I had a brilliant day out on the Etape du Dales despite the 177km and 3260m of climbing.

I set off in the rain and clag at 7am, but by the time we’d climbed Fleet Moss (and I’d been passed by someone who shouted back at me “I’m one of you – I mean JMC – I’m in it” – who WAS that?) and got into Hawes the sun had come out and with it the most ferocious headwind. The type that’s a headwind regardless of the direction in which you are travelling.

Up and over Buttertubs, which I found much less taxing than I expected but then we began the relentless climb to Tan Hill which was very steep followed by steep, followed by near vertical and then flattened out to merely steep again, all the time with that chuffing headwind.  Suddenly I stopped being quite so cheerful and was mighty relieved for the well stocked feed stop with coffee and bananas.

Quickly off to avoid the cut-offs, the descent was glorious. It was an absolute treat winding through the Dales past Wild Boar Fell alongside the railway and the miles flew by to Garsdale Head which meant I’d beaten the cut-offs and could carry on to the end.

The hardest climb of the day was next – on and and on it went. Wobble wobble.  Though it wasn’t closed road, it might as well have been – hardly a car all day. Back through to Stainforth and for the last climb of the day over Dalehead. The descent and the fast flat finish back through Kilnsey to Grassington was just fun enough to make sure you completely forgot about the pain of the previous 100 miles.

I may have been slow (11hrs 3mins) but I finished with a smile.

Next year, same route in reverse.