Being friends with Richard Rothwell is a double edged sword... on the one hand I get to draw from years of riding experience, depth of knowledge when it comes to great spots to ride, I get to know someone who is always up for big days of riding.. The flipside to this positive is the negative that he’s faster and lighter than me which means I invariably whilst getting all these positives get a kicking on the bike… Richard this year has only 2 real goals.. one of which is to complete the off road C2C route… St Bees to Robin Hoods Bay in 24 hours.. Over the winter I stupidly have volunteered now on 3 occasions to go and recce ride sections of this challenging route.. The third installment was at the weekend… Saturday was Shap to Reeth taking in the Dales and then Sunday was Osmotherly to Robin Hoods Bay attacking the Moors... I went expecting long days of riding... it’s what I came for... training but disguised in a way that you actually enjoy doing it. The weather was best described as ‘changeable’ for the first installment and the riding a typical mix of steady climbing and average descending... in fact I remember little about the first day apart from the start of the weekends map reading confusions always ending up in an extra climb or two.. There was a few stand out downhills which were rocky enough to be challenging but not enough to slow you to picking your way through... I do remember the section before the road to Tan Hill as it is vague.. Very vague. There is a sign post on the road which points back towards the direction you come from indicating a bridleway is there somewhere but like me and Richard I guess it really doesn’t know where it is… just a big open space of moorland with wet peat to soak your feet when you’re not paying attention. The second installment was started in absolutely glorious weather… this was first ride of year wearing short sleeves and no gloves.. a mile marker indicating good dry weather may be just round the corner. A little different from the day before we saw some forest to start the day but only on a very wide bridleway... then more confusion on the route which gave us another long climb to turn round at top and then descend. This section of the route I think shows the creator’s lack of enthusiasm after winding his way from the lakes as it seemed that we slogged up very steep climbs to be greeted with heavily rutted unrideable descents or just plain old road descents. Whilst on the top of the moors the views were stunning as we smashed along the wide rough bridleways.. at this point we were unaware of the total distance for the day that had to be covered.. I took a nice fall on almost flat as I really wasn’t feeling inspired by what I was riding plus I had made a schoolboy error of wearing knackered old shorts for such a long day and I was very very uncomfortable. After another navigational error we consulted a walker who informed us of where he was heading.. I instantly remembered the name of the place from the route card we had used that morning to plot the days riding… we had been riding for near 4 hours and we still had 45 miles to go!!! I have to admit I lost all interest at this point facing such a long day of what wasn’t the best riding and knowing it was going to be very late when I got home.. I think Richard sensed my mood and cunningly coaxed me on blindly ignoring the mammoth distance still left to cover over the slow going ground we were on. The Recce was going to have to be partially abandoned at a set point then we would bee line for Robin Hoods Bay on minor roads... not before we unnecessarily climbed a 33% road climb… the bravest thing I have ever seen occurred as in my ever increasing bad mood Richard still asked if we could descend to the bottom and find the trail we should have been on… you are a very brave man Richard :) With a few more road climbs under our belt we managed to reach Robin Hoods Bay and the car just as we were losing light… a ride just short of 8 hours giving us a 14 hour weekend total of mostly off road and untold amount of climbing… if this doesn’t get me race ready I’m not sure what will. Thanks Richard for another kicking. :)