Artist and Doctor cycles to Harrogate 17 October 2013
There’s a sense of waste in a journey of a particular length that’s not cycled. Harrogate is 55 or 60 miles from Sheffield and I had offered to talk to a medical conference some months ago and was expected. My slot was not until 3.30 and I felt I could miss the earlier sessions without too much loss. The forecast was good and I had some time to prepare the day before and I felt the need to give it a try. It’s a bit further than my comfy habit but I’d like to be able to do these longer runs.
So, I booked a ticket on the train just in case, set off at 0945 and spun on up through my old commute to Chapletown and then on up to Barnsley. I forgot the computer so my recollection of the the mileeage is rough. I did Barnsley in 75 minutes and felt good so powered on to Wakefield with a stop to remove a layer and a banana on the go. The road was reasonable and traffic light. It’s hilly but with no shockers and I’ve done this route few times so felt confident in where to go. It’s not Umbria but there’s enough interest in listening to the old body and working on keeping the pace up. Passed workmen, window cleaners and multiple South Yorkshire folk who all seem slightly Ukranian, big, died hair and practically dressed.
Made Wakefield by 2 hours and stopped for a Panini and a coffee in a marvellously Yorkshire-ised Italian coffee shop and was fed generously for a fiver, all in. There were Italian conversations and Wakefield accents with Africans on the computers and elderly Yorkshire couples treating themselves to an early lunch. I was treated too, to a wonderful bus stop outside with the queue constantly changing its cast of players. We had bleached hair, fatties, ladies with pillows and endless tasteless plastic bags of shopping. Couples were disputing and the lost asking directions, there were dogs, flowers and prams, I couldn’t have asked for more. The Panini was good, had a caloric salad and the coffee quite passable. I checked my little map and was off after half an hour of leg rest and re-fuelling.
The road to Leeds is prettier. There are rolling rich fields and the land is dotted with estate buildings old walls and feels classy. Nice open lengths of road and took me into Leeds which is easy to navigate too. There’s a big hill out of Leeds and on past Harewood House into lovely country with very tired legs. I was now nearing four hours and had the terrible syndrome of feeling invincible on the flat, godly on the downhill and then devastated on the mildest of uphill gradient, realising that the old legs are really useless now. Down to the lowest gear on the weasliest climb, I got to a sign for Harrogate and felt I was nearly there. But then there was another sign saying I had another 3 miles to go. Devastating. You’d have thought that after this distance the last bit should be easy but by this time I was hurting. But then, wonderful Harrogate delivered, with a lovely downhill drift into the pretty town and I was there.I’d been a little under four hours on bike, four and a half with the break, I felt that was respectable. Much cake, having missed lunch, the relief of walking on the flat, washing, weeing and then sitting through a lecture, drifting off a bit, all set me up. My talk, delivered in cycling gear with an environmental plug, went down well and I cadged a lift home with a kindly fellow doctor from the children’s hospital whose kids I had drawn a school open day about 20 years ago. The satnav took us an odd way and we spent 2 hours in the car to