It poured all of last night and it was still pouring this morning. The wind was straight out of the north and into our faces. The weather service was saying it as 50 F (10C) but it sure felt about 10 degrees colder. So as we sat facing each other this morning there was a lot of discussion around the course and the weather conditions. The ride was a 50 mile (80 Kms) ride with the first 30 miles (50 kms) half rolling ups and downs and the last 20 miles(30 kms) losing 900 feet (275 m) which was just under 1%. The only unfortunate part was that 80% of the course was on unpaved trails. This meant that with this much rain the course was going to be one huge slippery mud hole. My feeling was that we would be lucky to average 6 mph (10km/hr), including stops, lunch etc so this was going to be an 8-9 hr ride.
Bottom line was we decided to go see the National Heritage Site of Quarry Bank Mills, instead. Quarry Bank Mills is one of the best Britain’s best industrial heritage sites. It is a cotton mill which was built in 1790 at the start of the industrial revolution. The mill is persevered in original condition with a 67 hp water wheel which drove the mill. The mill operated through 1910. It is by far the largest water wheel I have ever seen. It is approximately 30 ft in diameter and 40 feet wide. Inside were all the different machines needed to take the raw cotton bales and turn it into cotton cloth. While only a few were running it was pretty loud and when all 320 looms where running back at the height of production it was deafening. In fact that was the major. Later steam engines were installed and they had two of the original steam engines running. A large walking beam engine and a smaller although more power full horizontal cylinder engine. After walking through the mill we went on a guided tour of the apprentice quarters. There were 90 child apprentices who worked in the mill. The children were indentured at age 9 for a period of 10 years. The conditions were harsh to say the least. However they were fed, clothed, and given a rudimentary education. It was a page right out of Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations when Pip was indentured.
After the mill tour we jumped back in the van and drove down to Barnsley where we are staying. The rain was still pouring down and it was pretty nasty looking out there. We passed a couple of places where the bike trail crossed the road and it looked like a total swamp. Never the less it was beautiful country side and I was sorry to be missing the ride. Jos wanted to jump out and go but got voted down. I was glad to be in the nice warm van.
On the way into town Jos spotted a Halfords Cycle and Sports shop. After checking in I looked and they had a Garmin Explore 820 for 244 Pounds ($450 Cdn) which was $80 cheaper than I could have gotten it in Canada. So after checking into our hotel we hurried straight over there. They also had these big mud guard fenders on sale for 14 Pounds.
Tomorrow is 60 miles (100 kms) in to York where we are staying in this luxury house boat.
New Garmin (Maps and courses already installed), new mud guard fenders and it has quit raining. I am pumped to get back out there!