To the rest of the planet we probably look pretty weird in lycra, but on Sunday we upped our game to a whole new level. Hurrah! As a result I think more was done for cyclist-driver relations in 2 hours than many an activist campaign. We got more waves than Scarborough beach as we peddled Christmas cheer through the back roads of Wharfedale dressed as Santas (some racier than others), elves, snow-women, fairies, reindeers, christmas presents, angels, a jester, and a part edible christmas tree. And all that whilst sober!
The drinking and dining came after, as the club enjoyed an 80 strong meal at the Wharfedale. Major thanks must be given to the pub for efficiently catering for us all for another year, and also to Pam Baxter for once again organising the meal, taking the monies, and herding us into place – no mean feat.
So here’s what happened on our pre-meal social rides…
A ride to the stable to see the donkeys
The donkey ride was a popular option, with many of our experienced riders having realised that wearing costumes and cycling is best done slowly and gently!! We made for a colourful procession as we left Otley and got lots of appreciative toots from many drivers. The donkey sanctuary was as welcoming as ever and we spent time drinking tea and admiring the donkeys. Heather and Phil made a special bond with Harry!
After leaving the donkey sanctuary we had a tandem mechanical and realised that bike oil and Christmas costumes are not a good mix. We arrived at the pub just in time to take our seats for the Christmas dinner, many thanks to Heather for being a great back marker and to Phil and Mike for your advice on the mechanical.
Sarah’s Elves go wild(ish) in Burley
Our group of 8 set off on the back road out of Otley weaving through the car park as the fair was setting up. After giving Steve a hard time about not dressing up we chatted along to the iron bridge with many waves from cars. Always nice to catch up with old friends and meet new people. A little tour through Burley brought us out on Menston Old Road and managed to get some lovely views. After passing Becky’s house in High Royds and then Hazel’s house near Wetherby Whaler we decided not to stop for coffee and get to the pub in plenty of time for a drink but I think everyone else had the same idea as it was packed when we got there. No punctures and no tinsel blew off -just Julie’s reindeer ears needed attention. A great ride and good fun from my lovely group.
Up the Chevin with Mark
Our group of eight riders, decked out in a merry assortment of Xmas attire, took on Santa’s Chevin Chase – led by Mark Sage and back-marked by John Barnett. After skirting our way around the Victorian Market, we huffed and puffed our way up West Chevin Rd – overheating somewhat from the extra layers of our costumes! Stopping for a breather near Surprise View, we were accosted by a gentleman from a house we’d stopped outside. Expecting a stern word about moving on, we were very pleasantly surprised to find out he wanted to take our picture (he made a good job of it too- see below!).
We pressed on via a very busy and seemingly pot hole ridden Bramhope, Adel and Eccup, taking the track behind the Grammar School to Alwoodley. On reaching Wigton Lane we opted to skip the coffee break in favour of a slight detour in order to add an extra couple of miles to our ride. We therefore took Stair Foot Lane back to Adel and at Five Lane Ends we took Eccup Lane and Black Hill Lane where we were met with the very welcome sight of one of our other groups emerging from the Donkey Sanctuary. A few quick hellos and we then hit the thrilling descent of Black Hill Road and then Arthington Lane which took us to the Wharfedale pub for our Xmas dinner for which we’d certainly worked up an appetite.
What a fabulous few hours we had in the Wharfedale – much merriment was had by all and we really didn’t want it to come to an end. A huge thank you to Pam Baxter for organising it all. A top day all round!
Taking the Reindeer rutting in Harewood
There were a couple of reindeer in our number, as we set off for a deer park… what could possibly go wrong? There was also a man in a Santa skinsuit, a huge elf with a tiny Santa on a tandem, and a man in a fluffy g-string and basque… something had already gone wrong! Why were all these weirdos following me?
Needless to say looking like that we received a lot of honks, and took the opportunity to shout ‘have you seen a sleigh anywhere?’ to awestruck children that we rode past.
Upon entering Harewood Park, we had gone no more than 20 yards when a huge stag leapt the fence in front of us and crossed the road – I kid you not! Trish and Chip (our reindeer) were quaking in their boots as the stag gave them a cheeky wink, but Michael strode forward in his basque, utterly fearless, and shooed him away. After that excitement, Muddy Boots cafe was a welcome sanctuary, where the wonderful owners insisted on taking our photograph for their facebook page.
We also learnt that, in a triumph of weight-awareness over aero-dynamics, Chip had spent the night before re-stuffing his reindeer with lighter-weight of filling. He’s a pro that man!
A big thank you to Steve for back-marking! It was all a ball 🙂
Hark to the Hills
The hark to the hills group of seven bright shiners sang ‘O Little Town’ in the square for Otley and then toiled up to Farnley and over to Almscliffe with a ‘Hark the Herald’ on the way and ‘While Shepherds’ at the foot of the crag. It was all very fitting and as we gazed over our sheep and the green pastures and we really grew a nice sound as a choir. It might catch on.
Despite the extra lung work out and one cherub on a Brompton we even did some extra miles to take in the lovely end of year skies, fields and bird life. Several less adventurous cyclists hailed us with odd refrains of Christmas song (not as refined as our offering) but we pedalled beatifically on smug in our harmonious virtue and building a fine appetite. We captured everything on this ride; the spirit of Christmas, a very fine favourite route to the crag, superb winter views, crazy costumes and the determination to create some space for festive food.
Another Christmas donkey ride…