A kind of duathlon…

The kind where the first 90% is fighting the hills and headwinds on North Yorkshire tarmac and gravel roads…

… and the last 10% is a push up a bridleway in a forest surrounded by a million flies buzzing around my head*. Where are those headwinds when you need them?

Do you think there would be much call for a Duathlon like this?

* at this point my sense of humour failed!

It was a very windy day, and first day of practice in the ‘Ard Rock Endure that I’d ridden the last two years.  I thought I’d take a trip down to see how things were going because it’s a lovely part of the world, and the event village would have wood-fired pizza ovens (= pizza for Gareth!).

To avoid a monster day in the wind, I parked up at the top of the Stang and rode down Arkengarthdale to Reeth, battered by the sidewind.

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Once in town I headed down to the event village for a quick look around, and then pizza, before setting off in a homeward direction, but via ‘Ard Rock sections 1 and 6. First up was a big climb with loads of enduroists out for their practice. The road is fearfully steep, and my cross bike proved the best tool for getting up the hill (but my heart was about to explode on reaching the top).

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My route then went via Marrick Moor, a bit of gravel road, becoming extremely rough near Holgate.

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Back on the tarmac, my mind was moving to how to get back to the top of The Stang. There were two potential bridleways, then a farm track, and finally (and worst of all), tarmac to the bottom and the monster climb back up to the top.

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The first two bridleways looked far too sketchy (at least the bits visible from the road), so I skipped these. The farm track was great, albeit back into the wind. Just before East Hope I entered the forest.

There was a bridleway heading up the edge of the forest – I took this knowing it might be a walk. Indeed it was. What I hadn’t bargained for was the lack of wind in the forest… which brought with it a swarm of flies around me for the duration of the climb. I nearly lost my mind with this distraction, and it seemed forever before I reached the section of forest that had been felled, and the wind was switched back on. Flies gone. A short ride along a shooting track brought me back to the car. What a hard day out!

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