I made a big mistake. I agreed to a barbeque the night before in the misguided belief that I would restrict my drinking and get an early night and failed miserably.
The attraction of this event was discovering some new roads and with John Dwarty, Martin Croft & Dougie Burnside we left Appleby with the sun breaking out.
First climb, Stainmore Common over to Middleton in Teesdale was enjoyed with a tail wind and then up again over Bollihope Common until a hair-pin on the descent to Stanhope in Weardale when a spoke snapped in Johns front wheel. (Damian's Zipps last week, my FSA seatpost now Johns Racing Zeros - they just don't make gear like they should - no matter how much you pay).
We continued after a lot of adjustment to get the wheel to clear the brake but he was relying on a rear break only - which didn't really matter because all the roads seem to only go uphill ! A steep pull from Stanhope gets you over Muggleswick Common - miles and miles of bleak nothingness, but no traffic either.
It was a lot greener alongside Derwent Reservoir before a feed/check at Blanchland then it was more bleakness over to the Rookhope Valley and up to Allenheads before climbing Burtree Fell back over to Weardale.
A brief respite down Weardale allowed me to relieve my cramp but I was really beginning to suffer with the relentless climbing only for the hideous climb of Harthope Moss to rear up in front of me. We were turning back into the wind and this swine, the highest point at 629m (& the highest road pass in England) even had a special warning sign for 'cyclists to be aware of severe weather, at any time' !
Another feed/check near Langdon Beck and we were on the drag over Harwood Common and the small matter of Hartside Pass before getting back on the lanes of the Eden Valley but by now I was in a world of pain and allowing John to do most of the work.
We came in with 6 hours 21mins and just a duo with younger legs faster at 6.05. Martin 6.38 and Dougie 6.45
It was a beautifully scenic ride on roads we had to ourselves but it was also 170k and 10,400 feet of severe pain. It would be a nightmare in bad weather (Martin & Dougie confirm) and I hope to avoid places with the name 'Common' for quite a while.