So we all discovered on Wednesday 24th February that Alex would be leaving these shores for France, he hoped only for a short while. I think it fair to say that we were all saddened by this news, but he wanted to go for a ride on Sunday. Now Alex said it was to say farewell to us, but the truth came out a bit later in the evening ..... he had just bought himself a new bike, any excuse for a ride Alex! He had decided that he'd like to go to Devils Bridge as he'd never been or perhaps somewhere in the Peak District.
And so it was that we met at Redbeck cafe at 9 on Sunday morning. There would eventually be six of us, Chaz Milner, Caz Kemp, Martin Burgess, Clare Ellam, Alex Cottrell (of course) and me, Mark Rhodes. Justine and Steve came to have some breakfast and wave us off before returning home to carry out some top level urgent fence repairs!!
Before we'd set off Clare had phoned Alex to say that her helmet had half disintegrated on the way so would meet us on route.
We eventually managed to tear ourselves from hot cups of tea and bacon sandwiches (it was still a bit chilly) and set off. Riding through Walton and into Sandal it looked as though the damp roads would soon dry out and we might even get to see the sun. Under the M1 at junction 39 and up to West Bretton roundabout, through Flockton and Emley into Grange Moor to meet up with Clare. She was busy putting her camera onto her 'backup' helmet when we arrived, and asked Alex if he wanted to attach an intercom to his helmet so they could chat on the way round.
Technology sorted we set off again, Cooper Bridge, Brighouse, Exley, Elland bypass then on into Sowerby Bridge, and toward Todmorden. It was a lot busier along this road than expected but eventually having circumnavigated Burnley and Nelson we found ourselves in Barrowford. I have to say at this point that every time we had pulled up all we could hear was Clare and Alex giggling under their helmets, it was in Barrowford that Clare encouraged Alex to rev his bike to scare some poor local. It was loud enough to scare all of us apart from Clare and Alex who, of course we're expecting it .... time for a quick leg stretch in Booths car park (we get to all the best places) before the final few miles to Devils bridge.
Setting off again the traffic had gone, the road opened out and those wonderful round signs with the diagonal black stripe appeared. We all knew where we were going from here so it was only fair to let Alex open the taps a bit on his new bike. We came into Gisburn and waited for the those we'd left behind, right turn and a quick left followed by the pace becoming somewhat .... eerr ... brisk again, until we came to the A65. We slowed a little so that we could all ride into Devils Bridge together, but not before Alex made it clear that he needed fuel ... oh dear, new bike a bit thirsty Alex?
It was much busier than I think any of us had expected, although it was a nice enough day there was still a definite chill in the air. We were all ready for something to eat and drink and talk about the ride so far. We walked along the Bridge and those who knew it told Alex of the legend behind it and about the Devils hand print in one of the stones in the bridge, but we couldn't find it, which was more than a bit frustrating, I know it's there I've seen it and laid my own hand in the imprint, I just couldn't remember where on the bridge it is, more rides needed to here until I find it again.
Team photo taken we set off homeward again straight along the A65, Settle, Skipton and on to Keighley where we stopped again so we could all say our goodbyes, Clare was going home through Keighley and we would all be peeling off at some point from here on to get back to our homes, a few hugs, handshakes and 'fare thee wells' later and we all set off again waving our goodbyes as we peeled off one by one.
A great ride out, and hopefully Alex will be back soon so we can have many more with him.