Saturday 11th November 2017
Not being that familiar with the area, I constructed a route on Strava using an old map from a Trailquest event that I had done in 2009, and posted this on FB for comment. My objective was to do about 40k at 10kph with an hour for lunch and other 'stops', this being a B1 ride after all, to get back around 3 pm.
Some members had provided useful advice on my proposed route, which I gratefully ignored as I didn’t have time to change it. (CBA). Thanks anyway though!
Seven riders assembled at Clapham, taking care to park courteously and we prepared our various machinery. It must be noted that the GCC club wear does not include a Blue and Yellow jacket or baggy shorts, and so dress code was 'freestyle'.
We set off early and riding through the dark tunnels we immediately hit the first of the uphill bridleways before turning east to Wharfe. As we rolled along, the spirits began to lift as this was clearly a gem of a day, with fantastic clear views and few clouds to spoil the sunshine. At Wharfe we entered the maze of BW's before continuing east.
As today was the 11th day of the 11th month, we stopped at the 11th hour to observe 2 minutes silence in respect of those who died for our freedom. I felt very privileged to be free, here with my mates and in the quietness of this countryside.
This was the first of many stops and obviously the most important. We took the obligatory photograph on a junction with the road, and then stopped again to watch a deer and picture the view as we descended to Helwith Bridge. The uphill BW there was a good test of stamina, being just manageable, having been regraded since my last visit. Then the fork right along the Ribble Way BW (uphill of course). I noted a bit of grumpiness among the crew, but put this down to normal behaviour for ‘cross riders’ or perhaps ‘tyre pressures’. We descended swiftly on tarmac to Stainforth before climbing another steep BW and repeat. It was here, above Langliffe, that Captain Morgan suggested we should follow a good BW down to Settle, but regrettably this was not on the plan (or my map), so I overruled him and descended the road alone, waiting for the rest of the crew to follow.
Mutiny overcome, they followed behind at a short distance, like teenage children, along the delightful ‘A’ road climb to Buck Haw Brow. Rick did his best to enthuse the group with the idea of watching the slow rise and rapid best to enthuse the group with the idea of watching the slow rise and rapid fall of water in a local limestone pot hole we would pass, but this did not excite. (Someone likened this to the prospect of observing a toilet flushing!) And so we climbed the BW (very steep of course) which then delivered us to one of the best fast runs of the day down to Feizor. Those that knew the way were in the cafe while we were still closing the gates.
Being covered in… shall we say mud, we elected to sit outside in the cold sunshine, eschewing the warmth of the welcoming Elaine’s Tea Rooms. We never looked at a menu as we all had the usual, and it was perfect. It was quite busy and there were a couple of cycling families outside with very many small children who were having a great time, until we got there and told them to BE QUIET!!! The parents were clearly concerned about the safety of their wards and tranquility was quickly restored. This proved how much fun it can be to be grumpy if you feel that way.
As I left the cafe, it was clear that my fellow riders had all scarpered, so I departed north along the (uphill) bridleway. Eventually some kind soul was waiting at the first gate. Dave did more than his fair share of gate duty, as others rode off into the distance. Back in Wharfe we ascended the BW and followed a superb walled section, to the narrow and pretty high stone slab bridge where Dave impressed us by riding it like Danny MacAskill whilst others found equally stylish means of crossing the water. We had a short push up from Crummack before turning to Tow Gill and the fantastic 3km descent down the BW and back into the dark tunnels to arrive unscathed at the finish on the stroke of 3pm!
Here, smiles were now evident as the riders slipped into their après ride attire, sipping coffee and brandy and searching out tea shops. A memorable day out. Next time I would ride the route in reverse, but only for a change.
Rough stats: approx. 26 miles, 3,500’, 8 mph av. 15 stops. No children or animals were harmed during this ride.