Saturday 5th February

Henry V meets The Tempest

The weather forecast wasn’t looking too good with wind and strong winds forecast, Darcy had set off earlier to try to avoid the worst of it while others had decided to stay a bed. Three hardy/foolish/brave (delete as applicable other adjectives are available) souls had decided to ignore the forecast. Grant our leader returned from man flu and Jonathan, whose rehab from his fall seems to be progressing, with me Chris set off westwards in the general direction of route 106. Eventually we were on the official route, after adding a couple of climbs, into the freshening breeze there were occasional moments when the cloud allowed the sun to shine through.

 It all seemed to be going well, we rode mostly together, the two mudguardless riders who passed us failed to disrupt our rhythm or elicit a sprint onto their back wheels. Grant’s recounting of his evening watching Rigoletto, which included Sir Willard White as Count Monterone, set me off towards Henry V’s speech before Agincourt. To the effect that those who hadn’t turned up at Hornbeam at 9 am would think themselves accursed! More of that later.

 The wind was definitely strengthening and the descents down to Swinsty and Fewston felt a bit sketchy. We availed ourselves of the facilities at the car park and continued via Timble. When we emerged on Rues Lane the wind had gone up a couple of notches and it was agreed that a decision about completing the whole route would be made when we got to Duck St and before we dropped down into Pateley Bridge. The rain had joined the wind by the time we tackled the steep climbs north of the A59 and Jonathan’s misbehaving bike, which resulted in him walking up the steepest climb, didn’t help our progress. At Duck St we decided on a more direct route home; it felt very precarious at times, at least the wind was blowing us into the verge and not into the path of traffic.

I am not sure why I get more cautious as I get older, perhaps it is because I am aware it takes longer to recover from a fall or perhaps I am more aware it hurts if something goes wrong. I don’t take both hands off the bars these day, never mind take off or put on my rain jacket without stopping, so I felt a bit of a wimp at times as I gingerly descended and fought my way back to the other two on the climbs, thankfully waiting!

 The cafe at Darley doesn’t have a table inside due we think to Covid rules, but the idea of a hot drink and some sugar filled bars was too strong and we decided to stay anyway. We sheltered in the store room which worryingly was blocked by boxes blown by the now gale force winds. I did consider the possibility that if the wind blew the door shut and the boxes back against the door we might be there for sometime. The bathroom facilities might have been less than basic but we had plenty of snacks and baked beans to keep us going.

 I needn’t have worried and apart from Grant’s bike being blown over in the wind, no harm done, we enjoyed our stop and we were soon speeding towards Hampsthwaite and home with the strong wind helping us.

  Am I glad I went out? Well I am now I am home in the dry and the bike is oiled. Would I have gone out on my own? Probably not, so thanks guys, that’s what cycling buddies are for. 35 miles with 3,500 feet of climbing not a bad day out on such a bad day.

 Chris