The Yorkshire Gallop is a lovely 200km audax: Nigel’s route takes us down the banks of the River Swale though leafy lanes, then into Thirsk past the affluent race course, then up into the Howardian Hills, an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”. After Malton we ride straight for York, through the city centre and out into the very flat countryside beyond. Once we reach Ripon, we’re treated to a beautiful ride above the River Ure to West Tanfield and the temptations of a gorgeous looking pub… before dropping back downhill to Catterick and home.
Nigel had postponed this ride from its traditional March appearance due to some extraordinarily bad weather – and I’d taken a ‘First Audax of Spring‘ ride from Durham to Hull. Now that the weather had improved the event was back on, and April provided some gorgeous weather for cycling. It was also nice to be cycling with a large group of friends.
Unfortunately my happiness was short lived – I had a puncture. A particularly sharp edged pothole cut into the sidewall of my tyre, ripping the tyre and bursting the inner tube.
I was not carrying a spare tyre.
I tried to fix the tyre with an off-cut from another tyre, making a boot to plug the hole, but it wasn’t working. This is the second time I’ve had this problem, so I feel like I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll carry a spare tyre in future. I was very blessed to have three VC167 clubmates cycle past and between them they had a couple of spare tyres, so I was able to continue with my ride. A big thanks to Alan Rawet for giving me his spare.
I rarely hit potholes – I think that being part of a large group was hindering my view of the tarmac and I must have hit one or two more potholes than I would if cycling alone. This is a shame because one of the reasons I was riding the Yorkshire Gallop was for company. I was alone and out the back of the group… so I resolved to see if I could catch anyone.
My VC167 friends were stood by the side of the road in Thirsk: a puncture and a blowout. Now that was bizarre because Alan had suffered a similar tyre explosion to mine – but of course he’d already given me his spare tyre. Andy Clarkson to the rescue with his spare… we couldn’t afford to have another blowout because we were now out of spare tyres.
I’m getting used to riding alone – there are significant advantages such as being able to ride to your own pace and to see the road surface clearly. However, when you’ve entered a ride to be with others it seems a shame to ride solo.
Nigel’s route is really nice, and much nicer in the warm sunshine than it was in 2013 on Nigel’s 64th Birthday; back then I was not as experienced at audax and found myself really struggling with 50km to go. I remember Dallas and Richie giving me shelter and sweeties to get me home. They were preparing for the 2013 version of LEL… now, 5 years later I’d completed my own LEL and had a lot more experience to fall back on – although obviously learning to carry a spare tyre wasn’t part of that.
I’ve often wondered why experienced audaxer’s bags are so heavy – it seems as though we learn to carry one of everything that we’ve had fail before. It is odd to have items fail when you make certain that your bicycle is in good working order… but on long rides we’re covering distances that some bicycles only dream of.
By the time I caught the party peloton we were more than two thirds of the way round the route. I saw a large collection of VC167 jerseys sitting in the sunshine enjoying ice-cream in Boroughbridge… I cheerfully waved and set about putting as much distance between myself and them as possible, to get back to Aldbrough St John before them. So much for riding with others – I was now in an unofficial race with people who didn’t know I was racing against them.
Over the entire route, my favourite section was from Ripon to Catterick. I seemed to be cycling along a rolling road on top of a ridge with wonderful views. I do wish I’d stopped in West Tanfield for a drink at The Bull Inn… winner of “Yorkshire’s Favourite Pub” in 2016.
Thanks to Alan for giving me a spare tyre to complete my ride, and to keep my Randonneur Round the Year alive. I tweeted Continental Tyres to ask how to fold a folding tyre and learned that the aramid bead can be folded as tightly as I like without damaging it. How wonderful of @ContiTyres to respond.