Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Sunday

9am Denholmgate or 9.30 Keighley for potter up the Dales - Malham and Darnbrook and back at reasonable time, unless someone has a better idea.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday Ride

Despite it being Spring, temperatures being above freezing (just - if you ignored wind chill) and most roads now being open only five turned up at Shelf roundabout for today's ride. In deference to the blizzard that was raging at 10am our ambitions for the day were modest and Otley was chosen as our destination, we took a fairly direct route there round Manningham and Esholt and would have been sitting in a warm dry cafe before 11.30 had some twerp not suggested adding another mile or so by going to Cock Pit Farm at Weston. Unfortunately the cafe was still operating its winter opening times - Fri to Sun only (from next week it's Weds to Sun but that failed to deflect the abuse I received). 
Anyway it may have been a blessing in disguise as it was far too early for lunch so we rode up to Bolton Bridge cafe and enjoyed our break at a far more sensible time and with the bonus of a few more miles in the legs the bacon tasted so much sweeter.
The weather forecast had predicted better weather post meridiem but this was not the case so we took the easy option and returned via Cringles and Ingrow.  Fifty plus miles in and home in time to watch Cav take stage 2 at De Panne.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Snow somewhat hampered this weekends planned cycling. Myself, Big Phil, Melvin and Paul Daly had entered the Wheelbase Spring Classic from Kendal and had been looking forward to a good looking circuit taking in the Lune Valley, Barbondale, Dentdale and Kingsdale. Fortunately the organizer had the foresight to cancel the event as early as Friday.
Single Simon and Padiham Chris were planning to do the Chirk 200k Audax, this was not cancelled and I understand that there were three starters although I have no idea if that included Simon and Chris.
Our Hon. Treasurer, Paul G and Peeps were on the entey list for the Fountains Monk'y-business 100k audax from Wigginton where better weather led to there being 17 starters, down from over 100 last year.
Surely this weather can't carry on and Spring is just round the corner. Buoyed by this optimism I have submitted an entry for the Monyash Peak 100k event from Marple on Wednesday 3rd of April, a great little circuit round the Peak District and a good warm up for the following Sundays Ronde Van Calderdale (there's also a much flatter 100k, An Icecream Wensdae, from the same venue on the same day). On-line entries still being accepted via AudaxUK website.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mid Week Roundup

Numbers were down to four for today's Wednesday Ride. The weather looked a little bleak when I left home but soon improved and the roads were dry once we got to the other side of Keighley, the temperature was a little less harsh than of previous days and the winds were light. JK had information that a steam train was due on the Settle Carlisle line around midday so it seemed like a good reason to go to Hellifield Station for lunch.
Alas we got there too late for the puffer train but joined many excited trainspotters in the station tearooms where we found a hostess who's welcome reminded me of Ivy from Sids Cafe in Summer Wine. However after being completely underwhelmed by our reception the chef delivered a bacon and sausage sandwich worthy of three Michelin stars. We loitered there sipping a good brew of builders tea and eating slices of an excellent fruit cake till nearly 2 o'clock before we made our return to a still damp Calderdale via Bank Newton and Connonley Bank delighted to have over 70 miles in the bank on a day the had initially looked less than promising.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Delightful Dales?????????

