Steady Ride 3 report (29 March 2015)

The weather forecast was not at all promising, but on the morning itself, we were greeted with a moderate westerly wind and drying roads. About 14 cyclists left CLS Market Place at 10.05am, and the convenience of this time combined with losing an hour’s sleep due to the clocks going forward was appreciated by a few people. The mission was Wolsingham and we set off along the A167 but turned left at the garden centre and along the back road to Newton Grange. There was the usual regrouping at a few points along the way but nobody minds on a Steady Ride since one of the objectives is to give new or reluctant group cyclists some confidence and allow people to chat (and stopping makes chatting easier in a strong wind!). There was no too much traffic around, and we turned right at Neville’s Cross for Brancepeth. At Brancepeth we turned right and the gradual climb up the Wolsingham Road began to test some. The ladies had a great ding-dong battle here with Sandy and Lesley swapping places on the road. Having regrouped again, we headed through Sunniside and into Tow Law, taking the A68 for about half a mile. At the War memorial we went straight on, down the quick descent (and into a headwind) and up the final steep but short climb before Wolsingham bank. At this stage we were really lucky with the weather and had a few sprinkles of rain but nothing sustained. We dropped safely down the bank and decided to visit the (now posh) coffee shop at the junction and it was about 12.10am. This was very impressive and was not that expensive (my latte and honeycombe crunch slide came to £4.50) and very tasty in lovely surroundings.

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[NB still picture – will try and edit video when I get a moment!]

At about 12.45pm we left and followed the agreed route back along the valley road and with a decent tailwind. I was impressed at the speed we ascended the three steps up to Harperley POW camp/Fir Tree roundabout. Again, we waited for people and then set off by the lane to Billy Row. There was a moment of amusement as a certain member stopped but failed to get their foot out of the cleat, resulting in an ungracious tumble onto the verge/grass! We’ve all done it at some stage or other…

I really like the lane between the A68 and Billy Road, since it allows a decent chat or you can go full belt if you want. On this occasion we happily chatted and the sun actually came out again (forecasters had persistent rain by this stage). At the top of Billy Row bank we started to split since people needed to get back; our little group headed back via the usual Stockley Lane (goes across the top of Oakenshaw) and onto the A690 at Brancepeth and back.

It was a most enjoyably morning and we were lucky with the weather. Thank to everyone who supported it so enthusiastically – spread the word and we will see you on the next one.

Peter