Dallowgill – 6th January 2013

Winter Cycling in Yorkshire at its Best….

New Year, gorgeous weather, stunning scenery….time for a blog post/ride report.

Today was the first Sunday club run of the year and the unseasonably warm weather dragged 22 Cappo’s out of bed for a few hills.  We split into two groups and headed for the hills.  The route out of Harrogate was a familiar one over the old packhorse bridge in Knox Mill before heading out towards Hampsthwaite, where the steady group picked up Julie P who was waiting outside Sophie’s Tea Room.

From Hampsthwaite is was up Clint Bank to Burnt Yates, where the steady group was past by the faster group.  Both groups now headed for Brimham Rocks via slightly different routes.  By the time we reached Brimham the mist had thinned and we were in gorgeous sunshine and were being rewarded with stunning views out across the Vale of York and towards the North Yorkshire Moors.

Next target was Dallowgill Moor, which represented the last of the significant climbing for the day.  Once on the top and past the Devil’s Elbow it was time for some swift descending all the way down through Laverton, Kirkby Malzeard and on to Ripon.  From Ripon we returned to Harrogate through Littlethorpe, Bishop Monkton, Markington and Ripley before retracing our route through Knox Mill for some well deserved coffee and strudel at the ever welcoming Cafe Rosso.

This was a great start to Sunday club runs for 2013 and after today it is easy to see why Yorkshire has been picked to host the Grand Depart for the Tour de France in 2014.

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York – 5th August 2012

This Sunday was the first time we have been able to properly run two ride options for our club ride on a Sunday morning.  Due to growing numbers we are now able to offer our members a steadier ride, based on the original ride format of the club and a faster, longer ride for those riders who are able.

The aim this week was to head for York.  Karl had a route planned for the faster group that would head out to York via Bramham and Cawood.  And James, led a group for a more direct route to York through Tockwith and Long Marston.  Both groups met in York at the 1331 Cafe on Grape Lane for some good grub – especially the Eggy Bread, before heading back to Harrogate.

The steadier ride ended up being just over 50 miles, with the quicker group riding around 65 miles, with everyone back in Harrogate in time for lunch.

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2012 Etape du Tour by Martin Gatenby

Etape du Tour 2012 Act 1 Albertville to La Toussiere

There is something strangely liberating about arriving for the start of a huge bike ride knowing that you haven’t done enough training. If I’d followed the advice of Dennis Hunter (Youth coach of Hull Thursday Road Club, circa 1979), I would have ‘ridden my bloody bike’ a lot more that I had when I packed it away and set of for Albertville to do Act 1 of the 2012 Etape du Tour.

I’d only done three rides over 100k so far this year, and even if one of those was the Paris Roubaix it was still a long way from enough. Having done OK on that day in April, I’d convinced myself that I was reasonably fit, and would be OK for the mountains of France in July. Even so, I knew that a fantastic performance was totally out of the question, so decided that my tactic for the day would be to simply enjoy a grand day out on my bike.

As I turned off my alarm at five o’clock in the morning on the day of the race, I thought I could hear rain outside. This was a bitter surprise having enjoyed glorious sunshine as we signed on for our numbers the day before, when we’d spend the afternoon watching Wiggo take the yellow jersey, and the thin walls of our hotel had meant we’d heard the shouts of all the British fans in the rooms around us yelling at the television. As I started to get ready and set off down for my pre ride breakfast, my room mate looked out and confirmed that it was raining heavily, and there didn’t seem to be any breaks in the clouds rolling off the mountains.

We rode the kilometre of so to the start and filed into our start pen, and sat hoping that the rain would stop. It eased just as we set off, and the huge peleton rode gingerly out of town. It was much more settled than past Etapes I had ridden, and we covered the first twenty kilometres to the foot of the Col de Madeleine at a steady pace, sitting in with a large group. That was the only flat bit of road we rode on all day.

