The Spartans , A Mini Contador and The CTC Spring Standard Ride


When I arrived at the Methodist Church Hall in Cottingham for the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) Spring Standard Ride I was still unsure which ride I was going to do.

Would it be the 50 or would it be the 70 ?

I had done the 50 miler last year. A  gloriously flat ride but we had taken a beating in some exposed sections from a seriously gusting wind.

The 70 miler, on the other hand, was going to be a hilly challenge.

Unconfined joy, more hills !



There was going to be a large contingent from the Cottingham Road Club (CRC) attending. We are a club that is organised with military efficiency,  where lines of communication are clear and unambiguous.

There is never confusion. There is never muddle. Everybody acts as one.

That is why I cannot understand why half the club turned up to start 30 minutes early at 9 am and then decided to crack on with the ride.

This type of thing never usually happens at our club.

In any event I do not want to get involved in a blame game and get bogged down in who did what to who …..but I believe we can blame it all on Carol’s dad.

As a result the CRC contingent who started at the correct time was much reduced.

We split ourselves roughly down the middle as regards the 50 miler and the 70 miler and in a moment of madness I decided to do the 70 miler.

We indulged in the usual preamble and trash talk.

” Nice and steady for me ”

” I don’t feel good at all”

“You can bugger off Charlie ”

” My knees are killing me ”

” I should’ve stayed off the drink last night ”

“You can bugger off Charlie ”  ( Just in case he didn’t catch it the first time )

Then it was 9.30 and after a bit of a false start ….involving me setting off on my own …..we were all off more or less in one big group.

From the CRC there was myself, Mark, John and Charlie ( no we couldn’t get rid of him ).

I must apologise in that I didn’t know the names of most of the CTC regulars on the ride but their faces where familiar from the 90 year celebration ride I had done in September of last year.


So leaving Cottingham we went through Skidby and started on the usual ” a bit too early in the ride climb”  up to Little Weighton.

Unfortunately I had found myself on the front and was indulging in the time honoured pastime of going too fast too early.

I was reined in by Nadir and if memory serves I did not find myself in that position again because I spent the rest of the ride with the CTC boys and girls just hanging on.

At Little Weighton  it was a right turn to Walkington, past Bishop Burton, through Cherry Burton and to Etton.

Charlie, as he is wont to do,  kept shooting off the front and riding 30, 40, 50 metres ahead. I’m not really sure what that’s all about….I wish he’d bugger off.

The pace was definitely brisk. I noted a lot of the riders were really dipping down on the handlebars to get some protection from the rider in front.

After Etton we were on our way to Goodmanham via a pleasant country lane through woods and plantations. The pleasantness disappeared rapidly though as we took the hard route to the outskirts of Goodmanham going up a tough unforgiving climb.


The group was starting to get a bit spread out now. As one rider disappeared off the back Mark asked what the etiquette was on these CTC rides. Do we wait ?

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I gave him the benefit of my previous CTC ride experience.

The etiquette I explained was similar to the treatment of children in the ancient civilisation of Sparta.

The young were required to be fit, strong and healthy with excellent genetics.

Any baby that showed weakness was left out overnight on the hillside and if they survived then they would be taken back into the home, loved, nurtured and then trained to be stone cold killers.

And so it is with CTC rides.

Any rider falling off the back is demonstrating weakness and it is now up to them to show they can survive. If they make it back, all well and good. If not …..

” Sheesh that’s tough ! ” replied Mark.

Yes it is Mark. Yes it is.


A nice downhill section followed into Goodmanham and then skirting Market Weighton we went over the A614 and then started on the long drag that is Londesborough Hill.

The only good thing about going up Londesborough Hill is that you do not have to go up Nunburnholme Hill as the two hills meet at the top.

Just over a mile and a half with an average gradient of 4 % according to Strava. The first bit is a hard slog and then the gradient slackens off to become …just a slog.

Nadir and Neil showed their class and raced ahead. In fact Nadir veritably sprinted up the first steep section causing him to be dubbed ” Mini Contador ” in the mortal ranks of the CRC riders.


