Wetherby – Pocklington, Thursday 28th October 2021, 74 miles

A total of nine riders gathered in the Shambles on a grey morning. The eight regulars were Graham, Michael, Pete D, Steve W, Sean, Dennis, Geoff and me, Mark. We were joined by Paul, a Valley Striders member, who came to experience cycling to a different tune: the Striders ride to a military two-step, the Wheelers are more like free jazz.


The pre-ride WhatsApp indicated a dry but (very) windy day, a strong southerly with perhaps a hint of westerly thrown in, which turned out to be right. The morning update suggested that rain would arrive at about four o’clock so the way to Pocklington was modified accordingly in Graham’s organic route planner. Meeting Nick along the way was also added to the mix.


We set off almost directly west, over the A168 and the A1, through Walton, Wighill and Healaugh. There was a slight tailwind at times which gave some relief from the roaring side wind and the leafy hedges gave some cover too.
As we passed through Copmanthorpe Graham pulled over to call Nick (I think) and the rest of the group scattered around the village at random. Coming to our senses we regrouped on the Acaster Malbis road where Geoff took advantage of the delay and fell off his bike while executing a U-turn. No serious harm done – i.e his bike was fine – but Geoff probably has a few bruises.


Regrouped, we wiggled over the Ouse via the cycle path and along a rough lane towards Crockey Hill. Geoff picked up a puncture here – a pinch flat from a sharp-edged pothole I suspect. Dennis and Pete stayed to help but the rest of us continued a scant mile to the cafe at Crockey Hill where we joined up with Nick. Cake and bacon butties were consumed leaving Paul surprised that we were only halfway to halfway by this stage.


From Crockey Hill it was across through Wheldrake and Elvington, Sutton Upon Derwent and Allerthorpe then through Pocklington to a new (to me) cafe at The Mile Campsite. Ten cyclists put a certain amount of stress on the supply chain but they rose to the challenge and I think everyone enjoyed their lunch.


So, homeward bound via Yapham then retracing our steps (strokes ?) to Wheldrake then via Escrick to Naburn. By this time the friendly little tailwind had turned into a definite headwind – that’s my story anyway. Back over the Ouse and into Copmanthrope where we would perhaps have stopped if the cafe hadn’t looked to be closing imminently. We crossed the A64 roundabout in detached groups as the traffic was heavy and unfriendly – Nick had a particularly close encounter with a driver turning across from our right without apparently looking at all. Weapons-grade language was deployed, apologies to any small children within earshot.


Despite all the rides, with the possible exception of Paul, having turned left past the college at least 50 times (Graham’s estimate) seven of them decided to ride straight past the junction this time. Graham, Mich and I shrugged our shoulders and waited for the penny to drop, which took rather longer than we had expected. Having regrouped we soon conspired to split again, though more deliberately, with four of us visiting The Grange cafe at the garden centre in Askam Richard, another first for me. They were closing but let us sit by the road to drink our take-away coffee – more pleasant than it sounds.


After coffee, Nick headed home to Tockwith and the remaining three of us retraced our steps to Walton where we bid our farewells and high-tailed it home to beat the approaching rain.
Despite the high wind Graham’s cunning choice of destination and route made for a nice ride at a good pace and the group stayed together pretty well, leaving aside navigational blunders. Thanks to everyone involved 👍

Mark