Not having any type of speedo or bike computer, I just relied on the stone kilometre markers at the side of the road to measure my progress. They seemed to come round reasonably quickly, but a look at my watch showed that the first kilometre had taken six minutes. This didn’t seem too bad, but the kilometre stone I passed next said ‘sommet 23km’ – over to hours of climbing before I was going to crest the first of four mountain peaks of the day. I was amazed to see a young neo pro in full AG2R kit sprint past me, then sprint through gaps as they formed in the huge group of riders ahead. The rain had given way to sunshine by now, and the air was hot and humid. By the time I’d got to within 5k of the top, I had to stop to take my rain jacket off, which at least allowed the fans to see my CCC jersey, something which they had plenty of time to do as I was really feeling the gradient by this time.

As ever, the top of the col was magnificent, with stunning views all around. Speeding down the other side, I realised I needed to put my sunglasses back on, but once I’d managed this, I found that they were still so steamed up and dirty that I had to take them back off just to see where I was going.

Next came the Col du Glandon, which was another climb of over two hours, with the last three kilometres into a strong block headwind, before climbing on to the last bit of the Col du Croix de Fer. Three cols done – and it was just time for lunch. I grabbed a bite to eat before taking a snap of probably the most scenic pissoir I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t resist making use of this before setting off down the other side. I don’t think I’ll ever have chance to empty my bladder with such a view ever again.


By now it was obvious that this ride was a lot harder than I had thought it would be and I knew that the rest of it would be tough. Even the 5.7k Col du Mollard was quite hard, then at last, we got to the final climb to La Toussiere.

This was actually the back of the Col du Croix de Fer which I had just descended, and was a hard climb despite ‘only’ being a cat 1. The crowds were quite big at this time, including a brass band playing a White Stripes song, accompanied by about twenty pensioners who were, to put it mildly, as pissed as farts. I’d misread a sign on the hill, and was furious when I saw the ‘arrive 3k’ sign, because I thought it was going to say 2k to go. I wanted to get off my bike and rip the sign up, but thought better of it and took advantage of a short bit of flat road to get my breath back before the one kilometre to go red kite came into view. This always brings on a surge of adrenalin, and I even managed a sprint and an ironic victory salute as I finally crossed the line, before finding our tour operators tent and stuffing myself with handfuls of crisps and about a litre of coke. We had a long wait for our transport back, when the coach driver went the wrong way twice, before he finally dropped us, starving and craving a few restorative beers, at our hotel.

There were 10000 entrants to the event, about 7500 made the start, and only 3000 made the time cut. The broom wagons had to allow an extra two hours, such was the level of attrition. I achieved my objective of a grand day out on my bike, but if there’s ever a next time, I’ll just make sure I do a bit more of JRYBB.

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Marton-cum-Grafton – 29th April 2012

After days of rain, there was little change on Sunday morning and with a worsening forecast, there were only 5 riders on the starting line, including a new rider, Ian.  Welcome to the CCC fold Ian!

With the weather in mind, we decided to keep it fairly local and short and opted for a 30 mile route out around Boroughbridge and Marton-cum-Grafton.  With the early signs of rain in the air and a biting NE wind, we headed down into Knaresborough and out through Lingerfield and Farnham.  JC’s knee was still giving him some grief, so he left us near Staveley for an easy ride home, with the rest of us continuing into the headwind to Minskip and Boroughbridge.

We turned down Grafton Lane and finally got the wind on our backs.  We passed the Punch Bowl, which sparked some chat about what an idiot Neil Morrisey was thinking he could turn it into a gastro-pub and brew his own beer, before then heading towards Arkendale.  The return to Harrogate was a fairly familiar one through Goldsborough and along the riverside, before the all to familiar ascent of Knaresborough Hill.  The rain was now fairly steady so the sight of Cafe Rosso, some nice hot Cappuccino and some food was very welcome.

I nice steady 30 mile ride, but by the end of it we were all soaked!

