Monday, 11 April 2016

Spring Into The Dales

Spring into the Dales started off in its usual way – with weather more fitting for its sister ride in autumn, Seasons of Mists. As I was cycling down Burnley road with my shivering companions, watching the cars stream past with snow on their roofs, I was painfully aware that my choice of gloves were woefully inadequate. At least I had longs on though, unlike Tom who came out in shorts with no leg warmers. I suppose he had the last laugh though when he came home with a crisp tan line.

The first mile or two up Cock Hill were a welcome warm up and the views over the tops were stunning – mist in the valleys, snow on the fields and crisp sunshine. Everything went without incident until about 13k in at Upper Marsh, where I got a puncture. As is the custom, people gathered round and helpfully offered advice. However, once I’d changed it and pumped it up, only for it to go flat again immediately, Tom offered to do the needful. Paul got the “top pumper” award - now a pro at it having to do it almost every ride. Half an hour later, and with pretty much every other rider having now passed us, we pressed on. The group was Tom, Lewis, Chris Jones (HE'S AN IMP!), Sarah, Ben (a friend of Sarah), Paul and myself, and we re-united with Catherine at Scar Top.

By the time we got to Earby, all the biscuits had run out so we loaded up on bananas and went onwards through the next control – whose place name I can’t remember -stopping briefly to patronise the Coop. We then stopped at the café/farm shop in Cracoe. This was the place some of us had taken refuge in the previous year when the weather at this point in the ride was a cheerful mix of gale force winds and needle sharp rain. Today however, we could have sat outside with an ice cream – were it not for the snow still visible on the tops. The proprietor explained about last night’s sellotape-roll-sized snowflakes so we sat inside. The ham and cheese toasties here are arguably the best in the land.

During this stop I got a phone call from the other group of Imps, they were in the beer garden at Appletreewick. They were doing what Imps do best and, after all, one of the info controls was to name the brewery of the pub, so it was sensible to go in and check it out given that the signs outside were contradicting one another. A classic Chris Crossland info control you might argue.

The ride undulated through Burnsall and Appletreewick where our friends had left probably 30 minutes earlier, suitably refreshed. We then went on to my favourite part of the ride – the section around Cav Pav and Bolton Abbey. It was throng with visitors in the sunshine and Sarah started talking fondly of cider lollies. Hesketh farm was busier than usual as cars tried to get past. None of them got stuck this year though – unlike 2 years previous where a bunch of about 20 cyclists did a driver a good turn and pushed her out of the mud at the top. We then went on through the picturesque villages of Halton east and Draughton before the turn towards Keggers through Silden and Steeton.

More toasties and cake were ordered at Rossi’s and the final ascents up Ingrow and Cock Hill commenced. I think my choice of a tuna and cheese toastie was definitely the wrong one. I huffed and puffed up that hill and was only too glad to happen upon another audax rider going at my pace, called Russ. We chatted for a while and I met my faster friends at the elephant at the top. The descent was rapid and exhilarating as always.

The spread at the end was still plentiful and Jennifer’s and Dot’s tremendous home-made cakes were consumed with gusto as we were all eager to get a malted recovery beverage. A fabulous day was had by all. Thanks to Chris and the formerly named Calderdale CTC team.

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