide in Whitby|
|Whitby Abbey ruins provided materials for many building in Whitby|
|Another great meal to finish this trip|
Day 7 - Head for London
We said our good byes to the guides and the group over breakfast and packed for our scheduled cab at 11:15am.
After the taxi did not show up (didn't have record of the reservation), the next available 15 minutes out, and the hotel van busy with wedding, it was going to be close to catch the train out of Whitby at 11:58. Luckily, with only minutes to spare, the back-up cab driver had the great idea to go to the first train station outside town instead of fighting traffic to the main Whitby station. The plan worked like charm and we were on our way! Next time, confirm the cab reservation!!!
|Local Train, no large luggage storage!|
|After each stop he would bark once!|
|Back on the big metal bird from Heathrow to Phoenix|
We'll be back for another Ciclismo ride, now we just need to figure out which one!