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Paris Roubaix – 1st April 2012

Author: Martin Gatenby


5 a.m is not he ideal time to be stuffing yourself with bread, cereal and pancakes, but a 40 mile coach trip to arrive in St Quentin for the 7.30 am start didn’t really give us much option. By the time we set off, the thermometer was telling us that it was four degrees centigrade, but with a promise of blue skies and warmer conditions for later in the day. Whilst the event gives you something approaching a professional experience, this doesn’t include team cars where you can dump extra layers of clothing as the day warms up, so there was much debate as to what to wear.

We arrived at the start about twenty minutes before the first group was going to be released. Gendarmes were unloading moto cross bikes from trailers, and riding them around the start area, standing on the footrests and revving the engines. If the cheesy music blaring over the PA hadn’t already woken up the whole neighbourhood, then they would surely wake up anyone who was still sleeping.

It has seemed like a good idea at the time when my pal Richard had blagged us better start numbers, moving us into the third group to set off. As we lined up, I was less sure. Lots of young guys, team bikes, matching jerseys, shaved legs. A slight feeling of being out of my depth came over me. This was reinforced for the first couple of kilometres. There was no gentle warm up, no taking it easy just to get your legs going. The speed was high right from the second we crossed the line. Fortunately I was sticking to my plan –‘slipstream a fat Belgian’. Except there weren’t any fat Belgiians, just fit looking French club cyclists.

As we left town the roads opened up a bit, and I found I could move around the group reasonably well. After about 10k, there was a slight rise in the road, and as the group slowed a bit, I found myself getting nearer and nearer the front. I drew up alongside Richard and just said ‘I’m not wasting this’. I moved up and up the line until I found myself on the front of the group. I just stuck my head down and pedalled as hard as I could. It was an amazing feeling – ahead of me nothing but two motorbikes and a French sunrise, behind me a 300 strong peleton, all strung out. It was probably the best moment I’d ever had on a bike.

The speed stayed high, but I found that I could stay in the top twenty or so riders without too much trouble, just riding in the wheels of others, sometimes closing gaps as they appeared. We passed a sign saying that we had already covered 20k, and when I looked at my watch, we’d been going 32 minutes.

After 38k on rolling roads, and a crazy average speed we arrived in a village called Troisville. I knew this name held some vague memory for me, and then I realised why, as we rounded a bend and saw the first stretch of pave. This was what we’d come for!

Nothing, but nothing, can describe the bumping, jarring shaking sensation of hitting the cobbles. It’s almost impossible to hold the bars properly, and even the noise is almost deafening as every part of your bike seems as if it’s about to shake itself to bits. Looking around is difficult, changing gear almost impossible. In the dry, like it was for us, you can at least ride down some of the gutters at the side, but you need to be careful of the huge potholes. The other option is to ride straight down the middle, on the crown of the road, where the stones haven’t been quite so badly damaged by farm traffic. The problem with the ‘gutter option’ is that the other gutter always looks better that the one you’re in, so you spend half your time switching sides, and having to get across the cobbles. All the sections were marked at the start to say how long they are, so at least I had some idea of what was ahead. At the end of the first section, the 300 strong group I was in had completely disintegrated, but there were enough riders around to get into a fair sized group and keep a decent speed up.

This was how the ride continued – every group I got in seemed to work together quite well, and I started to notice that I was seeing the same people time after time. Each section of pave broke groups up, but there was always another group to join.

Then, on a fast straight bit of road when I was in a group of about 15, someone shouted ‘Arenberg, Arenberg’. I looked ahead, and could see a long avenue of high trees with a huge gantry high above. I recognised it from hundreds of old cycling magazines and films – one of the most famous bits of road in the history of cycling – the Arenberg forest. All of the group looked at each other nervously, and the chap to my right, on a very nice steel Colnago told me it was best to try to stay to the right, because the road was better there.

Hitting the cobbles here made everything that had gone before seem easy. It was as if someone had laid a dry stone wall flat, and called it a road. I’m sure its a lovely place for a bike ride, as there’s even a nice cycle path down one side, which the organisers had thoughtfully cordoned off to ensure the authenticity of our experience. I rode some of it in the gutter, but made sure the photographer got me when I was riding straight down the middle of the road. There was quite a bit of celebrating at the end of the Arenberg, before the routine of getting into a fast group to make up time was resumed.

I never saw a sign for Roubaix, but there were signs counting off each 20k that we had covered. At the last feed I downed a couple of cokes and a banana, and a nice chap in a beret told me there was 30k left to cover. I never saw a sign for Roubaix in all this time, but noticed that the cobbled sectors had counted down to just one to go. I recognised the long straight run towards the velodrome from seeing it so many times on television. Its actually quite a steady climb, but I was so full of adrenaline that it didn’t seem to matter. I saw one large building which looked like a stadium, but realised that it was too modern to be the velodrome. Then, over the rooftops I could see the floodlight pylons, again familiar from my youth.

There’s one last piece of token cobbles on the approach to the velodrome, which just made me think of Eurodisney for some reason, Probably because it just seemed so artificial. Then a right turn, a long sweeping left, and the entry to the velodrome itself. I must admit I was pretty overwhelmed thinking of some other people who’d ridden that very bit of road. Not just the modern generations of greats like Boonen and Cancellara, but so many other names ran through my mind – Museuw, Kelly, Hinualt, de Vlaemick, Merckx, Coppi………and now me.

I’d ridden the last few kilometres entirely on my own, which meant I got the chance to fulfil a boyhood dream. I rode into the stadium completely alone. I could hear the commentator on the PA, and enjoyed the brief applause of people lining the entrance, all probably eagerly awaiting someone they knew. Another surge of adrenalin and emotion helped increase my speed as I came into the final straight. I’d lived this moment many times as a boy, so I knew what to do….Pull jersey straight, adjust glasses to the right angle, sit up, lift my arms and coast over the line.

Absolutely bloody fantastic!

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Pateley Bridge & Greenhow Hill – 1st April 2012

There was no fooling the weather this morning – it was a great start to April, albeit a bit on the chilly side, but spirits in the CCC peleton were good with the destination of Pateley Bridge planned.

The gathering outside the school gates at 8.30 was more like a bike catwalk, with some new pieces of carbon on display for the first time this season, alongside some new riders, which were great to see.  Today’s route was always going to be a hilly one, so we eased ourselves into the ride by heading out of Harrogate over the packhorse bridge at Knox Mill and onto Hampsthwaite before the first climb of the day up Clint Bank.  From here it was on through Shaw Mills and right at the old Drovers Arms.  However, just before turning left up Careless House Lane, we were nearly run off the road by some *&^%head, whose life was obviously so precious that being held up for a couple of seconds by a group of cyclists was obviously too much.  He even had the audacity to turn his van and block the road so we couldn’t go anywhere.  If you ever see a grey van with the reg FL05 ACF – then steer clear!!

So, after that little contra-tent, we made our way up Careless House Lane to Brimham Rocks, before then heading up onto Dallowgill Moor, passing the Sonley Pothole, before turning right at the top of Silverhill.  We were then greeted by the most amazing views down onto Gouthwaite Reservoir and Upper Nidderdale.  We descended down Silverhill and through Wath, before taking over the Willow Tea Rooms overlooking the Nidd River.

After lots of banter and a re-fuel, the group split into two, with one group heading back down through Nidderdale to Harrogate, with another group having a go up Greenhow Hill.  There were a couple of Greenhow virgin’s in the group, but everyone got up 2.4mile climb without any problems.  It was then time to be rewarded with a blast down Duck Street, but before we could pick up the speed Nick B popped a spoke.  So with that taken care off it was gloves off, with Nick P setting the pace for a very swift return to Harrogate, past Menwith and back into Hampsthwaite, before returning to Harrogate back over the bridge at Knox Mill and some more coffee and cakes at Cafe Rosso.

We were then joined by Dave and Merciless Malc, who head been out TT racing and were also in need of some grub.

A really great morning in the saddle, with some amazing weather and countryside – makes you realise why you took up cycling in the first place!!

44 very hilly miles with over 3,300 ft of climbing for those that took the Greenhow option.

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Beningborough – 25th March 2012

The forecast was good, but the reality was not as 12 of us met for a trip out to Beningborough Farm Shop.

