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Ride Reports

Saturday 6th October 2018

Under cool, grey skies cars gathered by Devil’s Bridge on the edge of Kirkby Lonsdale, many carrying craft to speed them by the countryside of the Dales National Park. Having gathered everyone on two wheels and waited until the stroke of 0945 to catch any stragglers, a small group tackled the first climb of the day, the Côte de Chapel House Lane, whose steeply banked slopes had been liberally festooned with fresh fallen leaves in order to encourage a seated position.

Remaining united, progress was made towards Barbondale, a fine and peaceful valley. Not a complaint could be heard about the pace which some would describe as leisurely while others would consider it indicative of rather too many weeks of leisure. The descent towards Dentdale’s unimaginatively named River Dee was brisk and brought the average speed close to a dizzying 8 mph.

I had suggested in advance of the ride that I might omit the loop up Dentdale. There being no dissenting voices, this plan was enacted. Instead narrow and in many cases slightly flooded lanes were traversed to bring the group to Sedbergh where every group member punctured.

Fun fact: as tyres cool on autumnal roads, they also contract. This leads to much amusement and creative use of language directed at tyre levers, rims and clinchers.

Smatt’s Duo is a fine café: the proprietor knows the importance of a black pudding on a breakfast menu and a lone rider from Northallerton sat down to share cycling tales and opinions on appropriate October clothing.

I recall from a previous attempt at this route that the climbing becomes more serious after the interval. The scenery as the route explores the edges of the Howgills is beautiful, even with a motorway punctuating the view. The gradients were regularly in the low teens. The sun was now shining brightly in an almost perfectly clear sky. My legs were very much out of practice today and when I suggested a cut-off after 25 miles not a murmur of dissatisfaction could be heard.

Soon after Killington Reservoir the climbing finally came to an end. Some brisk pedalling increased the average speed to almost 11 mph. Kirkby Lonsdale appeared ahead and suddenly I caught sight of an ice cream shop. Nobody complained when I bought the entire group an ice cream (two scoops: blackcurrant and chocolate as well as black cherry with liquorice (or was it the other way round?) Whatever, it was almost as big as my face.

Next time, maybe there won’t just be me.

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