Coast to Coast by bike, The Way of the Roses. 4 days, 6 suicidal squirrels, 10 train crossings, 4 whiskeys and 1 chain off!

“Did you know its 20 times cheaper to maintain a bike than a car?”

With the original plan of doing an Ironman in Mallorca in October cancelled some time ago my husband and I decided that we would like to do some form of bike touring for our holiday instead. 🚴‍♀️🚴‍♂️

So following a few evenings of cosying up with mugs of tea, iPads and Google we decided to cycle the Way of the Roses from Morecambe to Bridlington. We would take the train to the start, book the first two nights accommodation and then play it by ear – there were after all lots of murmurings of lockdowns, closing pubs etc.

Map of the Way of the Roses taken from the website of the same name

As this was more of a holiday, enjoy ourselves and have some beers kind of thing rather than an achievement thing we decided to do it in 4 days and take it easy. My husband who is probably capable of cycling the 170 miles in a day left this decision to me. In all honesty, now having done it, I realise I could of done it in the more common 3 days and still had plenty of time for enjoying the ride and the post ride beers.

The route, for anyone who wants to cycle, run or walk it, is utterly beautiful all the way. Its incredibly varied from narrow country lanes, flat roads that wound their way through tiny villages with beautiful cottages, undulating roads, steep hills, some lanes with holes and grit and gravel, some that felt briefly ‘off roady’ and went through the middle of a large field. Every bit of it is however, completely doable on a road bike (even for me).

We arrived on Saturday by train in Lancaster and cycled to Morecambe for the start. The easiest way to do this was via the Way of the Roses cycle path which felt a little silly knowing that we would be retracing our steps an hour later.

Bikes ready – on the train to Lancaster. My husband carried two panniers and I carried an Ortileb bar bag in front of the handlebars.

After a nice warm brew in a seaside cafe and a quick kiss with Eric Morecambe we set off on our way to Settle.

Bring me sunshine Eric
In your smile 😁

Day 1 – Morecambe to Settle

The official start of the Way of the Roses

Day 1 was possibly my favourite in terms of the cycling terrain. It started off on flat cycling paths but soon went onto gorgeous undulating country lanes, the kind where you can not take enough photos. In fact I remember thinking this is the definition of ‘rolling countryside’. None of the hills were steep or if they were it was only for a few metres where you stood up fairly briefly and then sat down again but it was up and down enough to make it really interesting and give rise to beautiful views which went on and on (a bit like me lol). We saw hardly anyone for miles and miles.

Views between Morecambe and Settle
We saw the most beautiful rainbow on the way

Knowing that day 1 was only 35 miles to Settle and given a shortage of shops directly on this route we decided to simply push on and eat when we got to Settle. I did have some yummy snacks in my front pack including a cliff bar and some mini banana malt loaves. These helped us to keep fed but not stopping was a mistake, by the time we had booked into our hotel and found a cafe it was 3pm and we could of both happily eaten the table we were sat at.

We stopped at the Golden Lion which was fantastic. The room was lovely and the food at dinner and breakfast was excellent. The bikes were stored in a back part of the hotel which is locked up and hidden from view.

Leaving the Golden Lion

Day 2 – Settle to Boroughbridge

This day was hard!! In fact it was the only really hard day, I wish I would of realised this was the only hard day at the time as I might of been able to push myself more. Admittedly I was having a bit of a menopausal down day and feeling quite negative. Its not a nice feeling and it can diminish that normal sense of adventure and excitement and replace it with not only a lack of these feelings but a real lack of confidence too. Suddenly what was exciting and challenging yesterday becomes impossible and annoying today. Knowing upfront today would be quite hilly I tried to suppress this negativity and told myself right just get on with this, cmon Lorna.

With this in mind and knowing a big hill would be on the cards within a few miles we cycled out of the hotel around the corner and turned up a cobbled street which hit 17% almost immediately. Um where was my couple of miles warm up? My calves are still cold thank you very much! This was swiftly followed by a 20% sign and I thought wtf!!!! I tried to stay on my bike and cycle up this hill but when it turned a corner and looked like yet another 20% longer climb I got off and walked. I’m not proud to admit this and I’m sure all you cyclists reading this would be just fine but I had previously only cycled up a 20% hill (just one time) and combined with my state of mind I lost confidence in myself to do it.

