May 17, 2017


It was cloudy, with a threat of rain later in the day, but we finally got a break: it didn't actually rain today. While we regrouped at a turning point, I watched three bulls locking horns. The black bull and the brown bull, then the two brown bulls. They didn't seem to be at odds with one another, so I'm not sure what was up.

Three bulls locking horns, Yorkshire Dales, England
I was starting to feeling stronger, despite back-to-back days of cycling. My cardio is not where it should be; I'm dropped on every steep hill unless I can take advantage of a roller leading up to it. Today, at least, there was no need for me to walk (yay!)—maximum grade was about 12%. (It's pretty clear that I cross the pain threshold above 13% at my current level of unfitness.)

Our group is pretty well-matched: two riders are stronger and always in the lead, I'm generally in the back (sometimes with another rider), and the middle is elastic.

Today we left Yorkshire Dales National Park behind for the Forest of Bowland, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. [That's a mouthful; more commonly known as an AONB.]

Black lamb and sheep, Oswestry, England
It's spring, so there are lambs in the fields—including a few black ones. (Turns out that's due to a recessive gene, which was my hunch.) From deep in the recesses of my brain, the old nursery rhyme “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” surfaced; my cycling companions enthusiastically filled in the one line I couldn't dredge up.

When we regrouped at a fork along a country road, we happened upon a few locals assembling for a ride. “You weren't cycling on Monday, were you?” they asked. Their eyes stretched wide when they heard our reply.

Morning tea, Bolton-by-Bowland, England
With the rainy weather, we've been taking our tea breaks in local pubs, so today's stop was a surprise: A picnic! Complete with tablecloth, camp chairs, tea, and snacks—including Aunt Agatha's homemade shortbread cookies, contributed by one of our riders!

St. Peter and St. Paul's Church, Bolton-by-Bowland, England
We had a little time to peek into St. Peter and St. Paul's Church in Bolton-by-Bowland, with a history dating back to the 12th century.

River Ribble, Sawley, Lancashire, England
We crossed and (many miles later) paused to admire the meandering River Ribble. It was time to start feeding my wildflower photo habit.

White wildflower at base of stone wall along River Ribble, Sawley, Lancashire, England
Today's route was our shortest, and least taxing—a mere 20 miles and 940 feet of climbing. The group made good time, and I was certainly less pathetic. Our riding ended in the town of Waddington, with an opportunity to wander before lunch. The embattled King Henry VI was captured here in the mid-fifteenth century.

Defibrillator in a repurposed red phone booth, Waddington, Lancashire, England
How times change: from a defibrillator in a decommissioned phone booth, to a set of medieval stocks outside St. Helen's Church.

Medieval wooden stocks outside St. Helen's Church, Waddington, Lancashire, England
We boarded the van for our journey to Oswestry, where we stayed nearby in a lovely old country house. Sheep were scattered around the surrounding fields, but when the farmer drove up they virtually stampeded to reach him and created quite a ruckus.

Grazing sheep and flowering trees, Oswestry, England
Not unlike hungry cyclists, perhaps, at the end of the day? Tea and fresh-baked shortbread cookies welcomed me to my room,

Shortbread cookies under a glass dome, ready for tea in my room, Oswestry, England
and my lamb burger was the envy of all at dinner. [Eat local.]

Lamb burger topped with a tower of onion rings, Oswestry, England

1 comment:

  1. Once during the winter of 2015-2016, I'd been cycling-deprived for long enough that I decided to head out on a Saturday afternoon despite threatening skies. I climbed Page Mill in only a slight drizzle, but the skies really opened as I headed towards Skylonda on Skyline. I fish-tailed a couple of times on the descent, and was thoroughly nerouvous. A break at the mini-mart was clearly in order. Despite the usual crowds, only one other cyclist was present to yak with over a hot drink. "I guess we're the only nuts," I commented. "What do you mean? It's fine cycling weather by Irish standards," he replied with a thick accent.