The old adage “it’s hard to please everyone, so just please yourself” has never been more apt. According to Strava, at least 15 Knights took advantage of the clear blue skies and beautiful sunshine to venture out to a whole host of agreeable destinations, although just four hardy souls joined this month’s BK Away Day.
With a proposed 8am Beverley set off by car and a 9am kick off at the meeting place just North of York for a 68 miler, this was never gonna suit everyone. And so it proved. Too early for some, too late for others. Too far for some. Perhaps not far enough for others. And judging by the recent comments on slack regarding ride starting times over the weekend (all in good humour of course) it’s difficult to get the balance right for all. Just as well we have a top notch voice of reason chairman to keep us all in check!
Anyway, back to the Fab Four of Chad, Mark, Stephen and myself (Michael). We arrive at our meeting place on time (well, two of us do) and by the time we’ve unloaded our bikes from the cars, we set off only ten mins later than scheduled – not bad.
In truth, it’s an inauspicious start for me as route leader for the day. Having taken my duties very seriously, I’d meticulously planned this ride – or should I say I rode to find a suitable meeting place only a week earlier. And I’d spotted that immediately after coming out of the designated car park, the route clearly directed us across a level crossing. I forget this and decide to set off in the other direction, only to be reminded by a more eagle eyed Mark that I’d messed up already and hopefully this wasn’t a sign of things to come!
We go over the level crossing and are greeted with a bumpy gravel track. I start to panic inside – oh b***** – I do hope the route I copied from cycling plus magazine wasn’t a gravel route! My riding colleagues are quite rightly quick off the mark in the gentle ribbing department – “did you get this from mountain bike weekly?” jokes Stephen. I’m beginning to wonder, I must admit, but after about a mile we hit glorious pave. Phew!
Today’s ride can roughly be spilt into three thirds, with each third very different from the other. The first third – Howardian Hills -is gentle rolling terrain, not too dissimilar from our usual routes across the Yorkshire Wolds. We soon enter the picturesque grounds of Castle Howard before making our way onto the road into Helmsley. This is the one section of the route that I had been a little concerned about as it’s coloured orange on Komoot – which means it’s a main road. “We should have a rule that all away day route masters have to ride the full route the week before” jokes Chad. To be fair, I had thought about it, but given my ‘car park reccie’ the previous week was a 70 mile round trip and that the route itself would effectively double that, I reined myself in and told myself that as the main Helmsley Road was prefixed by B it can’t be that bad. And so it proved, as we all safely arrive into Helmsley for our first pit stop.
Bladders emptied, water bottles filled, we set off for the second leg – the North Yorkshire Moors. Clearly not having studied the route as much as I should, I’d naively thought that we would be nowhere near the major climbs and descents of the infamously bleak Moors. I’m soon put right though because as soon as we reach the top of a long gradual incline out of Helmsley, we spot a sign for a 33% descent. There’s a tight bend at the bottom too and a van greets us just as we try and negotiate it. How inconvenient – cos we slow down to avoid said van and immediately around the corner spot another sign of 25%, but this time it’s up. And so sets the scene for a muscle wearing, lung busting second third.
We arrive at the foot of white horse bank. We again see a 25% upwards sign, only this time the climb goes on and on and on and…. We all just about survive and, although we are 1,000 feet above sea level, we very strangely arrive at beautifully flat countryside more reminiscent of Norfolk than the North Yorkshire Moors. Our plateaud respite is soon forgotten though as we arrive at the descent from hell. It’s very steep and very windy, with a near 180 degree switchback on the steepest part with added gravel for good measure. At least three of us feel our back wheels lock. It is absolutely treacherous. At the foot, Chad asks would we rather go up it than down it. Stephen, a very fine technical descender says “definitely down” whilst I’m tempted to turn around to prove that would definitely not be my choice, but that would be just plain stupid!
With would be nasty accidents avoided, the rest is plain sailing with only a couple of so-so hills to negotiate before we glide into the pretty village of Easingwold for our much needed cafe stop.
Bodies replenished, we set off for our final third and it could not have been more different to the preceding one. That’s because we are back in the Vale of York and we make solid progress on the glorious flat for the last 20 miles. We quickly make our way back to the car park with our bodies slightly more burnt than they had been 6 hours earlier when we set off. I mean who brings sun cream with them in May? Ah well, thanks for the marvellous company and great ride :+1: