Author Topic: Easter Arrow 2024  (Read 3434 times)

Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #25 on: 31 March, 2024, 08:12:37 pm »
I did look at a Solar system finish but could not see a way of connecting it without some A road including A19.  Two quiet lanes came close but separated by Derwent and no bridge. I might take another look to see if I missed something.

John Stonebridge

  • Has never ridden Ower the Edge
Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #26 on: 31 March, 2024, 09:24:31 pm »
I did look at a Solar system finish but could not see a way of connecting it without some A road including A19.  Two quiet lanes came close but separated by Derwent and no bridge. I might take another look to see if I missed something.

Not my patch so with that caveat...............this might work - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/46035576

- Just a very short stretch on the A19 in Escrick. 

- Route through Bish was taken on Deano's 200 in February and was drama free. 

- I've only ridden the Highfield - Bubwith stretch on the A163 twice a couple of years ago - bearable for 2km.   

Food for thought. 

CrinklyLion

  • The one with devious, cake-pushing ways....
Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #27 on: 01 April, 2024, 02:27:08 am »
Happy with my routing but I’d likely stick on bigger roads after Melton Mowbray as some were a bit gravelly in the dark.  Plus an alternate to the B road past Yorkshire maze as the surface is now just awful in a lot of places.

B1228 from Elvington? That was part of my Friday commute and especially heading towards town it has been 'orrible surface for years, and is one of those roads that local drivers go 'you rode where?!?!?!' if you tell them you've been there - there's a corner that used to be a fairly notorious accident blackspot.

I often used to head left (at Rydal garage) onto Wheldrake Lane, past the fishing lakes, into Wheldrake village and turn right at the T (top of the little hill just after the school) then take the left just as you are leaving the village and head towards Escrick - Wheldrake lane, then right onto Skipwith rd. Right onto the A19 (or across it and onto the shared cycle/footpath when I rode that way with my kid occasionally!) then a few hundred metres later left onto Naburn lane/Moor lane, and after a couple of km you can drop onto the planets path.

It was a much longer route home but a much, much nicer one! If I was a bit more pushed for time I'd sometimes head out of Elvington on the B1228 but hang a right and head to Dunnington - it involves an absolutely hideous crossing of the 1079 but depending on the time of day was sometimes better OK. And very occasionally the completely silly and not audax-friendly Comey Off Road route through Gypsy Wood and Heslington appealed....


Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #28 on: 01 April, 2024, 07:50:11 am »
Ridiculously long ride report alert!

===
2024 Easter Arrow

This is the first time I have ridden such an event, and was excited to be offered a place by team captain Lightning Phil.

Phil assembled our team: himself on his recumbent, his usual audax helper Howard, me, John Stonebridge, and a last-minute addition of Dave on his trike. Phil's route came out to 385km from Stevenage to York. Trains were running, so I decided to get the train down from Cambridge but get off in Baldock and do the extra 15km to round it up to 400km. This means the ride would also be the first step towards this year's planned Herts SR badge. I leave home at just after 8am to get the train from Cambridge.

It is strange not needing an alarm, and leaving at normal getting up time for an audax. My husband waves me off. My bike seems more heavily laden than normal, but it's just that the little bar bag on the front makes it look different (containing my duvet coat, in case of spring overnight temperatures). I am unable to concentrate on the Metro newspaper on the way down. How will this ride be? I know that my resting state is slow, but I am usually fine in a like-minded group. Will I fall off the group at every hill (up as well as down; gravity is not as helpful to little old me), and will they get bored of waiting for me? Will I stay awake? Will they mind how often I need to go to sleep? Will I get food right?

I get to the Wetherspoons in Stevenage first, and order second breakfast. Wetherspoons at 10am is handy, but depressing. Before anyone else has turned up, a man who already looks worse for wear downs two pints. I feel sorrow for him, and joy at my own life: we both live in such an extraordinarily beautiful and varied country; I'm going to spend the weekend watching the landscape change and flux. On my bike, I get to see it, touch it, feel it, to hold the breadth of the landscape in my head, to eat it up. He's going to be... at Wetherspoons. All day. And probably all weekend.

