A Ride with the Imps – 22 February 2015

Our Sunday ride to Yeadon was changed so that instead of finding our own way to the airport we joined the annual “55 miles in six hours” reliability ride organised by our friends at the Halifax Imperial Wheelers. A look at their route indicated that I would be able to promise anyone who rode with me that:-
1. We would get round within the time limit;
2. We would not get lost;
3. We would have a cafe stop.
Sarah, Sean and Mark decided to take me up on this; John Lumb decided to join the fast boys (no girls), and groupie Dave Scott rode with us from the start to Odsal where we turned right and he turned left back to Halifax.

We rode in a group of 10 riders that stayed together all the way around the Bradford Ring road to Pool and Otley, but the others went off the front after we crossed over the Wharfe after Pool. The back roads alongside the river between Otley/Askwith/Ilkley/Beamsley are perfect for cycling, and it was no surprise to see hundreds of other riders on this stretch. Surprisingly, given the large numbers who are members of Ilkley CC and Otley CC most of the riders we saw were riding alone or in pairs.

We were back on the main roads after Bolton Bridge, but the traffic was very light and we had over 3 hours to complete the last 20 miles. We therefore had time – as promised- for a cafe stop at Rossis in Keighley. There were bikes parked outside which we assumed belonged to folk on our ride, but once inside we discovered that they belonged to Joe and Co. from Huddersfield and District CTC, who had ridden over to Cliffe Castle – a ride shortened because the cafe at Gargrave was being renovated.

It was drizzling a bit when we went inside the cafe, but when we emerged it was raining quite heavily. As we rode up Ingrow to Crossroads the rain became snow, and the nearer we got to the top it became sleet. Mark and Sarah went off the front at this point, and were out of sight by the time Sean and I reached the Five Flags junction. By this time the weather was simply appalling – slush on the road, and a wind in our faces carrying large quantities of sleet. The only redeeming factor was that the climbing was now over. If anyone asks me things I remember from this ride, it will be the sight of an elderly gentleman clearing several inches of snow from his car at Asa Nicholson’s. And the Imps rider who caught us at Queensbury lights. He told us he could not feel his fingers, and to prove the point he took off his gloves and squeezed them, depositing a large amount of water on the ground.

The scene was reminiscent of the final hours of Captain Scott’s fateful expedition to the Antarctic, gaunt people sitting around in silence contemplating their fate.

But the ride was now almost over, and Sean and I rolled into the car park at the Yew Tree with nearly 45 minutes in hand. Inside the scene was reminiscent of the final hours of Captain Scott’s fateful expedition to the Antarctic, gaunt people sitting around in silence contemplating their fate. Hot food was ordered not to be eaten, but to be held in hands as a means of warming them up. Assuming we would have been more or less the last to finish, I asked organiser JK to confirm this, but he said there were some folk still out there. After a few minutes some of the older Imps arrived, dripping and frozen, and as I left to return home to watch the second half of Everton v Leicester Mark and Sarah rolled in having inadvertently decided that the ride was not quite long enough and that a diversion via Halifax was called for.

The numbers on this ride were down on previous years, probably because many potential participants had looked at the weather forecast and decided that staying in bed was a more sensible option. Thanks to those who flew the flag for Calderdale CTC, let’s hope for better weather next time around. Or if we were to run this as a club ride as part of the 2015 programme.