Whose idea was it to go to the Peak District?

The Arrival

Over Easter weekend we had our first cycling weekend away. A while ago Katie suggested Derbyshire. I think at the time we all thought that we would be further along with our training and all agreed. I mean, why not? It’s not like The Peak District is hilly!

I know the area well having driven through it on numerous occasions while at University travelling from home (Nottingham) to Manchester. However, on travelling to Ashford in the Water on Friday, it was with trepidation driving along the undulating roads.

We decided to get there early to get a ride in on the Friday while the weather was good and because I had to leave on the Saturday evening.  It was probably about 2pm when we set off.

Jenna had borrowed our friend’s bike as she was concerned about the brakes on her new bike. It was therefore not only one her first rides out (after the gear incident on her first) but also her first in cleats.  We spent some time cycling up and down so that she could get used to them and then we set off.

The Ride

Katie led, with me second, Jenna behind and Kate bringing up the rear. To say Derbyshire is hilly is an understatement.

We headed north east out of Asford through Hassop and up and down to Calver. It was a hard 5 mile slog. On entering Calver, we had a stop for some water and a few photos. I was trying to figure out why my speedometer wasn’t working, it turned out I had put my wheel back on the wrong way (to transport my bike in my mini I had to take the wheel off, put the roof down, put the bike in and put the roof back up). I quickly put it on the right way and consulted the map.

On setting off again, we crossed the A623 towards Grindleford – turning off the main road left before we entered the village. We went up a road that was closed to cars towards Eyam. It was a gorgeous road with lovely views. The only issue was that after leaving Calver, we climbed for at least 2 miles. Although it was slow, we all managed to stay on our bikes. On reaching what we thought was the top, we had a brief stop for water and more photos. We followed the road through Eyam to Foolow where we turned left. It felt like we had just been climbing since leaving Calver. We had a very brief spell on the A623 before turning off back onto quiet lanes.   Still climbing steadily we reached the B6465 where we were supposed to turn left. However, not liking the look of the incline, we decided to go straight on…… Big mistake!

Although none of us like going up, we also do not like going down. And the road we had taken went down. And down and down. We descended slowly, with our breaks on – getting white knuckles.  After at least 10 minutes of going down, we go to the bottom of a valley with steep sides all around. I was hopeful that we would follow the lovely looking river out of the valley but soon the road started to ascend. It was a 1 in 6 climb. I’m not sure what that means, but it was steep. Needless to say, we all dismounted and walked to the top (easier said than done in cleats). When we got to the top of Monsal Head(!) it began to hail. Heavily. It stung our faces. The girls took a quick picture of the view and we mounted our bikes for the last mile down into Ashford.

The Fall

I am not sure what happened, or really how it happened but I think I must’ve been distracted by the hail and the thought of getting back to our cottage a nice hot shower and a glass of wine. Anyway, as we approached the junction, I had my left foot out, ready to put down however, instead of leaning left, I leaned right. With my right foot clipped in, I hit the ground taking most of my weight on my bottom. Having fallen into the road and feeling a bit silly, I jumped up (in pain) and got back on my bike. However, my bike no longer worked. Initially I thought the chain was off however, I had actually broken a piece of metal that attaches the gears to the rear wheel. Therefore, I could not cycle anywhere.

There was no option other than for the girls to cycle back to the cottage while I waited in the cold and rain for Katie to come and pick me up feeling like a bit of an idiot.

Although it felt like ages, it was probably only half an hours wait and I was relieved to get home, have a hot shower and a greatly anticipated glass of wine. I had a lovely shiner on my derrière.

The next day

Unfortunately (fortunately) I tried to get my bike fixed the next day however, the lovely and very helpful lady at High Peak Cycles in Calver didn’t have a piece the right size so I had to come back home with a broken bike.  I was relived to learn that the broken part “is meant to fail” to protect the integrity of the frame of the bike.

Instead of going out for another ride on the Saturday, we spent the afternoon in the Bull Head in Ashford, sampled their lovely pies and enjoyed watching Morris Dancing.

We have all agreed that the next training weekend will be in the mostly flat Cotswolds.

I think the moral of the story is not to stop. As Einstein said “Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving”.

If you would like to sponsor me for the London to Paris Bike ride, click here.

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