Wetherby – Cracoe, 30th May 2021, 80 miles

This promised to be a good run for the Wheelers and it did not disappoint. After weeks of cold and wet weather, things were looking up and although the early morning was quite cool, the sky cleared and the sun came out and by midday it was hot enough to stuff the extra layers into our saddlebags and back pockets. Cracoe ( the A rhymes with baby, I am told), is up in the Dales somewhere beyond Burnsall.

Six riders left Wetherby in definite fast and slow groups. The fast lot were Steve W, Mark and Pete Dack. Lovely guys but I was quite glad to have Frank and Bill to make up the slow group. So up the Wharfe Valley we went, getting just over 41 mph down Kearby Cliff and then meeting the others who had put in a loop already. Us lot also took the flatter road to Poole and Otley and the attractive North bank of the Wharfe to Bolton Bridge for another regrouping. Good club riding so far.

After Bolton Bridge the roads feel more like the Dales- a long slow gradient up towards Embsay is rewarded with spectacular scenery down the other side. Through Embsay we join another good and little used road before turning right on a busier stretch taking us through Rylstone, famous for the naked ladies of “Calendar Girls” but they weren’t out on Sunday. Cracoe isn’t far beyond there.

As we pulled in Pete D told me that the service was very slow which was his way of pretending they had been there for a long time but they hadn’t really and the service and lunch were fine. We fell into conversation with other customers, some cyclists, before leaving to take what must be one of the nicest cycling roads around, through Thorpe and down to Burnsall. Burnsall, like Bolton Bridge in the morning, was absolutely jam-packed with weekenders out to enjoy the sunshine and relative freedom of semi un-lockdown. Can’t say I blame them but we were glad to be on bikes and spinning happily past them all.

Appletreewick and Bolton Abbey got us back to Bolton Bridge. I’ve no idea where the fast lot were by now and can’t actually remember where we split but Frank, Bill and I retraced our morning route to Otley. We had time and so voted for a coffee in Otley and found the Leeds House Café in the Market Place . I had phoned my older daughter, Ruth, for advice on cafes, and she turned up with a trolley full of shopping and contributed to the chat before our happy three set off for home. At the end of my lane I could see that my Garmin would show 89.96 at the house , so, contrary to my usual view on this I did do the extra few yards to get 90.03.

Nick Hopkinson