Spring into the Dales
The sun, and a few legs were out, the wind cold, the pace up Cock Hill moderate, then it started to ramp up a little behind a Star Wheeler turning a big gear. Danny started to moan - he moans every year about how unfit he is, and always seems to be there abouts at the end - but the Star Wheeler stopped wheeling at the top, leaving us to get on with it with a thinned out group. Those with thinning hair were left to work on the front whilst the young un's tucked in, poor dears, a bit early for them possibly. Over The Herders, past the first checkpoint and on towards Gargrave we were going well en masse until some man-woman assemblage in a Ford Focus decided to try and drive through us. Mustering a primitive instinctual spasm worthy of the backward primal swamp of which they might be, say, middle-ranking occupants, said drivers (the passenger was very vocal and involved, shouting something loud, repeatedly, about being in the way and their having a baby) decided, because there was no room either side and they were not about to be held up at a junction by flocking cyclists, that there was, however, a route straight on, if they could only manage to knock one of cyclists out of the way, which they duly did, finding one of the rock racing guys the most viable option. Amid ensuing shouts and frayed tempers we all felt a bit down; it put a right dampner on things, bloody cars. Thankfully not hurt, but his rear wheel punctured/buckled, he and his mates sorted through the niceties of accident aftermath. We hung on about ten minutes not really knowing what to do other than hanging about in witness sympathy, then said our goodbyes and went on with the second group who'd caught us by this time.
After Gargrave we let Pete Horne do a bit of pulling as he seemed to want to be at the front, after having done his usual pottering on and seemingly still unable to understand that he is better off waiting and riding in a group. The Condor in him is too strong for mere reason to find a grip. Tiring of following Pete, and he just tiring, we left him over the hidden back roads to Thorpe and rolled breezily through Appletreewick, Bardon Tower, Bolton Abbey and then past the family farm and gated road on up and over the steep climbs to Grafton and the top of Cringles. It was about here that I noticed Mick Collins was still in the group, having been strangely absent at the front all day, perhaps hiding his glamorous brown tights and matching brown kepi because he did not want to show the rest of us scruffy buggers up, what with looking both really really cool AND being at the front pulling us all along, we could not have psychologically managed with both, so he gallantly stayed at the back. Yes, it must have been that. He took a long 30 second turn going onto Keighley, before dropping back to help Danny, who still seemed to be hurting from his initial effort up Cock Hill, but who also still seemed to be with us. Up Ingrow it started to heat up with Melvin showing off his form and the rest of us hanging on. By Cock Hill we'd lost the guy from Halifax with the very natty bike (sorry, crap at names) and Danny had finally had enough, and then me and my legs just stopped by the first set of roadworks despite my not working all that hard, then the Murt Racing lad from Haworth who'd been doing more than his share all day, and Lo! Mick decided he had been gallant enough in hiding his tights under a bushel at the rear of the bunch, and so now felt able to try and keep with Melvin (which he did, after Melvin waited a bit) and then push on for home. So order back was Melvin, Mick, Murt and then Me ... but they let me break the skin of the rice pudding.
Thanks Chris and co. for organising the event so well once again, especially those who cook (and we noticed the welcome bread pudding addition this year), and I hope the guys in rock racing kit got back/round OK