Despite the forecast of rain and my inability to spell ‘Sedbergh’ on the rides diary, I was surprised to count twelve people ready to ride at the start. We split into two groups with Hayden gamely taking my outline map and list of place names to lead the second group (I had a Garmin to tell me where to go…). As the first group were winding their way out of Lancaster we got word that Ken had started off with a puncture. Once sure he wasn’t left on his ownsome, most of us carried on. The route we followed to the Churchmouse was pretty direct (Caton, Caton Green, Wray, Wennington, Wrayton, Leck footbridge, Moorthwaite Lane). It involved quite a bit of on and off A-roads which was not so nice, especially with the mizzle and rising wind. When we got to the Churchmouse, we found there were four other CTC riders already enjoying the scones - we did rather crowd the cafe but the staff were friendly and quick and didn’t point out that we had a third more people than I’d told them on the phone an hour and half before. Leaving the cafe meant a sharp uphill section before the relative tranquility of Barbon Dale. We were riding up into the cloud and could see little other than a shooting party dressed in tweeds, barbours and range rovers, down in the valley. Their dogs were dashing about … I was not sure what they were looking for. Surely not rabbits?
We’d gone up into the dale in three groups and we got a message that a new rider in the last group had got a wheel caught and bent in a cattle grid. The shiny steel of the cattle grid had a slick of wet from the oozing air - anathema to bike wheels. Two riders stayed with him and eventually called in a car who carried two riders and bikes back to civilization. Barbondale is a long way from a bike shop, a station or any other sort of assistance. Thank you Brian and Charlotte!
The descent into Gawthrop needed special care because of the wet roads and then we found that the pretty roads along Dentdale had been recently hedge trimmed. A local farmer cheerfully told me ‘You’ll all get punctures along there, you mark my words’. I did. And we didn’t. But I didn’t retrace my wheel tracks to tell him so.
Lunch in Sedbergh was good and Smatts Duo didn’t mind us dripping all over their cafe. But when we came out, the rain was getting serious. The plan to stop in Greenlands was modified and we hammered down the A683 keen to get home into the dry. Across Devils Bridge and then down the Kirby Lonsdale Road. There was half an inch of water in my goretex boots by the time I made it home. I’ll have to rethink how to dress for the rain.