First I must say a big thank you to Paul Daly and Phil Purdy for their efforts last Monday evening when, sprinting up a short hill in Mytholmroyd on our mountain bikes en route to the Stubbing Wharf I fluffed a gear change which resulted in the rear derailleur jamming into the wheel twisting the mech. and gear hanger and snapping the chain. Efforts were made to convert the bike to single speed but it doesn't work on modern cassettes with their angled teeth. I was prepared to turn and head for home, 3 hours walk so should be home before midnight, especially as I would be able to freewheel on the downhill bits.
My companions wouldn't consider this sensible step and insisted on pushing me on the canal bank to the Stubbing Wharf where over a couple of pints Paul came up with a cunning plan, he would borrow a rope from the landlord and tow me home. I wasn't convinced but remembered how not long ago he'd whittled a branch from a tree to jam into my snapped handlebars enabling me to ride home from Headingley so I thought I'd better not dismiss the idea before trying it.
No rope was available but the barman kindly gave us a very long knitted ladies scarf in a rather attractive red, green, blue and yellow design which had been left on a coat hook some months earlier. With the scarf tied to the back of Pauls bike and to the front of mine and with Big Phil pushing (it felt like a scene from Last of the Summer Wine) we stuck to the roads and were back in Hipperholme in time for a few quick ones at the Shed. An awesome effort by my clubmates who, perversely, appeared to enjoy the challenge.
Although todays Mills Hills Sportive from Mytholmroyd took place in mizzley windy foggy weather we all appeared to enjoy the event - how could you not enjoy a ride that included 8000' of climbing in just over 70 miles. Big Phil and I rode out collecting Robin at Ludd. Foot. Chris Sylge was just crossing over the timing mats when we arrived at about 8.45, shouting out to us that we would catch him up. Mel and Padiham Chris were loitering at the start urging us to hurry up and register so we did as we were told and before long were zooming up Cragg Vale with a tail wind.
Being on the winter bike and having reverted to full winter clobber, I'd made my mind up before the start that there was no way I was going to kill myself up Cragg knowing the likes of Rippenden Bank, Stocks Lane, Herders, Widdop, Deerplay, Sharneyford and Cross Stone were to follow. Mel looked to be on a mission aided and abetted by Chris and Ilkley CC's Dave Leckenby so by the Robin Hood I announced that I was dropping off. Robin expressed his disapproval but sat in with the pacemakers, Phil and, rather surprisingly Paul Daly (who'd joined us at the bottom of the Cragg) dropped back with me and we rode at a more comfortable but still lively pace regularly passing earlier starters.
Once on the descent to Ripponden I was surprised and not a little worried when we caught Robin. I asked him what the problem was, he told me there was no problem, the pace was too fast with Mel's group and so he was going to ride with us; he promised to behave himself.
By now we'd settled in to a comfortable pace, a pace I was confident I could maintain for the full distance and we had the regular morale booster of catching and passing earlier starters. A hiccup occurred on the steep descent to Sowerby Bridge when for the 2nd week running Phil's front tire exploded, possibly due to the heat generated in the (Fulcrum) rim when braking. Our rescue specialist, Paul, took over and using his Lidl special pump put so much air into the new inner tube that it blew the tire off the rim.
Once moving again we were soon re-catching riders and enjoyed a very pleasant ride up Stocks Lane, the first time I've ridden up there for ages and I'd forgotten what a beautiful view it gives of the Luddenden valley.
Over the Herders and Widdop the mizzle abated but on the Long Causway towards Mereclough it came back with a vengeance causing Robin to don his new, immaculate, pink, and very expensive Rapha rain jacket, he looked lovely but I'm not sure its legal to wear such a jacket outdoors in Bacup.
Phil got detached over Sharneyford and at the bottom of Cross Stone Road Robin suggested we should stop and wait for him, I put myself in Phil's position and decided that the last thing I would want is to be waited for at the bottom of the steepest climb of the day so we carried on. On descending Mytholm Steeps I caught sight of Condor's Stuart Harper standing at the side of the road shouting at his rear wheel - he'd over cooked a hair-pin and crashed into the verge - perhaps he needs to get out more than twice a year.
It was good to finish but hard riding home after sitting in the Community Centre in damp kit for an hour or so.
Mel and the Chris's sounded like they had had a good day, fast times (the fastest of the day with 3rd fastest going to Dave Leckenby a couple of minutes behind) and no mishaps - good luck to Chris in tomorrows Horseshoe Pass 200k Audax.
Its the social season now and there's a suggestion that next Sunday we will call in at the Old Silent on our way home from a club run in the Dales.