Monday, 16 April 2012

Rota ride - Halifax

A 20 mile charity mtb 'challenge' in aid of the Roarty Club Halifax. I've done a couple of these rides before and quite enjoyed them so it was a good excuse to get out and ride somewhere new. Laughing Dave was very keen on and helped to persuade our Will that he'd enjoy it.
An early o' clock start with a last minute diversion due to an closed road led us over the border and finally to Greetland. Plenty of riders milling around. 'Everybody looks a bit serious.'said Will. And then we found Dave, who didn't. It became obvious that the three of us were all approaching the event from radically different directions. Dave kept calling it a race and was obviously champing at the bit. Will was doing his usual trick of worrying about things and thinking it was going to be massively hard. Me? Well I'd already decided that I was going to just ride round with Will so it wasn't going to be a killing pace. I was doing it on the Voodoo singlespeed and I'd been for a bit of a leg battering run the day before. A nice leg stretcher then.
We lined up in a field behind the community centre and then without much ado we set off. Dave disappeared in a trail of dust (I think he's got a supplier for EPO) and me and Will trundled along near the back. I took time to have a look at the bikes and riders around me. Fair play to the organisers for getting such a cross section taking part. Apart from blokes going to work on shonky owd sheds I don't think I have seen so many cantilever brakes, bar ends and  toe clips in one place for the last 20 years! There was a fair bit of elderly (and saggy) lycra on display too. Shudder. There was plenty of modern stuff too. A lot of full sussers. A bit overbiked for a genteel whiz round the countryside and back lanes of Halifax, I thought.
A few miles into the ride and once we had got some fields, rutted tracks and a bit of road under our belts we hit the first feed station. 'How are you finding it?' enquired the rotary club lady marshal. I almost laughed and said 'Well, it's not really started yet.' but the guy behind us started telling her how he was finding 'the moorland bits rather hard.' Hmm, this was about 3 miles into it...
On we went and I found I was quite enjoying myself. The sun was shining despite the cold, finger numbing breeze, and the route was engaging. Not technical at all but there were some nice bumpy descents and some stiff climbs that I amused myself on by riding past people hamster wheeling their trendy geared bikes on. Shallow I know. I had to wait at the tops for Will to catch up so they all rode past me again probably thinking that I'd killed myself getting past them and then blown up. Hey ho.
At one point we neared the M62, passing under it through a dark tunnel before riding alongside one of the many large reservoirs that the area was teeming with. The next feed stop soon arrived and the two friendly buffers who manned it earnestly asked if we thought the course was marked well enough. I assured them that it was, we had had no problems at all. It must have taken ages to place all the direction arrows around the convoluted course. It was well marshalled too, and there were loads of mountain rescue bods knocking about. 'Oh, very good. it's just that someone rode past us earlier and shouted that it needed more signs.' he said. 'You always get one' I said sagely, whilst munching on an Alpen bar. While we were here someone asked how far we'd come. It turned out we were just over half way. Will said he thought we'd only done about 5 miles. I couldn't quite decide if this meant that he was finding it so easy that the miles were flying by or that he is just crap at judging distance.
On we went, overtaking a group of three middle aged women. Fair play, I thought. Well, I did when they'd shut up rabbiting and stopped blocking the way.Plenty of climbing although a lot of it was on the road. Interesting back paths dropping us down little used routes giving us a sense of exploration as we continued. At one point we got to the end of a descent to be confronted by what looked like a very intricate steel tubing fence. 'Have we gone wrong?' asked Will. Going off the tyre prints in the mud we hadn't so I had another look and worked out it was a weird sort of turnstile thing. Very strange. Until now I had been quite smug in being able to clean every climb that the route had thrown at us. That went for a burton  as it was now steep, no run up, rocky, wet and slippery. It was pretty tricky to push up! Ah well, not such a riding god after all.
Yet another turning off a road led to a hidden downhill delight. This one was covered in that clayey mud that looks ok and encourages you to fly into it only to turn out to be actually bloody lethal. I had a bit of a moment, losing the front and nearly plunging down the drop to the side. Whoops! Waiting at the bottom it appeared that Will had done much the same. We shared a rueful chuckle. Through a farmyard now with what appeared to be all the Jersey cows in the world in it, and then up a steep concrete works road. Soon we were closing on the last feed station. I thought it seemed a bit odd to have one only 2 miles from the finish but it wasn't my gig so I had a swig of watery orange squash and another Alpen bar as I waited for Will. The middle aged women arrived at the same time and I tried to encourage Will to get his finger out by saying how close we were to the end as was he going to be beated by this lot?
Last steep climb of the day enlivened by the (worryingly close) sound of shotguns blasting, and we were on the road back to the community centre. 'Come on Will!' and he did, shooting past me before I could slipstream him, leaving me spinning like the clappers trying to catch him. Traffic chaos at the Centre due to riders leaving had us battling though them to get into the car park. Will's chain came off at this point and, bless him, he did the decent thing and ran in to finish. We were given our times (2 hours 40 odd) and some Rotary club baseball hats that looked a bit 'special needs' to me. We both vowed never to wear the bloody things.
We found Dave in the car park, all changed , fed and watered, ready to go home. He'd been there for quite a while having finished in a very respectable 2 hours dead. He was quite rightly pretty pleased with that and I think we all came away from the event having acheived what we wanted to do. There's a few more of these peculiarly Yorkshire Challenge rides coming up so we may have another trip o'er the border before the year is out.

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