CLUB RIDE TO FITLING – 06/11/16
In the summer there is very little motivation required to go for a bike ride. In warm and sunny weather you can’t wait to don the lycra and get out there and pedal.
Some people even jet off to sunnier climes such as Majorca and Tenerife where the conditions are so perfect they are transformed into cycling gods biking near 100 mile bike rides day after day.
( Note to the Missus : I’m not going Annette. The plane will go into the sea like a dart ! )
Hull in November is a very different story.
The weather forecast for the club ride to Fitling was grim. Firstly it was going to be cold, only 4 degrees at the start of the ride and a strong gusting wind from the north would make it feel like zero.
The only thing that could make it any worse was rain…….and you guessed it heavy rain was forecast for mid morning.
Wet clothes and cold temperatures, I wondered how many parts of my body I would lose the feeling in.
On mornings like this when the alarm goes off and you are hiding under the duvet you have to ask yourself some pretty searching questions.
How much do you love cycling ? How motivated are you ? Are you a man or a mouse ?
My answers were
a) Not as much as I love cheese.
b) Not very much
c) I’ve just told you I love cheese !
But I’m going anyway !
GATHERING AT THE FAIR MAID
Cycling over to the start at The Fair Maid in Cottingham things looked a little more encouraging. The morning was cold as predicted but quite bright with no sign of clouds.
I set off in my full arctic explorer gear including woolly hat crammed on under my helmet. Anticipating my gloves getting sodden and the resulting ruinous effect on my hands I even had a replacement pair of gloves in my back pocket. Be prepared !
Crossing the Humber Bridge I was introduced to the biting northerly head wind and I huffed and puffed to attain the heady speed of 10 mph.
How I looked forward to coming back the other way !
When I arrived everyone was in similar arctic explorer gear. During October the weather had been relatively mild and a number of hardy souls had persevered with shorts.
Not so on this occasion. The only flesh on show in this peloton were some decidedly rosy cheeks……face cheeks….before you start !
Spirits were high and there was plenty of excited chatter. The main topic of conversation ?
” How many layers have you got on ? Three ? Two ?……No way ! ”
It was a delight as always to see Geoff at the start who, whilst injured at the moment and unable to cycle, would be taking a few photos at the start and on the route as he followed us around in his MX5.
Time to split up into groups and today we were going to have 2 steady groups.
The group I was in was a bit light on numbers initially but eventually Carol and Wayne were cajoled into joining us.
Quite legitimately they thought that any group containing Ian, Tony and June would not be steady at all but they were persuaded by the strength of the compelling arguement put to them….
” Aw come on Carol, come on …..come on ! …..come ON !”
” Wayne …Come on ! Come on……. come ON ! ”
Who could resist that !?
A day in the flatlands to the east of Hull was the plan for today’s ride.
Leaving Cottingham we would cycle to Dunswell and then scoot through the estates at Kingswood to get on the road to Wawne.
Going through Wawne we would then head into the featureless no man’s land that is Holderness and wend our way over to Skirlaugh before continuing to track east through the villages until we reached our destination of Fitling.
After a well earned warming beverage and bite to eat at the Spotted Duck Tea Rooms we would depart on our return journey to civilisation.
This time we would travel via different flat and featureless roads taking in Sproatley, Coniston and Swine before getting back to Wawne and eventually Cottingham which, for the purposes of this story, I am calling civilisation.
Total distance would be a little over 50 miles, a relatively short one and normally there would be nothing to fear here…….but what was the weather going to throw at us ?
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM….AND THE STORM
Initially, not much.
There was a small shower as we pulled out of Cottingham but that subsided quickly and the first few miles to Dunswell and through Kingswood were dry, bright and cold.
Occasionally we would catch the head wind at which point our 2 x 2 formation would turn quickly into single file. This was a bit of a conversation killer at times.
At one point Carol was telling me about her new bathroom,
” Anyway Al my Dad has put these 4 spotlights in the bathroom and I’m not kidding they are so bright it’s like being beamed up to the starship Enterprise………hang on I’m just going to get behind you Al, do you mind ? ”
Never did get the full story on those spot lights.
