The Chronicle’s Ashley Ball is back with his cycling diary for day two…over the Pennines.

He will be back with day three tomorrow.

Stockport-Barnsley (Day Two)

September 8

THE most enthusiastic to start this day was 64-year-old Neil... but I can assure you he’s no regular near-OAP. More about this colourful character later.

It was obvious today’s stage was going to be the most difficult with the small matter of the Pennines to get over.

So a big breakfast was called for again. I went for Weetabix and then poached eggs and beans on toast.

Eating more than usual is a weird feeling at breakfast but with a hot day predicted and loads of climbing, all the calories consumed were going to be burnt through rapidly.

I was surprised with how quickly we were out of Stockport town centre and seemingly weaving our way towards the big hills.

We were soon out of Greater Manchester and into Derbyshire where the elevation ramped up gradually. It was mostly done on the trails but there was an unpleasant road climb towards the village of Charlesworth.

A puncture to Neil’s front tyre gave us a bit of respite before the major climbing began and offered a chance to refuel a bit.

Anyone familiar with driving towards Manchester will know the village of Tintwistle and that is where we skirted around before seeing the first reservoir of the day, Bottoms.

From there you head along the trail nearby Woodhead Road and cross over to Valehouse Reservoir. This is where the scenery begins to take the pain away from your legs.

It had been noticeable that the flora and fauna had been slowly changing on the previous day’s ride but now it was more apparent as our only company are the grazing sheep.

We are heading along the Longdendale Trail towards Woodhead Tunnel and then eventually Dunford Bridge, the entry point to Barnsley from the west.

The altitude jumps from 200m above sea level to 250m by the time we are on the south side of Torside Reservoir but there is still another chunk of climbing to go until we are at the highest point of the entire TPT, known as Gallows Moss.

Unfortunately due to the jagged steps, cycling some of this ascent is impossible and we have to get off and push the stepped parts but we all endeavour to cycle whenever we can.

Neil, a former coal delivery man who is still lumbering around heavy goods, often fuelled by tins of pilchards, is in his element but even he has to take a break to remove his helmet as the climbing has all of us overheating.

It was neither the distance nor the gradient causing me the most problems but the surface itself. My tyres are slipping constantly on the gravel making sure every pedal stroke is tougher. Vibration white finger(s) seems a possibility.

It is a relief to see tarmac again, even if it means another short, sharp climb (up to 440m) towards the rollercoaster descent down from Dunford Bridge.

My Garmin watch tells me I am hitting 50kmph down the hill and the relief in my legs and the wind in my face makes it even more enjoyable as we reach Penistone.

It’s not long before I am moaning about the surface again and the gravel track down from Coates Lane at Thurgoland to Silkstone Common is the worst on the entire TPT and pretty perilous.

The jumpy ride down there was made even more dangerous for Neil and I as he was stung for the second time in an hour on the same leg by a wasp.

His expletives and subsequent kung-fu kick almost have me flying over the handlebars with laughter. Fortunately he can’t see me.

We had refuelled in Penistone with a sandwich each and a welcome cup of tea and I was given a further boost at Worsbrough with an impromptu visit from my brother and niece.

It’s a steady ride back towards Wombwell, Wath and Bolton-upon-Dearne where we live and we have the extra comfort of knowing we will be spending the night in our own beds. It is a very welcome chicken Alfredo for tea. I know I will need the pasta to fuel me for the following day.

Komoot difficulty rating: Expert.

Read the first segment of Ashley's story here

Read the third segment of Ashley's story here