Wetherby – Buckden, Thu 22 July 2021, 104 miles, 6375′ gained

This week’s Thursday ride saw 9 members meeting in the shambles on a lovely but warm summers day. We were heading for Upper Wharfdale and the Kidstones via Bishopdale. 

The group comprising myself, Pete Dack, Steve Ward, Bill, Nick, Michael Brawley, Geoff, Sean and Greg, set off more or less on time and took the shortest route to Masham through Knaresborough, Ripon and Grewelthorpe. There was a nice fresh breeze at this point and temperatures were not too oppressive. Little did we know?? Masham was to be the first coffee stop of the day and the turnaround point for Bill and Pete. Unfortunately, Michael had a bike problem and decided to also end the ride at this point. I didn’t see his remarkable escape but apparently, he was saved from serious injury by his gymnastic skills or possibly just good luck. After a decent stop we left Michael, Bill and Pete and set off towards East Witton where we took the narrow lane towards Coverham.

Once in Coverdale we took a short but steep climb up to Agglethorpe and on to Middleham High Moor at the foot of Penhill. We stopped to admire the view of Wensleydale and Castle Bolton and took some photographs. Then we descended the steep bank to West Witton and rode on towards West Burton and Bishopdale. We decided not to stop at Berry’s farm shop and headed up the dale. We passed the Street Head Inn and again ignored another refuelling opportunity. It was now getting warm and once we crossed the little bridge half way up Bishopdale the road started to ascend. Nick and I paused for a drink at the foot of the climb but everyone else set off with the normal shout of “see you at the top”. Apparently Kidstones Bank is 3.7 km with a maximum gradient of 17.8. I can tell you that in that heat it felt steeper. I left Nick to make his own way up only to meet Sean who had looked at his heart rate monitor and decided to stop. Ignorance is sometimes bliss. I did struggle up however and thought about my winter bike and its lower gears. Once Nick, Sean and myself reached the top we were greeted by Greg but Steve had descended down the hill to take some photographs and Geoff had set off looking for an ice-cream. The tarmac was now melting and we arrive in Buckden to find the cafe had gone but the shop open. We headed on another 4 miles to Kettlewell.

We ignored the cafe we had used a few weeks ago as we were now looking for shade and went to the Cottage Tea Room. The lifting of restrictions hadn’t reached this establishment and it was really operating a take-a way service but with the use of their outside tables which crucially were under a gazebo. The service was fine with good sandwiches and we all made sure we had plenty to drink.

Once we had all filled our water bottles, we set off along Conistone Lane and took a leisurely pace towards Grassington and then Hebden. Steve, Geoff and Greg took a wrong turn here a but we all managed to regroup in Appletreewick. At this point we were passed at pace by two cyclists riding mountain bikes with children in trailers. It took me a while to realise they were electric. We then headed for the Cavendish Pavilion and an ice cream and yet more liquid. We sat in the shade and the temperature was now much more pleasant and it was hard to leave and make the final push for home. This was the familiar back roads to Ilkley and then flat to the garage at Pool. It was here that Greg headed back towards Leeds and the rest of us grabbed yet more sustenance from the garage and then headed slowly home. It was lovely day in a beautiful part of the world and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope everyone else did. I did however for once listen to Michael Brawley’s advice because he is always telling me that I don’t carry enough water or drink enough. I did on this one and I don’t think I can be criticized for too many drinks stops, quite the opposite.