The start of the 17% part of the steep climb

Of course once you are off and walking its really hard to get back on again so I continued to push my bike and walk up this hill until it started to flatten out again. After that it became a lot easier and it was also utterly stunning which cheered me up. We cycled across the top of the moorland which undulated for a while until coming to a lovely long descent with glorious views all around. The weather was perfect, cold but sunny with bright blue skies.

Bright blue sky

Feeling a little more positive, ok Lorna you got this now, I pedalled on. To my annoyance we were then met with numerous 17-20% gradients which tested both my physical ability and if I’m completely honest my mental patience. Further along we came to a particularly tough initial ascent and as I turned the corner I found myself almost coming to a standstill stomping hard on the pedals and muttering expletives (apologies to the people who were walking down the road at this point). I promise you normally I would say hi and smile at you rather than pant, swear and make grr noises. It really was just one of those days!

Taking a rest before the next set of hills

After this corner I could see more hills ahead and I started to really struggle again mentally. We stopped for a short rest, more to get my mind in gear than my legs. After a brief rest taking some pictures I found the climb I had seen in the distance was not hard at all. In fact the rest of the climb up to Greenhow was simply divine, never difficult, just enough to keep it interesting. Combined with that sense of achievement you get from climbing a hill, I felt great. Hurrah 😀.

Positive me was back woohoo! With this new sense of positivity and also the knowledge that this was the last hill today I flew down the other side of the hill into Pateley Bridge for lunch. Not even the signs saying be careful, ‘16% gradient’ & ‘watch out for cyclists’ could deter me from this sudden increase in confidence and sheer unadulterated joy.

Views out of Settle on way to Greenhow

We managed to find a lovely little cafe in Pateley Bridge where we could park our bikes around the back. Sadly the only available table was outside, it was freezing but it sufficed for us to have a short snack of beans on toast and warm mugs of tea.

Lunch outside at Pateley Bridge

With Cafe legs we set off from Pateley Bridge. During lunch my husband had set my expectations by mentioning that there was in fact a “small” hill to come but after that it would then be flat until Boroughbridge where we were heading. Hmmm normally this wouldn’t have phased me but on this particular day I simply couldn’t get my mind in gear for this and felt quite p’d off at the roads. Grrr how dare you give me another hill grrr.

It didn’t take long to discover the 19% and 17% gradients. Once again I could not shift my head out of my CBA place and got off and walked. I would love to do this particular section again on a day when I had the right mindset. For reasons I find hard to explain unless you have experienced menopause your hormones can give you really bad days that are very hard to simply brush off. After those last hills, during which I swore at them (lol), there is a lovely long descent from Brimham rocks where it did indeed flatten out and the rest of the ride to Boroughbridge was a rather quick and easy affair.

One of the many views on the way

We passed through Studley Royal, to my surprise, right through the middle of it on the same small path that people were walking, which I found a little awkward so I rode quite slowly and apologised a lot even though its apparently a cycle path. It was beautiful though.

In front of Fountains Abbey just before Studley Royal

After Studley Royal we passed briefly through Ripon and took an opportunity to have a photo moment in front of the Cathedral.

My husband outside Ripon Cathedral

We stayed at the Crown (Best Western) in Boroughbridge and we would both highly recommend this. The bed was so so comfortable we didn’t want to get up the next day! I think the food was great but in all honesty I must of had a few beers as I cant really remember the evening at all 🤔.

Day 3 – Boroughbridge to Pocklington

I woke up on Day 3 in a great mood. Typical really since todays ride was going to be extremely easy; 40 miles of flat terrain. It wasn’t boring though! The terrain varied enormously and we could of easily used the GoPro to video all of this day if we would of had enough battery to do this. Here’s just one short section which showed the beautiful autumn colours on the trees.

Gorgeous coloured leaves all around
Some examples of the varied terrain en route

Sometime after this we were passing through a little place called Ouseburn and my husband spotted a sign on the wall. It was a memorial for where a plane came down in 1942.

