Social ride reports for 6th November

Winter bit this weekend. Raw and uncompromising, it required a certain level of grit and/or madness to take part on Sunday, but true to form we still managed 4 social rides, and came out the other side with smiles and some beautiful prose as you can read below…

Strenuous ride to Thruscross

Christine’s report…
Who is the leader, who the led? What is the source of on-bike confidence? And the big one – why are we doing this? There was ample time to muse on these and other questions when conversation stalled, as we pedalled hard downhill towards Blubberhouses against a stiff north wind laced with icy rain. Yes, we were wet, but for now at least we were warm, after the climb to Snowden, and a pointless loop- adding in more early hills and skirting both the wind and traffic on the Askwith Moor Road.
The drizzle had turned to full-on rain well before we reached the scenic photo-stop on the dam overlooking Thruscross reservoir. We glanced down at an energetic cabal of kayakers in the water far below. Jim observed that they were probably having more fun than us, their sport better suited to the conditions. They certainly looked drier. image1-6
Our philosophical musings drew us back to our recent Mallorca experience. All agreed that we prefer warm-weather cycling. But as Carol observed – impressing me not only with her stoical pragmatism, but also with her ability to talk on yet another 14% incline – we live here, and have no choice but to put up with the weather if we want to ride.

And there were consolations. Our joy was palpable as our cafe stop came into view. “I love this place!” Jim spoke for us all. The warm embrace of Cobby Syke Farm cafe restored our equilibrium as our gloves and caps were laid out on the radiators. Julia’s bacon and egg butty was as big as a bicycle wheel. The coffee was a warming rich Italian. I had two. And there was more solace in small things. Our clothes were warmed, if not dry, as we left the cafe. A weak sun greeted us on our departure. And our cycling hearts leapt as we sped along stretches of smooth, newly-laid tarmac on Jack Hill Lane.image3

A strenuous social ride with only four hardy cyclists is more a collaborative effort than one needing a single decisive leader. Just as well, given that this nominal, direction-blind and technologically-challenged leader was also still spooked from an appointment with the tarmac on the ride reconnaissance. So it was Julia who urged flagging spirits to choose the hiller option for the final leg, along the gated road, with a final punchy climb to the primary school in Farnley, before the familiar and happy descent into Otley.


The hills were many and steep. The weather was mostly foul. And yes, it often felt more challenge than delight. But we had laughed together in the face of the weather, embraced the hills, notched up some good climbing. Sometimes, it’s only when things are over that you can answer the question, Why?

 Gentle ride to North Rigton

Steve’s report…

We had originally planned 2 gentle groups but suspect that bonfire hangovers and wet and windy forecasts had a big impact meaning that our other ride leader and backmarker could have the day off (so they both went home !!!) .

So 5 of us set-off for North Rigton , Andy, Adele , a potential new member Fraser and Claire doing a grand job back marking . (Apologies if names are wrong I’m hopeless with names ! )

After an early loo stop on old Pool Road , we “enjoyed” a variety of weather as we wound our way along to North Rigton and the Square & Compass for coffee , an awesome bacon roll and a slightly random shot of smarties (other small coloured chocolate sweets are available).
Whilst in the cafe the sun came out giving us a thoroughly enjoyable (mainly downhill ) ride back to Otley with just a little hop over Farnley to make sure everyone earned their beer !!

Almost incident free ride – here’s hoping Chip has managed to get his bike rack fixed !

Stretching ride to Washburn Heritage Centre

Ann’s report…

Today’s weather forecast : Heavy rain from 9.00am, so I wasn’t expecting quite such a great turnout at the Buttercross today. We’re obviously a hardy lot in Otley!

My group of 10 riders set off just as said rain started to fall … and unfortunately one of our group had forgotten his rain jacket! A chilly start was soon forgotten as we warmed up on the road to Farnley. It was definitely a grey day but the autumn colours were trying their best to delight us. We took a convoluted route via Leathley and Beckwithshaw before we tackled the dreaded headwind of Norwood & Broad Dubb Lanes, but I could hear lots of chatter behind me so it obviously wasn’t as difficult as we expected! Unlike the approach to the Washburn Heritage Centre where my chain slipped off and so did I! Ouch – but this little delay did mean we arrived at the cafe just as it was opening – I planned it that way really!fewston-img_4195

A few of our riders had never experienced the lovely welcome and delicious cakes that Washburn has to offer and all agreed that they would definitely be back!


After an enjoyable cafe stop our group set off in the chilly wind to head over to Timble. To everyone’s delight our climb up to Snowden was aided by a very welcome tailwind and we soon found ourselves on a fast descent to Askwith before returning to The Fleece in Otley for beer & chips and a bit of football talk. Ken was surprisingly chipper despite his team getting thrashed yesterday!

Thanks to Carolyn for great back marking and thanks to the rest of our group for great company on a lovely OCC bike ride.

Stretching ride diverted to Pine Marten near Harlow Carr

Jill’s report…

As we left Otley there was a cold wind and the forecast rain started to fall. Not the most promising of starts and as we climbed higher the headwind was more apparent so we decided on a change of route, heading towards Burn Bridge. We were all pretty cold by the time we arrived at the Pine Marten where we were literally given a very warm welcome with a lovely fire being lit for us. The sausage sandwiches were very good and the artwork in the Gents toilet caused some comment, with some people visiting twice! The heavy rain failed to materialise and a sheltered ride back with a tailwind in places made for a good ride, keeping warm by climbing hills. Many thanks to Graham for backmarking.