The Gardeners Captain and Vice Captain headed North to join up with honorary Gardener ‘Crazy’ Paul Oberg to lay waste to East Yorkshire.
Saturday morning 6.40am uh-oh it’s Steadley on the phone … just missed him … call back: “hello I’m at Kings Cross do you know if the bikes go at the front or back?”. The station staff were as clued-up as usual leaving the Whitley Bay Champion in a temporary state of confusion, not helped as he’d been out until 1.30am drowning some work-induced sorrows. Richard joined the train at Stevenage and we were on time to find that Crazy Paul’s recent new fatherhood status means that his timekeeping is now relegated to last in the group. All aboard and we climbed out of the Aire Valley via Quarry Hill and Gipton. If those place names don’t sound bleak, they should. The term “development area” has been applied to these for a long while but the only things that develop are running gun battles for control of the crack dens. We got lost for the first of many times and Paul asked a lady at a bus stop for directions. We were amazed to get a civil answer in an upmarket accent. What cruel set of circumstances had brought her here? we pondered as we got to the top of the hill and whizzed with a tail wind on some straight, flat roads towards Brampton.
Brampton … Paul used to live nearby and since he left one of the three pubs has closed down and another is open shorter hours. He’s a one-man economic blip to the licensed trade. We went up a 1:3 hill to find the pub was closed so went back down it to find the other pub was closed. Genius! I gave Dave a cereal bar to give him enough fuel for Tadcaster (4 miles later). We found a bike shop next to a café. The rain set in and my carrot cake kept me going as I repaired Dave’s brakes before we headed Northbound towards York. We shouldn’t be getting this far North. Paul reckoned it would be about 57 miles today but we ain’t halfway yet and we’re on 25. The hills got a bit more challenging. Dave’s hangover was starting to wear off as he had a bacon sandwich as well as a slice of cake in the café. Paul’s been cycling a lot as his dodgy knee doesn’t let him run and he’s the class of the field. Richard eats a cyclist’s diet but hasn’t been doing the miles this year so he’s struggling. More pretty villages. We went along a disused railway, then along a path and then … uh-oh … across a ploughed field. Luckily not much rain recently and I remarked to Paul how good the earthy surface was and how well he was riding. Within 30 seconds he’d fallen off.
“Time for a late lunch” belched Dave whose bacon sarnie had finally digested. We pulled in at the Woodman in Bishopthorne where Paul had a delicately presented slice of Quiche. Dave had the biggest slice of pie any of us had ever seen (bigger than an elephant’s foot) and Richard had a Yorkshire Pudding filled with a bucket of gravy and four sausages. The quality was as good as the quantity and the waitress was also delightful. Shall we stay here for the weekend? Nope we have a date with Beverley.
Back onto our trusty steeds and winding through the cycle network South of York. Really rather pleasant. Cross the Ouse via the Millennium Bridge. Look at the map. We’re nowhere near yet and we’ve taken so many wrong turnings I’m starting to think Paul is descended from the Lookout on the Titanic. To be fair to His Craziness, we are trying to avoid the just-too-busy A1079 York-Hull road and it means quite a bit of meandering, taking us up to Stamford Bridge and then heading through some really beautiful rolling hills toward Pocklington where we stopped at a local deli. It was all happening there. A poor old gentleman had a falling fit (I think it was Dave’s shorts that caused it). A Wayne Rooney lookalike tried to impress some 15 year olds with his superannuated Peugeot, resorting to singing / shouting at them as they showed classical indifference. Paul reckoned we’d not far to go now. Wrong.
We tried to avoid Market Weighton. We ended up going through it. 18 miles to Beverley it said on the sign. “That’s got to be wrong” said the man from Hull. To be fair, I think it was, as we took another two wrong turns before eventually arriving at Beverley around 7pm when “it were proper dark” as the locals might say. 18 miles from Market Weighton my odometer read. “75 miles today” said Richard, “so you got the distance right Paul – just the digits were the wrong way round”. Paul of course was ready for a night of drinking. Dave and Richard were ready for food and sleep. So having showered and changed, we headed to the pub. Have to hand it to Paul, the Sneck Lifter really is a fabulous pint. Hunger kicked in and we headed to a Thai restaurant. The dishes brought to Paul and Becca included animal-shaped vegetables – but their vegetarian fervour ensured that these remained uneaten. My green curry was fantastic. More beer at Nellie’s – wait a minute I’ve gone back in time according to their prices. Then a couple of numbers from a hoary old Blues band in our final hostelry of the night. Back to Kevin and Dot’s (Paul’s folks). I’ve never felt so tired. Even brushing my teeth was so tough. Hit the sack with a vengeance. Work up trying not to barf in the middle of the night. Sorted myself out and was absolutely fine on the Sunday morning.
Breakfast Chez Oberg was not a question of cornflakes and soya milk with Tofu sausages … Kevin is a proper carnivore so Dave and Richard stoked up on all kinds of saturated fat from the butchers while Paul hummed “Meat Is Murder” whilst demolishing a stack of toast. Rolled out across the Wolds heading vaguely North East. Wind blowing strong from the West, Richard figured it should be mainly behind. Didn’t feel like it! Pulled into a large mill just outside Driffield where a garden centre café was offering all kinds of cake and coffee. Got that down us then continued across the country in pursuit of lunch – Paul and Dave seen getting ready to remount below.
We were just on the point of lunchtime when Crazy Paul’s rear tyre sprung a leak. Took a good 30 minutes to fix it as the tyre was very tight on the rim. “Should lubricate the rim for a better ride” said Paul; apparently this was some sort of attempt at humour lost on the sweating and swearing Richard who was having a proper struggle with the repair. Eventually complete, we continued along and found the Whitley Bay Champion at a fine hostelry up the road. Or rather his bike was there and he’d gone AWOL. We asked the folks in the bar if they had seen “a vague looking ginger bloke in dodgy clothing, looking a bit grubby and confused”. “We get loads in like that” replied the hotel manager. Eventually we caught up with Dave and had a good meal to ready us for our final onslaught towards Scarborough.
Straight out of the pub and WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! a gale force wind and gradual climb made us regret eating slightly too much in the pub. The hardest 2 miles of the trip without question. At the end of the climb we had a right turn and suddenly the wind was behind us. We were transformed into gods! Then we had to turn left, down a steep winding lane which led us to another 2 mile gradual climb stretch with the unforgiving side wind. Eventually we came to a plain that led us to the coast just South of Scarborough and the last ups-and-downs were pretty enjoyable as they ended on the blustery sea front with a cup of tea. A pleasant way to wind down before Paul got back into the car with Rebecca and Emmeline and the London boys climbed back up to the station for the train ride home.
Thanks Paul for organising a splendid trip.