JD Tandems OPEN WEEKEND – SATURDAY RIDE 5 MARCH 2011 by Martin Weeks

Thursday 10 March 2011, Filed in: General

Having emailed Ruth to say Yvonne and I would be looking forward to joining the Saturday Ride in the countryside around Gargrave I then got an email back asking if I would lead the ride and fatally asking me if I had any ideas for a route. I say fatally because I do have a habit of throwing in a few extra hills just out of devilment – only to regret that come the evening time!

Having emailed Ruth to say Yvonne and I would be looking forward to joining the Saturday Ride in the countryside around Gargrave I then got an email back asking if I would lead the ride and fatally asking me if I had any ideas for a route.  I say fatally because I do have a habit of throwing in a few extra hills just out of devilment – only to regret that come the evening time!

So the route included the climb up the west side of Malham Cove.  In the “100 Greatest Cycling Climbs” Simon Warren gives this 7/10, but he also gives Boltby Bank 7/10 and Park Rash 9/10.  So I don’t really give too much credence to the ratings, but it is a great book and it is worth a read because 19 of the 100 climbs are in Yorkshire – what a county – and I say that as a Welshman!

Eleven fully manned tandems set off from the shop at Gargrave and we headed north in a bitter wind along the lanes to Airton and Malham.  Seeing all the tandems spread out and snaking along the lanes was a fabulous sight, and there were many bemused motorists.  At Malham two tandems took an alternative route while the rest climbed the hill getting clear views of the Cove.  Then it was along the tops and the huge drop down to Settle, the first part of the descent being straight and fast with the thrill of seeing 50+ mph on our Santana for the first time this year.

The Naked Man Café at Settle doesn’t quite live up to its name as everyone was fully dressed – was this due to the bitter north-easterly wind I wonder?  But the food was good, and refreshed we headed up to Little Stainforth and down the hill to Austwick.  Leaving the village the only person to get the wrong road was the leader, who took three other tandems with him and short-circuited the route, going via Lawkland, while those who understood navigation went via Eldroth. The names of the villages in this area are so fantasy-like I wonder if Tolkein spent any time here when writing Lord of the Rings.

Following minor back roads, we worked our cold way back via Wham, Rathmell, Wigglesworth, and Bank Newton to Gargrave. John and Ruth, with all the team, had laid on a handy spread and we all tucked in, before making our way home. A great ride, in great company.


 

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