Up ahead though the storm clouds were gathering.
By the time we went through Wawne it had started to rain. A kind of gentle pitter patter rain at first which started to build as we took a right turn after Wawne and headed for Skirlaugh.
I was totally waterproofed up ( yes that is a verb ) and initially the rain was literally like water of a duck’s back. Actually it was quite fun and there was no discomfort or suffering going on at all.
The rain however just kept on getting heavier and heavier.
Once I started to feel water inside my shoes and my cycling tights were as wet through as if I’d just worn them in the bath I think you could say the novelty had pretty much worn off.
By the time we got to Skirlaugh the rain was truly biblical. Where was Moses when you needed him ?
Amazingly as we came into Skirlaugh June stopped to put her waterproof on. She still hadn’t put it on !
As we waited at the main junction, being pummelled by the tsunami of rain ( no exaggeration ) , Steve spotted a large brick built bus shelter.
Now there was a decision to be made. Were we a bunch of hard as nails tough as teak cyclists who laughed in the face of discomfort and adverse conditions ? Or were we a bunch of namby pamby wimps who would bring dishonour to Cottingham Road Club by seeking shelter.
I think you can guess the answer. There was a full on stampede to get into that bus shelter !
” Let me in ! Get out of my way ! Move your bike over ! More room ! ”
Pretty soon we were all in there, except June who sat outside on her bike going
” What’s the matter ? ”
THE BUS SHELTER
The rain continued to bucket down whilst we cowered in the bus shelter.
I started to feel a bit guilty when an elderly gentleman appeared in the bus shelter with us. Oh dear we really shouldn’t be getting in the way of this old timer going about his business I thought.
He is probably clutching his bus pass on his way to get some warming soup from the shops…..wait a minute that’s no old timer that’s Geoff !!
This was getting a little surreal but I acted as if it was all totally normal.
“Hi Geoff ”
“Hi Alan ”
Carol was having a few motivational issues concerning carrying on in this weather.
Firstly she considered catching a bus and then she wondered if she could somehow get herself and her bike in Geoff’s MX5. The conclusion was that the bike would have to be dismantled but it could be done.
With it still raining I suggested we really had to carry on. It wasn’t going to stop raining for a long time and we couldn’t just stay in this bus shelter forever. Besides the other group was coming and if they caught us in here we would be drummed out of the club !
Eventually Carol saw it the same way once 2 of us had grabbed her legs and the others had prised her fingers off the bus shelter walls.
My word she was strong.
So we left the old fella there……I hope he got his soup.
ONWARDS TO FITLING
We left Skirlaugh up a slight incline where the scale of the water being dumped on the road became apparent.
In heavy rain it is not uncommon to see streams of water coming down an incline. But going up this incline out of Skirlaugh the stream of water covered the whole width of the road.
By the time we got to the village of New Ellerby the rain was beginning to subside.
We could see dark rain bearing clouds in the distance but for the moment we were in a dry spot. Time to push on to Fitling before the next wave comes in….literally.
Even though it had stopped raining that wasn’t to say we were dry. With the water that had soaked into my clothes I must have been about a stone heavier !
The drenching had given me a bit of a wardrobe malfunction. My woolly hat had lost all elasticity and kept flopping down over my eyes. I didn’t want to take it off as I was starting to lose the feeling in my hands and feared if I took my helmet off I wouldn’t be able to put it back on again.
Hmmm maybe I should have told my ride colleagues I couldn’t see and I couldn’t feel my hands ?!
The sooner we get to Fitling the better.
THE SANCTUARY OF FITLING
It was a relief to get to the planned stop at Fitling.
Tony unfortunately couldn’t stop as he didn’t have the time so we bade him farewell as he continued back to Cottingham and the rest of us piled into the tea rooms.
Both groups descended on the Spotted Duck Tea Rooms at more or less the same time. It must have been quite a sight for the staff to see 20 or so cold, bedraggled and dripping cyclists storm the building desperate to dry off, warm up and have something to eat and drink.
The facilities were very cyclist friendly, the staff were very accommodating and the whole visit was a great success.
