I rose early Sunday morning, put on a pair of purple nitrile gloves, and flipped my bike over to adjust my rear derailleur. The previous evening, I’d struggled up the steep hill to the hostel without being able to reach my lowest gear. I knew I had a long day ahead with many steep climbs, and was eager to get going with an ample 12 hours to reach Sheffield before my train departed. I didn’t yet realize just how much of a challenge the 65 miles and around 1600 meters of ascent would present.
(Saturday evening’s route in blue. Sunday’s route in red.)
“This was for the gentry.” We all looked down at what appeared to be a lidless coffin. “They didn’t want to get wet, so they were floated under this arch in this box. We’re not the gentry. You’re gonna get wet.” We walked to the end of the show cave, which terminated with a gate barring a steep descent through a mouth the size of a two elephants joined trunk to tail and extending far enough that we couldn’t illuminate the bottom with our headlamps. “Can you imagine this in flood? The water comes right up to this gate.” I tried to imagine it. How many aquariums would I have to drain to fill this hole? We opened the gate. Continue reading →