After a good deal of puffing and panting, creaking and groaning the rest of us got to the top to join Nadir and Neil. Here much to my surprise we had a stop for a break, something to eat and a regroup.

Whilst this was most welcome for me personally I wondered if the genetic pool of CTC riders was being diluted by allowing us weaklings to stick around.

Having taken in some much needed food and water we set off again and enjoyed a fast pain free descent down into Warter. Ah if only all cycling could be like this.


At the junction with the main road into Warter we came across the first CRC group that had started off too early ( blame Carol’s dad ).

Someone had suffered a puncture and they had stopped for the repair.

I ask you ? Stopped to help a weakling with a puncture ?!

What use would these people be in a full on sword fight battle ? As useful as a chocolate fireguard I suspect.

There was a bit of a hiatus as our group went through. Some people stopped to join the weakling puncture repairers and we were left with a group of 6 or 7.

For now I was going to stick with the Spartans and there was only John from the CRC left with me.

The next 5 miles was all climbing and Nadir and Neil were relentless on the front. What made it worse was that they were obviously holding themselves back and I was killing myself now to keep on.

The cafe stop was going to be at Fridaythorpe , just a few miles away now. That was where I was aiming to get to.

Just get to Fridaythorpe and you can have a rest.

And for the love of God don’t show any weakness or they will leave you overnight on that hillside soon as look at you !

Eventually we got to the A166 which marked the end of the 5 mile climb. There would now be a downhill section to Fridaythorpe and the cafe stop. Surely we can coast down here and recover ?

Not a bit of it . It was a full gas eyeballs out effort all the way down that hill to the Cafe. But at least now I could have a good rest !


A little while later the chocolate fireguard sword fighters turned up at the cafe and we all sat down together.

I was knackered and I knew there was no way I could do another 40 miles with the elite troops. As Nadir got up to leave with the CTC squad I made my apologies and said I was going to join the CRC gang for the rest of the ride.

He tried to encourage me to stick with it which was very nice of him but I couldn’t keep that pace up.

I did feel a pang of failure as they left and set off without me but then I ate most of Mark’s cake and I felt a lot better about myself.

Leaving the Cafe stop at Fridaythorpe with the CRC boys and girls we continued the downhill section in the general direction of Sledmere.

Straight away I nearly came a cropper by riding through a massive pot hole at speed.

I was surprised ( and relieved ) that nothing on my bike broke.

There were a few people who went through that pot hole and we were lucky to come away unscathed. The only down side was that my bidon was jolted out of it’s cage and then got run over which meant I had no drink.

For the rest of the ride John let me have a drink from one of his bidons for which I was extremely grateful.

Through Sledmere there was a mad dash down past the monument where Carol got a Queen Of The Mountains on Strava.

A glorious 10 mile section then followed that was more or less flat.

Garton-On-The-Wolds, South Dalton and back through Etton, Cherry Burton and Bishop Burton. Time for tired legs to recover.

There were plenty of stops for us weaklings for food, water and what appeared to be one chat stop.

I was beginning to focus on the end when there was one last surprise.

Having been this way many times on rides I was just assuming it would be back through Walkington and Little Weighton but to my surprise we did not take the turn to Walkington and carried on up one last hill !

And it wasn’t a short one either. About another 5 miles of steady climbing that took us all the way to the High Hunsley cross roads.

But now it definitely was downhill all the way ( more or less ).

Down into Little Weighton ( don’t think about the hill on the other side) then Skidby and into Cottingham itself where Carol put in her trademark sprint to finish off an awesome CTC Spring Standard ride.

We all piled into The Methodist Church Hall in Cottingham for some well deserved tea and biscuits.

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We met up with Nadir again in the church hall. He said they had taken it steady on the way back. I didn’t believe him.

He thought it had been too fast going to Fridaythorpe and that I had smashed everybody early on thus accounting for all the human detritus that had been scattered around the roads and lanes.

I don’t really remember it that way as I was only on the front going up to Little Weighton and then all the smashing was done by Mini Contador himself.

Well the victor gets to write the history books I guess and to the victor the spoils.

Hail Sparta !!

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