Wetherby – Hebden, Sunday 7th May 2023, 70 miles

Ride report 7/5/23 By Nick

Destination on Runs Card- Hebden

Earlier in the week the forecast for Sunday had been poor and although the worst of it was to be postponed to Monday, the day got off to a bad start with one rider cancelling because of heavy rain in Knaresborough. My road into Wetherby looks in that direction and it looked pretty dark. Hebden is a fairly high level ride so when I met Graham, Bill and Michael Brawley in the Shambles I wasn’t too optimistic. Graham was much more up beat about it so we agreed to ride to coffee at Fewston and see how it looked. Graham was right. The sun was out by Sicklinghall and by Bassenthwaite it was obvious that we would be able to continue. I hadn’t expected that and was momentarily concerned about return time at the end of the day and so chose the slightly shorter but dull route along Pennypot Lane. I needn’t have worried and with Hebden inviting and the sun out I was going to go anyway. Pennypot Lane is a long and straight 4 miles with indifferent road surface and no decent views but it gets you to some good places,including the Farm Shop at Fewston. Graham and Michael were a bit ahead and as Bill and I got into the last small climb we became aware of a large bunch of cyclists coming up behind us. We put on an effort and entered the café courtyard just ahead of them and while they were looking for somewhere to park all their expensive bikes, we slammed ours against the back of a bench and got straight to the café counter, ahead of them and just joining Graham and Michael
So….coffee, and Michael entertained us with Tales from the Times of a Teacher
Bill has been building up the miles after a long break so was not up for Hebden. His journey home should have been OK in the now fine weather. That left three heading for Duck Street. This isn’t a street in the usual sense of the word but a long and windswept road over moors from Thruscross to Greenhow. There is mainly a gradual uphill gradient and in bad weather it is pretty grim but not so bad on a nice day. I once had the company of a Little Owl flying along the other side of the road with me here. The benefit from the gradient is that on arriving at Greenow, you have achieved some altitude with only a few yards to the next summit. From here to Hebden it’s all fun with some more climbs and good descents. Going down past Stumpcross Caverns you can see the road miles ahead with only moderate bends. The descent to Dibbles Bridge needs more care and brakes because of the sharp bend at the bottom which unfortunately stops you getting a run at the next up bit. There’s a few more of these before Hebden which is in a dip and so is approached at some speed ,courtesy of Isaac Newton. You can wipe off the speed by freewheeling up the next incline but instead we all wore down our brake blocks to take the left to the café.
It’s a good place for lunch and popular with walkers and cyclists. We bought beans on toast and lots of caffeine. For some reason, Stephen Roche was mentioned- as far as we knew, the only man to win the Giro , TdF and World Championship in the same year. I was a bit put out to find that I remembered it well and it was 37 yrs ago. I checked this whilst writing and ,we might have guessed, Eddy Merkx did it too in 1972.
Leaving Hebden we had some nice wind assistance and some very pleasant roads with Dales views and little traffic. We took the road to Bolton Abbey which has been closed due to a small landslide but is easily passable on a bike, although with some care. From there it’s familiar roads home. Michael left us at Poole so Graham and I rolled on to Wetherby A great day and thanks to Graham and Michael for waiting for me at the top of a few hills. I know they weren’t just admiring the scenery.