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Way of the Roses - SWCC ladies Group Annual Challenge 2015

The SWCC ladies section annual cycling challenge took place over the weekend 1st to 4th May 2015.  On the back of a successful C2C in 2014 it was decided that the group would attempt another across country cycle ride and so used the Sustrans route ‘The Way of the Roses” which covers 170 miles from Morecambe to Bridlington.  The ride was completed over three days.  Day one from Morecambe to Grassington, day two from Grassington to Pocklington and day three from Pocklington to Bridlington.  This allowed for some minor changes to the Sustrans route to avoid the town centres of both Ripon and York.

With the help of the club trailer, eleven contenders and three supporters travelled to Morecambe Friday evening. Carol and Callum took their camper van over so that we could resurrect “Callum’s Café” and they camped just outside Morecambe.  The rest of us had rooms in a sea front B&B which we affectionately referred to as Mrs Frosty’s after the initial cool reception we got on Friday night.  


The accommodation, however, was clean, comfy, had secure housing for the bikes and provided a good breakfast even if we did marvel at the number of avocado bathroom suites that are still in existence.  The Clarendon Hotel just up from the guest house provided us with a good evening meal.

Saturday dawned cold, cloudy and windy but at least dry and after a photo call we set off from Morecambe at 9.30am.  The first eight miles is on flat cycle paths which lead from Morecambe , skirt around the city of Lancaster and follow the river towards the hills.  A sharp upward turn then brings you to a popular café/toilet stop with cyclists and from then on the route is a largely quiet, country road.  Whilst there are no mountain ranges to cross equally there was no let up in the terrain.  We were either going up or going down.  This coupled with the strong wind that was in our faces no matter in which direction we cycled and the steady, initial light rain made for testing conditions. 

Callum’s café was open for business twice en route and as the weather worsened we became ever more grateful for hot tea and coffee.  We said goodbye to him just before Settle as the roads were too steep and narrow for a coffee stop.  By now the weather was so bad – steady rain and strong wind that we all wanted this day over with.  

We all managed the cobbles at the bottom of the hill but the weather coupled with a narrow road and heavy traffic resulted in the majority of us having to walk some part of the hill at least until the gradient lessened and the rises provided some shelter from the wind.  Cold and thoroughly wet through we arrived at Grassington.   The folk at The Black Bull pub were fantastic.  They gave us hot tea and coffee and stoked up the log fire for us.  Showered and warm, we enjoyed a very good three course meal and they even accommodated Sully the dog.  Spirits were rejuvinated!

Sunday arrived – more rain, heavy, incessant rain, so much that we had to alter our start point.   With persistent rain, low cloud and fog I gave the group the option to either ride the route as is or load the trailer with the bikes and drive down the hill and start at Pately Bridge.  With everyone dressed in full Winter cycling kit, Hazel, Nikki and Gemma decided to ride the eleven miles from the hotel up to the highest point on the ride and down the steep, hairpin decent to Pately Bridge whilst the rest of the group drove to Pately Bridge and waited for them to arrive there.  It was thus, not until 11.30am that a full group of riders started the second day.  With Hazel, Nikki and Gemma exhilarated from their decent we went straight into a steady climb out of Pately Bridge.  The first five 
miles were a hard slog of steady uphill with little respite but by fifteen miles including a detour to avoid Ripon and a Callum’s café stop our spirits were rejuvenated once again and even the sun had started to shine.   

Lovely countryside, pretty villages, fast roads, slight undulations and even more sunshine greeted us for the next fifteen miles.  Such was the change in the weather that at our next stop we were all discarding our Winter kit for what summer gear we could lay our hands on.  The route continued at its fast pace as we made our final detour to avoid the cycleways of York and in spite of a shower ten minutes from our destination, we all arrived in good spirits at The Yorkway Motel, Pocklington, our final stopover.  The rooms here were superb and the hotel couldn’t do enough for us.  The weather too continued to improve so much so in fact that after our evening meal we sat outside and danced to the disco that the hotel had organized for its chiefs’ 50th birthday.


Our last day brought sunshine, loads of it, although there was still a slight chill to start.  The route was undulating to begin with but the scenery lovely.  The roads were very quiet and fast with us all getting a buzz from long stretches of hitting upwards of 32 mph.  Passing through farmers’ fields with yellow oil seed rape crops on either side we could kid ourselves we were in France.  We met up with Callum’s café just once that day at 23 miles and then headed for Bridlington arriving about 1.30pm.  Dodging the pedestrians along the sea front was perhaps the most challenging part of day three and then it was time for hugs, cheers, champagne and a photo call at the finish marker.  
As Callum couldn’t park the camper van along the sea front we cycled a mile to a residential area to locate the van before indulging in what is fast becoming our most favourite challenge tradition – a piece of Carol’s Guiness cake. There is nothing better!!!


Before I conclude my ramblings I must mention our two outstanding riders; outstanding for two different reasons. Firstly Claire, who completed what for her must have been a very exhausting three days as she has had just one of those years where everything conspires against you.  Consequently she had not ridden a ride of more than 32 miles before the event and the last time she rode on consecutive days was during last years challenge.  

Secondly Alison who back in June 2014 was a 15 mile Glide Rider and who now is a conqueror of the 170mile challenge that is ‘The Way of the Roses”.  Well done to you two, well done to us all.  

Finally I’d like to thank our support team, Les, Duncan and Callum – we honestly couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks lads.

- Jayne.

Read our reports of our previous Ladies' challenge rides:  Romaldkirk   Youtube: C2C