He’s been talking about a big ride for far too long. Planning this and planning that. He’s been playing with the other bikes around silly muddy fields or fiddling with the electronic stuff on his road bike. I’ve been the commuting bike. The get him to work, spray me with salt, hang me up for the day and get him home steed. He never takes me out for a bloody big ride.
He sat there at his desk on Saturday clicking between Gpies and OS mapping sites. Chris pops in to collect his wheels and they chat about their plans for Sunday. “The forecast looks clear so time for some miles“. I didn’t get too excited because I know only to well how plans can change but my hopes elevated when he plugged in the Garmin and uploaded a file. I started to tingle when he put together a carbo pack and charged his Moon lights. I almost wet myself when he put me in the stand and started to prep me. Not just a clean and polish or a splash of lube but the whole shooting match. Bloody Sram XX. At last. No more yesterday’s 9spd. Time for the bright lights. 10spd. I’m speechless, KMC X10sl chain and a e13 narrow wide 36t chain ring. A XX Gripshift with Gore cabling. SWEET. A new XX rear mech and the party piece, a 11/36 XG1080 rear cassette. I’m giddy with anticipation but a little sceptical. Was he sleeping with another bike.
He’s eating porridge at 7.30am on a Sunday morning. It’s going to happen. At long last we are going out to play. The door is open and I’m waiting outside. He fumbles with the phone and starts up the Stava app. It’s kick off. We leave Haworth, Skipton bound.
Headwind. Not the light breeze I was expecting or was told to expect from the so-called weather forecasters on BBC but a strong cold in your face headwind. This will make his legs work. Wonder if we will keep to the plan. Sleet and rain. We pull over and he puts on his jacket and overshoes along with some choice words regarding the weather. We pedal on. Skipton, Carlton, Broughton Hall, Gargrave, Bolton by Bowland (closed cafe and a few more choice words) and onto Slaidburn. He leaves me outside whilst he downs a hot tea. With a full bidon back in the cage we head on. 40 miles in my tyres and loving it. Can’t say the same for him. I know the headwind was making this difficult. We climb out of Slaidburn and through Bowland forest. It’s wonderful to see the vistas again. Patchwork skies and striking moorland lay ahead and our first climb. I’m liking the 10spd. I know have a 36t to make the climbing a little easier but he doesn’t seem to be using it. Staying in the 34t. Maybe he is saving the 36 till later. Up and up we go and what goes up must come down and with the headwind still hammering my head tube, we ride in to High Bentham and Ingleton. Now I know where we are but we are heading off into virgin territory. Seems clever dick has found a quiet back road that will lead us to the Ribblehead viaduct and we have now turned east and the wind is now on our back. Its time to tick off a few quick miles. Full steam ahead Stu. Pedal hard fella and blow the cobwebs away. Photo stop and a quick check of the route. Looks like we will be missing out Dent so lunch will be in Hawes. Yet again I’m left outside whilst he feeds his face. Hot coffee and a toasted sandwich. He had better make the most of this tailwind and no gentle miles to let the food go down. Good lad, we hammer on. A right hand turn in Aysgarth brings back the headwind. This doesn’t make sense. How can the wind be in our face again. Wind blows in mysterious ways in these valleys. The pace has slowed and he is spinning the legs in anticipation. Is he resting. Is he feeling the pace. The average remains but as we head forth into the shining sun I have the feeling he is prepping for something. The gradient increase signals climb time. He is in and out of the saddle. head down and pushing on. He is taking me up Kidstones. I’m ok but I think he might suffer. He has 80 miles in his legs but climbing well. The gradient steepens. He is now counting to himself, something I’ve heard him do on long steep climbs. As the pedals turn he counts. 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1, etc etc. Do what you need to do Stu just don’t stop till you reach the top. Don’t stop till you reach the top.
We know where we are but sometimes that can throw a few gremlins into the brain. He knows the route and he knows what lays ahead. Just turn the pedals buddy. We descend into Buckden with its fresh yellow Tour De France posters adorning stone walls and camping spots. The recent rainfall overflows onto the roads which makes the few miles to Kettlewell a wet one. He now has a wet bottom to go with the cold feet.
We share the roads with Sunday tourist traffic. Cars and motorbikes fly past. Noisy smelly metal contraptions. They have nothing on me. Stu steers me down the quiet lane towards Grassington, Hebden, Appletreewick and Addingham. The sun is starting to set and our lights are switched on. He makes a phone call to Jade to let her know his ETA. We ride through Silsden and into Keighley. Only a few miles to go. We are on the last climb of the ride. The pedals are still turning and his legs are still pushing me hard up the hill. That last gel must have been a good one. We reach Crosshills and the descent into Haworth.
Home. At the front door. Warm lights shine through the front window. We are greeted with welcoming comments from Jade and Stella. I’m wheeled into the corner but before I’m put to bed Stu does what he always does after an epic together. He taps my saddle and touches his dad initials MJR RIP (which are engraved on the top tube) which silently says a thousand words. We have shared another great day together. Spent quality time together. He has smiled and he has grimaced. He has laughed and he has grumbled. He has flowed and he has wobbled but he has never wished to be anywhere else but riding with me.