I last surveyed this area in 2009 and vividly remember a beautiful warm, sunny day in 2009 when the ground was dry, the riders all thirsty and hot and not a drop of rain fell. It won’t be like this on 23rd March!
On the second of three visits to The Wolds, roads were closed after heavy snow the previous night, roads were flooded with meltwater, tracks were unrideable as I began to re-think my plan and complete the whole ride on minor roads! The third visit was drenched in sunshine and even though some tracks cut up badly, they were mainly rideable, so Garry Wright and I completed the survey and hopefully have planned out a course that will challenge the young and energetic, encourage the beginners whilst opening up the wonderful views across the western Wolds.
The ride consists of road and bridleway, so whatever the weather, you will be able to ride most of the route. If the weather improves (or just stays dry) then the bridleways will be excellent. Both the 4 & 2 hour events should allow riders to explore many of the small country lanes and bridleways around Pocklington, Millington and Huggate, with some riders making it to Thixendale.
A word of caution about the landowners, who are not the most encouraging when bikes appear, so please note the out of bounds tracks and close all gates that you open.
Had we made the course too large and consequently too hard for most people? This was the question Garry Wright and I discussed all morning and most of the afternoon, until the arrival of the first riders (who unbelievably were smiling, or was that a pained expression?).
When we rode the course in March the ground was dry and the tracks fast, but after Friday’s control setting in pouring rain on top of the wettest April on record, we realised that this was going to be a mudbath. The bike wash at the finish dealt with the mud and the comfort of a cafe serving drinks, soup and cakes should have relieved the pain for some of you!
I’m not quite sure how Andrew Windrum managed his score, but it was truly phenomenal. Well done to everyone who took part and a big thank you to those who helped collect the controls at the end of the race.
Garry Wright has ridden the forest three times with me to sort out how to make this a challenge for both the two and three hour events. Ride one started with ice covered tracks, ended with frozen extremities and in-between saw us slither and slide along the many tracks in the forest.
Rides two and three were excellent, with the forest gradually drying out, the ice long gone and even the sun shone. We haven’t used the extreme SW of the forest because of walking tracks, but both the two and three hour events should see competitors travel to both sides of the forest. Most tracks are currently very dry (March) after the driest Spring on record, so be prepared for slightly damper conditions in May, as we have probably just had Summer! The only issue I may have is when I put out the controls, as forestry workers were logging in at least three parts of the forest and the word tree features heavily in the control descriptor column
Graham Dudding works out of Keldy Cabins and being an MTB enthusiast made our meeting really productive and pleasant. Graham is keen to promote cycling events in Cropton Forest and showcase the local facilities, which will include a bike wash (£1/bike) a covered event centre and the use of the cafe. Sandwiches, pizzas, hot & cold drinks, snacks and cakes will be available on the day, so bring some spare cash and support Graham and his team.
Parking for the event will have to be linear, on a track to the north of Keldy Cabins, so please make sure you leave space for others to pass when you park.
Enjoy the day, the views and the climbs.
Dave Evans – planner