Gaby Book 15 ~ Friends ~ Chapter *22* Welcome to Yorkshire

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*Chapter 22*

Welcome to Yorkshire

Of course flying from CET to GMT you gain an hour, our ten twenty departure from Dusseldorf touched down in Manchester a little after ten thirty. The eagle eyed will have spotted Manchester there, the original plan was to fly to Leeds but we couldn’t find a flight that didn’t involve changing planes with long layovers turning a one hour flight into four plus. Dad hadn’t been too chuffed but we’ve sorted a workaround for tomorrow’s return flight.

“Dave? We’re just waiting for our bags,” Mum left the message – Dad was still clearly on his way from the ferry, it’s about a two-hour drive so they probably aren’t far away.
“Last time I was here Chris Hoy insisted on carrying my bike,” I told the others.
“Playing the useless girly, eh?” Mand chuckled.
“No, I had two bags and the bike,” I said in my defence.
“Here we go,” Mum mentioned as the luggage belt started up.

Our bags must’ve started off together so how come mine took ten minutes longer than the others to arrive? Clearly the God of luggage has it in for me. Mum’s phone sounded as we made our way through the labyrinth to escape the airport.

“Where are you?…okay, five minutes, tschuss!” Mum re-stowed her Handy in her bag, “Your Dad’s in the short stay just outside arrivals.”
“If we ever get there,” I noted, was it really this far when I came in the summer?

We did finally emerge into the arrivals hall and locating the exit, emerged into the cool, nay freezing Cheshire sunshine.
“There’s the bus,” Mand enthused as she pointed across the roadway where, sure enough, the Apollinaris minibus was waiting for us, Dad already opening the side door.
“Come on then,” Mum encouraged leading the way.

We were heading up the M60 when Dad addressed us.
“We’ve got some time so we’ll go the scenic route.”
“How scenic?” Mum enquired.
“Up to Skipton then across to Harrogate,” Dad told us.
“Go for it.”
“We were talking last night on the boat,” Dad noted, “Ani and Erika are keen to get in a few miles today, anyone else interested? We were thinking from say Harrogate across to the hotel.”
“Count me in,” Mum grinned.
“Girls?” Dad prompted, “it’s not that far, Gab.”
“I’m up for it,” Mand agreed.
“Go on then,” I added, not that I’m very confident of keeping up.

And so we enjoyed a circuitous route through east Lancashire before entering Yorkshire a handful of miles short of Skipton. Back when we lived in Warsop this was a sometime daytrip destination just a couple of hours drive from home, now the bleak, open hillsides, snow lying against the dry stone walling seemed more alien than ever. Anita and Erika seemed enthralled by the English upland scenery and the Rollercoaster ride along the A59 across to Harrogate.

We passed through the spa town stopping instead a couple of miles further on at Knaresborough.
“We’ll get something to eat here,” Dad announced, “then you guys can ride to York.”
“Joy,” I allowed.
“Oh come on, Gab,“ Mand encouraged, “you rode to Ahrweiler twice yesterday.”
“Not in one go,” I pointed out.

Dad seemed very specific about where we were headed to eat, leading us past three likely looking establishments before crossing the market place to the Old Royal Oak.
“Why this one, Dad?”
“Apparently they do excellent Yorkshires,” he replied ushering us inside.
We hadn’t even got inside before Mum excitedly called out, “Caro!”
Aunt Caro? What’s she doing here?”
Of course the fact she was sat at a reserved table on her own let the cat out, Dad had arranged this beforehand. Introductions were made, people seated, food and drink ordered all before Caro spilt the story.

“Dave rang last week, I suggested here as I can get a train from Wakefield up to here.”
“What if it had been wet?” Mand posed.
“Worst case, the trains go through to York.”
“You’re going to the dinner?” I queried.
“Could I miss that? The cream of the UK lady riders in one place, and you three.”
“Why you!” Mum nearly choked on her Black Sheep , “Just you wait, Alexander.”

Dad was right, the filled Yorkshire puddings were excellent, huge and filled with a full dinner, I had the roast lamb that arrived with enough veg and tatties on board to feed – well I didn’t need the dessert menu. It was rolling on two thirty when we were done.
“Where’s your bike, Caro?” Dad enquired.
“Round the back, you by the castle?”
“Yup,” Dad confirmed.
“I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”

Caro’s riding with us, bum, she’ll see how crap I am since I took on full girldom; I’ll never get the chance to ride on the team again.
Once we reached the bus Dad and Carsten, after unloading the bikes, made themselves scarce as our transport became a changing room. Caro arrived having, I guess, used the pubs facilities to change but trailing an overnight bag.

