Why do we look for hills?

Good question, only another cyclist could understand the reason for cycling nearly 30 miles so they can descend a hill to only turn around at the bottom and ride straight back up.

Which is exactly what today’s ride was all about.

Oh – and coffee, I’d be lying if coffee wasn’t a motivating factor.

The forecast for today’s ride was sunshine, strong winds and maybe a few showers on the way home – but it was to be warm, much warmer than of late.

I decided that as I’m from northern stock this equated to cycling shorts, no leg warmers for me!

Today’s group consisted of 5 ladies, 1 new starter and a total of 20 (more info on the club statistics page)

We gathered at the Humber Bridge Country Park to do what all cyclists across the globe do when they get together – talk about bikes, hills and the weather.

Ready to set off – look at that sky!


By the time we were ready to set off there were 19 of us, all in high spirits seeing as the temperature was above freezing and the sun was shining.  Our newest member to the club – Torsten ( Willkommen kolleginnen und radfahrer – via Google translate!) explained that he would be turning for home early seeing as this was his first ride for a long time.  I hoped he would carry on but chatted at how the club is run to be as accommodating as possible so as long as he told someone that he was off we would wish him well.

The Humber Bridge is an awe inspiring site that we can sometimes neglect to appreciate seeing as we live with it every day, it’s also equally awe inspiring when the wind blows – as we passed the towers everyone of us felt the massive blast of side wind that was ready to blow us into the Humber.  I was glad to get off the bridge and into Barton.

Windy windy windy..


Our route was basically to follow the National Cycle Route 1 all the way south until Bigby where we would then meander up a hill before turning West for a while to approach Caistor from the quiet and wind assisted Eastern side – we got to Caistor but not quiet as intended.

We met with Suzanne under the southern end of the Humber Bridge and passed through Barton heading up the first of a few hills, it was a perfect chance to test the legs and see what potential the day held.
I was in summer shorts and riding my summer bike – i.e. not the one I commute on every day.
I hit the hill and it felt good.. It was going to be a good day..

Hill #1 of many today


We broached the top of the hill and I saw in the distance a group who I shall call from now on ‘The Eager Ones’ – they knew that the next stop would be the cafe in Caistor and the route was keep going south then turn left or right somewhere down there..

Well they missed the first turning.. so it was a quick dog whistle and they came running (and barking) back to the bunch.

Route 1 is a lovely quiet road that undulates out of Barton through some lovely hamlets and villages, we dropped through Deep-dale and out the other side.  The group started to split up as I expected it to.

Super quiet Route #1


20 is a large number to try and keep together, the range of fitness level in 20 riders is massive and it wouldn’t be fair to make the fitter riders stay in the pack.  They are experienced enough to know when to stop so off they went but it does lead to some lonely times at the back though!

We started to string out over about 1 ½ miles with groups pleasantly chatting away and riding at their own pace.

I wanted to make sure the lead riders would wait at the main road so when I set off from the back to catch the front guys I thought it would be a 5 min job. Well about 30 mins later and within touching distance of the main road I managed to catch them.  I’d been at full pace for about the last 6 miles and was sooooo glad when they heard my whistle.

Feeding time at the zoo


We stopped to re-group and grab some calories, when I did a head count we were missing three, Torsten has already told someone he was heading back so that left two unaccounted for.  Gary and I decided to take a look so back up the hill we went.

We found Rich and Ben a mile down the road doing the same – re-fuelling and after a quick chat they agreed to meet us in Caistor heading at their own pace, this was a good decision as holding people too long means cold muscles which can ruin a ride and cause injury.

A quick snack..


We turned around and raced back to the pack and get them moving again, we crossed over the busy A18 at Melton Ross and headed up the other side of the valley towards Bigby.

There’s a lovely house on the top of the hill which has been created out of the old windmill – I always think of buying it as I pass, all I need to fulfil that wish is a load of cash – anyone got any spare? Anyone?

Another hill I hear you cry..


So up and down the undulating roads with the ‘eager ones’ putting the hammer down, by the time we passed through Bigby they’d missed a turn and were on the wrong route, ces’t la vie..
Adapt and survive was the motto of the day and I met Ian a few others on the other side of Bigby. He explained that they went the wrong way and that we should try and follow them – so up the main road we went.

Ooooo – it’s a hill! and a steep one too..


Now this road is on a steep hill, very steep and quiet a busy road, hence the reason I’ve never ridden up it.
It’s quiet a section with some parts touching 17% – fun if you like that sort of thing, which I do..

It gets steeper!?!


We then had a short stretch on the A1084 which is a nasty road for cyclists, lots of would be racing drivers driving too fast for the road conditions and too close to us, I hate it and felt great relief to stop near the hill into Owmby.

Ready for coffee now..

This less direct route to Caistor allowed for a much quieter and safer ride and club riding is all about enjoying your cycling, we’re not a racing club so adventure over speed every time!

