Cycling in Storm Helene

Posted by Mark Russell on 2018-09-20

Seven of us met at the Black Horse PH in Ingleton for what was going to be a rather gusty and damp ride out. The forecast did at least state a possibility that the worst of the rain was gone.

A quick count up gave us the following riders, Jenny, Yvonne, Richard, Greg, Steve, Jill and myself. We set off towards Staindrop with the wind slowly but certainly ramping up. The four hours of 40 plus wind speeds still in my mind and how the day may pan out. I was hoping that we'd get to Wolsingham before the worst of it and maybe after lunch it will have died down. At least I had my mind changed about the cafe stop and originally hadn't intended on stopping only to be bombarded by email that I'm obviously a mad man and that I'd be breaking centuries of SOC cyclists tradition. Lesson learnt, I won't attempt to try that again!

As we approached Bollihope and a few of us had been wobbled into the road by some decent gusts, three brave souls decided that they weren't happy to attempt going over the top. We had a sensible decision about it and they returned from whence they came knowing that it would be there another day for them to tackle. It also meant there would be larger portions of cake back at Russell H.Q to demolish. Shame.

So that left four of us to 'attempt' Bollihope, we also at that point decided not to cross up to Stanhope but to cut across to Frosterley instead. The climb up was challenging into the wind but we all made it up. Once at the top we were all a bit undecided as to whether we could cycle down or have to walk it. We all started with cycling and after being caught out just once too many times I decided I was going to walk a bit. On one occasion a gust being strong enough to lift my bike 10 inches into the air! Thankfully we all made it down safely and then pedalled onto Wolsingham. There we stopped at Mrs.Peggotty's cafe which was very pleasant. Definitely worth another visit. As is tradition I then lead us straight into a long stiff climb towards Hamsterley, it was followed by a grand quiet descent before I subjected everyone into what felt like a 50 mile straight slog into a headwind. Windy Bank Road lived up to its name. We then meandered through a few pit villages before eventually arriving back at Russell H.Q where I managed to make friends with everyone again by supplying Mr.s R's chocolate cake with mugs of Yorkshire tea. Think we were all on talking terms by the time they left!

Thanks to all for joining me, it was an experience!

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