Darlington - Pateley Bridge (57 miles)
A very damp goodbye to Darlington and a whip-round collection in the hotel, off we pedalled with a degree of apprehension because we knew that at some stage, over the horizon, there would be hills.
Weather improved and we went through great countryside and into Bedale where we stopped for a chocolate break at the Bedale News where the proprietor Anna-Marie Salton embraced our cause and along with a fantastic £50 from Anna-Marie, £5 from shop staff, sweets, cycling magazine and a loo break we were sent on our way in sunshine.
The skies blackened, the thunder rumbled and we sheltered for over 30 minutes getting drenched in a spectacular storm. We were left to complete our journey through huge floods on the road and Nic picked up yet another puncture just outside Ripon. Inner tube changed we made it to Ripon Cathedral where we bumped into 2 more intrepid cyclists nervously contemplating the hilly road to Pateley Bridge.
Buoyed by tea and Jake's enormous, marshmallow and flake filled hot chocolate from Chimes Cafe we started our climbing in more rain. Nic's tyre went flat and was re-pumped just to limp the last couple of miles into Pateley Bridge, Foxfield B & B where we were met by a family of keen cyclists. Clare, Bop, Oliver, Gus and the absent Josh were just what tired, wet cyclists need.
Clothes dried, puncture repaired and irritating, sharp little stone found in Nic's tyre tread - who could ask for more?
Let's hope they were duly repaid by Oliver having a great cross-country mountain bike race on Sunday!