Memorial

On this day we stopped for lunch in York. The last mile or so coming into York took us through a park weaving our way along a narrow cycling path and over quite a few cattle grids. It started to rain and my husband started singing ‘why does it always rain on me’ with his wonderful dulcet tones clinging to the air as I rode behind him 😆.

It wasn’t until the last half a mile that you come onto a main road and are then quickly into a cycling lane, through an arch and then facing the York Minster. In fact we stopped at Bennet’s cafe opposite York Minster which was handy and their toasted crumpets with marmalade were to die for! Highly recommended.

Quick pic outside York Minster before hot crumpets

After lunch we set off for Pocklington with only 20 miles to go. It was beautiful and eventful all the way with no less than 6 suicidal squirrels running out in front of our bikes as we skidded to avoid them each time. I do have to wonder if they actually lie in waiting and then throw themselves across the road at the appropriate moment.

One of the many amazing signs en route

We stopped at the Feathers in Pocklington and again I would recommend this hotel. The rooms were separate to the hotel (like a motel) but none the less very luxurious. The lady who served us at dinner and breakfast was incredibly friendly and chatty which also made for a nice stay. Again the bike lockup was great, this time it was their food storage area.

In the evening we debated what we would do the next day and decided we would cycle to Bridlington to the finishing line but then cycle back again 10 miles and stay in Harpham overnight. From there it would be an easy cycle to Driffield to catch a train in the morning or maybe we could cycle on somewhere else, we’d leave it open.

Unfortunately our reservation in Harpham got cancelled in the end so after much discussion and a few whiskeys we decided to just get to Bridlington and get the train home the next day.

Day 4 – Pocklington to Bridlington and home

Again an easy 40 flat miles on the last day (hence why I’ve realised with hindsight I could of done it in 3). It was also just stunning views all the way, although this was somewhat marred by the weather which was torrential. It reminded me of a bit out of Forrest Gump (you have to do the voice though 😆) “We been through every kind of rain there is. … And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath”.

Combine this with the fact that I had trusted the weather forecast (yeah I know!) and not taken mudguards and that my “rain jacket” was shower rather than rain proof and the ride was a very enjoyable but nonetheless profoundly soggy experience.

We arrived in Bridlington wet through although I was definitely wetter and muddier than my husband who had sensibly had mudguards and a decent jacket. The sense of achievement, the joy of seeing the sea, the joy of seeing a warm cafe perhaps all meant I didn’t initially notice how cold I was.

After a delicious veggie burger and fries we cycled to the station and I changed into my jeans, sweatshirt, clean socks and shoes. Even after doing this I felt cold and it took me most of the journey home to really feel warm again. My husband stayed in his bike clothes as they’d dried out pretty much by this point.

So yes I’ve already ordered some decent mudguards!

So highlights from the trip?

  • The climb up to Greenhow and descent down to Pateley Bridge
  • The views coming in to and climbing out of Settle
  • The joys of riding in the rain
  • The gorgeous views
  • Getting better at descending
  • Definitely the views
  • A snickers bar (yes this is a highlight when you haven’t eaten a full sized chocolate bar for years)
  • More views
  • Realising I can ride on and on if I ride slowly
  • Seriously the views 😍
  • Knowing I now want to buy a bike for touring, practice with panniers (my husband carried ours for this trip) and get properly kitted out for the next adventure 😁👏
  • Bikes on trains is really easy, just check on some services if you need reservations. (The Journey from Romiley to Lancaster and Bridlington to Romiley was £80 in total for two!!)
  • The route signage is excellent, well done Sustrans! We used a GPS but you really don’t need to, just follow the roses 🌹

Useful links:

http://wayoftheroses.info

https://www.goldenlionsettle.co.uk/

https://www.bw-crownboroughbridge.co.uk/

https://www.thefeatherspocklington.co.uk/

Full video of our trip done with GoPro: https://youtu.be/Ix30gVGo_Tw

Trip Stats: 286 Km, 3044 m ascent, 14 hrs 16 min cycling time 😁

Managing running and exercise with the joys of menopause – plus the Wonder Woman:Poop scale

It’s been a while since I dedicated a blog to menopause which is after all the caption on my profile. Today I’m sitting here watching women’s cycling just recovering from a bout of nausea and dizziness and after having yet ‘another’ nap.