I can certainly recommend the bacon and egg sandwich which was perhaps, whisper it quietly, the best bacon and egg sandwich I have ever had…..and I’ve had a lot.
We also struck it lucky with the weather as whilst we were inside the tea rooms the heavens opened again. I could see the rain bouncing up off the flag stones outside. Nasty.
Thank goodness we weren’t caught up in that.
My thoughts turned to poor Tony who would be out there now copping that dreadful downpour………..and then I returned to my bacon and egg sandwich……..after all there were 2 eggs on it you know, one on each half !!
Leaving Fitling we skirted past the villages of Danthorpe and Lelley.
We were not to know it but we wouldn’t be troubled by the rain again on this ride. We would however be troubled by the wind.
We took a right turn shortly after Lelley that put us on a northerly heading directly into the teeth of the strong gusting wind coming in the opposite direction.
As soon as we took that turn it was like being hit with a sledgehammer ( but without the bruising, bleeding and broken bones )
We were looking at about 10 miles of a broadly northerly track until we got up level with Skirlaugh again.
Those first few miles up to Sproatley were the hardest though as we were going due North. Hells teeth it was tough going.
Wayne was on the front his waterproof billowing away like a spinnaker whilst Ian was looking after Carol who wasn’t physically suffering but…..how can I put this……mentally she wasn’t in a good place.
Later she would describe her internal struggles.
“When I turned into the wind ….I just couldn’t be bovvered ! ”
We’ve all been there Carol, we’ve all been there.
I did a spell on the front up to Sproatley and I watched my heart rate rocket up and my speed rocket down. That was one of the hardest earned 14 mph’s I think I have ever done.
Close to Skirlaugh again we turned westwards and from then on we would have the wind as a cross wind or behind us.
Thank heavens for that, from now on we could relax !
THE DYING FLY
There was, however, going to be one last twist to this ride.
Leaving Wawne on the way back to Cottingham we normally take a path used by cyclists and pedestrians as a cut through into Kingswood.
This path has some metal barriers along it’s length designed to stop larger vehicles and presumably slow cyclists down by forcing them to negotiate a tricky right and left chicane.
Normally I dont ‘t ride through as I don’t have the skill. I unclip and scoot through pushing myself with my free foot.
Ian shows above how the obstacle should be negotiated.
Wayne showed how the obstacle should not be negotiated.
Somehow he lost his back wheel from underneath himself and slammed onto the floor. Ouch !
Then, to add insult to injury the fact he had both feet still clipped into his pedals induced a painful cramp attack. Double ouch !
But don’t worry he had his friends there to help him. We waited until we could see he was alright before we started to laugh. You’re welcome Wayne. We’re here for you buddy !
Whilst on his back shaking his legs and feet to free himself from his pedals and pushing the bike off himself I couldn’t fail but be transported back in time to the classic kids TV show TISWAS and the brilliant “dying fly”.
Ah happy days, the Phantom Flan Flinger, Spit The Dog, Bob Carolgees …….but I digress.
I hope my descriptive powers of this event have done it justice as I have no actual pictures of it whatsoever as Wayne went through the barriers in front of me.
I asked him if he fancied re-staging the whole incident for the camera but understandably he wasn’t keen.
“Look just lie on your back and wave your arms and legs in the air Wayne, come on what do you say ?! ”
BACK TO THE BRIDGE
After getting back to Cottingham we said our farewells and all went our different ways. Another amazing Cottingham Road Club ride.
I have gotten into the habit now of stopping at the Humber Bridge car park after rides just before I get home. I like seeing the people milling about, I like to reflect on the ride that has just happened and let’s be honest I am partial to the lovely dog burgers from the bridge dog burger van. Yum ! ( Other dog burger vans are available )
Due to the Sunday market the dog burger van wasn’t there but I took the opportunity to have a sit down and finish off my last bit of food and think about life the world and everything.
As I chewed down on that chocolate Hob Nob flapjack bar (nothing but the best for me ) I wondered if despite the freezing temperatures, the biting wind and the driving rain when it came right down to it did I really want to be cycling anywhere else ?
The answer was yes…..Majorca.