Phil is the next to arrive, followed by Howard, JS and Dave. We grab receipts from Tesco opposite, and set off at 11.30am. Out to Weston; I watch the Chilterns slip away. Phil and I remark how much nicer Baldock is since the A505 bypass was done. We spread out on the hills to Ashwell. The weather is glorious; the sun shines on the oilseed rape, the wind presses gently on our backs. My favourite road out towards Eyeworth, yay. The lovely ruddy greensand sandstone church at Potton heralds the next change in landscape. One of the donkeys at Gamlingay Cinques is rolling around the field! I say a mental hello to the kings at the top of Abbotsley church (Harold, William the Conqueror, Scottish kings Macbeth and Malcolm the third according to Wikipedia. Sounds totally made-up).

I am not a fan of the London Road way into St Ives, and this is probably only the third time I've ever cycled it. But on a bank holiday afternoon, and with a team, it passes quickly. We grab food and receipts at the petrol station, then go and sit on the bridge to eat. Herewith my first factoid of the day, of the bridge being one of only a few in England with a chapel on (turns out there are three others, thanks Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Ives_Bridge ).


Another Arrow team turns up; they stop for a chat in the sun.

Then two CTC clubmates turn up, on a day trip to St Ives! What fun.
After a bit of wiggling around to get to the loo (I remember that there is one in a car park, but can't remember how to get to the car park), we're off on the Houghton Road and peel up to Wyton. Hello squares in Woodwalton nature reserve, I'll visit you later on in the year. In Sawtry, we pass St Judith's Lane, and JS ends up on the receiving end of my next bit of useless trivia. St Judith (niece of William the Conqueror) was a local girl; nearby is a hedge also named after Judith - at over 900 years old, it is said to be one of the oldest in England. JS is delighted with hedge trivia, and tells me that one of his rides goes past the UK's longest beech hedge. Who'd have thought it, the existence of two pieces of hedge trivia?

Near Glatton, Dave jokes about a sign for Lutton: "are we going round in circles? Wasn't that a sign for Luton?". We convene in Oundle marketplace for a Tesco Express control. The first cream bun slides down easily, and even I am surprised when the second does too. On our way again, JS remarks on the smart buildings and I explain that most of them are the private school. One time on a trip through Oundle, one of my children had marvelled at the buildings (they are pretty impressive) and wondered what it would be like to go a posh school like that. But it was a Saturday, and we then saw the children leaving school... ideas of grandeur faded rather quickly.

Northamptonshire is so pretty.

I always think how terrible we are at tourism in UK when going through Northamptonshire - it is easily prettier than all those little Suffolk villages. But then Howard points out the existence of Northampton. And Kettering. And Corby. Yeah, fair point. Phil and I recall seeing loads of red kites in Laxton; I had thought that someone had told me they were reared locally, but the internet later reveals that there is just a feeding station and consequently a well-known roost. We drop down into Harringworth and I pause for a photo of the viaduct, pleased that we are not going up That Hill.


The sun is dropping in the sky and reflects off the river as we chug along parallel; the Welland valley is really very lovely. Down again through Stoke Dry (I always assume it's a joke) towards the Eyeworth reservoir, and two more useless factoids for JS; apparently some Gunpowder plotters, err, plotted in a little room above the church porch (the internet later tells me this is a myth, but the church was owned by one of the Gunpowder plotters so who knows), and the reservoir was used for practise prior to the Dambusters raid. Wikipedia has added a new useless fact to my list for Stoke Dry: along with the other nearby villages, it was the first in the UK to receive superfast broadband using sub-loop unbundling. There we are then.
I tell Dave that my family and I have toured this area on a tandem and triplet, and he shares big bike tales of his own: two quads in Australia, so heavy that wheels buckled when starting or stopping. The solution was to never travel between 0-10 kph. Huh? The explanation is more than I can take in, as my brain is having difficulty imagining four adults who trust each other on a bike; rather than one adult, and two children predisposed towards random acts of unpredictableness.

Rutland is also so pretty. We up and down rolling hills, the sun setting and rising again and again.

A group of three pass us in the opposite direction. "Where are you off to?" they call out. "York!" I reply. "Oh, us too!". This strikes me as hilarious, and I giggle uncontrollably. I am surprising myself at how well I am coping with these hills, but I hadn't looked at the route properly; last time I was here was on a family tour in 2020, on the tandem. Some of these hills took me so long that I had two hedge breaks on the way up. So this time they seem perfectly manageable. I look out across the valley; Rockingham speedway surveys us.
I think my stock of useless trivia is nearly used up, until we arrive in Hallaton: home to the discovery of the Hallaton Hoard (a collection of over 5000 Iron Age coins) and the Hallaton bottle kicking - an excellent description here, including some great stories below the line: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2018/apr/30/unleash-the-burryman-britain-weirdest-folk-rituals-may-day-doc-rowe

On our 2020 summer tour, we'd come through Hallaton and stopped at the duck pond for a sandwich break. There were ducks and chickens all over the road, and people were driving through too fast. I take a photo of the pond, and then a text from my husband pops up on the Garmin: "Mind the ducks in Hallaton!".

