I liked the GPS plot of the route here http://ridewithgps.com/routes/334562 by "Mr Blood" which shows Cock Hill as the major challenge on this ride, and of course that hill is so good we did it twice. My ride was "steady" all day. Setting off right at the back I had to work my way up through the impressively large bunch. I found the Vicar and thought that a good pace to settle into, while Melv headed on up the road to catch the front group. That was the last I saw of Mr Hartley until we met again while he was descending Cock Hill going the "wrong" direction on his way home (so a third time for him) while I was still toiling toward the finish. Maybe Melv can complete the tale with a posting of the "real" ride, while I give you the social version.
Some wheels caught and passed myself and Richard coming out of Pecket Well going just 1/2 mile faster than we were and so, feeling a slight headwind, I hooked onto them. Sadly Richard didn't stay on so I left him and went with my new friends in a truly loyal Condor style. Taking this shelter to the top of Cock Hill, I then dropped away to Oxenhope with a couple of West Pennine lads and we thought we'd made good progress - that is until we caught "Bob" by Stanbury in his purple carpet slippers who'd obviously beaten us over Cock Hill (and in the end would beat me to the finish!).
Pete Horne was just up the road so I bridged across, and then Pete saw Everard just ahead so we flogged ourselves up to him too. Peeps was hanging in the wind at Laneshaw Bride to complete a quartet of Condors. Thus were bananas consumed and cards stamped at Earby.
Stuart from Hebden Bridge (nee Bristol), being unfamiliar with these parts, made the fatal mistake of leaving his bike for five seconds while we clipped in and clipped up the road, so we had to wait and reunite at West Marton, which also gave Vicar a chance to make contact again. So on to Bank Newton for a short stop in the sunshine while Stuart fixed a puncture, while Everard and Peeps "pottered on". We caught them again just after Cracoe, and took the lanes of Thorpe at a leisurely pace. Thus to Burnsall for a very slow cafe stop, while other riders passed us by.
That just left the daunting Draughton climb, Cringles and into Keighley for the final control. Paul Hickey was outside taking sustenance but we were eager now for the finish and swiftly departed. On Ingrow I went too hard at the bottom and had to wait for my companions, and then I set the pace back down to Oxenhope. The early stages of Cock Hill were my glory too. But I'd done too much. The spirit willing while the legs weak. And no mercy was shown as, within sight of the top, these older and wiser heads rode past me. Smiling. The buggers.
Still, a fierce descent (with a tow from a tandem) meant that we four finished together back in Hebden Bridge for 2:45 or thereabouts. I understand that the front group had finished more like 1:15, but maybe they had been served quicker in their cafe stop ...