Wetherby – Thirsk, Thursday 16th December 2021, 63 miles

Late! – managed to just catch the back of the group as they where leaving the market square. Hurriedly following the 7 other riders heading North towards Hunsingore on that Great North road otherwise known as the 168. In single file formation we pushed ahead, almost silently, just the rattle of a mudguard and the faintest swish of an appreciated mudflap. Cyclists, deep in their own thoughts. Probably hopethinkin about their personal perfect Christmas present probably something like – new bike, new bike, new bike, new bike, a cow, new bike, new bike, new bike.

Smoothly, making headway, cold but in bright low sunshine that was projecting a shadow theatre show on the canvas of hedgerow verge adjacent to that Great road travelled.

Luckily, we didn’t have to ride far on our nemisis carriageway, exiting for and through Hunsingore. Over the level crossing at Cattal and across the York road then upnover to Whixley. Trekking down towards the Littler but not lesser Ouseburn we started to notice a bit of mistiness diluting the feeble heat of the sun. This soon became a little patch of fog? Then a bank of freezing fog, the temperature now plummeting as we entered the village .Mike thought this a good time to stop and have a puncture.You just know when it’s this cold changing an inner tube is not going to be straight forward. After a frustrating icy struggle Pete D was called to the rescue and produce his superior multitool – avec plyers, to prise off the stuck valve nut ring thing. Remedied we hit the road again, already cold, now descending towards a colder and colder fogbound river and the fabled and “sacred” Aldwark planks. Having faith in its magic our reward was a safe and speedy crossing and into clear blue sunny sky!! Alas disappointingly only a little “holy foghole” so unfortunately back into gloveicing, lung piercing gloom, heading then arriving to bright sunshine, in the “Big Easi” ngwold for coffee respite care, indoor at the Rafik cafe.

Nick left us here after coffee and his place was taken up by, soon to be new member? Ian W. who had ridden out from Harrogate to meet us. All still cold and not over enthused we clipped in and climbed out towards Coxwold via Oulton in sunshine. Worryingly more fog was spotted and after threats of “I’m going home”! Michael rightly assured me we would be bearing westward soon and all would be well. Warmed by the climbs and exhilarated by the descent through Coxwold things got a whole lot better, TG! Photo call at Kilburn ( see Mark’s shadow attached) up to Bagby and down into lunchtown, Thirsk.

The cafe above the deli, near the copshop obligingly moved their rather splendid Xmas hampers, just being assembled on the only spare tables, for us. Over good food provided,

mealtime banter included – the joys of making cheese and the dangers of then eating it! Should scones ever be served with soup? A game of Breadcake, Balmcake or Muffin!? How big a Baffoon is Boris? What kind of a cow would you like for Christmas? What’s the use of that valve ring thing? and 7 – nil – ouch!!!

Time getting on and knowing light would be limited captain Graham soon had us organised into a tight disciplined road team, after leaving thowd “Vitnary Town” and back on our way home. The sun still out, but, blindingly low. Rear lights blazing we headed Southwest taking fronturns ” on and off” in a strict 1 mile rotation, like clockwork (except a clock going backwards)  through some now fantastic, atmospheric sunlit wintermist light effects, via Dalton and Sessay, over Thornton bridge into Boroughbridge and afraid yes – no prizes for guessing – back onto that road!  But, mercifully the Great South – North road this time.

Ian and I (Dennis) left the group to head West at Arkendale, not envying the thought of Greg and Michaels ride back to Leeds in darkening skies

Thanks again Graham, Pete D, Greg, Mike, Michael, Mark, Nick and Ian

Glad I didn’t go home early lads.

Dennis