We are into new territory for me, and it is nearly dark. Our next control at Great Glen approaches: Phil says we are stopping at a Co-op briefly, so I look at the map ahead and find a suitable junction of road and track for a hedge stop about a mile outside of the village. I clamber over the gate and there is some machinery on the ground, but it takes a while to register what it is: weeing at the top of several pylons, complete with ceramic isolators, is a new and slightly unsettling experience.
In Great Glen, I find the Spar, double-track, and find the Co-op. We are 180km in, but it feels a lot more - presumably because of having started late in the day, and the darkness of the night. My belly is starting to get fed up of food for the night, and my Co-op raid is distracted by pop music - I can't concentrate on what to buy while Heather Small is bellowing into my ears. I force down a cheesey bacony thing. On into the night. Through Hungarton - no thanks, I've just eaten - the glow of Leicester reflecting off the night sky.
A text from a CTC clubmate pings up on the Garmin: "Ooo! Time for a pork pie. Well done. Hope all is going well and you have a good night." A glow of happiness rushes over me.
Into Melton Mowbray for the next Wetherspoons control. Melton is always busy and smelly. The pub is too loud. I have Wetherspoons customer experience variety 2 whilst queueing for a hot drink; "you ride a bike, do you? Oh, I used to ride a bike. Hate it, threw it away". I eat half a potato - why do they never serve enough beans, grr - before zonking out on the table. An indeterminate amount of time later, Phil mentions my name and I am awake.
New territory out of Melton. It is dark, and the darkness and black road and the black hedges and the time all meld into one. JS and Howard and I trade tales of family life, children and universities, but I get muddled about who I am talking to and who has which children. JS has a puncture, and we all stop. I find a convenient hedge; a cow must have heard me climb over the gate, and she won't stop mooing at me. Howard and I, as the rearguard soldiers of our team, decide to press gently on.

Lincoln suburbs are boring, and go on for absolutely ages. We rejoice when we see the glorious golden arches. A queue at the counter. Arg, the ultimate test for the weary audaxer: how to work the machine to order food in McDonalds?! Eat, toilet, finish eating, tea, sleep. We rouse ourselves, and a lonely worker tells us that we can stay and sleep. Then she tells us about her children, at what feels like great length, and how they won't tidy up after themselves. I suggest a rota.
In preparation for the night ahead, I put my headphones on. It feels a bit rude, but better than falling asleep awheel. They Might Be Giants playlist on, as I know it lasts for about 50km. Then off into the night, trying to hum rather than sing along.
Time stops having any meaning; there is only now, and now is dark. Could have done with an extra ten minutes of sleep in Lincoln. Near Ingham, Garmin says "12km to next turn". That distance in not-Fens doesn't make any sense. Howard and I have dropped off the others. I pull in front of Howard, hoping to keep him going. But I pull away and he hollers me back, "puncture!". I sit on the tarmac and hold a lamp and the small bits, he changes his tube, we set off. Aaaah, a shooting star!

The others wait for us in Kirton in Lindsey, last visited on Fenland Friends last year. It was the middle of the night then, too. Must be boring living here when it's always the middle of the night. Through Brigg. Some lightness in the sky, and a barn owl flies alongside briefly. Howard and I try to get our speed up a bit. The lights on two tall towers watch over us. "Maybe that's the Humber bridge...?" Howard says, plaintively. Wishful thinking: turns out it was Scunthorpe.

The sun rises, and signs to Barton-upon-Humber perk us up a bit. The drag out there seems to take forever, on and on and up and down. But evidence of Dutch wealth and influence from the 1600s comes up for the first time since our pause in St Ives: I look out for older houses, with their stepped gable ends. What have they seen, these homes. Ahh, a pair of oystercatchers in a field! Their little orange legs and long bill catch the sunlight. It is still cold but is shaping up to be a beautiful day.
The first peeks of the Humber bridge and at last, the Humber itself glimmers into view. I had imagined that we would stop near the bridge for the obvious photo, but I am going so slowly that there is clearly not time. The tide is out; from this distance, you can see the marks of low water, high water, spring tide. Rivulets wend through the mud into the river.


