Boston Spa – Ripley – Masham, Tue 31st August 2021, 80 miles

Ten riders gathered at St Mary the Virgin Church around 9:15 on Tuesday. The day was overcast with heavy cloud-cover which persisted all day, along with intermittent rain. The ten were Sean, Pete D, Geoff, Steve P, Frank, Pete C, Nick, Kenn, Keith (briefly) and me, Mark.

Only nine of us were able to start the ride however because Keith arrived with his rear derailleur refusing to change and stuck in the highest gear. A broken cable was quickly diagnosed and Keith had to make his way home from his first Tuesday ride without turning a pedal in anger. Happily, he managed to get out for a ride on his winter bike later. Keith now holds the joint record for the shortest ride with Dave Burnell who once arrived at the start of a Thursday ride with his tyre hanging off his front rim.

Frank had announced that the ride would be to Ripley – and beyond for those who wanted to continue. Lots of riders had lots of reasons to prefer a shorter ride so we set off without being certain that the ride would ever go beyond the first stop.

So over the bridge we went, up Wood Lane and across to inevitable stretch up the A168 to avoid going into Wetherby. We turned left to go through Kirk Deighton and then right to Knaresborough. Local lad Geoff, having failed to shake us off by swerving off the end of Halfpenny Lane, led us up through Scriven. Then it was on pleasant, quiet lanes through Scotton and Nidd and into Ripley.

We stopped at the café in the castle grounds, sitting outside in a spell of slightly brighter weather. Some riders just had coffee, others indulged in bacon butties and the like. The uncertain conversations about whether to continue or have a short day continued but eventually a group of four formed to take on a longer challenge: Geoff, Pete D, Steve P and me. The remainder returned by a fairly direct route to give a ride of about 35 miles.

The gang of four set off with the vague aim of riding across Dallow Moor. Geoff knew a route but kept the options coming throughout, making guessing the next turn something of a challenge. We set off up Hebden Bank towards Brimham Rocks and then left onto Careless House Lane (good name). Geoff declared that this was a great descent… but in the opposite direction. This became a familiar phrase, along with “It’s all downhill from here”.

Turning away from Pateley Bridge we started the traverse of Dallow Moor on a most straight but somewhat lumpy moorland road. No doubt the views are spectacular and the heather glows purple in the August sunshine but in the August mist and drizzle we missed out. Through Laverton and Kirkby Malzeard we debated a drop into Ripon but decided on the longer run through Grewelthorpe and into Masham for lunch at the Border Café in the market square.

From Masham we continued north to Snape and Carthorpe before dropping south through Wath and Hutton Conyers and over the Skell into Ripon. A few moments of indecision at a traffic light resulted in nobody caring whether we went to the Sun Parlour Café or not, the outcome being a visit to a less-than glamourous McColl’s on Bondgate instead – perhaps it’s an audax thing.

Fuelled by chocolate and fizzy drinks we continued homeward the standard way through Bishop Monkton and into Knaresborough where we split from Geoff. The remaining three of us trolled down the road to Wetherby where we briefly stopped to say how great we’d been and what a fine ride we’d had. “No mercy” Pete then threaded his way through the rush-hour traffic, leaving Steve and me to find our own ways home.