My third climb of the day on the 1st March was up Boltby Bank. It wasn’t too far to drive from White Horse Bank so I was able to arrive at the top with my legs still feeling warm from my last ride. I think it is fair to call Boltby Bank a true pig of a climb. The mid section is pretty straight and just tracks right up the hill with a nasty little sting in its tail as it goes through a couple of tight bends before levelling off at the top.
I knew I was going to have a hard time as I drove to the top when I passed a pretty capable looking cyclist who was having a hard time. By the time I’d parked up, got my bike and cameras set up he still hadn’t appeared. In fact I was just about to set off down the hill when he arrived and asked if I had a map so he could check out a suitable route to White Horse Bank. I got the distinct impression he was keen to avoid too many significant hills after what he had just been through. When somebody who looks fitter than you is clearly having a hard time you just know it is not going to be a good day. Suffice to say it didn’t fill me with confidence.
The descent to the bottom was over quickly and without drama and the first section of the climb is actually pretty easy going. The gradient isn’t too severe to start with but after a couple of corners you are pitched onto an almost dead straight section of road that promises nothing but pain and low speed gear spinning. I really suffered on this nasty mid section of the climb; I just didn’t seem to be able to respond to the gradient and crawled up it. The final two bends are by far the steepest part of the climb but knowing that they were so close to the summit gave me the motivation to keep grinding out my low speed cadence and reach the end of the climb.
The top of Boltby Bank is marked by a cross roads which is also a national cycleway junction and there were plenty of cyclists in evidence. Some were riding mud splattered moutain bikes, others were on the latest light weight carbon road bikes and there was a nice convivial atmosphere. However, by the time I got back to my car none of that really concerned me as I was starving hungry. I had started off pretty early in the morning and had eaten only a minimal breakfast. It was time to break out the emergency rations which came in the shape of a truly hideous, but none the less compelling, snack food I had discovered at a motorway services.
Mmmm, see the chicken flesh lollipop glisten in the sun
It is a well known fact that all of the most unusual and exciting food products are found at road side shops these days (does it show I drive a lot for a living?) and so when I saw something advertising itself as ‘Chicken on a Stick’ I felt a grim fascination to try it out. I figured it would at least be low in fat (that’s what the wrapper said) and high in some form of animal protein and so in my feeble mind would be the ideal fuel for my bike riding adventures.
All I can say is that you know there is no hope for mankind when you can buy what is effectively a chicken flesh lollipop masquerading as a low fat snack at a motorway services. It looked awful, didn’t taste great and was so shiny it confused my cameras auto focus. I naturally ate two before heading off towards the fourth and final climb of the day at Carlton Bank.