The others are well ahead of me, but I remember that the Premier Inn breakfast (all one word) is a drop down from the bridge. At the entrance, Dave is waiting for me; he pulls off just as I get there. I know that time is starting to slip away because me and Howard have slowed up, so I assume the plan is to control somewhere else. Up and over the flyover. Dave pulls into another hotel. "So, where are the boys parked up?". Oh. "Uh, probably at the Premier Inn...?" I reply, weakly. Back up and over the flyover. Bad news: Premier Inn breakfast isn't open yet, and they won't even let us have a coffee but will let us sit and snack. I spreadeagle, eyes closed before I've reached the lovely soft carpet. A minute passes, and then JS says "uhh, I've just noticed that you seem to have collapsed... you okay?". Thumbs up. Someone says "we should get on with the next stretch" and I think, ooh, that's a good idea, and sit up and fold in half to stretch my legs and back.
Selfies instead of breakfast control. A serious chat is had outside: we should be fine, but we are to try to stay on 20kph. I have reached the despondent phase: it can't be done! JS says, "ahh, you'll be fine! We'd be fine at 16kph, you can do that!". I can't. I can't do 6kph. I look at the little train wending along the Humber. It wouldn't be that bad, would it? It's only a little train? I drop off the back, then we turn right: a deliberate close pass on my left wakes up a string of expletives and the ensuing adrenaline gets me back up to 20kph.
Two lapwings blip their way up into the sky, and I feel my heart surge; JS is right, Howard and I are off the back but we can do this. We pull into our last control before the end. "Bad news... You're never going to believe this..." says JS. "We're here too early! The plan is to go on to Howden, where Phil had previously said we would control". Somehow this is utterly hilarious, like the first time anyone had ever thought of cracking a joke.
At Howden JS says, "You're not going to believe this, but we're here five minutes early...". I park my bike and slump into the sun for the most delicious nap ever since naps were invented. The garage turns out to be a mecca of all things that are lovely. Toilets, snacks, nice lady who knows I need a receipt, chairs, company.

The sun is shining, and we are on lovely quiet lanes. A village sign has the Yorkshire rose - flipping heck, we're in Yorkshire! I hadn't really thought about it. Blimey.  A barn owl turns away from us on one side, then another on the other side. So far, Yorkshire doesn't look very much different from Lincolnshire. The village of Elvington proudly wears the most enormous LNER sign welcoming us to the city of York, but then it seems an absolute age on poorly-surfaced roads. Poor bum. Howard, Dave and Phil go on while JS and I hang back, wary of making stupid mistakes in our tired state in the busy town centre. Who would want to drive a car here, it looks horrible.
The enormous gatehouse welcomes us into York proper; it is a terrific welcome into the city. I try to remember the contents of the plaques in case they turn out to be BCQ questions. Then there is the end, oh wondrous Wetherspoons! We park our bikes in the sun, and stagger inside.
Phil and Howard are at a table near the window; Dave is sitting at another table with team ACME. They all smile at each other; really long smiles, like sleepwalking, like their faces started smiling but then went to do something else and forgot to stop smiling. Overwhelming tiredness fills the air, or maybe I just can't smell sweat any more. Tomsk comes over, welcoming and genuinely pleased to see us all. I smile at my teammates, at messages from my husband and my clubmates at home, and think about Emily Chappell's invisible peloton idea: these people all wanted you to do this, little me, and you have. I smile a long smile, and fall asleep.

Tomsk

  • Fueled by cake since 1957
    • tomsk.co.uk
Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #29 on: 01 April, 2024, 08:17:53 am »
Lovely ride report Mrs Sparkly! For grizzled veterans who have done a fair few Arrows ... it reminds me of why we do this.

alfapete

  • Oh dear
Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #30 on: 01 April, 2024, 08:37:38 am »
Really excellent write up, thank you!
alfapete - that's the Pete that drives the Alfa

Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #31 on: 01 April, 2024, 08:43:37 am »
Great write up and pics sparklyfish!

Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #32 on: 01 April, 2024, 08:43:47 am »
B1228 from Elvington?

Yes the village claiming to be in the city of York.  I’ve ridden the B road a few times before on Arrows, pre pandemic, and don’t remember it being anywhere near as badly surfaced as it was. Anyway it’s off my list now.

Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #33 on: 01 April, 2024, 08:52:09 am »
I did look at a Solar system finish but could not see a way of connecting it without some A road including A19.  Two quiet lanes came close but separated by Derwent and no bridge. I might take another look to see if I missed something.

