Castleton 50 Report 2013

Castleton 50 Challenge Ride – Sunday, 22 September 2013

It’s not a race just a ‘gradual thinning down process’ said Dave Kirton. How does this thinning down process happen? By attacking on the climbs, working together in groups, hanging on to wheels for dear life, putting in a dig when you sense others are under pressure, by conserving what energy you can for the finishing sprint down into Castleton. So in no way could it resemble a race on a road, more of a leisure ride really!

When Dave and I looked at the ‘Tourist Trials’ earlier in the year we felt that the term might be a little misleading, especially for those new to cycling. I didn’t do one for years assuming that they were done at an average of 12.5 mph and that mudguards and ‘proper’ saddlebags were the norm. Of all the routes, other than the new Mountain Challenge route, the Castleton Challenge is perhaps the most keenly ridden. I am about to describe the ride from my perspective, I’ll let you decide if it’s a Tourist Trial, leisure ride or something else!

The peloton in the lead up to Clay Bank’ left to right: Mick ‘Full Tilt’ Storey, Simon Coates, Dave Kirton (on a rare turn on the front!), Dave Williams, Steve Murphy, Graeme Tate.
The peloton in the lead up to Clay Bank’ left to right: Mick ‘Full Tilt’ Storey, Simon Coates, Dave Kirton (on a rare turn on the front!), Dave Williams, Steve Murphy, Graeme Tate.

So how are the legs? Felt okay on Ormesby Bank but a little tired now as I ease myself up the slopes of Clay Bank, the race starts here, the aim to get up as easily as possible while staying in touch with the front group, always a judgement call. Graeme Tate doesn’t seem as lively as he normally does though he seems to be putting in a fair effort, Dave is doing what I’m doing, who’s that other Wheeler? Wow it’s Mick Storey, looking good Mick! Tim’s there too, as he always is, and Steve Murphy is climbing well, so is Mad Dog. Going strongest though is Simon Greenwell from Godleys.

The first selection made then, now it’s about trying to avoid being on the front too long down Bilsdale. Dave and I joke that in the words of Sean Kelly we are both ‘playing the waiting game’ Dave adds ‘yeah waiting until the café at Castleton!’. I didn’t realise at this point that he was telling the truth as over the next couple of hours he will give us all a lesson in, what some might harshly judge, as wheel sucking. Our immediate problem is solved as Simon Coates decides to employ his TTing skills to drag us all along. Dave sits on his wheel, me behind him and a decent sized pack behind us all getting a tow, good old Simon! After about 3 miles Dave asks me if we should feel guilty? ‘No’ I say ‘it’s good training for his time trials and we’re getting an easy ride, everyone’s a winner and Simon doesn’t seem to mind!

Going down Bilsdale taking a tow from Simon Coates is Dave Kirton, followed by Paul Christon, Rob Carter (just visible) and Graeme Tate.
Going down Bilsdale taking a tow from Simon Coates is Dave Kirton, followed by Paul Christon, Rob Carter (just visible) and Graeme Tate.

Soon the free miles are over and Newgate Bank looms, again it’s all about, as again Sean Kelly would say ‘making the calculation’ getting over the top near enough to the front so you can get in a working group. The first time I did this I belted up the climb full gas and then got detached on the descent into Helmsley as I was nearly spent, I was fortunate to get back on. The ‘thinning out process’ seems to be steadily happening as now there are just 7 or 8 of us, 5 Wheelers: Graeme, Dave, Guy McClements and Rob Carter – where did he pop up from? And 3 from Godleys, Brian Roberts and Paul Godley having joined Simon. The pace is pretty quick all the way to Kirbymoorside but understandably there are lulls as we all try to manipulate others to the front and to be fair the Godleys lads seem to have the most urgency but eventually a sizable group join us including Tim, Mark ‘Mad Dog’ Jenkins, Simon Coates, Lee O’Leary and Steve Murphy.

Hutton le Hole, arguably the most beautiful village on the moors, but the focus is on the 7 mile drag up to Ralphs Cross that will decide the outcome, pain lies in wait. It could be worse, we have a side wind, a head wind on here is a nightmare. The average of this climb is something like 3%, but that is deceptive as it has little ramps that prevent an easy rhythm being found. The two Godleys lads – Brian and Simon – push the pace and get a gap, I’m not feeling great but no one seems to want to chase so I decide to try to bridge the gap. For the next 4 miles or so I hang on by a thread, catching them on the steeper sections but getting distanced on the small draggy sections. It’s not the most efficient way to do things but if I can get on I plan to attack on the descent. A couple of glances behind confirm that others seem to be finding it hard too as to nick another phrase, this time from Hugh Porter, ‘the bunch are in tatters’. Eventually though Rob Carter arrives, as I knew he would. He’s dragged Dave Kirton and Lee O’Leary with him too and it’s well timed for me as it’s on one of the sections where I have dropped off the back again. It’s much easier in a group, maybe I should have stayed in there? Never mind. The next 2 to 3 miles are a series of hard little digs to try to get rid of riders, only Rob seems truly comfortable. Lee drops back and Dave seems to be hanging on for grim death, but he’s like a boxer that keeps getting back up when knocked to the canvas and every time I think he’s gone there he is again!

Brian seems strong but for the first time the other Godleys rider, Simon, seems to be struggling a little so I decide to put some little surges in, but to no avail, and at the top of the descent there’s still 5 of us left. I expect Rob to attack but he doesn’t. Then half way down he does and Dave’s in his wheel! Soon they have 50 metres, then 100 and it’s game over. I think about chasing but strictly speaking they’re team mates and there’s just me and Brian left as Simon has dropped off. In any case I don’t have much left so any effort would have been in vain. Dave ‘buys’ the victory off Rob for the price of some teacakes, even putting his arms up in a victory salute! Me and Brian call a truce as a car driver seems hell bent on obstructing us and come in just after Dave and Rob with Simon Greenwell, the other Godleys rider, a few hundred yards behind.

2 hours 32 or thereabouts for 50 hilly miles, not bad, it has been quicker in the past, even for me, but it’s probably a bit quicker than a typical ‘leisure ride’. As Bryan Bevis always says though ‘remember it’s not a road race!’

Big thanks to Bryan and Margaret Bevis as always for seeing us off and welcoming us in, their generosity of spirit and time really knows no bounds, and to Joanne Roose for the excellent en route photos.

Completers/Competitors (depending on your approach) in no particular order:-

  • Martin Bell
  • Mick Storey
  • Dave Kirton
  • Chris Roose
  • Paul Hedges
  • Alan Harland
  • Brian Roberts
  • Vince Kelly
  • Robin Stocks
  • Kevin McLoughlin
  • Lee Dodgson
  • Gary Aldridge
  • Oli Bonfield
  • Tim Swales
  • Simon Greenwell
  • Richard Danks
  • Dave Williams
  • John Kelly (Snr)
  • Mark Jenkins
  • Lee O’Leary
  • Ant Moy
  • Neil Walker
  • Jonathan White
  • Simon Coates
  • D. Lethbridge
  • Rob Carter
  • Rob Lee
  • Steve Murphy
  • Guy McClements
  • Paul Godley
  • Paul Bryan
  • Paul Christon
  • Graeme Tate
  • Ryan Murray
  • Mike Rennison

Paul Christon

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