Yes I mean I did run 16k this morning on trail and some hills, though not as hilly as usual at somewhere between 1,300-1600 feet (my watch and my husbands disagree by quite a bit). Still, I would normally feel a bit tired after such a run but not sick, dizzy and very tired. This is not some weird virus; this is menopause.

Over the last few years I’ve dealt with the annoying hot flashes which came every 30 minutes to an hour ALL THE BLEEDING DAY LONG and were often accompanied by a bout of nausea and always accompanied by temporary loss of ability to think. You could be sitting there one minute talking to a colleague, the flush comes along and then they ask you something and you think ummmm I know you asked me a question but I can’t think or verbalise anything right now. This is all happening in your head so they on the other hand are met with a blank look akin to rabbit caught in a headlight.

The other symptoms no one seems to mention is the hormones surging up and down randomly at their own pace, which gives rise to great days and sucky days. Today was a sucky day. I knew the minute I started running that I was finding it harder and that my heart rate was higher relative to speed. This combined with watching my naturally faster husband open up a substantial gap ahead of me left me feeling about a 7/10 on the Wonder Woman – Poop mentality scale whereby 1 is I can conquer the world; I’m ‘on one’, I’m Wonder Woman and 10 is I suck, my fitness is rubbish, mentally and physically I feel like a big pile of poop.

Above: Last weeks run felt like Wonder Woman. Below: todays run – forcing a smile before slowly emerging out of the feeling poop phase

Thankfully after about the half way mark I managed to pick myself up mentally; accepting this was going to be a higher heart rate run and just get on with it, I pushed myself a bit more and started to enjoy the run and pick up my spirits to a 4/10 level on the Wonder Woman – Poop scale.

So sleeping as any woman going through menopause knows is “interesting”. Thankfully due to the joys of medicine I’m able to get through a night without waking every hour to throw off the duvet, go for a pee and walk around the landing to walk off the hot sick feeling; however, I still find I get really twitchy legs (much to my husbands annoyance). It’s not just legs either, the desire to throw myself onto one side then back the other way every minute is so strong, its hard to resist. Still I’m grateful when I’ve had a night of only waking 2 or 3 times. One should be thankful for small mercies.

So if you know a woman who is probably of ‘that age’ and she is walking around like the living dead, looks at you wide eyed when you ask her questions, repeatedly loses things and asks ‘where did I put my glasses’, throws her sweater/jacket off then on then off then on, repeatedly chomps down any snack you put in front of her and goes from looking rosy cheeked one minute to distinctly wan and even green the next then please be nice. Tell her where her glasses are, fetch her a chair, offer to open the window if she is hot, ply her with little snacks and be thankful you don’t have to deal with this – unless of course you are.

My husband feeling good on the run – its ok though, he did find my glasses 🥰

A tale of venturing into the City

My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary yesterday and decided to book into a posh hotel in the City to celebrate. So what was the experience like in these new times of hand sanitiser, distancing and trying to feel comfortable when lockdown is only just easing?

Firstly I have to say travelling by train felt all together safer than going to the supermarket. We were the only people at our station getting on. Once on the train everyone wears masks, which feels oddly comfortable.

All alone at the station

Wearing our fashionable masks 🐝

The City was quieter than when we saw it before lockdown. Then again it was a Sunday. We arrived at our gorgeous hotel and I got to enjoy and tick an item off my bucket list woohoo. The roof terrace wasn’t overly busy and tables were spaced apart appropriately. A great place to enjoy a beer in the sunshine.

Great views of the Town Hall

We then went on to have dinner at the Ivy which was another bucket item for me. I can highly recommend the food and service. The blackened cod cooked in a banana leaf was delicious. The layout was perhaps not what we expected in the Brasserie. I think it might be worth booking ahead to get into the roof garden, however, I’d definitely go again.

