Wetherby – Thirsk, Sunday 3rd October 2021, 67 miles

The earlier silence of the WhatsApp group, apart from Nick and Steve B’s apologies for absence, was a worrying sign as I arrived first in the Market Place. I started to wonder if I could claim extra TT points for a solo ride but before long Sean and Bill arrived, making a Wheelers trio: Sean, Bill and me, Mark.

Sean declared his intention to leave after the coffee stop which prompted a discussion of where the coffee stop might actually be located. The official destination was Thirsk but with a strong southerly wind picking up we contemplated alternatives. Birkin was rejected as it wasn’t far enough and I’d been there (nearly) the day before. Selby and beyond was mentioned but didn’t generate much enthusiasm. A few eastward and westward options were kicked around to give us a constant sidewind but nothing struck a chord. So, we stuck with Thirsk and a coffee stop at Easingwold.

Rolling out of Wetherby on the A168 was a relative pleasure with a handy tailwind, bright sunshine and a reasonable temperature. After a slightly overenthusiastic push up past Walshford we turned through Cattal and Whixley, over the Aldwark bridge and on to Easingwold and a stop at The Fika Café. Sean achieved his weekly goal of three bacon sandwiches while Bill and I stuck with coffee.

After the stop Sean turned for home; Bill considered the same, having been suffering from cramp, but I’m pleased to say he elected to continue to Thirsk, handily saving me the task of figuring out the best route to get there.

We took the road through Husthwaite with a few lumps along the way, and rode up the hill through Coxwold – how does that village stay so well-kept ? On to Kilburn and some clear views of the white horse which was looking distinctly grey (the colour, not the equine designation) as we pulled up the hill. Then down to Bagby and along the Sutton Bank road, where we endured a short shower, to Thirsk.

Lunch was taken sitting inside Yorks of Thirsk which was very pleasant apart from the shock of looking out of a window to see our bikes were missing – luckily they had just blown over, no harm done. After lunch, we turned into the wind which had been at our backs for about 40 miles but the shelter provided by hedges in many places gave some relief from the struggle. There were a few tedious open field sections but overall I think we had good luck – or outstanding route planning of course. We had occasional showers along the way but never for long enough to put a waterproof on.

So Sowerby, Dalton and Sessay passed by and we crossed the Swale at Thornton Bridge to take the Boroughbridge road. We now had the choice of the A168 (shorter but exposed) or the lanes to the Dunsforths (longer but sheltered). Having not ridden for a couple of weeks and with some nagging cramp threatening Bill preferred the A168 and I didn’t object.

It turned out that the A168 was not as badly affected by the headwind as I’d expected so we made good measured progress back to Wetherby and then home. A good flat ride on pleasant lanes with mixed but very rideable weather.