RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 45 Number 3 Article 7

August 2008

Tour de France Bike Ride

Saturday morning dawned grey and drizzling, not the sort of weather one expects for the TdeF. The meeting point of Bernie’s Café was heaving with all the itinerants from the World War II re-enactment that had taken up every available parking space. I was there, where were the hordes of cyclists in our club. First excuse, Andy Whitney had to go and pick up his new car. Hugh and Helen were still trying to fix yet another of Hugh’s punctures, why does he buy cheap tyres and tubes? Silly question! Ian and Liz had a really lame excuse, they were in Bali or somewhere really hot and sunny on their round the world trip. Dave Lacey was AWOL. The hard people from MUSC, that’s the ones who can only cycle if involves a pub every two miles, had been conspicuous by their absence.

So that left the really hard people, Pete (Boonen) Hall, Richard (Pantani), Dinny (the Welsh Mountain Goat) and his partner Alison (aka Beryl Burton incarnate) and Ray (the Whale) Duffy. I realised this was not going to be a good day as I was dropped on the climb out of Ingleton and had to use the having a pee and putting on the waterproof excuse for stopping at Quarry Risings. Fortunately, Dinny had to join me so I managed to make it look like a genuine break. By the time I reached the Hill Inn the others had taken shelter in the doorway and I took the opportunity to power past and make it up the steep bit without stopping. I was soon left behind by Huge-Thighs Hall and Rich as they sped toward Ribblehead half-wheeling each other at 20 mph plus. Then the gravity drive kicked in as I flew past due to my positive gravity quotient.

The weather now took a turn for the worse and the wind became more head than side as the gradient slowly increased to Newby Head Moss. I tried to reel in Alison on the drop to the viaduct to try and warn her about the gravel under the arches but as it turned out the floods must have cleared it. By the time we hit the riverside road down Dentdale I was again in the lead due to my superb descending skills or my very poor brakes.

The ride to Dent almost proved disastrous as I almost ran Dinny off the road while trying to spy the Lamas in the field just outside the village. They really are there, I’ve got the photo somewhere to prove it, but of course because it was raining they’d gone for cover, honest! A pee stop was called for after our bladders had bounced over the rustic and very knobbly cobbles in the village centre. Still we were lucky, some other cyclists were on a 100-mile Sportive Ride and using the village hall to thaw out, deep joy?

Running down Dentdale to Sedbergh the rain went from wet to downright unpleasant, still we had the café to look forward to. That was the plan but then every Tom, Dick and Harry had looked for shelter in the café. Pete managed to hang his jacket over one of the waitress’s coats, incurring the wrath of the manageress. Dinny squeezed out his sodden gloves on the floor, while the rest of us dripped and steamed around a small table and got in everyone’s way.

After our little rest we pushed on to through Sedbergh with Pete being used as the windbreak, for as long as you could stand the spray from his back wheel, without drowning. Just past the Barbon Golf club the sharp climb left the team strung out all over the road and just then the turn on to the farm (Roman) road caught several members out and they shot on to Casterton. We regrouped at the A65 for the onslaught of the Sunday Driver. Several V-signs, shout and gesticulations later we arrived at the final Prime of the day, the climb from the bridge up Bell Horse Gate, I don’t know if Pete or Rich won that one as I’d accidentally got too low a gear to compete, oh dear!

All that was left was to eat the baguettes with cheese and sausage, croissants with jam and drink fine fresh-ground coffee and watch the tennis and then the Tour de France second stage.

What a good day out, but where are all the old people to help me out, lazy bastards.

Ray Duffy (Maillot Jaune) but I am colour-blind.

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