So I finally went and did it. I was going to review it as "mleh, there's a couple of good bits", but that would be unfair. It took me an appalling seven and a half hours. I got lost and went the wrong way 3 times, mainly caused by the map I'd taken, it didn't match the actual route. Eg near blackshaw head my map said turn right (up the hill) so I did, climbed to the top, no sign of the trail I wanted but that's coz the map route met the road a lot lower than the proper MTL route which I was on. Back down the hill take the left turn and sure enough found the trail, which took me to the top of blackshaw head again, bugger! Stuff like that really pissed me off and put me in a mood but a nice downhill would soon follow and cheer me up again, like the one from blackshaw head into charlestown, brilliant. The Shepherds Rest pub right next to the trail was shut(!) so I had to make a detour into walsden a bit further on for water and food, time consuming but it was nice and sunny as I sat in beer garden necking coke. After that it started raining and pretty much didn't stop, the section from summit to watergrove was nice tho, twisty turny undulating and well drained. The cobbles at spring mill res were treacherous, they had me off and I had serious trouble just walking up them. The climb to top of leach was 'orrible I was really struggling, one of those head down don't look to the top just sit and spin. Rooley moor road was worse tho, cobbled, a proper bone shaker not good for my tired aching back and by then I was soaked through, I was getting pretty cold too so I peeled off a couple of wet layers and put on my other jacket and gloves (never underestimate the power of fresh, dry gloves) and had an energy gel. Sure enough 15 mins later I was spinning the pedals like a dynamo and soon made it to cowpe and the last downhill, brilliant way to end the ride.
High lights, the downhills to Widdop res, charlestown, broadley and cowpe.
Low lights, getting repeatedly lost, rain, cobbles, stupid maps.
I actually ended up doing 50miles and in the region of 7500ft climbing, I think I could realistically drop and hour off my time just by knowing the route and not getting lost, with dry weather and no detours maybe get my time down to 6hours, not sure I can be bothered tho :-)