It was a cold and foggy start to the ride, with a couple of hardy souls getting their knees out, so to try to warm up we got going pretty quickly and headed down into Knaresborough, before turning through Scriven and Lingerfield and onto Farnham.  As the farm shop was not due to open until 10am, we then opted for a longer route out and made for Boroughbridge and out onto the Thornton Bridge road.

The pace was quite keen this morning to keep us warm, but as the route was flat, then this was not an issue and everyone was rolling along nicely.  We made good time and went through Helperby and down to Aldwark, before the final run in to Beningborough where we were met by Jonathan who had ridden down from Skelton.  The coffee and cake as usual was good, but service speeds were not the best.

There were signs of the sun trying to break through the mist as we got back on our bikes.  The route back to Harrogate was a fairly direct one over Aldwark Bridge and through Great Ouseburn.  Soon after though Malcolm’s awesome power on his TT bike made him break yet another Shimano chain.  After a quick repair, we were back on our way and returned through MArton and Arkendale before the final pull up Knaresborough Hill in glorious sunshine.

A really nice 50 mile ride.

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Ripon – 4th March 2012

The first 8.30am start of the year and it was back to winter weather.  After some nice sunshine during the week, it was freezing cold and lashing it down with rain.  However 12 hardy souls gathered outside the school for the off.  We split into two groups, with one heading out to do some speed work, with the rest of us aiming initially for Ripon, before seeing if the weather was going to improve.

We set off down through Knaresborough and into Farnham before taking the old Knaresborough Road to Ripon.  We picked up Phil on the way through Copgrove and were at Ripon in good time.  We stopped to see what everyone wanted to do.  Martin P looked like he had just completed the Paris-Roubaix as he was covered due to no mudguards and everyone else was soaked.  A hard core lead by Pete decided that they still wanted to go to our initial target of Masham, whilst the rest headed for Skelton-on-Ure and Boroughbridge.

With the weather worsening slightly we made our way back towards Harrogate through Arkendale, Goldsborough and along Abbey Road before everyone climbing Knaresborough Hill in the snow.  We all then went in different directions to get to our warm showers as quickly as possible to thaw out!

The ride can only be described as invigorating! 35 very cold and wet miles

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Helperby – 29th January 2012

With the risk of ice this morning, a flatter route was decided upon so we decided to head out towards Boroughbridge and take it from there.  We headed out of Harrogate through Starbeck and down Knaresborough Hill.  From there it was into Farnham and Staveley before getting to Boroughbridge in good time.  Thankfully by now we were well warmed up, which considering the temperature was a blessing.

Group riding was well organised today and the pace was fairly steady meaning that the 10 of us all kept together in good formation for most of the ride.  From Boroughbridge we headed out towards Thornton Bridge, before turning right and heading down into Helperby.  From here it was over the boards at Aldwark Bridge before returning to Harrogate through Wixley, Spofforth, Follifoot and Pannal before the usual coffee stop back in Harrogate at Cafe Rosso.

A good 42m ride in cold but calm conditions at an average of just over 17mph.

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Ripon – 8th January 2012

The first full club ride of the year was graced with 17 riders ready for the off this morning.  We decided on a route out to Ripon and set off from Harrogate up the Otley Road and up to Penny Pot before turning right towards Hampsthwaite.  The banter was good and the early pace was steady.  We dropped down in to Hampsthwaite, before then climbing Clint Bank, which sorted out the group a bit.  After re-grouping it was down in to Shaw Mills, through Bishop Thornton and then left towards Fountains Abbey.

We then descended quickly down through Studley Deer Park, where Tim decided to have a go at cyclo-cross.  Soon after he was pulling up with a puncture – that will teach him to ride off road.  We were soon back on our way and continued through Ripon, Skelton and into Boroughbridge before heading down the A168.  On our return to Harrogate, Mark snapped his chain near Follifoot, the rest of us continued back to base with Rosso’s the destination for most.

A really nice ride with a varied route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/140086774

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