Eight riders gathered in the Shambles for what may turn out to be the hottest ride of the year: Bill, Frank, Greg, Michael Br, Nick, Simon, Geoff and me, Mark. Frank seemed to be taking the weather less-than seriously, arriving with his mudguards on and a tiny water bottle which was about half full.
We rolled out at about 9:00 with the declared destination of Pickering via a number of places I had heard of but couldn’t remember or find without a map, but Terrington was the first objective for a coffee stop. Heading north towards the inevitable A168 we stopped for a short discussion on whether we should split into two groups. Since nobody was in a hurry – apart from Geoff who was splitting early anyway – and we planned to have coffee and lunch together then a single group made sense.
Peeling off the 168 at Walshford we headed east to Cattal and north through Whixley before bumping over the collection of planks known as Aldwark Bridge. Then east again through Huby to Sherriff Hutton and up the day’s climbing challenge of Terrington Bank. Michael declared that it was too hot to race up climbs which just meant that he didn’t finish quite as far ahead as usual. Frank took the sensible option of walking the steepest part, I think any of us would have struggled to wrestle up with his gearing.
The road into Terrington was closed to traffic and a notice specifically instructed cyclists to take an alternative route. The simple expedient of using the available pavement made more sense. Coffee was taken at the village shop, where I took advantage of a near-captive audience to show one of my albatross pictures. Geoff took soundings and plotted a route back to Knaresborough, splitting as we left Terrington.
Following assurances that it was “not too far” and “mostly downhill” to Pickering we set off eastwards, almost reaching Malton before turning north to Pickering and lunch at Caffe Stop, located next to a car park but having a plenty of outside tables and a menu which included beans on toast – two prerequisites for Wheelers lunch venues. Service was good, if erring slightly from what was initially ordered, and everybody had plenty to eat and drink and bottles were refilled. Frank even found time for an ice cream.
We took the main road to Kirkbymoorside which was a little tedious but the best way to cover the distance before turning south through Nunnington, crossing the River Rye. A long view across to Hovingham showed the next challenge, the long drag up to Bransby. This was followed by the short, sharp shock of Crayke. Three of us took the summit road up to the castle (overs over £3.5 million) where we waited… and waited. Eventually was decided that the others must have taken the lower option and gone directly to Easingwold so we headed down and met them in the market square.
After coffee was taken and bottles filled again we started the last flat leg back towards Wetherby, partially reversing the outward route. After a few miles Frank started feeling some cramp and despite our in-depth treatment regime – “Drink more water Frank” – it continued to be troublesome for the remainder of the ride. Hats off to Frank though for not swearing out loud, at least not within my earshot, even when he could hardly get off his bike to take a break. On reaching Tockwith Nick and Simon turned right for home, and Bill did the same. The rest of us continued through Boston Spa, dropping Frank within a few hundred yards of home, and thence through Bramham and Scarcroft.
A long ride on a hot day and I think a good time was had by all, with the possible exception of the last few miles for Frank. Centuries all around I suspect.