The Wharefedale Ton: 100 Miles for Leeds Mind
I recently took part in the Wharefedale Ton, the 100 mile Charity Bike Ride. Whilst the entry fee goes to supporting Marie Curie, riders can also choose to raise money for a charity of their choice.
I decided to raise money for Blacks’ Charity of the Year, Leeds Mind, which helps raise awareness of mental health issues and provides the local community with a variety of mental health services.
Even for someone with a pathologically healthy lifestyle like me (erm….?) I’m sure you will agree that 100 miles is a mildly daunting task, and for those of you who remember last Friday it’s fair to say that it wasn’t dry!
No, in fact, it was very wet and it was the sound of rain lashing against my window which awoke me at 5.50am on the morning of the ride.
The Bike Ride
We began at Ilkley Rugby Club, where Marie Curie’s team were on hand to offer much-needed Haribo and words of comfort.
As I looked around the faces at the start, I saw some stricken with panic, some repeatedly checking their gear, and some staring into the rain resolutely accepting their fate (or all three).
I personally ate a flapjack and told myself that once I got the first 90 miles under my belt I’d be ok.
At just after 8am, we were off!
The course was designed to get the majority of the hills out of the way early, with the toughest hills at the start.
The climb up Askwith Moor was relentless. The moor lay brooding like an apocalyptic god of the old world, whilst we struggled up it, never seeming to get any closer to the top (like soaking wet hamsters running on their wheel).
Time for another flapjack!
As the elation of conquering the beast of Askwith began to drain away, we took a still fairly hilly route past Fewston Reservoir (as if I needed to see more water) then dropped down into Harrogate, and over to our first stop at Kirk Deighton (where I practically inhaled a delicious Lishman’s Pork Pie).
As the weather improved so did the terrain.
A long loop through flat, peaceful countryside found us suddenly in York (dodging tourists and traffic before lunch).
Afterwards it was really quite warm, and obviously there was nowhere to put my waterproof gear so I sat there simmering away like a giant Boxing Day ham for the rest of the ride.
The third stop, back at Kirk Deighton was at the 70 mile mark – and I really started to feel like completing the ride was possible.
A quick flapjack and off…
I went, back in to the hillier countryside approaching Kirby Overblow and down towards Otley.
A real highlight at this point was looking back up the Wharfe Valley from the top of Sicklinghall as the sun danced over Almscliffe Crag, and I imagined a distant brass band playing the opening chords of Jerusalem.
My ride back to Ilkley now feels like a daze, running on fumes and raw will, and it was with a sense of achievement that I finally rode into Ilkley Rugby Club at around 6pm after nearly nine hours in the saddle.
There was a warm welcome from the Team at Ilkley (and a pint of lager shandy was clinically dispatched).
It really was a fantastic day and I’m very happy to suffer for such great causes (I apparently burned about 8,500 calories, although I possibly consumed 10,000 flapjack related ones!).
I actually feel quite proud of myself and, on top of that, thanks to kind donations from friends and colleagues I’ve raised just under £900 for Leeds Mind. The event as a whole has also raised thousands for Marie Curie!