Wetherby – Malham, Thursday 20th July 2023, 94 miles

Despite Graham’s ominous words “home when we’re home” on the WhatsApp ride announcement, 7 riders (Graham, Michael, Mike, Nick, Pete, Steve and me) assembled at The Shambles, mentally prepared for a lengthy trip past Harrogate, skirting the Washburn Valley, into the Craven Dales and on to Malham, back via Skipton and Wharfedale.

Shortly after leaving, Steve expressed to me some concern about the number of ‘strong riders’ in the group.  I reassured him that all would be fine just as long as he didn’t have any problems with his transmission.  Sometime later it transpired he was unable to select bottom gear…

But anyway, after a steady spin out via Kirby Overblow and Pannal, we met Kathy in Beckwithshaw and 8 riders proceeded over the moors to Fewston farm shop, where special guest Bill had independently ridden up to provide a nice surprise of buying everyone birthday coffees and teas – thanks Bill!

There were some mutterings about the vast and hilly distance to lunch, only further brought into relief by the long slog up to Greenhow against a solid headwind.  Graham promptly dispatched Michael to form a breakaway and get him some sustenance at the Nisa shop in Grassington (which was decked out with a generous display of Pride flags https://www.prideinthedales.co.uk ).  Exhausted by his flapjack buying efforts, and with an evening commitment, Michael shortly bade us farewell and headed back down Wharfedale.

After Grassington, the main group headed up Wharfedale via Conistone, past Kilnsey Crag, and took a left up Littondale to Arncliffe.  From here, the only way was up (Brootes Lane), and Steve’s lack of lower gearing took its toll.  But there were great views riding over the tops, despite the headwind, and we all soon reassembled for lunch at the Old Barn Café in Malham – handily queueing for lunch at 2.29pm, shortly before they stopped serving hot food at 2.30pm…

Lunch eventually dealt with, plus a positive update on The Ashes, we headed off on the rolling roads through Kirby Malham, Airton, Hetton and eventually to Skipton.

Time was ticking on, so a brisk tailwind assisted run along the main road soon brought us to Addingham, Ilkley and then Askwith, where Cathy headed left up Askwith Moor Road amongst much sympathy from the rest of us who were soon bombing downhill into Otley.  Here, Pete and Steve peeled off to take on the slog up the Chevin, heading East.  For the remaining four, a flat spin to Pool, the climb from Castley, and the descent through Weeton soon had us on the final stretch via KO and Sicklinghall at around 6.30pm, chasing what looked like heavy rain just ahead of us. 

Back home I had 94 miles for the round trip from The Shambles and 5800ft of climbing. Average speed of 14mph more-or-less J Thanks to Graham for the planning, and everyone for the company.