Way of the Roses Tour, May 2016

The last week of May saw nine members of our club tackle the Way of the Roses, the popular 180 miles coast to coast route from Morecambe to Bridlington

Some of the best cycling touring in the UK is in the backyard of our own beautiful, characterful Yorkshire. Starting from Huddersfield and going first to Slaidburn YHA we took in the best of the Pennines, the Yorkshire Dales and the Wolds. Steady away, perhaps this should be on the club kit, was our approach to the challenge. We had a slow start, two cycling friends under estimated the challenge and wisely decided to bail out before we reached Hebden Bridge. On that long first day we conquered the lung busting climbs to Heptonstall, Widdop Moor and Pendle Hill, our most interesting encounter though was with a troop of scouts dressed in original 1920s type uniforms outside a Chinese Chippie in Clitheroe with their matronly leaders they looked as if they had fallen straight out of an episode of Dads Army. Our first night, after about fifty miles was spent at the cosy YHA in Slaidburn. More climbing on wind swept moors followed the next day as we headed off to Arnside, a beautiful Sandy coastal spot north of Morecambe. Again the highlight was none cycling related, whilst waiting for the hostel to open, we met a damsel in distress, a young comely police woman down on her luck, her bike had punctured and neither she or her mate had any kit to speak of. Well before you could say desperate, most of our elderly male cycling gang had rushed to help her, offering spanners, pumps and in my case a free inner tube to gain favour, But after 10 minutes, and only a quick thank you she disappeared into the sunset. The next day saw us journey to Grassington, wisely we took a decision to avoid the blight and dirt of the Morecambe/Lancaster suburbs. There was a slight delay to replace my broken pedal at Carnforth: and met by an initially grouchy, grumpy geriatric I thought the worst of the repairer. But after a bit of banter about his own WOR record time he turned kind and generous (that is, no labour charge!) The ride then to Settle was relaxed and steady with views on one side of Whernside and on the other Lancashire Fells. Our cycling challenge on the third day was the lung busting, brain bursting climb from Settle village. Steve Fletcher, part Iron man and part android, did it with a 20 kg loaded pannier. Others like me stopped half way and were passed by nine year olds on Mountain bikes. Our third night was spent at a gem of a place Grassington Bunkbarn. One mile out of the town at the end of another sinew stretching climb we had ace views of rivers and valleys in all directions. Great luxury, 60 inch TV with five start hotel showers and thick mattresses gave everyone a bit of welcome comfort. On the fourth day we had the joy of a long climb to the hill above Pately Bridge – some of us stopped off at a magnificient architectural masterpiece at the top of the hill and marvelled at the well hidden limestone quarry below. We blew off the cobwebs with the hair -raising descent into town, and then not quite, blasted up to Brimham rocks. The rest then was all down hill, through Ripon and the flat plains of York to the wonderful flagship of the YHA York Youth hostel. After four nights most of the gang retired home. But Steve Fletcher and I continued through the surprisingly pretty and wonderful Wolds, in warm sunshine, on and into Bridlington. A bit like Batley by the sea we sat outside a cod Italian icecreamery, thinking is this it ?!. But after the lonely, spinster landlady of the B and B had frightened us with tales of murder in bed and breakfast land we could relax until our departure the next day in another bit of affordable luxury. The challenge sort of ended here, but gluttons for punishment Steve and I went back to York, where I chased, and was then ultimately and firmly rejected by an internet date. Both us found just a little more energy cycling back to heavenly Huddersfield with about 350 miles in our legs !

Steve Hall