Col d’Lonsdale, North Yorkshire.

A short ride out today, it was very windy with a bitingly cold northerly gale pushing me out to Great Ayton and the start of a short loop around Captain Cook Monument.  Starting in the bottom of the valley at 30m above sea level, I took the usual Seamer Hill / Tanton Bridge route to Great Ayton itself, and then onto Station Road for the start of the climbing.  Looking back over my shoulder once I was beyond ‘Cherry Hill’ crossroads, the bright sunshine was highlighting the fields in the valley.  To my left, the peak of Roseberry Topping sits like a shark’s fin on the nearer ridge which obscures the lower slopes.
The first climb heads up to 236m and there is a tough 20% hairpin on the way, thankfully the road was dry and although I kept the gearing high I managed the climbs while sat down.  As you pass over the ridge there is a car park on the right for walkers enjoying the Cleveland Way and the short paved climb up to Captain Cooks Monument.
I dropped down 50m on a rather brilliant single track road, keeping my wits about me due to the broken uneven surface, but at the same time trying to keep my head up and enjoy the views.  There are two gates which have to be shut behind me as I pass through them today, and then I’m on the the very muddy climb up the road (Cleveland Way) from the second farmhouse.  I selected a really low gear and kept myself in the saddle so that I wouldn’t spin a wheel.  I watched the road carefully, picking my way along and around gravel and mud, avoiding the damp patches as much as possible… and then it happened.. the rear wheel span as I lost traction on a very steep section covered in damp mud.  I popped a foot down and had to walk three or four paces to get beyond the poorest of the surface rubbish.

The good thing about MTB shoes and clips is that I can use the arch of my foot to get some pedal strokes going before clipping in, which allows me to get started on a steep climb instead of walking.  I felt good and in control of my breathing as I crested the summit at 257m.
Once over the top I had to keep to the brakes on the descent as the uneven surface, loose gravel, sharp corners and wandering sheep presented significant risks.  The  views west along the Cleveland hills were stunning in the setting sun and I planned to have a pint at the Glebe Cafe once I reached Kildale.
But the sun was starting to go down and having a beer was going to have to wait until I got home.  I now battled my way into the teeth of the gale as I struggled downhill and back to Great Ayton, over Seamer Hill (where I nearly stalled in the headwind) and down to Ingleby Barwick and home.  Time to have a shower and put my feet up – what a nice way to burn some calories and enjoy North Yorkshire.

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