Wetherby – Northallerton, 3rd June 2021, 80 miles

On a bright but cloudy morning a total of 12 Wheelers (well, 11 plus Mike, a potential new member) gathered at the end of the Shambles: Graham, Mike Bo, Pete D, Steve W, Nick, Bill, Sean, Fred, Dennis, Geoff and me, Mark. The warmer weather allowed those of us who only own a short-sleeved Wheelers jersey to show our club allegiance. Fred didn’t get the memo on this, however.

The destination was Northallerton and the start was at 9:30 sharp, no nonsense. The A168 provided the dull but convenient conduit northwards and we trolled up in a single well-behaved group to Boroughbridge. We stopped for a breather and a discussion of the route by the bridge and Fred left us at this point. We split into two groups for most of the rest of the day to make it easier for traffic to pass us.

Crossing the Ure we rode due north and then east to Norton-le-Clay, Cundall and Topcliffe, turning right in Busby Stoop to arrive in Thirsk for our first coffee stop. The town was busy but not crowded and we called at Plenty for take-away drinks – and cakes for some – which was Steve’s treat as it was his birthday the day before – thanks !

Out of Thirsk we went by Thornton-le-Street, Thornton-le-Beans, Thornton-le-Moor and Thornton-le-Tour-de-France (okay, I made one of those up). Arriving in Northallerton we made our way through heavy traffic to a favourite cafe only to find it was packed. Luckily there was a Plan B which was a fine alternative tea room in the Garthway Arcade. We sat indoors occupying most of the ground floor, with the bikes parked safely just outside. Unusually they only accepted cash, which caught out at least one of our party – many places are only accepting cards.

After lunch we started our brisk return leg which was possibly assisted by an unexpected side/tailwind – though it’s hard to tell when you’re loitering at the back. Ripon was the destination for an afternoon coffee stop and the route was explained by Graham to Steve, Sean and Pete. When the two groups were separated by the lights at Skipton on Swale collective amnesia set in and the aforementioned trio sailed past the right turn to Masham and decided to share the main road with the HGVs while the second group enjoyed the quiet and scenic back road through Wath and Hutton Conyers.

Tea, coffee and cake were taken at the Sun Parlour, with Dennis, Geoff and Mike departing for Knaresborough before the second group arrived. Riding now as a single group the remaining Wheelers rolled through Knaresborough, including the always-under-repair crossroads on the York Road. A straight dash to Wetherby, waving goodbye to Nick along the way, left a final five to finally split.

At least 80 dry miles for everyone, a good route and fine company enjoyed by all (as far as I know).

Mark Lawrence