A bright but chilly morning – which seems to have been the pattern for the last several weeks – greeted the magnificent seven starters: Graham, Pete D, Mike Br, Mike Bo, Steve P, Steve Ward (whose timing was either excellent or lucky) and me, Mark. A prompt start took us by the relatively unusual exit route of Linton, Collingham then up Jewitt Lane and down through Scarcroft. Then it was across to a right-turn-equivalent-manoeuvre on the Harrogate Road and via Eccup to a welcome coffee stop at Corner Cup in Bramhope where Graham almost succeeded in getting everyone to have his loyalty card stamped. We speculated on how loyal Graham can be if he uses this cunning tactic but it was just because we hadn’t thought of it first. At this point Steve P turned for home, determined to take his saddle bag to pieces and restitch it before the next ride.
Onwards and upwards through Old Bramhope to the top of the Chevin and westwards into an increasingly strong breeze to drop down into Menston and then start our ascent of the Cow and Calf. Mike Br managed to ship his chain just before the second hard part which was a nice way of not embarassing us as he fly by. The rest of us ground our way up into the wind, though of course we would have turned back if Mike needed any help. Eventually.
After a regroup in Ilkley we trolled through to Addingham and Bolton Bridge, arriving at the Abbey Tea Rooms cafe just in time for a sleet shower. We debated trying another cafe just up the road but in the meantime discovered that Nick had ridden out to meet us and just ordered, so by the time the debate was concluded the sun had come out again. Lunch was enjoyed in almost dry conditions before we set off again with Nick coming off the subs bench for Steve P.
Up to Beamsley and back to Ilkley we rode, past the golf course and then out of the other side via Askwith and Otley. Mike Bo stopped to take his jacket off, which caused an immediate though short hailstorm. Then it was up to Farnley and down to Leathley from where we took a surprisingly long but very pleasant uphill pull to Stainburn and Almscliff Crag for the obligatory photo opportunity. We continued through Weeton to Dunkeswick where Mike Br turned right – deliberately, he was headed home – and the rest of us turned left to go back to Wetherby via Kirkby Overblow and Sicklinghall.
The weather was mixed through the day but there were no prolonged showers, so I allowed myself a certain smugness when the heavens opened just after I got home. Sweet.