Well after the flood that was the christmas/new year holiday last weekend saw a couple of days that could reasonably be described as dry - well it wasn't raining. Everything is still rather overcast however and I've only seen shadows for about ten minutes in the last month.
Saturday morning saw a rather large group or 22 turn up for the club social ride. Almost too many really so we headed out of town in two groups to avoid annoying motorists and regrouped in Carleton. With a wide range of abilities and fitness levels it was inevitable that the group would get split up and it turned out that about half of the group got to the cafe at Malham whilst the slower riders and those of us riding with them settled on the cafe in Airton (both fine establisments by the way). There was a bit of discussion about how to keep the "social" ride, well, social.
I've been provisionally entered for a long sportive (details may follow depending on whether I get an entry) so after the cafe stop I decided to head off on my own over the moors above Malham and return via Littondale and Wharfedale. This did mean heading up one of the steeper climbs in the area, the Cove Road. I've done it a few times before but there was a head wind this time and it was a bit of a struggle even on the easy ground at the top. Fortunately the council have filled in the worst of the pot-holes on the road over to Arncliffe so there was just the short sharp climb of Brootes Lane to deal with before the descent down to Arncliffe and a blast along the valley bottom in to an increasingly strong wind back to Skipton. I got back to the house just as Cath was texting me to see where I was. 50 miles on the clock.
Sunday is the faster ride and just seven of us turned up. The plan was to head out to Barnoldswick to Downham and then back through Bolton by Bowland and Hellifield. The weather was still really overcast and lights were needed for pretty much the whole ride. Barnoldswick took an hour via the quieter back roads, then it was hilly ground to get to Downham - there's no real flow to the roads round this area: narrow roads with short steep climbs followed by descents with blind bends soon pull your average speed down.
The cafe at Downham was empty - I reckon it was because they'd run out of Victoria Sponge. Refreshed, our route continued down to Chatburn before crossing the Ribble and turning for home. One short steep climb then it was fast roads and a good solid effort to get to Bolton by Bowland. It's a nice steady drag out of the village on a good surface but halfway up Ian got a puncture (he'd had two on Saturday) so we had an enforced break. Then it was another effort down to recross the Ribble before rolling in to Hellifield. Getting back to Skipton whilst avoiding the A65 doesn't leave many choices: this time we went via Otterburn and Bell Busk before turning left to pick up the Airton road (I'd never cycled this bit of road before) and then down to Gargrave.
Ian got another two punctures within 800m, something definitely wrong with his rim/tyre to get five punctures on the same wheel in a weekend. At Gargrave I headed back home rather than head in to Skipton but the climb over the top back home felt hard work, I was definitely tired.