Happy anniversary at the Ivy

Later on we enjoyed some champagne back at the Hotel Roof Bar

Waiting for the chilled champagne to arrive

In other news this week we took the “kids” for dinner in our local town. They had removed all tables from the middle of the room so it was easy to sit in a booth around the outside of the room and keep distance from other groups. All very well organised and the food was delicious.

Sporting wise I enjoyed 2.5 hours of running, 2.5 hours of cycling and two circuit workouts including the fun one with our PT. Below some amusing pictures from our workouts.

With straight legs kick out to the side and feel it burn
I’m doing my rotator cuff physio and hubby is giving birth or maybe doing a core exercise 🤔

Cow and cat stretches with the lads

Deep Thought

This week has been a week of deep thought. No not the Supernatural Computer set up to answer the most meaningful question of life (Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy) but a week of self reflection and contemplation. 🤔

I shared a wonderful evening with three friends (in a garden self distancing and all that). We drank, we talked, shared and we laughed so much I was virtually crying. It is wonderful to have such lovely friends in my life and to feel a part of something so positive. I look forward to many more nights like this.

I’ve progressed further with the Ant Middleton book and feel its really made me look hard at myself. It’s easy in life to spot the flaws of others but its far more rewarding to spot your own and either accept them or make changes. It’s nice to feel that at 51 I can still learn and grow as a person. He writes a whole chapter on how the words ‘be careful when said to others or to yourself can result in being overly anxious about things. I’ve realised I’m a ‘oh be careful’ person and always have been. I would like to limit this inner voice to minimise my anxieties. Between this new sense of inner strength and peace and my recent purchase of ‘curl’ cream for my hair I may have to start wearing more boho dresses and skip around the garden in the moonlight 😁.

In terms of my bucket list I’ve continued to listen to more albums from the Rolling Stones top 100 list. This week this included Buddy Holly Lives and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John. Both excellent and easy to sing along to since I knew all of these tracks.

This week in sport I still kept mostly flat on my runs but managed to cover 25k in the week so happy to be building up again slowly. Didn’t manage much cycling at only 1.5 hours all week but once again had a brilliant strength workout with our PT on Saturday.

Fits of giggles during this combined workout. I’m about to lean back (Nordic Hamstring curl) and hubby is doing squats

Sunshine and Prosecco, Rain and Raves

Tuesday

Following Mondays rest day I did a lunch trail run with my son on nearby hilly paths and green fields in the stifling heat on Tuesday.

Great views in the distance
Sprinting uphill

After work I hopped on the turbo for a quick tour of London (Zwift version).

Thursday

Rested on Wednesday. Simply a case of CBA 😬. So on Thursday I punished my body by doing everything! At lunch I did 30 minutes on the turbo pushing it hard on Zwift Yorkshire. Very hilly and great fun (yes you can feel the difference on the turbo, the one we have is designed to raise resistance on hills). After work I went for a 4 mile run around our town, keeping it flat ‘ish as my Achilles is still playing up. After the run I did circuits with the lads on the front driveway/garden. We were waiting for a delivery so I wanted to hear it arrive. Turned out to be quite good fun doing tri dips off the front wall.

Friday

As the weather was poor I decided to hop on the turbo yet again after work rather than doing my favourite 1 hour outdoor cycling loop. I did the Zwift London route again thinking it would be flat and then found myself going up box hill….oops

I’m smiling but its hard!

After turbo our PT came round to do circuits with us in the garden. It was so ace to see her and we had a great socially distanced workout. She took a video of us doing glute bridges which had us in giggles after.

The pink socks finish off the look 😆
Love lifting weights

Saturday

Despite Achilles niggles I went for my long run of 9 miles. I decided to run down by the canal as it really is pretty much flat and hills are making my Achilles issue worse currently. Honestly the turbo sessions and PT session caught up with me and I found myself running along feeling like I had an ironing board in my back and in both legs. I still enjoyed it though! I’ve come to love running even more lately, perhaps its the freedom of it.

