Boston Spa – Birkin, Tuesday 19th April 2022, 40 miles

A cool but bright and dry morning found no fewer than eight Wheelers gathered by the church in Boston Spa, including a few less frequent but very welcome attendees: Frank, Nick, Steve P, John, Kathy, Keith, Bill and me, Mark. The declared destination was Birkin but Steve’s research had revealed that the cafe at the fishing spot was closed. However, with the cafe at the garden centre in Hillam as reserve, we set off as planned.

The first leg took us through Clifford, Bramham and Aberford and on the main road southbound through Micklefield. John left us at this point, explaining that he was taking his auntie to the hairdressers in Wetherby that afternoon. The remaining seven pedalled on, eventually slipping off the Great North Road at Byram and heading east to Birkin.

As expected the cafe was closed but fortunately the toilets were open. After a quick break and a few investigations of the curious pinging noise which Steve’s bike was making we continued the few miles to Hillam and the nursey which boasts “The best brownies in the world” (source unverified). It was only about 11 o’clock but Frank took on a two-course lunch while the rest of us had a variety of baked goods and coffee – well, two coffees in fact.

On returning to our bikes I was disappointed to find I had a puncture, particularly as the tyre was brand new. Bill found the culprit, which was a piece of fine wire which had pierced the tyre and tube – it’s always nice to know the cause of a puncture. A quick tube swap and we were on our way – thanks, Bill.

After Monk Fryston and Lumby we took a cross-country route on some tiny roads that Keith and Nick knew but which were unfamiliar to the rest of us. We popped out by Sherburn in Elmet, from where we headed towards Aberford with a second cafe stop at a busy Lotherton Hall. It was here that – hopefully – the cause of Steve’s (bicycle) noise was found: one very loose spoke and a couple that were somewhat loose. Having just had his bike serviced this was something of a surprise to Steve but the noise wasn’t present unless the wheel was weighted so it might not have been heard in the workshop.

After Lotherton it was back to Aberford, where Steve peeled off home, and on to Bramham where the rest of us split. A very pleasant ride in good company and for once it was either an excellent riding temperature or I had chosen exactly the right things to wear.