Well, the Etape was finally upon us after numerous weeks of training and the Cappuccino Cycling Club riders looked resplendent in their club jerseys, whilst gathering nervously at the start line in Grassington. We had left Harrogate in sunshine, but by the time we got to the start the clouds were gathering with a hint of rain the air. The boys had loaded their supplies into the back of the car (not that there was much room left after Pete;s mega bucket of stuff) and were ready for the off. Malcolm and James were delighted with the food supplies as this meant they were going to get high on bananas, Jelly Babies and energy gels – thanks chaps for the free food!!!
DS James Lovell and Mr Motivator Malcolm Yates, were also psyched up for the long day ahead and were hoping that the team car was fully geared up to tackle the tough ascents that lay ahead. We waved the boys off and made for our first vantage point on the road near Yockenthwaite. The gang were soon upon us and whizzed by at a good steady rate, riding nicely as a bunch. It was then onto the top of Fleet Moss to watch the them at the top of the first major climb of the day. By now the rain was starting to fall, nothing too heavy, but enough to get you wet. There were loud shouts of encouragement from the team car as the team went past. We then met them for a quick fuel stop a few hundred yards along the road before the very quick descent into Hawes.
At Hawes, DS James and Asst DS Malcolm needed some breakfast, so we made into a nice warm, cosy tea room for a quick cappuccino and a bacon sandwich. This was welcome relief from the worsening weather outside. Needless to say, we felt a touch guilty and got back in the car to join the boys on the road and made for the top of Buttertubs. They had made good progress and we nearly missed them at the top, but a good turn of speed from the car saw us through. At the top we helped a non-member fix a puncture – not sure whay as he was from Scotland, but there you go..
After the winding descent into Swaledale, we then caught and passed the guys before making up the climb to Low Row and over the water splash. We stopped just after the water splash and helped someone who had come off. Once again the CCC boys were not far behind and were still looking pretty fresh. What lay ahead was the long drag up Tan Hill into a blasting headwind. The group riding sessions that Malcolm had drilled into us were put into good effect by the team and we met them at a very windswept Tan Hill Inn. Duncan had suffered a bit on the climb and looked like death warmed up at the top, but he recovered in the warm.
After a slightly prolonged stop, the boys disappeared quickly down into Keld. Whilst they were doing that the team car picked up Nigel from Darlington Tri Club. He was the rider that had fallen off earlier and had actually broken his finger. We then set off and were soon catching the boys up on the next long climb up to Lamps Moss, once again into a blasting headwind!! After being verbally abused by someone who didn’t like us having a team car, it was straight down into Nateby and onto the next rendezvous at the Moorcock Inn. On our way there we were flagged down by another rider who had troubles. This time it was a broken spoke. We agreed to give him a lift to the Moorcock, but if our riders were OK, we would keep him in the car until the end. CCC caught us up again at the Moorcock Inn, but thankfully they were all still fighting fit and looking good.
We left the Moorcock and what lay ahead was not inviting…a very wet and foggy drag up the Coal Road. Once again, the boys looked awesome up the climb and soon were at the top and knocking on at a nice steady pace. It was then another swift descent into Dentdale before another drag up to Newby Head Moss, in what can only be described as a deluge!! The team car was still performing well as were James’ cameras and we made for our next stop at Ribblehead, but alas…the boys didn’t want us and just rode by. They were probably annoyed that we were sitting in the warm car sipping a nice cup of tea!!
We carried on and came across another stranded non-CCC’er. We pulled over and discovered he had a broken chain. There was no space in the car, so Malcolm done his rubber surgical gloves and carried out a precision operation to fix it for him. It was then off to the next feed station at Stainforth. The boys has beaten us there, so it was a quick stop to make sure they were all OK, which they were, before we started the final climb of the day up to Stainforth and on into Littondale. Once again the car did really well on the 20% incline, knocking out a steady rythmn as did the boys who soon caught us up at the top of the climb. We then let them pass us again at the bottom of the Halton Gill descent before making for the finish line back at HQ in Grassington.
It was a great sight to see all of our riders come over the line at various intervals. The training had paid off and what’s more a lot of other riders were commenting on how good we looked.
It was a really amazing day and something that everyone taking part should be extremely proud of the efforts.
Chapeau though to Karl, Pete, Alex, Nick, Duncan, Darrell, Mark, Paul and Dave – you were all awesome!!