Wetherby to Hampsthwaite, New Year’s Day 2023, 41 miles

The new Runs card had said TBC for the first Sunday of 2023 as it was New Year’s Day. Nick had posted we were riding and for the usual 9.30 meet at the Shambles. Bob Lunt had said I’ll be there but ultimately his ability to party until 3.00am in the morning meant he needed to cry off. Chapeau Bob, if only we could emulate you. Steve Ward had posted he would be there, start the year as you mean to go he posted. What we didn’t realise was when he didn’t turn up and we phoned him to get the message he had overindulged the night before and had only just woken up. Graham, be warned that Thursday rides may involve extra sauce each Wednesday the night before 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺😂 Start as you mean to go 😂
Suffice it to say four of us turned out, Nick, Geoff, Pete D (sporting a very fine designer stubble) and me.
The plan was to ride to Sophie’s at Hampsthwaite as they appeared to be one of the few cafes open.
Geoff took control of the route plan and we set off up the A168 towards the Arkendale turning. The weather promised a fine morning but no sooner had we started than a prolonged shower accompanied us. I stopped to don a rain jacket. Split into two groups, Geoff and Pete in front with Nick nursing me at the rear.
Thankfully the shower stopped and the rain jacket was off at the Arkendale junction.
The roads had standing water in places but not to be deterred we headed on through Ferrensby, Farnham to Scotton.
We stuck to the main road and turned left at Ripley back towards Killinghall and then a right onto the Otley road before another right turn down into Hampsthwaite.
Despite passing Sophie’s on a number of occasions I had never stopped there and neither had Pete. Nick sent a message to Kathy to say we had landed in her backyard. However, we didn’t bump into her until after we left.
The cafe was busy with cyclists and locals etc. We were fortunate to get a table with sofas for comfort. Pete put on his best hard face with his designer stubble and this seemed to hurry the departure of the current incumbents.
Service was good and the selection of sandwiches, cakes and scones had something for everyone.
Suitably refreshed we set off up Clint Bank, whichever way you go it is all uphill from Hampsthwaite, and we were happily surprised to meet Kathy and her husband coming towards us. This gave us a chance to catch up and pass on our New Year greetings.
We restarted and rode up the hill to Bedlam, which seemed peaceful enough to me and then down the main road to Ripley.
Taking the main road towards Ripon but turning right to Brearton. Geoff and Pete took off, in fairness Pete had a fair way still to ride for home and they had both patiently waited for ‘tole feller’ to catch up.
This left Nick and me to ride on through Brearton to the main road and then back via Scotton and Lingerfield into Knaresborough. The final stretch took us to Wetherby with Nick and I saying our farewell at the Cowthorpe turning. It was great to be out and with good company. An enjoyable ride for all.

Hopefully, we get a Tuesday ride in 🚴‍♀️

Steve B