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Bronte K Ride 2014

Bronte K 2014 
The Bronte Mountain Bike Challenge is organised by Sue Ryder on behalf of local cancer hospice Manorlands.  There are 3 routes: The Charlotte a demanding 27 miles; The Emily an easier 24 miles; and The Anne at 15 miles.  We first completed the Bronte Mountain Bike Challenge in 2011, setting off with doing The Charlotte in mind but getting half way round, changing our minds and completing the easier Emily.  Well completing isn't really the word I should use, 'made it round' would be more appropriate,. We dragged our unprepaired sore bums and aching legs across the finish line some 3.5 hours after setting off and waddled quietly back to the car in silence, ashamed and broken. 
We've done quite a bit of cycling since then, including an unsupported 1200 mile charity ride to Spain.  When talk of this years Bronte Challenge started between friends and who was going to take part we were somewhat apprehensive, but with a small amount of experience and knowledge gained over the years it would be a good bench mark to see how far we had progressed, or not.   
Sunday September 21st soon came around, the morning was cool, Endomundo (not Strava!) had been set, the starter buzzer sounded and the 300 plus riders pedalled off eager for the challenge ahead, and the sun had crept out and was warming our backs nicely.  As we recalled from last time the first hill was a killer and was included in Stage 2 of Le Grand Depart, it's a Cat 3 climb the 'Cote D' Oxenhope Moor'.  I paced myself, tried to stay relaxed and keep an even cadence.  Phil raced to the top as per usual, being one of those strange hill lover types.  I met him there 10 minutes later feeling very fresh and ready to hit the rough stuff. 
We dropped off the kerb and on to the bridleway towards Hebden Bridge, coasting along enjoying the social aspect as we passed the time of day with athletic looking, lycra clad individuals on cyclocross bikes who were over-taking us at regular intervals, This didn't discourage us, as we know each others pace and rhythm well and had to honour this in order to help each other out on the difficult parts.   
We reached an old barn that I recalled from last time we rode, then it was a foot deep in cow manure to the outside not nice to pedal through, even worse to fall off in.  We turned right here as before and pushed to the top of the steep cobbled hillock, nobody else seemed to be going this way so after a quick map consultation we realised where we had gone wrong, jumped back on board the trusted bikes sped down the hill and rejoined the correct route.   
The course turned into back country lanes and gravel tracks, with each pleasant decent being followed by a lung busting ascent most of which being pushed-up by myself.  We reached the first fuel station and gulped down a bottle of water with a welcome High 5 Gel and rode quickly on before we stiffened up.  We were on tarmac lanes once more undulating through the delightful Lancashire countryside, there was a cheeky head wind buffering us so I cunningly tucked up behind a rider who had just passed me letting him drag us along for the next mile or so (thanks), we reached the peak and headed quickly down hill with me leading the way, I turned a corner sharply and faced a sheep stood stupidly in the road,  Yep, Yep, Yep I shouted loudly and it leapt in the correct direction out of the way. 
We turned right off this road onto the Pennine Bridleway, a trail we have ridden and enjoyed numerous times, this took us across the moor where a long, ancient, route paved with giant cobbles guided us across the dried up peat bogs, this is where I had my only off, Phil thought it was funny I carried on regardless.   We reach the second fuel station, topped up with water and banana and headed from the bridleway onto the road, this was the home stretch but still had quite a few miles to go so we took it in turns to lead each other swapping places when we got tired.  Our earlier steady pace was now paying off as we started passing other riders burnt out by the days effort.  I was still aware of the biggest climb of the day ahead of us so tried not to dwell to much on the burning sensation of muscle cramp felt with every pedal stroke, other than that I was still feeling strong both physically and mentally so pedalled on. 
We reach the village of Stanbury made a right turn and joined Le Grand Depart route once more, we headed down the road, across the scenic reservoir and began to climb Penistone Hill, I soon got off and pushed-up once again.  I got back on the bike before the summit and pedal hard for the top, we began the decent towards Oxenhope and I relished the feeling of slipping up the gears to gain more speed down the hill.  The road through Oxenhope was longer than I remembered and included a few sneaky inclines, or maybe that was just my legs feeling tired.  We turned left into the park gateway from which we had departed and rolled down the pathway with huge grins on both our faces.  We had done it, intact, fresh and happy.  We met up with friends who had already completed, swapped tall stories of our rides, had a pint of Timothy Taylors Ale and enjoyed a dish of pie and peas.   
A time of 3 hours 10 minutes was recorded on my Endomundo ride tracker, we were pleased with that, better than last time and not bad for a couple of amateurs.  The official times came in a few days later and we were both delighted and surprised to see that I was the first lady back on the Emily route, we may even try The Charlotte next year. 
Deborah Smith