Last Summer twelve of us did the Way of the Roses ride but with van support and lifts home, this year we thought we would up the ante a little bit. Plan A was to do the Trans Pennine Trail, followed by WOTR but there were conflicting reports on how suitable the TPT was for carbon road bikes. We settled on riding from our home in South Cave to Morecambe and then back via Bridlington. Only two of us were left standing when it came to doing the ride, myself and fellow Cave dweller Tony. As it was Father’s Day weekend our wives were happy to indulge and leave us to play out.
We met at 6.30am and headed westwards towards Howden. This is a favoured ride destination for coffee but it was too early for The Cheese Shop. Out first café stop was a real unexpected gem of a find. We were ambling along when we came across a sign saying ‘Birkin Fisheries Tea Room’ and after we both nodded to approve stopping we pulled into their car park. It was then we realised it was still quite early – and the café was closed. As we were about to pull back out we saw somebody having a coffee and a fag by the side of the café.
“Let me finish both of these, and then I’ll open up for you” she said. RESULT!
There were two big bike A frame stands and whilst we were there other cyclists appeared. The café is basically a wooden hut servicing the fishing ponds but the array of homemade cakes was outstanding and everything served on mismatched china plates. Two coffees, four crumpets and two take out flapjacks came to the grand total of seven pound. We got talking to a septuagenarian lady cyclist who remarked we were brave to be wearing shorts but we explained it’s June and we were on our holidays. If you fancy a visit it’s not far from Knottingley.
With little wind and a flat route we were making good time but I was aware that once we were clear of the posh Leeds suburbs the rolling hills would begin. For this reason we decided to stop in Otley for lunch. I managed to find the same café I’d stopped in for the TdY a few weeks previously. Tucked away in a small courtyard it’s a real ‘collectors’ special. All manner of nick nacks adorn every surface and wall – but most importantly good food.
The Bay Tree, Otley
Sure enough as soon as we left Otley the climbing started but nothing untoward. As ‘virgin tourists’ we had tried to pack as light as possible but were aware of the extra weight we were carrying – this included Tony’s flip flops carried on the outside of his handlebar bag. We did have a plan to mail a shoebox to the hotel with a pair of shoes with shorts and T shirts in but decided against it.
In Skipton we did a couple of laps of the town centre looking for the route out and decided it was all too much and took a breather at a café in the market. This did the trick and we found a way out and into more serious hills.
As we entered Tosside we saw the sign for Lancashire. Immediately before it was ‘The Old Vicarage Tea Room & Bistro’. As far as we were aware we were ahead of schedule (difficult as we had no schedule), so we stopped again for coffee & cake.
Old Vic Tearooms
There was a long grinding hill up to Lancaster but we could see the summit as there was an old fort. Unbelievably the fort wasn’t at the top and we had to climb further still! We arrived into Morecambe with the sun shining and went to the WotR start point. Any thoughts of dipping our wheels in the water were dissipated on seeing the tide was at least a mile out. Our guest house was just off the seafront and really easy to find (on the second pass of the street as we missed it the first time).
The Sea Lynn was a great place to stay. £50 for the night and we were in the ‘family suite’ on the top floor. The suite was two rooms knocked into one with an en suite, the other rooms shared a bathroom on each landing. The owner was more than happy for us to store our bikes in the breakfast room. The owners really took pride in their business and tried to help in any way they could. Biscuits with the tea & coffee in the room, toiletries and good big towels all helped to make sure it was a pleasant stay.
Tea was fish & chips sitting on the seafront – watching the townspeople in their fancy attire parade along the promenade (if you’ve ever been to Morecambe – you’ll have to take that with a massive pinch of sarcasm). To wash down the clogging mushy peas we adjourned to ‘The Davy Jones Locker’ bar. The idea was to watch the Portugal game, which we did but as the second half got underway the evening’s entertainment started. Les Cassidy held a reasonable tune but God it was loud…
Back at the B&B my early night didn’t start as early as I would have liked as my Garmin hadn’t charged up due to a faulty lead. I had to wait for that to charge before I could charge my phone up overnight.
