Wetherby -Richmond, 6th June 2021, 88 miles

A warm day – with just a hint of showers in some forecasts – greeted 8 Wheelers in the Shambles at around 9:00am. Frank, Graham, Bill, Nick, Greg, Geoff, Fred and me, Mark were the band of eight with the distant destination of Richmond on the agenda. Frank was equipped with his state of the art routing system consisting of a very small piece of paper which only he could read so we knew we were in safe hands.

We split into two fours for the inevitable A168 northwards which provided the opening stretch – for the third time in a week for me. We had the inevitable whooshing overtakes from a few grim-faced time trialists who seem to like this featureless stretch of tarmac. As we approached the right turn for Marton-cum-Grafton Geoff decided that he was going to form a breakaway faction of one and turned off – we didn’t see him again until Richmond…

Fred departed and the groups switched places in Boroughbridge and continued up through Rainton, Kirklington and Burneston to Bedale where we dropped in to the Platform One Cafe, a Wheelers favourite. We sat outside in the warming sun and enjoyed coffee and, in Frank’s case, a banana followed by a huge slab of cake. Frank’s theory is that if he tips well they give him an extra-large slice, which might well be worth testing on another visit.

After nearly losing both Bill and Greg as they searched for each other in the metropolis of Bedale we continued north through Catterick, passing the racecourse and crossing the Swale before the long uphill drag into Richmond. Frank and Nick quickly grabbed the only table available in their favourite cafe while the rest of us reunited with Geoff and went to the cafe in the Market Hall. The food and service were excellent – perhaps new management ? Despite the small concern about leaving the bikes locked outside everyone enjoyed their meals, even Greg who periodically checked the bikes by teetering precariously backwards on his chair.

Thus fortified we set off through Catterick Garrison and after a few lumps we enjoyed a five mile descent followed by more lumps up to Masham. The consensus was that it was too soon to stop again so we continued through West Tanfield to Ripon, with just a slight worry that the Sun Parlour has been known to close at 3pm… Fortunately the cafe was open and not too busy so we enjoyed our third stop of the day, joined by Bob fresh from his 400km audax the previous day and who still had the cleanest bike by far.

From Ripon it was the final stretch down to Wetherby, going via Knaresborough where we were surprised to find there were no roadworks on the York Road and where Geoff and Bob split for home. The road to Wetherby was fairly quiet, but it was approaching six o’clock on a Sunday after all.

A good time was had by all and it remained warm and dry all day.

Nature notes: Greg spotted a large stoat-like animal that was black with a white patch. Nick and I think this was probably a mink, an invasive non-native species which was introduced to Britain for fur farming.

Mark Lawrence