The weather's been pretty dire for the last few weeks which hasn't been that condusive to climbing. Consequently I've been doing more cycling.
As it happens there are two new(ish) cycling clubs in the area: South Craven Wheelers and Skipton Cycling Club. South Craven meet up down in the village so one Thursday I headed down for an evening ride. Due to the weather forecast there were only three of us. One of these was the cyclist with whom I'd had a "male competitive syndrome" ride in to work a while back. With perfect timing there was a heavy downpour as we set off but after that there wasn't much precipitation. Rather than the advertised ride it was decided to go for a hilly option with West Bank being the first climb - eek!
A couple of more hills later we arrived in Elslack and decided to go for a longer loop out to East Marton and Gargrave. Once back at Elslack we just had the one big hill up on to Pinhaw in our way to get back home. Not a bad ride done at reasonable pace. (Missed the next Thursday ride due to going to watch Alan Davies at Grassington Festival)
This weekend there were two rides organised by Skipton CC: Saturday's was advertised as being a gentle 25 miles and Sunday's was to be a bit brisker, more like South Craven pace. There were a dozen there for Saturday's ride on bikes ranging from carbon fibre racers to city commuting models. The route went round Barden Moor via Bolton Abbey, Appletreewick, Burnsall, Thorpe and Cracoe. Apart from a heavy shower as we passed through Thorpe it was a pleasant ride with a bit of a blast back along the Cracoe - Skipton road.
Sunday's ride was of sterner stuff. The route was Skipton - Cracoe - Threshfield - Halton Gill - Malham - Airton - Gargrave and back. There's a steady climb out of Skipton up to the bypass, this was taken at pace such: "lively" I thought to myself. I began to think that I was likely to spend the day getting dropped out of the back of the group. With regular regroupings we got to Cracoe where I was about 60 metres behind the lead group of four when without warning they sped up and began to pull away. I managed to regain ten metres or so but couldn't close the gap as we were blasting along the flat at about 26MPH. Eventually I caught them up when they pulled up at Threshfield.
I was ready for the next break/effort as we headed towards Kilnsey and didn't have much problem sitting in the small group. Together again we headed up Littondale with the day's main climb ahead. By now it was raining and pretty miserable. There was a bit of a hiatus as we helped out a young lad whose chain had jammed round his bottom bracket but then it was time for the climb. It's not too bad with only a couple of short steep sections but once we got to the top we were in the full force of the wind and I was going at a slower pace on the flat than on the climb! By now we were all soaked from the driving rain so a café stop was called for.
The farm shop at Airton is most welcoming in these situations and after a refuel we were ready to go again. Except that when paying the staff caused the till to lock up so I was late back to my bike. Fortunately, three of the group had waited for me, unfortunately they were keen to catch the others up so another high speed blast down to Gargrave ensued. I got dropped off the back on a short steep pull and wasn't able to regain the group. Once at Gargrave the rest of the group were heading back to Skipton so I headed straight home with just the hill up from Elslack to look forward to again.
My legs definitely feel the exhertions from the efforts. Still it will do me good.