Wetherby – Hebden, Sun 12th September 2021, 74 miles

Seven Wheelers, all in club jerseys, assembled in the Shambles before the Sunday run: Steve B, Steve W, Michael Br, Bill, Frank, Nick and me, Mark. Steve B’s appearance was only fleeting however as he had to be back by lunchtime and would be riding his own route. We tried to persuade him that he should sit on the front for a fast hour to help us get started before turning back but he was sane enough to reject this idea. Bill was suffering from a sore shoulder and thought he might turn back early, though he finished the entire ride.

So, six of us headed out of Wetherby with the destination of Hebden decided. The weather was dull and not warm but it was dry and there was very little wind in any direction. The start was the familiar westward jaunt through Sicklinghall and Kirkby Overblow, followed by the drop down the narrow lane to meet the A61 and cross over to Burn Bridge. Then up the lumps to the outskirts of Harrogate and left to Beckwithshaw. The road through Pot Bank was closed so we went across Norwood Lane and down past the Sun Inn to meet the A59 at Menwith Hill. Crossing the road and then turning left we joined the exposed road across to the top of Greenhow Hill, which was unusually calm with hardly a breeze to trouble us. I rode ahead a little to try to get a photo only to be thwarted by a posse of cars which had been waiting until I had my finger on the shutter to overtake. Oh well.

On reaching Greenhow we turned left/west and enjoyed/suffered the down/up hills of the road across the Hebden which was well-populated with cyclists, some wearing numbers. At Hebden we stopped at the Old School Tea Room for lunch, managing to secure a table in an open-sided shed with coffee-sack roof lining – it’s nicer than it sounds. We noted that it had a heater for later in the year too. Sandwiches, cakes and scones were enjoyed, though I suspect that Steve would have preferred a poached egg on toast if he had either spotted it on the menu or asked Nick to order his meal.

Suitably fortified and with collective thoughts of “It’s all downhill from here” we rode across the lovely little lane about Burnsall to Appletreewick. I stopped for a photo but owing to equipment non-co-operation (dead battery) I didn’t take one. It would have been excellent but you’ll have to use your imagination.

Not wanting to risk the closed lane on the Storriths side we crossed the Wharfe at Barden Tower and rolled down the busy road to Bolton Abbey. Frank was considering a coffee stop at this point to fire up those of us who were going to go up Langbar but we decided this might diminish our resolve so we agreed on a café stop in Otley instead. The ascent of Langbar provided its usual mix of pain (going up) and pleasure (going down) and we all agreed that once a year was enough, any more often would spoil it.

Frank and Bill met us as we came into Otley and we progressed to the Leeds House Café in the cobbled marketplace. This provided good coffee and cakes, nice seating and easy bike parking within sight – worth adding to the list. From here it was the flat road to Pool where Michael split to go home via Creskeld Lane – he should still get 3 points though 😉.

The remaining five took the road through Castley and Weeton, crossing the A61 to rejoin our outbound route at Kirkby Overblow. We split up just outside Linton, having agreed that it had been a good day out with benign weather, plenty of hills and great company.