When I left home at 5.30 this morning the weather didn't seem too bad and I was optimistic that conditions were, as often is the case, going to be much better than forecast. However this optimism didn't last long, as we crossed the border into the red rose county we were greeted by sleet and snow. It was a 7.30 start from Pendleton Village Hall and myself, Big Phil and Padiham Chris signed on as part of a field of about 40. Single Simon also attended but his heart was not really where it should have been for a mountainous 129 mile ride, indeed he had to be persuaded not to go straight home.
Our Condor quartet took the front places in the peloton as we headed north east up the A65 and onto the back roads through Bank Newton, the weather at this time having improved with breaks in the clouds again raising my hopes that spring may arrive this very day. As we a were approaching Gargrave Phil stopped to put some air into his back tyre - it didn't stay in there long and we stopped again whilst he changed the inner tube. Simon, concerned that he may have to walk up Park Rash continued.
Once mobile again we were soon moving well and passing most of those who had passed us during our enforced stoppage. We were moving well in the Park Rash foothills and were about to attack the 1 in 3 start of Park Rash proper when I heard a familiar voice from behind, 'Cone on, get a move on'. It was Melvin, whats more it was Melvin on his best bike. I had been quietly relieved when he hadn't turned up at the start thinking it would make the day a little (in fact a lot) easier.
Viewing the hills on our approach there was a very obvious snow line in the hills at about 1400' but in my innocence I had convinced myself that the road would be clear - as you can see from the photos I was wrong. Our little grupetto climbed very well but it was the descent into Coverdale that proved to be more of a problem, having promised my wife that I wouldn't fall off today I had to walk, I wasn't alone, only Phil managed to ride down the hill. Once into Coverdale the weather brightened up and cycling once more became a pleasure. We re-joined Simon at the Middlham check where we had a brief stop to collect proof of passage receipts. On the Road to Leyburn Simon was seduced by a signpost for Aysgarth and dumped his team mates for an easy ride returning to Pendleton via Bishopdale and Wharfedale. The rest of us stuck to our guns and crossed over to a temperate Swaledale where we had a rather longer than planned stop at The Dales Bike Centre cafe at Fremington.
After a long leisurely lunch Mel said his goodbye's and headed towards home over the hill towards Castle Bolton and Bishopdale whilst Chris, Phil and me headed up the most beautiful dale in the Dales and over Birkdale Common to the next check at the pub at Nateby. We loitered there for a while, but not too long, I'd not found it easy getting going again after our Fremington sojourn and knew how difficult Mallerstang Common is with a head wind - I wasn't wrong and Chris spent almost the whole distance at the front winding it up on the big ring whilst I was struggling on 34 ring. They pulled away from me approaching Garsdale where we turned right at the Moorcock, I was 100 yards or so behind and didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I witnessed them ride straight past the left turn for the Coal Road, a detour to Sedbergh wouldn't have been a good idea, I shouted and shouted but they didn't respond and there was no chance of me chasing them down. I stopped at the junction, I could see they were looking back so I jumped up and down waving my arms till I saw they were returning.
The Coal Road wasn't quite as bad as Park Rash in that we were able to follow narrow tyre tracks between the laying snow and once down into Dentdale we saw no more snow. As ever the climb up Newby Head was a hard pull but after what we had been through earlier the rest of the route, down Ribbledale to Settle, Wigglesworth and Sawley was a breeze.
It was good to get back to Pendleton Village Hall.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Brief Roundup

Five Condors turned up for last Sundays ride, Robin, Simon, Mel, Oakworth Steve and myself. Our numbers were initially more than doubled by the Paul Milnes group who were meeting in Keighley, we stayed together until the drag out of Skipton on the Grassington Road where fragmentation's occurred. I managed to hang on till after The Craven Heifer but then found myself on the wrong side of a split as the pace failed to ease. This was worrying for me as I'd forgotten to put any money in my back pocket and I was witnessing my only hope of a lunch sub disappearing up the road. My new companions turned left at Rylstone leaving me chasing alone into a cold head wind wondering where my next meal was coming from. Fortunately someone noticed I was missing took pity on me and the group waited for me at Cracoe from where we went to the Old Schoolhouse Tearooms at Hebden via Grassington, Des Fretwell and a young lad from Coniston Cold, Tom, having stayed with us from the Milnes group joined us for lunch.
Our return journey was made via Appletreewick, Bolton Abbey, where Robin had a panic attack realizing we were heading in the direction of Bradford he swiftly turned right towards the security of the Calder Valley. On to Otley and Guiseley where Steve, Des and Tom said there farewells as Mel came down through Esholt to leave us at Shipley for a return home through Baildon. Simon, back on single free this week after a disastrous foray into the world of derailiers and double clangers for the previous weeks Imps Reliability Ride, was moving well and causing me all sorts of problems as we made our way up Manchester Road and down through Wyke, I was relieved to get home, open a bottle of beer, put my feet up and watch the Tirreno-Adriatico on the box.

