Having completed Day 1 of my challenge, I was tucked up in my sleeping bag underneath a tarp somewhere en route.
I tossed and turned, finally sleeping soundly between 1.00am and 5:30am. Wanting to be on the road before daybreak, I reluctantly got out of my warm sleeping bag and packed everything away. The first pedal turned as the clock struck 6.00am.
With bad weather forecast, I wanted to give myself the best start and planned to get to Hebden Bridge before stopping for a real breakfast (caffeine gel and snickers does not a breakfast make).
Back on the trail, I met Paul Kirkham who was out for an early morning blast before the rain came in. Although our destinations were very different, we shared the same route for a good while. It was nice to have a bit of company and we chatted as the miles floated by.
On the descent to Widdop Reservoir, the weather began to close in. We met a couple of bikers coming the other way, having set off from Sheffield the day before on their own mission of riding the Pennine Bridleway. They too were concerned what the weather had in store for us later.
We wished them well and carried on, saying our goodbyes. I headed down through Hardcastle Crags towards Hebden Bridge as Paul headed home.
By now the rain was coming down hard.
Arriving in Hebden Bridge, soaking wet and in need of a good feed, the good people at Blazing Saddles bike shop let me store my bike inside while I went for breakfast. In Hebden, for me, there's only one place to go and so I headed to Mooch Cafe and luckily got the last seat in the house.
A bucket of coffee and a full English was the order of the day. Make that two buckets of coffee!
I left with a full belly and a warm rosy glow.
Heading back to the bike shop, I chatted shop before stocking up on Happy Bottom Butter (is there really a better name for chamois cream) to keep the chafing at bay and set off.
Anyone who has visited Hebden Bridge will know it's nestled a steep sided valley, so the climb was as tough as I thought it would be. The pouring rain made even the cobbled roads a slippery challenge.
I pressed on, once again finding myself on the Pennine Bridleway and the old packhorse trails that criss cross the moors around these parts. Descending to the canal at Summit I received a text from Jacquie saying she had just missed me at Mankinholes and was waiting just ahead of me at the Summit Inn. Her beaming smile cheered me up no end as I rolled on the towpath in the downpour.
We headed for the pub and I stood outside under the smokers' shelter while Jacquie went in for drinks. A few minutes later she came out saying that the landlady, on hearing of my quest, insisted that I came inside out of the weather. So, with my bike stored safely in the beer garden, I went inside to a very warm welcome. Several cokes and a bowl of chips later, I left with a small donation. Thank you!
My journey now took me over the moors once again and across a very busy M62. My life felt like it was a million miles away from those thundering past below.
This section proved quite tiresome and nondescript as the weather closed in even more. I rode on through thick mist and heavy drizzle. Up and down past several reservoirs, I was starting to flag. My enthusiasm was waning through a culmination of the weather and the homogeneous reservoir access tracks I was now riding.
Then I heard a shout up ahead. Jacquie had again followed my progress and was waiting for me by the Rams Head pub on the A672. She passed on some messages of support which I'd been receiving through her takeover of my social media accounts, giving me a much needed boost.
Crossing the A640 I was heading for home territory and a trail I'd wanted to ride for a long time. The descent into Marsden must be one of the best in the area, a real mix of flagged sections, boardwalks and fast singletrack, proving what can be done with properly planned and managed trail repairs and maintenance.
My arrival into Marsden coincided with a group heading for the train station all dressed up for a night on the town. I didn't envy them one bit and I'm pretty sure the feeling would be mutual.
It was here that I met Jacquie again. She asked me how I was and if I was going to continue on from here or call it a day, but with several hours of day light left and being on home soil as it were I said I would press on, and so I did.
The only thoughts going through my head now were of the hills I had left to climb, and the slight disappointment I felt at not staying out another night to complete the challenge in the style I had planned. A message from my sister saying I'd earned the right to a hot bath and warm bed after being out all day helped with my decision to head for home.
The hills proved easier than I expected and I was soon on the final stretch of tarmac before the point at which I had chosen to end the day. This short stretch of road was the hardest part of the day. I really needed to dig deeper than ever.
I really had given it my all today, and it was starting to show.
With my Garmin turned off and a short message recorded for social media, I headed home for a warm bath, a hot meal and my bed. Luckily I had tailwind to take me the last 6 miles home.
I finally stepped through the door at 9.00pm, a full 15 hours after leaving the field just outside Earby. I was tired, broken and my hands and feet were like prunes.
I thought that was it, my Challenge was over and I couldn't carry on.
Until I heard more messages of support saying that I deserved a night at home having endured the worst weather of the entire summer. Others were urging me to finish what I'd started and so I went to bed satisfied that I'd done my best and that I would see in the morning whether I had the energy to finish the job off.