Not feeling particularly strong after a serious lack of miles so far this season I took the short-cut from home straight over Top Withens to Oxenhope to miss out Hebden Bridge and the first long climb of Keighley Road/Cock Hill. My lone start meant an easy ride at my own pace over the Herders to Laneshaw Bridge - although turning into the headwind up to Black Lane Ends made me (almost) wish for a wheel to follow. I'd expected to be caught in Earby and loitered there for a good few minutes chatting before getting a bit cold and riding on to Gargrave on my tod just to keep warm. Still, I was far better dressed than the triathletes at West Marton - it was no whether for sleeveless tops, especially if you'd just jumped out of a warm swimming pool somewhere.
I was just about to set off at Gargrave after a few words with the Kershaw family marshalling the control point there when the first of the 'proper' riders turned up - some looking more weary and haggard than others. The look on Melv's face told everything about their ride up to that point but he soon revived and we rode together to Cracoe. However, it wasn't ever going to last for me at that pace and I gratefully let the bunch go to dive into the cafe. The tale is that they then had a lovely time and rode together at a brisk pace all the way to the finish - sorry, that was just a fairy tale.
Riding on through Thorpe and back down to Burnsall I passed many riders and then spotted a couple of decent looking wheels a little way ahead. It turned out to be Irish John (Dogerty) of VS Cycles with his mate "very Irish" Justin on a visit here for a few days from Ireland. Now this meant good company all the way back over Addingham Moorside and on through Keighley. Since Justin's legs had blown somewhere back near Gargrave it also meant that I could stay with them without going too far into the red myself and finished the ride back over the same short cut feeling fine and looking forward to the next outing.
Meanwhile, Robin and other vets were pinning on their race numbers for 12 circuits of Norland Moor in the LVRC event. A small group including Sean Smith went away on the second lap and stayed out of reach. Sean finished third I think. Robin did his bit to lead out the sprint for the main bunch - and then found out why they were all so keen for someone else to go first into the headwind as his legs faded within sight of the line...