The weather couldn’t make top its mind and the forecasters were equally unhelpful. The optimists - Blue riders to a man - were there with only one rain jacket between them. And he wasn’t sharing!
We were only three - Rob Drohan, John Clark and Martin Crapper (me). The skies were a bit clear/a bit overcast but my weather app said no rain. So we waited under the eaves whilst the drizzle came down. A minute or so later it stopped and we set off.
As we went around the back streets and on towards Apy Hill we were hoping that the rain stayed away but not wishing to divert to Retford as the Red ride had said they would. They didn’t but that’s their storey! We had very light breeze and chatted our way along the gentle slope, passed the piles of fly tipping and on towards Braithwell. Amongst the road-kill we saw a young deer which looked as though it has lost the battle with a vehicle.
Sorry that’s the end of doom and gloom for a bit. We had an easy ride through Braithwell and Micklebring taking one of the two (yes two) Back Roads out and onwards. The planned route which we followed took us into Ravenfield and Old Ravenfield and over the top towards Hooton Roberts. I had a nervous ride down to the main road, memories of failing brakes and all that goes with them were rife. Memo to me: Must get brakes fixed on the other bike!
With a bit of help from the breeze we made it into Kilnhurst at what seemed like a red ride rather than a Blue ride pace and stopped for a planning meeting just before the hills started. No I didn’t need a rest, I needed to let them know they could wait at the top on the off chance they got there first. I got there in the middle if you are still with me
Once at the top and onto the less busy roads we were able to enjoy ourselves even more. John seemed to take it in his stride, Rob and I took turns to be at the back, breathless but conscious!
Hoober stand was still visible up on the hill as we swept along the valley and we were at the café parked and sitting inside fairly quickly.
As a break with tradition I had hot chocolate and a scone. Hot Chocolate was good! The knitting, sewing and tea pot collection were OK.
Despite knowing that all the hills were in front of us we set off promptly, back tracking for a while but then going into Nether Haugh and making our way through industrial areas to Parkgate, passed the Fitzwilliam Road round-about and up towards Dalton. From here on I either struggled on the hills or generously went slow to give the guys time to rest at the top. John had plenty of time to photograph me gasping almost at the top. Somewhere along the way we had stopped twice. Once for the group photo I had otherwise forgotten to take and secondly because I had a puncture and was getting sprayed in slime (Stans slime to be precise). I had a second puncture related stop a little later in order to pump the thing up again. Fortunately it held until we got back (and is still OK).
We headed back into Ravenfield and then straight into Braithwell and with little traffic there was no problem getting through the village and onto 5 lane ends at the top of the Edlington road. We headed South and Rob left us at the Stainton turning going home via Maltby. We went through the village and turned left towards the quarry entrance before turning along Tickhill Back lane and home.
I don’t remember being so tired! Most of the climbing was done in the last 10 miles - who planned this route - he should know better!