Rosedale Abbey Round
approx 16 miles
Cold but dry.
Riders: Roald 'Gil_M' Amundsen, Sir Edmund 'Dr S' Hillary, Ernest 'Saltyman' Shackleton and Sherpa 'MrSavory' Tenzing.
The day started early with a surprise. I opened my front door at 6 am to find four inches of unforcast snow. I headed back into the garden and found the shovel before heading south to meet Salty and Savory for a hearty breakfast on the A19. The driving conditions were pretty poor with one lane open only which led to several aborted comedy overtaking attempts.
Once onto the exposed moorland roads things got even harder. I have known those moors for 30 years and I have rarely seen snow so deep. This ride should have run the week before until Gil contacted me to report that there was 'still a bit of snow on the tops and a ride was probably not a good idea'. this was no exageration as the snow drifts on the road to Rosedale were as high as my van. This was more like the frozen wastes of Alaska than Yarkshire!
This is the road across the moors to Rosedale. The moorland is usually just below the level of the road
Despite the tricky roads (and the collapsed section above Rosedale still hasn't been fixed which was even more difficult as the whole road was sheet ice) we made it to Rosedale bang on time. We kitted up and waited for gil to arrive, and waited, and waited and waited some more.
Over the road in the other car park, Gil waited and waited and waited some more in the vain hope that we were not going to make it and he could head back to a warm bed. Eventually we realized our mistake and ruined gils day by turning up in the right car park.
We started out then in bright sunshine but with a biting northerly wind, up the incline from Rosedale toward the amusingly named Bell End
. This climb was a bit of a slog but we soon made it to the top and had a breather before heading onto the old Rosedale railway.
Disused since the mines closed over 100 years ago, this track would be our route for the best part of the day. Rosedale, now a pretty village of maybe 20 houses was once a filthy industrial landscape with mines and kilns belching smoke into the atmosphere. Nature has smoothed out the man made scars to some degree but evedence remained around every corner on this old line- disused buildings reduced to rubble and huge monolithic kilns crumbling away steadily over the years.
Nature had also done its best to reclaim the railway. This wasn't going to be a quick spin along a flat surface. Landslides and erosion have decimated some sections into mountain bike heaven. And then there was the snow to contend with. Although just a few inches had fallen overnight, this was now whipping into drifts. This fresh fall was sat on top of the snow that fell over christmas- now frozen solid and anything up to two feet deep in places. Riding was tricky- one minute you would be riding along on the hardened surface, only to instantly fly over the bars as front wheels broke through the surface up to fork crowns in places. Landings were always soft though and taken with humour and a spot of piss taking. 'Dabbing' was a hit and miss affair too as on more than one occasion you put your foot down only to have it disapear along with most of your leg.
We steadily made our way around the valley, climbing ever so slightly as we went. The scenery was breathtaking and so was that northerly wind- when you managed to get out of it, the sun made for a pleasant burst of warmth. Unfortunately this warmth was not enough to prevent my freewheel from freezing up. Just one pawl was engaging by now and having to spin the cranks up to get forward motion was making some of the techy sections a bit of a chore. It made some nasty noises and slipped and jumped for the rest of the day but got be home eventually. Everyone had frozen gears and brakes reducing us all to singlespeed mode in an act of solidarity toward gil who was riding SS anyway.
At last the Pub, which we could see from our starting point, began to loom larger on the horizon. The snow tried its best to keep us from our pints again- pitching me over my bars twice in just 20 yards. Eventually we made it to the Lion Inn high on Blakey Ridge and after admiring the view and more comedy double-story snow drifts we retired inside for a pint and a round of chip butties.
Now allow me to go and grab another beer before I end my report. back soon!