With bad weather forecast for the Sunday, I was keen to get out and do something on Saturday. I didn't want a route with any steep climbs as I (correctly) didn't think my ankle would be up to much out of the saddle efforts even though it's nearly a month since I sprained it.
I settled on a route from Gargrave over the tops to Settle then to Clapham and over Cross o' Greet to Slaidburn then back via Bolton by Bowland.
It was pretty foggy in the valleys so flashy lights front and back were the order of the day and I made decent time to Airton then it was turn left and the long climb. All this was OK but as I approached the cattle grid on to the moor the road began to get snowy. Fortunately it was clear where vehicles had been so I carried on past the herd of Highland cattle who gave me very funny looks as if to say "Where's me grub?" to the summit. It was here where the fun began and as the descent steepened I remembered an antipodean attempt at snowploughing and decided to walk.
About 200m later I could get back on the bike but the descent still needed care and it took me as long to descend the two miles to Settle as it had done for the three miles of the climb :-( Time to reappraise the plan. Cross o' Greet is about 50m higher than where I'd just been and isn't as well a travelled road, it was likely to be a bit on the tricky side. Direct line to Bolton by Bowland seemed like a better bet as it kept low.
So head down for a bit of personal TT'ing to Rathmel then on to Wigglesworth. Climbing out of here I was passed by another lone cyclist so with him in front I made good time down to BbB. In fact I lost about 200m in total on my unknown target.
The cafe at Bolton by Bowland was open but I was the only customer: "Want a paper to read?" enquired the owner! After a cuppa, it was just the usual long drag over to Halton West and then back via Nappa and Bank Newton. I got back to the car in just under two and a half hours. The first ten miles had taken an hour, the last twenty five an hour and a half.
Due to the state of the roads, my bike was absolutely filthy - I've been mountain biking and come back with cleaner bike! My ankle wasn't too bad, certainly easier on it than the social ride last week.