Five Condors were toeing the start line outside the church hall at Fairburn last Sunday for the Brimham Rocks 200k Audax - Paul G, Trevor, Peeps, Big Phil and myself together with Paul H & Everard from the Imps and another 30 or 40 long distance stalwarts. The start was reminiscent of the start of last Fridays stage of the Tour; eyeballs out from the gun. Myself and Big Phil, an Audax virgin until the Good Companions a few weeks ago but now astride a state of the art 14lb Cube speed machine lodged ourselves at the front in the hope of controlling the pace. This we did until the first slight incline over to Kippax where Elland's Mike Thompson and a lad from Liverpool Century became impatient at the speed dipping below evens and darted through to the front.
By Barwick in Elmet there were only 5 of us left at the front including Phil and myself, the rest of our lads were sticking together and a significant number of other participants had followed a VC167 led short cut straight up the side of the A1 to Wetherby. 2 kms of bridleway between Barwick and Bramham reduced our numbers to 4, we stuck together to the Knaresborough control, the VC167's had already left, a quick banana and Coke and we were off in pursuit; or we would have been if Mike hadn't forgotten the combination for his bike lock. After trying most combinations between 000 & 999 we hit lucky and were again eating up the road. Peterborough Man disappeared at the Bedlam climb (later found out he'd punctured). Mike came through too fast for me up the same climb, Phil chased him down and sat on his wheel but I had to chase all the way over Brimham Rocks and down into Pately Bridge before getting back.
The 3 of us had a quick drink and bite to eat at the How Stean check then it was back down to P Bridge where we crossed Everard, the Paul's, Peeps & Trevor all of whom appeared to be riding strong and were in good voice. It was then over to Blubberhouses and on to Otley, we were catching remnents of the VC167 which spurred us on to the Weirside Cafe Control where we found the leaders on the road sunning themselves and taking refreshments.
A quick drink and a bun and there were now 8 or 9 of us rushing to get on our bikes worried we were going to miss the bus. The bus soon split up the road up to Farnley with Mike and Bob Johnson setting quick pace, Phil paced me back as we descended to Leathley and a couple more got on round Castley. On the road to Sicklinghall Bob said he knew how to avoid the dreaded Kearby Brow and deviated right from the route, Phil and me, wanting to keep on roads I knew stayed on the published route but the others followed Bob - this worked a treat because when they returned to the route proper we were half a mile ahead steaming along to Wetherby. They chased with Bob and a guy from Holme Valley Wheelers catching us in Wetherby but the other 2 being left in the chase.
We worked together now through the lanes to Askham Bryan and the Naburn Lock checkpoint with the wind behind us helping us to turn the big gears. Phil and Mike nipped away from Naburn whilst I was only half way through my bottle of Coke and if it hadn't been for Bob I would not have regained contact. We rode in echelon to combat the cross winds through Cawood, Thorpe Willoughby and Hillam by which time we were down to 3, Phil, Bob and myself. Just through Hillam, with less than 2 miles to go Bob had an attack of cramp - I was tempted to put the hammer down but then I remembered that less than an hour earlier he had dragged me back to the front so we soft pedalled back to Fairburn together.
A great day, good company, good weather, mainly quiet roads and no mishaps, 123.2 miles, ave.speed 17.3mph.
All Condors and Imps finished in one piece and I look forward to hearing the tales of their days. If you look on
you may recognise some of our gang.