DAY 1 REPORT
Roughly on schedule, just over 20 riders set out under a blue sky to the sound of 40 feet clacking into spuds
Gil got things underway by jumping out onto the busy road to stop a bemused coach, full of tourists to allow a rabble of brightly clad riders across and onto the lanes heading west. This little bimble was a warm up for the tarmac dive down into the Hole of Horcum- the lead group hitting 50mph down the hill before putting faith in canti brakes for the tight bend over the bridge. What goes down must go back up, granny gears were engaged and the slog back up the other side gave a taste of what was to come and foul language from Pottymouth Andy.
After a short regroup at the top whilst the Red Barron flew overhead, tarmac gave way to open moorland. The first timed section then took place on the open moor and finished at Skelton Tower.
Stretched out before us were the stunning but slightly daunting moors we would have to cross before our lips would taste the sweet nectar of a fine Yorkshire ale in the village of Goathland.
A few puntures and a little moorland sheep track later we headed down into Newtondale via a great technical and very much oldskool piece of singletrack that had become so overgrown with ferns that only heads were visible in the sea of green. Amazingly everyone made it down to the valley floor just in time to see the 12:30 to Pickering steam past.
A long grind on Forest road took us up the day's second big climb up from Rapers farm and along the Nab before picking up muddy but fast singletrack to the edge of the moor. A long line of riders now attacked the tricky moorland bridleway- rutted and made narrow by thick heather that was ready to pull you in if one ran offline, onward toward another regroup at the stone circle called Simon Howe. We had a long wait here as Sidewinder limped in with a seized rear wheel which Giles, Orange and Co stripped and rebuilt with just basic tools and lots of bodgery.
Back underway with the trail now heading further North and at last downwards. Here we had the day's second timed section. Orange71 spectacularly cartwheeling his way over the finish- result a big hole in his knee. Sith also came a cropper on this section with a heavy off that later transpired to have broken is ribs. This was getting serious!
After blood was mopped up and several plasters were applied he got back on his bike and we made our way down the hillside into Goathland and the Mallayan Spout Hotel for a few well earnt ales. We were already around 2 hours behind schedule at this point and only at halfway. The sun was still beating down and legs were beginning to tire. The route was tweeked again to make sure we would make it back and we said our hello's to Mr and Mrs Superstrong and our goodbyes to Sidewinder Dave who's bike had suffered further mechanical woes and who had to sit out the next 3 and a bit hours in the bar until the rescue car could be sent for him.
Time was getting on and after stocking up on snacks, drinks and Heartbeat memorabilia the remaining group swung south and back up onto the moor past a vintage bus dropping off the days last group of tourists. This return route was rockier and the concentration detracted from tired legs and sunburnt arms but it was taking up more precious time. We still had a long way to go and it was decided to split the group. Those who wanted to continue would follow Gil and myself and Tim Justbackdated would lead the other group over a shorter moorland track to the relative comfort of a 6-7 mile road slog back to the campsite.
So with a roughly 50-50 split we bade our farewells and promised a bar full of cold beer to be awaiting the last group back. Our group lead by Gil , had decided that there would be no more stops unless we wanted to make it a lightless nightride, rapidly made its way along the planned route back along the moor, past Simon Howe and down to Gale Rigg forest. Luckily local lad Mark was waiting with fresh legs at the forest edge having finished his day's duty at the Village fete- just in time too as another mechanical threatened to delay us further.
Mark led the bulk of the group back to Levisham to wait at the pub. Ian myself and Gil talked about birthdays, holidays, future trips and a lost San Andreas whilst Sinnett affected repairs. After a few falst starts the last remaining four headed along the fireroad and singletrack back toward Levisham station. This is where Gil excells- local knowledge finding shortcuts that don't exist on maps. Even though I now ached from top to toe I began to grin from ear to ear as we decended on steepening narrow overgrown singletrack down onto the valley floor. This was easily the highlight of the whole route and I felt so sorry that only 4 out of the 20+ starters got to enjoy it.
We now had a slog up the other side of Newtondale, I lasted about 300yds before getting off and pushing up this killer incline. My bike, fitted with a 12-24 cassette was my undoing and by the time I had walked to the top and then coasted the last mile into Levisham the guys were already tucking into a second round.
One last push. The big downhill we had started the day with became another daunting uphill. More pushing and wheezing for me, measured but firm peddle strokes for everyone else had us up in a short amount of time before a short bimble back along country lanes to the welcome sights of a friendly pub and our campsite.
The 'Roadies' had made it back an hour before and as everyone chatted about the days struggle I nervously looked around to where they had erected the gallows in our absence. Luckily the only thing awaiting me was a cold beer and a good number of friendly smiling faces and handshakes.
As cold beer was consumed and the BBQ warmed up, the sound of Andy B's music drifted over the campsite whilst the sun sunk below the horizon. What would tomorrow bring? who wants another beer? It gets a little hazy from here on in, but I guess if you can remember, you wern't there!
More to follow......