2014 Coast to Coast Ride by Paul Baillie
The riders assembled at Glasson Dock for the customary pre-ride photo. There was a good mix to the group with ages ranging from 12 to 60 plus There were 2 couples, myself & Simone, as well as Paul & Alison, joined by workmates Amanda & Joanne, Father & son team Mark & Sam, along with Matt and Pip. Phil & Mike were the drivers. The weather forecast had predicted strong easterly winds with a high risk of very heavy showers, and so it was as we set off at 7.30 am in dry, but very windy conditions onwards through Galgate towards Dolphinholme. The wind was very strong and in our faces, so progress was slow as we turned at the Fleece up towards Abbeystead and on towards to the first climb of the day. The amount of hills came as a shock to some of the group, but everyone was full of encouragement for their fellow riders and we all made it safely onwards towards the Trough of Bowland. It was at the top where the heavens opened, and stayed open until we arrived, soaking wet at Slaidburn, for a well earned brew and breakfast. The going had been quite tough for some and the conditions weren't helping one bit. This was my third time riding this route, and the weather was by far the worst I'd seen. Once out of the Cafe the rain had stopped and once the short, sharp pull out of Slaidburn was conquered there's a nice rolling road took us towards Tosside, where regular hill top re-groups kept spirits up and the group together, in the spirit of this ride. A few miles further down the road people started to enjoy themselves with Amanda, Joanne & Simone putting pre-ride nerves away and chatting happily away as the miles were ticked off, whilst Matt Alison & the 2 Pauls sped on a little in front, with Pip Mark, & Sam riding along in the middle. Once we got to Halton West the rain started again and a look up towards the sky told us it wasn't going to stop for a while. Rain Coats back on, we crossed the main road and made our way up & down quiet lanes towards Airton in truly horrific weather! The rain was so heavy at times, you could only see a few yards in front of you. The wind had died down though! There are quite a few sharp ups and downs round this area and the group got quite spread out as riders had to go at their own pace to keep warm, or just keep moving! A re-group and impromptu Mars Bar stop near Cracoe followed, where spirits were still high as we took shelter under some trees and wondered if the canoe of top of the parked car opposite us, would have been a better choice than our bikes! The group, now reformed, pressed on to Grassington, to take shelter and have a well earned brew! It was here that young Sam's Grandparents showed up to offer their support and home made flapjack, which was very tasty! The rain showed no sign of easing as we set off on the toughest part of the ride, which is the long long long, did I mention long? drag up to Stumps Cross and the village of Greenhow. This is a tough section in nice weather so today, with incessant rain and plenty of hilly miles already in the legs this hill reduced some to walking and plenty of others to walking pace. It was here where my duties as a husband were required as Simone toiled up the steep gradients, determined not to walk. I rode with her, keeping her spirits up as we climbed ever higher, and the visibility got worse & worse. Once at the top we had all been warned about the steep descent into Pateley Bridge so care was taken and were all arrived safely at the Cafe where Mike took the bikes to be locked up and ushered riders inside to get warm. That last hour or 2 of the ride had been really tough and even the warmth of the Cafe couldn't rouse a couple of riders, who were really feeling the wrath of the conditions, as well as all the climbing. It was a good idea for them both to take to the warmth and safety of the cars for a while, while the weather improved.
It was here that the Sun started to shine and we didn't see another drop of rain all day, Once out of Pateley the speed increased as the road flattened out and the turn towards Fountains Abbey saw the welcome return of a rejuvenated Pip after a spell in the car. He led on through the maze of windy lanes that make this route so great and the villages were been ticked off as the miles to go came down, we were soon speeding through Borougbridge and on towards the overnight stop at Raskelf. A final re-group saw all riders arrive together after a long day in the saddle covering over 85 miles. The bikes were locked up by Mike and the showers were made full use of. After a few minutes rest, it was time to get dressed and enjoy a nice meal and a couple of pints with the usual good humoured GCC banter. An early(ish) night was needed as we all knew that although the bulk of the miles and hills were behind us, tomorrow's ride was still a challenge and nearly 60 miles would be ridden.
Wow, what a contrast to Yesterday's weather. Bright sunshine and hardly any wind! quick! Dig out the suncream and sun glasses! After breakfast the excited group had a few pictures taken and we were off, joined now by Phil Morgan, who had parked at Flamborough Head and ridden to Raskelf yesterday. The was a noticeable increase in pace as we sped along the first few easy miles, with Simone & Amanda leading the charge whilst nattering away, earning them the nickname of Chatnav! We passed through pretty Yorkshire villages along the way, and soon arrived at the first climb of the day, which is Bulmer Bank, a short sharp descent before the climb means you can carry some speed up the first part, before the left hand bend brings into view the full delight of the hill! Once everyone was at the top, it's a quick blast down towards Castle Howard, where more pictures were take and more flapjack consumed. A few more rolling miles and we arrived in Malton, for an early lunch stop. After this, we all stayed behind Pip for the windy route out of the busy town centre and back out into the quiet lanes, where chat turned to the last big hill of the weekend, which is the climb from Setterington to the top of the Yorkshire Wolds. It was hot and everyone rode up at their own pace, with young Sam putting in a big effort to pass most of the riders on his way to the top! Mike had placed some cards by side of the road calling the climb Harry Hill and we all had a laugh on the way up. Once at the top, it's an excellent blast down a long straight road all the way down to the next set of villages, which were now being passed in a blur as the speed increased with people feeling the hardest parts were over and it was now less than 20 miles to the Coast. There are a few more ups & downs along the way though and the group was strung out as some ploughed on, and others were staring to feel the 120 miles now in the legs. A impromptu catch up occurred when Alison suffered the only puncture of the entire weekend. While this was being fixed, it gave everyone a chance to re-group, eat some more flapjack and look at the biggest field in the world (probably) Only a few more miles and we were on the final approach towards the coast, and as the lighthouse came into view, the group again, reformed and we rode the last part together and crossed the line as one big group.
Plenty of pictures in the sunshine with young Sam taking the Harry Hill award as well as best young rider, at such a young age, he did extremely well all weekend to keep going, well done!
A pint and a bit of food at the cafe at Flamborough Head were in order, before the bags, bikes and riders were loaded into various cars for the long return journey home.
A big well done to all those who rode. A special thanks to those that drove us home, and, as ever thanks to Phil & Mike for their support driving, and Mike for taking lots of pictures.
Simone's Garmin read 143 miles and over 10500 ft of climbing for the weekend proving this scenic route across the country is a real challenge!
LINK TO PHOTOS OF THE COAST TO COAST RIDE