Wetherby – How Stean George, 11 July 2021, 60 miles

Report by Nick

It’s Howstean Gorge today. Frank is routemaster and briefly pretends that he has forgotten how we usually get back from there.
Was it because of the Côte de Lofthouse that there were only five at the start or were they all on holiday?
Anyway, Geoff, Bill, Frank, Michael Brawley and I left Wetherby in bright sunshine and took the straightest route to Ripley where, to avoid a hilly section, we stayed on the main road thro’ Bedlam to Pateley Bridge, incidentally following in the tyre marks of the Saturday duo. I can’t see that the climb thro’ Bedlam can be described as “avoiding a hilly section” but still. Sadly the group was diminished, first by the loss of Geoff who was suffering the effects of a fall( while walking) the day before ,and then, at Pateley, Bill wasn’t feeling too good and had a deadline at home so we were down to three. The pleasant ride up past Gouthwaite reservoir was enlivened by trying to keep up with a young lady on a bike who was faster that we had guessed. Chapeau.
The Café at Lofthouse has decided that most of the things that cyclists want are on the breakfast menu and only served ‘till 11.30 but we managed to work with that and shared our table with a tabby cat who eventually got a bit of my bacon. It rained over lunch and we spoke to some wet walkers, but it stopped for us to leave so we breezed off to the climb.
My readers will know our ability levels so no surprises in the KoM points. Frank doesn’t have the gears that some of us have so he did a short walk at the steep start. I laboured up in my lowest gear and Mike, who could have raced away effortlessly, kindly stayed with me until near the top. When I thanked him, he diplomatically said that he was enjoying having time to take in the views. On the last steep section I was looking for the easiest gradient on the wrong side of the road,and had to cross back for an oncoming car whose driver gave me space and an encouraging thumbs up. Mike was ahead and Frank not so far behind as I rolled up to the the cattle grid to find Mike talking to a couple of cyclists who had ridden thro’ rain to get there. He was impressing them by telling secrets about my age and even more about Franks age!. Incidentally, I remember a time when I approached this grid from the Masham side with my nephew, Tom Rodda, and arriving at the grid we linked arms because Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond had just done that at a TdF stage. In their case, they were just pretending to be friends but never mind- how long ago is that?
The moorland roll and descents to Masham were all the better for no rain although we saw plenty of puddles. Masham came and went, and West Tanfield and then to Ripon for tea ,the park being very busy with something of a fair.
After waving goodbye to the others I passed my house to go into Tockwith village to pick up a bit of shopping and the detour made it just over 80 happy miles for the day.