The weather was kinder on Wednesday with sun and blue skies for most of the day although there was still a nip in the air. There was a good turnout and we planned to take advantage of the easterly wind on the return journey so we went out to Tadcaster for lunch via  Headingley, Shadwell and Bramham. A pair of Pauls with a total age of 140 set a good pace all the way out there whilst Grimpy was the main protagonist on the return journey half wheeling Brian down through Sherburn, South Milford and Fairburn.
An interesting diversion was made when Chris from the Imps introduced us to a recently opened section of cycleway which took us from Earlsheaton to the middle of Dewsbury including a 150 metre or so railway tunnel. This whet the appetite for cycleways so we kept to the Calder Valley and Spen Valley Greenways all the way to Low Moor.

Myself and Big Phil have entered the Delightful Dales Audax this coming Sunday, others are considering joining us depending on the weather - it looks like a great route, starting at Pendleton (near Whalley) and making its way to Kettlewell and over Park Rash, down to Middleham, Leyburn, Reeth, Keld, Nateby, Garsdale, Coal Road to Dentdale then Ribblehead, Settle, Wigglesworth and back to the start - can't believe thats only 127 miles.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Wednesday 6th March

Only 10 out today to enjoy the freezing fog. Rumor was that the fog was thicker higher up so we joined the Greenway at Low Moor, went down to Dewsbury and on to Newmillerdam for lunch. Unfortunately several of those present had taken note of the weather forecast and headed for home via the shortest route worried that they may get wet. Peeps, Paul D, Ian Wellock and myself took a slightly longer route via Notton and High Hoyland, needless to say the weather picked up and there was no rain.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Ronde Recce Report

I knew the Ronde van Calderdale route wasn't going to be everyone's cup of tea for a lazy Sunday in early spring but as Paul Daly was unfamiliar with some of the route (especially the Colne Valley bit) and on my recommendation has invested £20 of his hard earned pension on an entry I had promised to show him the route and with dry weather forecast today was the ideal opportunity.
Regular Condor club run stalwarts Steve, Simon, Paul, Phil and myself were joined by 3RT's Brendan Devlin and one of the top Calderdale fell runners Adam Breaks. This proved to be a great group to ride such a challenging route, as you can see from the above photo we were all still smiling even at the top of Gibb Lane, the positive attitude prevailed throughout the day.
A tail wind made for a brisk start up through Rastrick, on to Outlane and down Forest Hill Road and then we hit the first 'Ronde' style climb of the day, Penny Hill. For the second week running a fell runner gave us a demonstration of that genre's climbing prowess (Karl Gray last week in the Imps ride), as Adam romped away chased by Paul - never one to submit to youth without a battle. We regrouped at Krumlin and enjoyed the tail wind up to Buckstones and a long steady descent down to Pole Moor.
The Colne Valley climbs came and went in similar fashion but never uncomfortably competitive (I think there had been an unspoken agreement to save that for the actual event). Lee Lane (aka Shibden Wall) was probably the most difficult climb so far due to the cobbles being too greasy for out of the saddle efforts, and I was quietly pleased to witness Adam having an attack of cramp to his calves.
We continued the route through Ovenden Wood, up Gibb Lane, down to Luddenden and up Old Lane towards Midgley. Here we deviated from the route and went down to Sowerby Bridge Station where we lunched at the refreshment rooms - 1st time any of us had been there - very good - a fine selection of real ales as well as bacon and sausage sandwiches and large mugs of tea - with thoughts of Trooper Lane ahead we stuck to the tea and butties. Steve headed off home to Oakworth from here, Adam had left us earlier, the nearby pull of his home at Wainstalls being too strong to resist.
The cobbled climbs of Woodhouse Lane, Wakefield Gate and Exley Bank went past almost without notice as minds concentrated on the forthcoming coup de grace, Trooper Lane. With Adam gone Paul made it known from the very start that this was to be his climb, I was in no position to argue but Phil put in a spirited effort only to falter by taking a breather just before the summit by turning onto Blaithroyd Lane for several seconds, I had to explain to him that this was akin to a foot fault and he would have to be disqualified from his 2nd place but I'm not sure he accepted this entirely unbiased decision.
A good day out, hope the actual event (7th April - pre enter via BC website) is half as enjoyable.

Sunday 10th March - 9am Denholmgate, 9.30 Keighley
Sunday 17th March - a few of us have entered a 200k Audax - Delightful Dales - enter online via Audax website.
Sunday 24th March - again a few Condors have entered the Wheelbase Spring Classic sportive, a scenic 75 miles taking in the Lune Valley, Dentdale and Barbondale.