Steve Healey and Mike Smith Memorial Ride, Wetherby – Ripon, Sunday 31st October 2021, 45 miles

The weather on Sunday lived up to the awful forecast, with high winds and heavy rain, so it was rather surprising that 10 current and former WW members turned up in Wetherby for the appointed hour of 10:00 am.

These (fool)hardy souls were myself (Stuart Whittle), Howard Blakeley, Pete Cartledge, Sacha Hesling, Nick Hopkinson, Andy Lee, Andy Metcalfe, Jeanette Pitts, Phil Robertson and Frank Turner. Not a bad turnout for such awful weather! John Baker and Jonathan Stancliffe and his wife even turned up to wish us bon voyage, having sensibly arrived in their cars.

We set off via Kirk Deighton and Little Ribston in heavy rain but with the strong wind mostly at our backs. There were several large, deep puddles on this road, which we did our best to avoid, whilst being aware of the number of cars on the road. Most drivers were ok with this, but one in particular took exception and seemed to be trying to create a fanfare for solo car horn.

Fortunately, we eventually left our musical accompaniment behind and, skirting Knaresborough, went through Scriven to Farnham. Turning off Farnham Lane we made for Copgrove, via Occaney Lane (didn’t know it was called that until I looked at the map!) turning sharp left and going through the ford.

Skirting Copgrove, we carried on to Bishop Monkton, making a short detour to Burton Leonard. This was the possible meeting place with Lucy and Andrew Waller, who were recovering from Covid and didn’t feel they were up to the whole ride. In the event, they weren’t there so we returned to our former route. In the process we lost contact with Nick, who perhaps wisely, eventually decided to make tracks for home. Andy Metcalfe also turned back, leaving the remaining 8 of us to ride on through frequent deep puddles. Needless to say, it was still raining heavily. The sky was a slightly lighter shade of grey, though!

We eventually made it to the Spa Parlour café in Ripon, where we found Lucy and Andrew and Amanda Piper-Gatenby and her husband waiting for us, having arrived by car. After much chatting about “the good old days” and some greatly appreciated food and drink we bade our farewells then set off back to Wetherby in bright sunshine. Talk about a day of two halves!

We came back past the racecourse, skirting Newby Hall and then through Boroughbridge. The dry weather was a godsend, although we were mostly riding into a headwind and there were still quite a lot of water on the roads. Avoiding possibly flooded roads through the Ouseburns, we carried on down the A168.
Andy Lee peeled off first, heading for Tockwith, then Phil left us to pick up his car in Wetherby. The rest of us split into two groups at the Wattle Syke roundabout. Howard, Jeanette and Sacha carried on down West Woods Way, whilst Frank, Pete and I went towards Boston Spa. I left Frank and Pete to carry on, whilst I made for Bramham along the cycle path.

As Pete said, despite everything, it was “a good ride”.

Stuart Whittle