The day started a little later than planned, but in the end it all worked out perfectly. The weather was fairly cooperative but the route was always going to be a test. Thirsk to Tadcaster on the map was thirty miles, a long day, but it turned out to be slightly longer!
The first section of the run was on very windy country lanes, and unfortunately a planned short cut along what looked like a lane on the map was actually closed. A padlocked gate stood firmly across the stony lane with a sign stating: “No public right of way”. Making an about turn, the support vehicle insisted I re-coup lost time by jumping in the car, which thankfully did dump me out back on the right track.
The next main point of interest on the map was Boroughbridge, where I crossed the River Ure, and then made a quick diversion in to the small town for a pit stop. I was surprised to come across a commemorative blue plaque on the side of an old building (the old Hall) to a Victorian lady slightly older than Katherine Routledge, by the name of Isabella Bird (Mrs. Bishop): “Explorer, missionary and author, was born here on 15 October 1831.” Isabella spent time in Hawaii, Canada, Australia, Colorado, Asia and Africa, publishing many fascinating books along the way. In 1892 Isabella was the first woman inducted into the Royal Geographical Society.
After Boroughbridge the route was quite challenging – the long straight old Roman Road with a very narrow verge required a great deal of concentration with one eye constantly on the road and the other on the cars ahead. Running towards the oncoming traffic in a fluorescent yellow jacket, with lights and reflective ankle bands creates a fairly visible spectacle I think and hope, but in winter weather and low light you can never be too sure.
Eventually the road started to curve somewhat (the Romans must have been distracted), and I spotted the support vehicle waiting in a farm lane. The local farmer, whose name we sadly missed, advised avoiding the next main road crossing due to heavy traffic, so at that point the support vehicle again insisted that I avoid ending up in the hedge, and jump in for a lift to the other side. This equated to all of about two hundred metres, which I still wasn’t happy about but did realise that the conditions were not great and the risk was not worth it – plus it’s usually a good idea to accept local knowledge.
The next few miles were lightened by the presence of two friendly cyclists, Carl and John who had already cycled past going in one direction earlier in the day. When we again crossed paths, this going in the same direction, they stopped to chat. It was fun to exchange a few sentences before they cycled off into the distance.
Next up was crossing the River Nidd, which was spilling over it’s banks onto the surrounding flood plain areas. From there Tadcaster seemed to be getting closer but there were still a few villages to run through. Eventually, with one final right hand turn the route took my downhill into Tadcaster. Running into the town, the sky suddenly started to turn pink as dusk arrived. The scene over the River Wharfe was quite magical and I met the ‘Support Master General’ (my Mum) on the bridge in the middle of Tadcaster to mark the end of day two. 32 miles covered. It was time for some serious recovery.