Wetherby – Bedale, 29th April 2021, 72 miles

A total of 11 Wheelers gathered at the quiet end of the Shambles, which is currently closed to traffic to allow the cafes to provide more outside seating. Importantly, for some, the toilets are open though. The weather forecast suggested possible heavy showers and a stiff northerly wind, so mudguards were the order of the day. The roll call was Graham, Mike Br, Mike Bo, Greg, Steve W, Bob, Geoff, Nick, Bill, Sean and me, Mark. As we left at exactly 9:30 (yes, really) we were joined by Pete D riding up the road – perfect timing.

We formed into two groups of six and agreed on our first destination, the inexpensive cafe in the industrial area just out Melmerby. One group took the A168 directly to Boroughbride while the other, including me, took a rather pleasant alternative, suggested by Bob, through Marton-cum-Grafton to the same. Both groups then headed up to Melmerby via Marton-le-Moor and Rainton to the coffee stop. Unfortunately, the stop coincided almost exactly in time and duration with a period of heavy rain and a few hailstones so it wasn’t quite as pleasant as hoped. Bill and Nick decided they had had enough at this point so they headed home. The rest headed out in two groups again and after a brief game of “Where’s Geoff ?”, a Wheeler’s favourite, we settled into two fives.

Bedale came quickly and we were pleased to find the covered outdoor seating area at the Station Cafe was open and empty. Coffee and sandwiches were most popular but Sean managed to include a chocolate milkshake too. As we were preparing to leave the heavens opened again but only briefly – not long enough for another coffee – so we waited it out.

The homeward leg was via West Tanfield and Ripon, with the second group mugging the first when Pete had a minor gear selection problem on a hill. Obviously taking advantage like that wouldn’t happen in the Tour de France… but this is the Wheelers. The two groups vaguely merged as we left Ripon following a comfort break – putting the wee into Wheelers – and we rolled into Knaresborough as a loose assembly of riders. Bob and Geoff left us here and the remainder continued to the finish in Wetherby without any more significant rainfall. I’m sure the tailwind home wasn’t as strong as the headwind out but isn’t that always the case… ?

Mark Lawrence