Sunday, 19 May 2013

York hen party trip

This weekend I loaded my bike panniers up & set forth towards York to meet up with the hen party goers. Rather than trekking on the road, I'd planned to take the Leeds Liverpool Canal all the way to it's eastern end and then join some of the National Cycle Route.

I started on the familiar stretch of Route 68 that the RSF Family Friendly Group ride on a regular basis.  I had planned on doing the ride as a DIY 100k Audax, I set my gps to record.
Pendle Hill from Reedley Marina
I was making fantastic time and had reached Salterforth in an hour. This stretch was the easy part though. It's well surfaced until you reach East Marton.

A bumpy stretch of tow path slowed my progress significantly. With heavy panniers in tow, rutted ground made the rear of my bike a little unsteady and there were one or two hairy moments where I had to fight to stay out of the water. It made things interesting... pretty much all the way Bingley.

The pretty views kept my spirits up as I slogged on.

Looking at the ground, there were dozens of muddy tyre tracks all over the place, its very obvious that people want to cycle here & do cycle here, so why the local authorities in the area dont put some proper provision of a decent track down, goodness only knows. Improving the towpath quality would keep it in better condition for everyone to enjoy!

I was very pleased when some smoother surface was under my wheels again. Cycling on the canal when carrying a load means one thing; unrelenting peddling! Bingley's Five lock rise was pretty much the only bit of free-wheeling of the day. But I stopped to take a picture :-)

My progress was going guns again and I reached Shipley and onto Leeds without much effort.

I met a father & son who had cycled from Liverpool on the canal over the course of the week. I dont often see young teenagers touring, so it was refreshing to see this lad out & about with his dad. After chatting for a while, I sped off - I still had some miles to cover.

The ride towards Leeds had lovely open views before the cityscape appeared. In the bright sunshine, the modern high-rise buildings made the city look more American than British and the canal took me right into the heart of a newly developed area.
From here, I followed the Route 66 signs, which took me out of the city without fuss. One deprived area was a bit grim (probably more so because I was on my own in an unfamiliar place), but I quickly left that behind and found myself in the blubell lined woods leading to Temple Newsham, where I decided to have my lunch... at 3pm!

From here I'd planned to use various bridleways to take me to Tadcaster. I reached for my gps... it had glitched and was not recording my route. I was somewhat irritated that this meant I couldnt submit the ride as an Audax and I was making reasonable time on the route. Heyho.

I beetled round various interesting looking bridleways enjoying seeing what I could find now I didnt have a time limit to make.

fields of lovely smelling rape
I reached Saxton, where my b&b for the night was and called them up to check if I should turn left or right at the main road.
When I arrived, they were stoking a fire for me and I had a big pot of tea and a slice of cake waiting. It was certainly a warm welcome at the Old Presbytery b&b and I enjoyed relaxing in the chair listening to the clock tick and the fire crackle - after a day in the saddle, I could have fallen asleep there and then!
I wandered into the village for a pub tea and returning, the other guest had checked in for the night & we nattered for a few hours by the fire.

By morning, the rains had arrived, it was drizzling as I had breakfast, but by the time I was due to leave, it was torrential. I had a short ride into Church Fenton to get the train to York (I had planned on cycling, until I saw the forecast) & was sopping by the time I got on the train.
waiting to board
I dropped my bike off at the secure cycle parking and enjoyed a lovely weekend of hen-do festivities including a chocolate making workshop at the Cocoa House York followed by a lovely canal boat cruise with a bbq and dancing in the evening.  There was much singing, dancing & drinking!

 Thankfully we did not literally 'rock the boat'

York Minster
The train journey home

 I wasnt so rough that a ride home would have been tough, but I got the train home to enjoy the company and have a leisurely morning in York enjoying the sunshine and the spring flowers in the minster gardens.

More party fun when the wedding arrives. I might convince Stephen to cycle to the wedding - after all, it's not as far away as the hen do was!!

My legs are now feeling better prepared for the summer's 300+mile tour.  In fact, when I got off the train, I had a mile of uphill and even with a loaded bike and high heels, I managed to sail past a guy on a road bike (always a good feeling - tho I'm often overtaken by real speedsters).

And I'm now decided that I'll stick to organised Audax rides rather than faff around with technology that somehow always seems to let me down.

Cyclofemme 2013

We braved the rains to ride into the hills on May 12th this year.
It started off a lovely day with a nice tail wind.

Making new friends is the lovely thing about cycling.  I met awesome Rose, a tri-athelete who was brimming with enthusiasm for the ride.
Chatting and cycling makes the ride go by much easier.

And the hills seem a little less daunting.

 After lunch the rains came in. Hours of riding into a wet headwind.

But I still had a smile by the end.

Thanks to Ian for organising a memorable group ride & taking pics to fondly remember the occasion ;-p