Day Two began with the shortest possible journey from bed to start as the Penrith Travelodge was on the route. However it did require the crossing of the A66.
Thank goodness it was a quiet weekend morning!
Preparations in the area were clearly well underway for the ‘Tour of Britain’ and we enjoyed spotting yellow bikes, bicycle themed models and scarecrows. Knowing that some of our favourite professional cyclists (Cav, Wiggo, and even Greipel) will be cycling the same route gave a little extra frisson to our ride. It also will add to our enjoyment when we follow their ride on Thursday 10th September.
The professionals will finish their race riding uphill to Hartside Fell. We tackled the switchbacks and slog of Hartside before lunch. This was the hill that all the locals had warned us about and Boo was determined to manage it under her own steam (on other hills Mark had given her an occasional helpful push). It was slow and steady and did involve grinding through the gears but we could take a look at the incredible scenery as we ploughed on.
We thoroughly enjoyed sharing a bowl of chips in the cafe. This turned out to be a timely break as the heavens opened whilst we indulged in our refuelling, but that did not stop Boo proudly posing in front of the summit sign.
Hoping that the worst of the weather was over we set out once more.
This time our route took us onto the narrow downhill towards Garrigill. There were some challenging climbs before we could reach our pre-arranged lunch stop. Despite the mix of climbing and descent we enjoyed this section of the route as we were accompanied by a group of riders from Newcastle. Boo definitely responds well to having other cyclists around her; she seems to want to prove herself capable in front of them and also enjoys playing a bit of ‘tig’ as she catches then passes them before dropping back to do it all again.
The descent to Nenthead was a little hair-raising but our Support Vehicle was waiting with some cheese bread and we acquired ham in the Community Shop. Our stay in Nenthead was longer than planned as we were struggling to get the calories into Boo; she barely took a bite out of the ludicrously sweet salted caramel doughnut that our Support Vehicle thought would tempt her. This was a concern as she was clearly tired and we knew there was more climbing to come. In the end we left our Support Vehicle acquiring some parts in the ideally positioned bike shop and we began the trek to Consett.
Nenthead was lovely but the 15% climb out was not the best way to start after a break.
Our route wound above the main road but we could see the interestingly named Killhope Lead Mine en route to Rookhope. The mine is now a museum but all we could think about at the time was how appropriate the name felt for the lead miners and our struggling legs.
Our ride on Day Two took us out of Cumbria and into County Durham and Northumberland. We rode in Cumbria when tackling LEJOG on the tandem last year. This was our first cycling foray into County Durham and Northumberland. The hills may have been challenging but the countryside of the Pennines is stunning and we are planning to return and explore further.
Once in Rookhope we realised we did not have enough energy left in our legs to tackle the climb to Stanhope, and conveniently (especially as we were struggling to find adequate phone signal) our Support Vehicle thought we might be in need of encouragement, food, or a lift and joined us. We discussed our options and our Support Vehicle was brutally honest about the hills she’d just driven on to reach us and decided that we might be capable of the climb from Rookhope to Stanhope
but the more challenging final climb back out of Stanhope was another story. We decided to save these ten miles of climbing for the morning instead.
We popped the bikes on the roof and discussed how we would tackle the climbs as our Support Vehicle drove us on our route. We were delighted by our wonderful warm welcome at our bed and breakfast in Shottley Bridge. Rosie and her grandson entertained and looked after Boo whilst we prepared food and rest.
Video summary of the day.