“So where we going?” I enquired conscious that the direct route wouldn’t be an option.
“Boroughbridge then the lanes down to York, we should have enough light.”
“I’ll be following so laggards can get a ride,” Dad joked.
Well he thought it was a joke, me, well it was cutting.

The six of us set off, Mum and Caro taking the lead as we navigated onto the Boroughbridge road. Once out of the town the oldies set a comfortable pace, around twenty five k’s, Dad and Carsten following our little group maybe twenty metres in arrears. We looked a motley group, a couple of senior Apollinaris jerseys, a pair of rainbow striped tops, Mand’s junior squad top and Caro sporting a GB team top – well she is a coach I guess.

Mum signalled for rotation once we’d warmed up a bit, so far so good, just hope the pace doesn’t go up. The A6055 isn’t flat but it’s not mountainous, a series of short sharp ups punctuate the route but I managed to hold my place okay, in fact I was feeling quite good really.

“This is a bit of a treat,” Caro mentioned as we rode alongside through Minskip.
“This, riding with you guys.”
“You’ve done it before,” I pointed out.
“Ah, but not this exactly,” she went on, “here I am riding along with two current World Champions, both Brits, both friends, not many people can boast that.”

We rotated before we could continue that conversation but it got me thinking. I guess to an outsider it might seem something special but in the Ahrtal, on Team Apollinaris, no one thinks twice about the same thing. No special treatment, we’re just members of the squad. Caro called out instructions to get us on the right road; she seems to know these roads quite well.

Once across the River Ure we were onto quieter lanes and Dad dropped back a bit, we didn’t need the traffic protection so much.
“This makes a change,” Mand observed.
“No twenty K climbs.”
“Or sixty k descents,” she added.
“Not round here anyway, some of those roads earlier look troubling and there’s some corkers over there,” I indicated the North York Moors almost directly in front of us.
“We don’t go up there do we?”
“Nah, we have to turn south somewhere to York, you can see the White Horse up on the end there.” I added.
“Where’s that?”
“Kilburn,” Mum mentioned from behind, “you’ve got Sutton Bank a bit to the left.”
“Isn’t that where the camper broke down?” I opined.
“That’s the one,” she agreed.
“It’s a right climb that, like something in the Tour.”
“Can you imagine that, the Tour de France riding around Yorkshire?”
“Are you sure that was only cola at lunch?”
“It would be kinda cool,” Mand went on.
“But a bit unlikely,” Mum added.
“I guess,” Manda admitted.

“You feeling okay now?” Anita queried.
“Better, I’m well out of condition though.”
“You’re doing okay today?”
“So far.”
“Don’t worry, you’ll soon be tearing our legs off again,” she suggested.
“Wish I had your confidence.”
“We saw you on Rhein Abend the other night, almost didn’t recognise you in that fancy Kleid.”
“I missed that but they were all ribbing me at school next day.”

Did they! I didn’t mention it before but I had the Mickey taken something chronic, apparently the camera angle was revealing rather more Gaby than Gaby would’ve liked.
“They’re just jealous.”

We turned at the Ouse bridge and whilst not fen flat the Vale of York is not known for its iconic climbs, Tour de France, here on these roads, they’d laugh all the way to end! That’s not to say it’s not got some ‘texture’, but its machine knit rather than cable. The similarity to Lincolnshire was accentuated when we passed a windmill as we picked up the East Coast mainline – yeah, nowhere near the coast but who cares.

“We alright to pick it up a bit?” Erika suggested.
“Good for me,” Mum told us.
“Gab?” Caro queried.
“Don’t let me stop you, I can always get a lift,” the embarrassment of it.
“Okay, just let us know if you’re dropping, same for you, Amanda.”
“Let’s do it!” Anita pronounced.

It wasn’t going to be a race just an increase from the steady pace we’d been riding at to – well thirty kph. It’s not a huge increase but for me at least, today, it was a conversation stopper, I needed all my energies just to hang onto Erika’s wheel as we rotated. Mand was still looking comfortable, well more so than me at least, the speed was creeping up and I was starting to lose it.
“Next village!” Mum pronounced.

Well I didn’t last much longer, the elastic snapped and I sat up, no point in chasing, nothing but my pride is at stake. Caro didn’t last much longer dropping quickly back to me as I recovered my breath, the surprise, well to me at least, was Mand – the last I saw of Team Apollinaris she was still hanging in there. The looming outline of York Minster dominated the horizon, it’s one of the biggest churches in Europe, you can’t fail to be impressed.

Maddy Bell 18.02.16

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