We headed through some very back country lanes where I’m sure some riders were thinking where thinking ‘Where the **** are we..’

The country lanes – awesome


We popped out on the main Caistor road next to the station, so if you’re ever leaving Caistor and want to remember which road it is – it’s the one just before the station..

Now this road into Caistor is glorious with a back wind, it’s a straight as an arrow road that rises slowly over about 3-4 miles at less than 1% and you can get some speed on it..

I caught up with Ian, Carol, Suzanne and June just as Ian started to dip his shoulders ready for a charge, I heard complaints from the ladies that they didn’t want to play but Ian was having non of it..  Off he went, I kept on his wheel for as long as I could and when he started to slow I took up the lead, we didn’t last that long as Ian said he was ready to blow – this was nothing to do with the pace I was setting and more to the fact he had just blasted along for the last few miles at a 25mph+  with me sucking his wheel!
Chapeau Ian..

the hammer is officially down


We entered Caistor in a good mood and ready for coffee..

The cafe at Caistor is a magnet for cyclists, it’s just the right distance away for a club ride – as evidenced by the number of cyclists who were already drinking coffee.

Too many bloody cyclists me thinks..


Some of which were the ‘eager ones’ who had come along the main A1084 route thus missing out on the best approach to Caistor.
We joined them and drank espressos et al in the sun & warmth – life was indeed good..

Ben & Rich caught us up in time to enjoy the banter and noise of the balcony chat with Rich deciding to make his way home and miss out on the delights of Normanby Top.

We wished him well and safe journey and headed off south to pastures new. Many of us were now on roads and hills that we’re new to us – this leads to exciting times.

Steep hill keeps getting steeper..


We turned east at Nettelton and headed along Church Street where the road started to rise, and rise and rise!

This wasn’t on the map, or if it was then I failed to see it..  10% then 12% then 15% then 18%!
I had a smile on my face and looking around so did everyone else, or was that a grimace? I can never tell..

We were now climbing towards Nettleton Top and further along Normanby le Wold – our ultimate end game for today.

Due to the steep gradients the bunch became strung out and it wasn’t until we neared the radar station at the highest point on the Lincolnshire Wolds that we re-grouped.

Who built the giant Van De Graaff generator?


A slight bit of confusion allowed us time for a quick snap in front of the giant golf ball before we stopped at the top of the main climb of the day.  It was left to the individual as to whether or not they were to tackle the climb – I believe six stayed at the top while the rest of us had an exhilarating bone jarring rush to the bottom.

To the bottom we fly


A quick check over and it was straight back to the top.
Personally I love to set off last so I can have wheels to chase.
Climbing hills is all about the self, you have to mentally beat the hill and each of us have a different mental path up it.
I chop it into sections and with people in front I can chase them down then look ahead to the next wheel. I like to get a rhythm going in my head and try not to look at my heart rate, I can feel when I’m on the edge as my hands start to tingle!

A wheel to chase


It was a tough hill and each of us were proud to have got to the top, another strava section ticked off.

We reached the group at the top and were greeted with platitudes, not that I could reply as my breath was short and fast – no spare capacity for speaking – just breathing!

Platitudes from the group..


We took a minute or two to get our lungs back inside our chests while Ben went Italian on us and lit a cigarette – that must have been some nicotine blast after that hill!?!!

So we came, we saw and we conquered so when asked what’s next – someone shouted ‘HOME!’ – and it was indeed next stop home.

But first – another hill…

Mansgate Hill, another new one for many and another one touching 15+%
Hee hee.. I was sworn at a few times as I tried to encourage a few riders but did I mention I love hills?

another hill?!


Once we got to the top we hit the main road and split into a few groups, the leading group was off the front and gapping us by the minute.  There was no point in trying to keep the bunch together, they all knew the way home and it looked like rain so they put the hammer down all the way back to the Humber Bridge.

make your own way home


Seeing as I was leading today’s ride I stayed nearer the back to make sure all riders were safe and got home.  We took our time, watched the rain start to sweep towards us and got thoroughly soaked, blasted in mud and cold during the 20 miles back to the start.
Did we mind – nah…

My decision to wear shorts was great while the sun lasted but once the rain started, and add in the muddy roads, it soon ended up to maybe being the wrong one..

I wonder if they will ever be white again?


It was a brilliant ride with nice people talking funny banter on mostly quiet roads drinking good coffee at a great cafe to then enjoy amazing views from the top of a bloody steep hill.

nextAnd that people, is what club riding is all about..

Smiles all round today..


If you’ve read this and thought – I want some of that – then feel free to join us, we’re a friendly bunch who enjoy our cycling. You’ll get in-depth discussions of tyres, frames, pedals, saddle cream and other bike related things, and it will all be done with enthusiasm.

Our next club ride is on Saturday where we will be riding around Holderness on a 42 mile flat course – visiting Hornsea.

If you’re not sure about your speed or fitness level or are new to cycling and group riding then why not join us next Sunday for our very first 17 mile starters ride.