Ice bath for my feet and ankles post run

So its Sunday now and I’m having a lazy day. It’s unfortunately too rainy to visit family as planned and I’m too stiff to do any sport so I’m sat watching Lord of the Rings with the lads. What a great film 🍿. It also helps me to recover from last nights Prosecco drinking session with hubby. We had a great evening listening to music and dancing around the living room.

Happily blotto

5 positives

I was out running the other day on my once a day exercise thinking about all sorts of things, as you do when you are out for a run or walk, the mind swirls this way and that way and I think all manner of nonsense but occasionally I think of something useful and on this particular run I was thinking about the positive changes to my life that have only happened because of COVID. I know this is a weird thing to say and I hope its not insensitive as I realise its been an incredibly hard time for many and my heart goes out to those who are suffering, especially for those with loved ones who are ill or indeed may have even lost someone they love.

When times are tough I like to try and remind myself of good things. I think its a natural protective instinct. So I thought I would take a moment to reflect on this time and wonder what positives changes have come about in these recent times.

1. The combination of not being able to swim and moving my Ironman back to next year has meant I’m spending more time working on strength in my garden and I feel physically fitter than I have in a long time, maybe ever.

2. I’m cooking and baking all sorts of things I haven’t tried before. We have very little flour left but I made Roti breads to go with our favourite homemade curries a few times. It’s so lovely to make something like that rather than buying it from a packet.

3. Lots of family household time. My son and stepson have spent some time together painting fences in the garden and are getting to know each other better, so lovely to see.

4. I’m not remotely domestic and normally struggle to find time to clean or do jobs in the garden. Recently I’ve been catching up a bit and it feels nice to be more on top of things.

5. Getting to know the neighbours. Our neighbours are lovely and we’ve now joined a WA group with them and chat about all manner of things. People help each other out and today they all came out sing one person down the road happy birthday. It’s just so heart warming.

I could in fact list many more but I’ll stop at five so I don’t get too boring and waffle on.

Heart warming

Just come inside following the mutual clapping supporting/thanking the NHS for all their hard work. All the neighbours were out clapping, all very heart warming stuff.

Today was a positive day in so many ways. I went out early this morning to the corner shop and everybody was observing the social distancing as well as being very polite, good to see. When I got home i went to ‘work’ which is basically the spare room upstairs now. I looked through my window and saw a family across the road (sorry not snooping honestly) doing their daily exercise routine presumably in front of the tv. It’s so lovely that families are doing this and spending quality time together, good for them.

This afternoon I did a 5 mile run with my son along the canal, the sun was shining and i felts so lucky to be able to go outside, I realise how much we take our basic freedom for granted. I hope this allowance to do one exercise outside a day lasts but I intend to appreciate it as much as possible as you never know what will happen next.

After the run my husband and I had our first virtual personal training session. This was quite good fun and we used my iPad out in the back garden. Our PT Emma chatted, demonstrated and generally encouraged us through a series of exercises.

Hubby being told to do press ups and enjoying the new matching yoga mats (ooh get us)

Is it weird that in these hard times I feel really serene? I feel I’ve been given a chance to appreciate every little thing, my husband, my family, my friends, my home, cooking, reading, enjoying music and I could go on and on. It’s time to take stock and breathe, look to what you have and look forwards with anticipation and hope.

Corona virus blues la la la

Been a busy week so the most I’ve managed so far is a short run and a turbo session. I’m hoping to swim tomorrow and Saturday if the pools stay open and do a half marathon on Sunday if it’s still running. However a reality may soon be gym training in the garage, turbo time in the lounge and reading up on swimming techniques rather than doing… we will see what happens oh dear covid.

In the meantime I’ve just had my singing lesson, enjoyed singing At Last, a great jazz tune. However shortly maybe I’ll practice some blues, covid blues… to the tune of heartbreak hotel…

Since they’ll close the schools down, the gyms and pools too, we’ll have no place to train and then we’ll need the loo …

I got the covid blues babe , and it’s taking its toll, I don’t know what I’ll do when I’m out of bog roll…

They may soon cancel races, events and laughter too, and I’ll be eating biscuits, watching movies , finding things to do

I got the covid blues babe, and it’s taking its toll, I don’t know what I’ll do when I’m out of bog roll….

La la la