Sunday, 8 April 2012

Yarrrkshyre Hills

A quick drive up to York after work on Thursday saw Selene and I up to my parents to stay for the Easter weekend. It had been a busy week, and the planning for the weekends' rides had been minimal to none. However, determined to make the most of non-rainy weather and proximity to more hills, I dragged myself out of bed at 7am on Good Friday and hit the computer to start mapping out the routes. After a lot of faff - planning, eating and getting everyone out of bed - it was decided that Barry and I would head out to Pately Bridge to ride up Greenhow Hill, before heading over to Otley to meet the rest of the family for lunch.

Setting off towards the towering dark skies and into a block headwind, the ride was starting to look like a bad idea even from the outset. Even worse, Barry casually mentioned that this would be his longest road ride of all time (he's a dyed-in-the-wool member of the hairy legs brigade) and that the wheels on his bike that he had just built up the week before didn't appear to like staying in true (fortunately Barry is also a bit of a bike wizard, having worked for a long time in a bike shop). Pushing on with fresh legs, we raced each other over my home training roads before getting deeper into the Yorkshire Dales and roads that I was less familiar with. We had been climbing up for some time, and we soon emerged around the back of Brimham rocks (where I spent lots of my time when I was younger, clambering over the ancient rocks) only to find that a couple of the spokes on Barry's wheel had loosened themselves off and were clanging all over the place.
Spot the mechanic
A quick fiddle with a spoke key and we were on our way again (great skills - a broken spoke with the usual Surrey gang would normally result in twisting it around the rest of the spokes and limping home with a dinged wheel). It was clear that we were on the tops of the Dales, and there was still a lot of snow around, although fortunately the roads had all been ploughed so there was nothing to trouble a set of skinny tyres. This did mean that the sawtooth profile of the ride was about to come into play, as we basically descended off the tops of the hills, into Pately Bridge, and straight back up the other side to the same height we had started at. In between us and our distination in Otley was Greenhow Hill - described in the book at equally divided into four segments. This was a 100% accurate reading of what it was like to ride the hill, which almost seemed to have 3 false summits which tailed off to 3/4% before quickly kicking back up into the twenties again. That said, it was a great hill to ride up as it felt like a proper accomplishment to get to the top at a reasonable pace, and meant that we climbed a long way up without having to hit super hard gradients.
Finally summiting Greenhow
 A quick stop established that the headwind had put us behind schedule (we had arrange to meet the rest of the family in Otley for lunch at 1) so we pushed on without remorse for the terrain. Barry was beginning to suffer with the extra distance, but the thought of food kept him going as we eventually descended down off the tops and into the town where we found the Yum cafe - a hungry cyclist's version of heaven. Several ham and cheese paninis later (plus cake for everyone except me) and we were ready to go.
Support CREW!
Only the finest china at Yum
Probably shouldn't make a habit of doing this in public
 Out of Otley was pretty much straight up the climb of Norwood Edge. Another one you can see coming from a distance, it has an Alpine feel to it with gradients only getting up to the high teens, and pine forests on either side.
Dragging our bellies to the top of Norwood.
After that, the rest of the ride home was fairly pleasant, largely downhill and on good roads. One noteable exception was the town of Harrogate, which is very well to-do, but filled with awful and hugely inconsiderate drivers. For all the wealth in the town, people seemed to be driving really crap cars, and had little regard for cyclists at all - Barry was nearly killed turning off a roundabout by a woman oblivious to his presence (despite the bright red jersey and the fact is 6'3" and shouting his head off), and quickly after we were nearly mowed down by a family car overtaking when it was obvious he wouldn't have enough space to get around the traffic islands. Fortunately, we made it in one peice and arrived home to devour everything in sight (well, some of us did...)

1 comment:

  1. I protest most vigorously on behalf of the mechanics' skills of the Surrey chaingang - a broken spoke can *never* be fixed with a spoke key, Mr Howard! One needs a new spoke, of course. Other than that - well done for yet another sterling performance on your part!!