On 21st July managed to complete the Brimham Rocks 200km Audax and I was not last to finish for the very first time on a 200, thanks really to Steve Myatt & Rodger Holmes of Birdwell Wheelers club (that’s Barnsley to thee) who I kept passing at the cafe checkpoints – and they kept passing me on the road and we finished together.
Fairburn was the starting village and it threw in a complication to start with, road closed so we had to make up a new route arround it, with the result that the front half of the peleton went off on the wrong road, they must have rejoined the route after a small diversion; the one and only advantage of being at the back, you have time (and breath) to talk to the other riders and check the route. After the rolling hills to Kippax I was last, but in sight of the back of the group but by Barwick in Elmet I was on my own, last… until the A64 right then left round Bramham Park when I met a bunch of about a dozen coming towards me, they had overshot and gone on towards Tadcaster and then had to come back & so through Bramham, Clifford and Thorpe Arch I was peddling hard to stay infront of the group.
What a strange part of the world Bramham to Thorp Arch is, the family word we use to describe such a place is “chirpins”. Anyway, so keen was I to stay infront that I got lost in Wetherby and completed my own diversion up the A661 to Spofforth before peddling up a little valley back to the route at Little Ribston. I DO NOT RECOMEND this diversion, the traffic on the A661 is FAST and it must have added half a mile to the route.
Loved the route along the river Nidd in Knaresborough and the riverside cafe thronged with folk and cyclists. This is where I first noticed the guys from Birwell but I decided to follow the couple (John & Philippa Hand) on a tandem out of Knaresborough as Philippa was shouting the route to John from their GPS & so I was confident of not repeating my navigation errors of Wetherby.
This next part was a repeat of my very first Audax, Wiggington 100 earlier in the year, but somehow it was easier following the tandem this time, until the long rise after Ripley when the tandem steadily left me behind and the lads from
Birwell overtook me. Is that Steve or Rodger or Rodger & Steve? I appologise, I dont know, anyway just in the circle of light in the trees in the skyline is the tandem just before the summit before Smelthouses. Of course I was holding back for the climbs to come.
Then up to How Stean Gorge, lovely place and a nice stop in the tea room, I had an ice lolly (it was hot) and a pot of tea (I was thirsty) and a little lass and friends was celebrating an eighth birthday, they were so well behaved and excited, it was just so pleasant. I sneaked off whilst the Birdwell lads tucked into beans on toast and the tandem riders were visiting the facilities to meet the back group heading towards the checkpoint just before Ramsgill, no really, this surprised me because I thought they were infront of me after my Wetherby loss of concentration.
Anyway, onwards and upwards litterally.This is the bottom of Nought Bank, with two sets of double chevrons, so bottom gear, no, really, absolute bottom gear and plod…plod…plod then just before the curve into the valley with the large stones I hear this hard panting and creak of a plastic bike (sorry carbon fibre) and this bloke in black goes past me dancing away like a very fast thing, but judging by his loud breathing he was in danger of a heart attack. Anyway by the last bend and the final pitch of just a single chevron he was gone and away. Nice hill, I enjoyed it, not too hard and not too long and a great ride to Blubberhouses.
Then a shock, I had not read the map correctly, the hill between Blubberhouses and Otley really is a PENNINE HILL when I thought it was just a small lump, maybe Nought Bank was harder than I realised but I found this:
Askwith Moor harder than I should as it was only a sigle chevron and only about a 300 foot rise, but the downhill to Otley was worth it, talk about fast and smooth.
So full English Breakfast at the checkpoint cafe in the Riverside Park, complete with sunshine, heat, a brass band playing and a cue for the single loo. We all regrouped, the Birdwell Lads and the tandem for the up and downs of the River Wharfe valley, Kearby Cliff being where the Birdwell Wheeler lads left me behind again. This time I managed Wetherby OK and was putting down some speed now I had warmed up and was in the flatlands again, when in Wighill… Is that a blue item of clothing in the road, no it’s a cap, it’s a Birdwell Wheelers cap but gone past it, so turned round and picked it up and returned it to its rightful owner at the last checkpoint at Naburn Lock where I had another ice lolley and refilled all my water bottles and sneaked off again infront of the Birdwell Lads whilst they were in the loo.
But they overtook me between Hambleton & Hillam only for me to go past them when the phone call from the wife had to be answered by one of them which meant unwrapping the phone from the plastic bag which meant them stopping leaving me in the lead again, but in Fairburn we regrouped to cross the line together to relieve the boredem of the organisers who were waiting outside the hall for the last riders. The tandem and the last group I did not see at the finish hall as I had to leave, but the final refreshment of cold rice pudding and tin of fruit salad was truely wonderful, thank you John Radford for a great ride.
So whats next, well after a weekend off from Audax I’m going to do the Salisbury to Bridport west Bay 200 on Sunday using my sister for B&B, then the week after I’m doing the Peak District Phil & Friends Sportive followed by the climax the summer with the Mildenhall 300 (I hope it really is flat!), yup, I’ve never cycled 180 miles in a day, I think I’m ready…
Then maybe two final 200s to be considered in September Daves Dales Tour from Richmond for my birthday and the Ralph Cross on the 14th as suggested by Barbara.
I’ll let you know how it goes