Ride leader: Matthew Lowe, t’others were: Paul Bacon, Christina Cooper, Paul Elwell, Paul Russell, Denise Motley, Mick Lee, Martin Crapper.
A nice warmish day for a ride and with so few Blue riders it was obviously going to be a bit further than usual. But, Red riders out of the way, we set off full of expectations and at a leisurely pace. Apy Hill Lane is not steep but may have been the most taxing slope on the days ride! We were hardly warmed up before we got to it but we were not to know that Matt was going to swap ‘hills’ for ‘interest’.
Cockhill Lane, Cockhill Field Lane, Micklebring Lane over the motorway and Lidget Lane got us to Bramley and, unusually, we queued at the traffic lights to get onto the A631 crossing over on the dual carriageway to Wickersley Road and Rotherham Town centre where the interest kicked in. I had no idea you could get to the centre of Sheffield without taking the M18, M1 and Parkway - but you can! I’m not going to describe it all - I was too busy enjoying it to notice where I was. And the tow paths (nearly all paved) were quiet, few cyclists and few pedestrians.
Having got to Sheffield we faced road closures not part of the Lets Ride route but closed to make the real route safe. There was only one road closed to us and the very nice guardian (guardienne?) waved us through on the wrong side. Joining the official route at the half way point (junction of Barker’s Pool and Fargate saw us surrounded by a mass of cyclist. Some extremely competent infants only seemed to come up to the height of my top tube but were pedalling away, Ok wandering about a bit, and enjoying the day.
I might hope to see someone cycling through the winter gardens on a normal day without getting arrested! And at the other side when we reached Charter Row we could see the extent of this mass of riders. But they weren’t on our club ride so I didn’t take their names! They all deserved mention somewhere though. Even spectators get a mention _ hi Mark.
Without any effort whatsoever we were grouped, split up, disappearing, regrouping all the way to Endcliffe Park where the official start was. Well it was there somewhere amid the mass of corporate awnings. We saw a queue so joined it. Fortunately Denise had her head on right and checked what we were queueing for - so we moved on to grab a Tabard each for a different area (with no queue).
After a bit of a discussion and some negotiating with Mark, who selflessly abandoned his safe café seat to arrange to pick up Denise later, we set off, slightly bypassing the starting gate to join the throbbing mass. retracing our way back almost to the Winter Gardens we hit the back of a backlog. Matts home ground this, so we took to a footpath whipped round the barriers and headed for lunch at “Tamper”.
The food was delicious and coffees superb and we had almost finished when Mark arrived, double or triple parking nearby and “dragged” Denise off to go - wherever they went. Matt wisely agreed to lead us back part of the way, daily because he didn’t want us hanging around his patch any longer than necessary. And then he left Paul in charge. Had it been me I would have panicked but not Paul, what he didn’t know he made up and we managed to follow the canals back to Rotherham more or less the way we arrived.
Missing a turn we went around Clifton Park rejoining the outward route on Wickersley Road. Mick went off (home?) at the roundabout on Rotherham road and we a little later diverted through Bramley to avoid the main road. At Braithwell Christina left us to go home and we were down to 4.
Safely back we all agreed on the fascination of the route and want more of the same or similar. Of course the lack of hills might be an influence!
Thanks guys, Some photos follow!