May 2018 will no doubt be remembered by many as one of glorious sunny weather. Even as I type the remainder of the month is set fair. Friday 4th May was the day we lurched from that cold long winter and spring in to that wonderfully warm Bank Holiday. That same day I had planned to ride coast to coast on my fixed wheel.
I rose early, cycled to The Midland Hotel and set forth. It was mild and drizzly; with back pockets loaded with energy bars and my jacket zipped up I headed east along the cycle path from Morecambe, over the Millennium Bridge in Lancaster and out in to the Lune Valley, parting with the protection of the cycle path as the Lune all but kisses the road at Bull Beck.
I can’t remembered when I dreamt up this idea, it was sometime ago, but I do recall figuring out that there’s no way I would be able to complete the Ride of the Roses route, well not least without getting off. And I didn’t want to get off if i could help it, so I had to choose a route that was a realistic possibility. The first difficulty I anticipated was Chapel le Dale. This started with a bit of a tug out of Ingleton, past the White Scar Caves and up past The Hill Inn. There was then the long steady climb to Newby Head. This last bit didn’t faze me, but I did expect to struggle a bit up The Hill Inn
I ride my fixed wheel on various occasions, usually just when I like, but because of where I live there is usually a small rise or two, so I use a 42x19; a relatively small gear that lets me twiddle away and allows me to ride up the hills. By the time i reached the Richmondshire sign beside the old stone denoting the boundary between the West Riding and North Yorkshire I was feeling confident that the rest of the ride would be just fine. If I could climb them, then I should be able to ride up anything else.
Twiddling down hill to Hawes with my front brake slowing me, I spotted the first signs of what was to come. Blue sky was breaking from behind the grey cloud above. Straight through Hawes and out in to Wensleydale and the sunshine was soon shining. The contrast between the west side of the Pennines and the east is never more apparent than climbing up past the brown tones of the west until descending down past the lush green pastures of Wensleydale,
passing through Bainbridge, past Castle Bolton and on to Leyburn for lunch.
From hereon I picked up signs for tomorrow’s Tour de Yorkshire where the stage was to race from Richmond to Scarborough. Bedale was bedecked with yellow bicycles and bunting along the length of the village and beyond, North Yorkshire at its finest.
My next major obstacle would be Sutton Bank if I chose the obvious route east. At 25% gradient for some time, this was never going to be achievable on my gear. I’d crossed the A1 south of Bedale and headed to Thirsk where i then picked up the caravan route south of the white horse at Kilburn, created in 1857.
By now having to sit in the saddle for most of my ride was beginning to tell. I’d had a couple of stops to stretch out and was starting to yearn for a few hills, just to be able stand out of the saddle and relieve the numbness. I wasn’t to be disappointed. The road past Newburgh Priory was longer and steeper than expected, but the views and roads through Yearsley and Hovingham in to Malton were fantastic; quiet, shady and rolling, quality riding.
The number of large houses, churches and buildings of some importance in this area is quite something, even the cattle have their own stone built bridge to cross the small streams.
It was now mid-afternoon as I rode in to Malton. A coffee stop on the high street and a sit on the roadside as the afternoon sunshine offered itself to those finishing work for the Bank Holiday.
I passed a local Bobby on his bike. “Excuse me, is this the right road to Scarborough?”
“It most certainly is Sir” he replied as he waved me onwards. The A64 to Filey and then north to Scarborough. A dual carriageway, twice round the roundabout figuring out my options I pulled over on the A169 and consulted with my phone. A road sign to Yeddingham pointed me north-east along more quiet lanes until I eventually popped out on the A170 and back on the Tour de Yorkshire’s run in to Scarborough. A final climb past GCHQ Scarborough and it was down hill all the way to the docks.
I had come here on holiday with my mum, dad and sister in 1975 as a young boy. I have a memory of an early morning walk along the docks with my dad, watching the fishermen unloading their catch and that unmistakable smell of the sea. I turned my bike around and headed for my hotel near to Peasholm Park. It was at that point when I past the boating lake by the roundabout I was again taken back to another lifetime, to a memory I had not recalled until that moment. A distant memory of me as a small boy being rowed around the lake by my dad.
I had had a great day, a little sore, a little tired, but had enjoyed it for so many reasons. A quick shower and a walk in to town. Seafood and beer in a local Italian. What more?