Motorheads Ace of Spades (my phone alarm) gently awoke me at 5.15 and after a quick shower (waiting five minutes for the hot water to arrive from the basement) we were good to go just after six. The owner had said she would do an early breakfast but seemed shocked when we said we would be off at six – so we made do with some Wine Gums.
It was exactly 11 months since we had last been at the WOTR sign ready to go to Bridlington so we were confident this time we knew how to get out of town. We did but still managed to do a lap of Sainsbury’s car park in Lancaster. The first part of the ride is my favourite. It’s a fantastic example of how to make use of old railway lines for the good of the community.
Today we had decided that as we were going to cycling close to 200 miles it wasn’t a day for timewasting in cafes, so our first stop was a garage in Settle for a swift coffee and pan au chocolat (or two). I remembered to call my Dad to wish him happy Father’s Day. My Dad is not a cyclist which is why he asked if our route would take in the A1 or M62.
It’s an enjoyable climb out of Settle and further in to the Yorkshire Dales. On one of the hilly climbs we caught up with an older guy on a Pashley Guvnor resplendent with shiny wooden mudguards. When asked how he managed on such a bike in the hills he replied
“I have three gears, one for the flat, one for up and one for down”. Chapeau, sir.
In order to save time lunch was a basket dash at Spar in Pateley Bridge. Sarnies, pork pies, crisps and Coke. We stopped just long enough to return our heartbeats to normal after the breakneck descent into the town.
Pateley Bridge is where previous riders say it’s all easy, but there are a few more hills to get through before it really does flatten out.
In Borougbridge I needed to stop at a shop and grab some water to top up my bidons but next to the shop was a smart looking café with outdoor seats so… we stopped for espresso & curd.
Last year one of the riders was a York resident who was keen for us to avoid the slow way into York on a shared cylcle path so we had arrived via the A19, this year we took the official way in and enjoyed it more. It goes along the canal and there was a rowing event taking place. The same guy had taken us a different way out of York to avoid the field track but due to a mix up with Garmin routes we ended up in the field. In the dry it’s passable but I wouldn’t want to try it in the wet.
Talking of wet, when we arrived in Stamford Bridge it just started to spit with rain. For ten or so miles it was quite a cooling ‘mist effect’ as the day was quite muggy. But as the day progressed it got heavier and heavier. We decided to shave off the low village route out of Driffield and tank it along the main road road to Burton Agnes and drop into Brid through the trees.
As we arrived in Brid, the weather was truly awful. The photo used flash and doesn’t reflect how dark it was for only 8pm on the longest daylight weekend of the year. The rain was at its heaviest and a stiff wind was coming in off the sea. Oh and not forgetting that some scrote had nicked the WotR mileage sign. As I rang my wife, Tony was ringing his. Alison was aware of the weather and when I let her know how tired and cold I was she offered to pick us up. Tempting as it was I had just heard Tony tell his wife that we wanted to finish properly, so I declined the offer of a lift (crying on the inside). We had planned to get some tea in Brid but as we were both so wet & cold we decided to crack on and get home. We had not paid much attention to a route home from Brid. We had hoped it would be a glorious evening and that we would cycle over 200 miles but now it was Mission Survive.
Our decision was to head on the A1035 to Beverley as there wouldn’t be much traffic and a decent road surface. A police car passed us three times and it did cross my mind to turn off my light to get arrested and snuggle down in a warm cell and use my one telephone call to have a pizza delivered.
We got back to South Cave at 10.45. I came in the front door to find my dressing gown waiting and a washing basket to derobe my wet attire into. Tea and Beans on Toast were the order of the day as opposed to champagne & medals like last time.
Two days – 315 miles, 15500 ft climbing, lots of cake and a great time.
FOOTNOTE (well just above the foot anyway). After a visit to Warners Sports Clinic (I don’t like Dr’s) it transpires that the pain I was trying to ignore is two inflamed Achilles tendons – might need to rethink training schedule (yet again there isn’t one).