Not my patch so with that caveat...............this might work - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/46035576

- Just a very short stretch on the A19 in Escrick. 

- Route through Bish was taken on Deano's 200 in February and was drama free. 

- I've only ridden the Highfield - Bubwith stretch on the A163 twice a couple of years ago - bearable for 2km.   

Food for thought.

That’s an option I considered and dismissed.  It’s one thing to take a chance on A roads I don’t know that well for myself, and another to take a group of us down them.  For the Solar system a Snaith then Selby approach works well. Especially as they tarmacd the airfield cycle route during the pandemic. I’ve had Snaith as the 22nd hour control before.

Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #34 on: 01 April, 2024, 09:12:21 am »
Excellent thank you.
Get a bicycle. You will never regret it, if you live- Mark Twain

Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #35 on: 01 April, 2024, 09:19:42 am »
to hold the breadth of the landscape in my head

(and many other parts).....  :) :) :)   Thankyou!

Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #36 on: 01 April, 2024, 09:27:54 am »
Enjoyed your report - well done.

John Stonebridge

  • Has never ridden Ower the Edge
Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #37 on: 01 April, 2024, 09:55:51 am »
Great write up SF - Im impressed that you can recall so much detail of our ride. 

I knew my Meikleour hedge factoid would come in handy one day https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meikleour_Beech_Hedges  :thumbsup:

I'd forgotten that I did have a giggle to myself in Great Glen when Heather Small was serenading us about "One night in heaven".   You don't know the half of it Heather.  :D   

GdS

  • I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass
Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #38 on: 01 April, 2024, 11:32:09 am »
For ECE purposes does the Arrow distance get rounded to the nearest 50km ridden?

Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #39 on: 01 April, 2024, 11:37:58 am »
Fabulous write up and pictures!

Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #40 on: 01 April, 2024, 09:12:46 pm »
Great write up sparklyfish.
Congrats to you and the team, and the rest of the arrow riders. :thumbsup:


Owen
Old Enough to know better, young enough not to care.
Facebook, the toilet wall of the modern generation

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #41 on: 02 April, 2024, 02:05:30 pm »
I tell Dave that my family and I have toured this area on a tandem and triplet, and he shares big bike tales of his own: two quads in Australia, so heavy that wheels buckled when starting or stopping. The solution was to never travel between 0-10 kph. Huh? The explanation is more than I can take in, as my brain is having difficulty imagining four adults who trust each other on a bike; rather than one adult, and two children predisposed towards random acts of unpredictableness.

Thanks for letting me on the team at short notice. My apologies for my grumpiness towards the finish (it had been a long day). Afterwards I was catching up with stories from HK and her teammates.

Our four-up tandem (a quad, one of a pair in Oz) tended to fold front wheels at very low speeds because, to maintain balance, the wheel needed to be turned nearly perpendicular to the direction of travel. The rims available back in the '80s weren't very strong and with a standard width hub, the sideloads tended to fold the front wheel into an L. Eventually we built up a trotting gig hub into a bicycle front wheel and modified the fork to accept the hub's much larger width, which solved the problem but until then, we needed to modify our starting/ stopping technique. Basically 3 of 4 riders strapped their feet into the pedals (clipless was very new then) with the third rider holding the bike upright. Brakes on hard, everybody applied pressure to the pedals, brakes released, instantly up to 10km/h. No slow-speed wobbling needed.
https://equineworld.co.uk/equestrian-sports/harness-racing

Stopping had the third rider feet out, then an emergency stop on the brakes and the bike was stationary without wobbling, held up by the third rider (they slid off their saddle under heavy braking without feet on pedals). Then everybody else could get their feet out and get off. Simple but took some planning and riding in traffic required some thought.

The two quads (one in Brisbane, the other in Melbourne, both frames built by Christies Cycles) met once in Sydney at the Sydney to the Gong ride in the late '80s (1987?). it was an impressive photo.
https://www.msaustralia.org.au/news/guide-to-the-ms-gong-ride/
https://bicyclenetwork.com.au/about-us/history/paul-farren/
https://pateblog.nma.gov.au/2015/01/08/supernova-australia-the-solar-bike/
https://collections.qm.qld.gov.au/objects/218418/solar-powered-four-rider-bicycle-supernova
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Easter Arrow 2024
« Reply #42 on: 03 April, 2024, 06:35:34 pm »
No worries about any grumpiness shown. I’m sure we are all guilty of it at times during long rides.