Monday, March 7

The Great Up North Twitter Ride!

Rich. Best riding buddy a girl could ask for!

A couple of months ago I was chatting to Lou and Rich on Twitter, when an idea was born - a group ride, somewhere between York & Lancaster.  A date was set, our favourite tweeters were invited, a route suggested (thanks, Kat!) and at last, yesterday, the day came!  Ten of us converged on Skipton around ten o'clock on a chilly, grey Sunday morning, and after much coffee we rolled out of town.  There was a small problem, however - having all agreed that a flat route was needed so we could all stay together and keep it sociable, the first turn out of the car park led us onto what looked to me like a vertical wall!   

It turned out to be the first of many - in fact, the first of 17 miles of hills.  I'm no hill-climber - I live, and ride, in the flatlands of the Vale of York, where I will always have at least five miles in my legs before I get to anything bigger than a railway bridge.  The first couple of hills hurt quite a lot, but by the time I got to the third my chest was giving me more trouble than my legs - my lungs seemed to be shrinking, not expanding, with every breath.  Pretty soon I was coughing every time I had to up my efforts, and by the time we reached our café stop in Grassington (having got off the bike and walked up at least three climbs) I was wheezing almost constantly.

The café we chose was a good one - Café Maison towards the top of Main St.  They welcomed the ten of us - and our bikes - with open arms, set us up for the onward journey with tea, coffee and extremely generous slices of cake - my carrot cake was moist & delicious, with exactly the right proportion of cream-cheese icing to cake, and the coffee and walnut cake also got rave reviews.  When we set out again we decided to split into two groups, the faster riders taking a detour via Kettlewell while we slower types headed straight back to Skipton for a second cuppa.  The main road was a little busier than was ideal, but it was wide and mostly flat which made for a much easier roll home.

Despite the pain and difficulty, it turned out to be a perfect day for a ride - the sun came out as we left Skipton and we were blessed with clear blue sky for the whole day.  The Yorkshire Dales are always beautiful, but bathed in spring sunshine, with the first new lambs in the fields and the verges crowded with snowdrops we quickly ran out of superlatives.  Rich and I caught a particularly special moment - having stopped to catch my breath, he pulled up with me just in time to hear the burbling call of a lapwing in its courtship dance, one of our most threatened birds and an utterly magical thing to hear and see. 

While I was happy for the faster riders to go on ahead a little, I was even happier that I never has to ride alone - there was always someone to chat to, a wheel to sit on, an encouraging word just when I needed it, for the whole 22 miles.  I was the slowest by far, but never felt that was causing a huge problem for anyone - thanks guys, for your patience, friendship and support, I honestly couldn't have done it without you Rich, Jen, Carol, Dave, John, Dan, Andrew, Lou and Paul (in no particular order, by the way!)


Me, in one of the few moments my face didn't match my new red jersey! (photo by Dave)
Waiting - for me, again!  Thanks guys!

Hail! Hail! The gang's all here! Andrew, Dan, Carol, Paul, Dave, Rich (standing), me, John, Lou & Jen. Another of Dave's pictures.

One of the odder sights of the day - moles hung on a fence!

22 hilly miles,  Show on Google Maps

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