Updated: Dec 26, 2020
THE RAMBLINGS OF A SEPTUAGENARIAN E-BIKER:
Cruising the Buttertubs
Today’s the day, I’ve surveyed the route and the sun is shining, so after parking in Hardraw I set off. As I take the turning up to the Buttertubs I start my stopwatch and only 10 minutes later, as I arrive at the cattle grid, I have already done the only really steep part of this ascent. On the way I have seen the collection of more than a dozen large cairns on the near skyline to my right, something I have never noticed from my car. After another 15 minutes it looks as though I have reached the top, but looks are deceptive. Although it is now downhill to the Buttertubs, there is a sting in the tail after that as the road rises again.
Although the forecast suggested it would be a bit breezy it is actually much more windy high up here on the moors than I expected so I am extremely grateful for the electric power that is helping me to combat the effects of what is almost a head wind. Once at the top, Swaledale in all its beauty is spread below me and looking eastwards through the gap at the lower end of the dale I can see as far as the Cleveland Hills. Oh joy! This is why I bought an e-bike, to give me access to the high fells and moors. I had planned to delay the purchase until I could no longer propel my ordinary bike, but now I know that would have been too late because I need all my current strength to get up these steep hills and have the experiences I crave. I could, of course, have bought an e-bike in another 5 years’ time, to enable me to continue to ride the relatively short, easy, local routes that I do routinely on my ordinary bike, but where would the excitement and adventure be in doing those same old routes? Now I regard cycling and e-biking as two rather different activities; my ordinary bike is useful for shopping and a quick hour’s dash around the block for some fresh air, whereas the e-bike gives me a full-on whole day’s leisure and pleasure. I soon arrive at the Muker Parish Millennium Cairn from where the road descends steeply to the dale. Then, coasting lazily down Swaledale I notice that the maximum speed today has been 39.5 mph, definitely a mistake as next time I shall make sure I exceed 40 mph. However, as that is the fastest I have ever been on a bike it seems to prove to me that new experiences are there for the taking, whatever one’s age.
My route back to Wensleydale takes me steeply up a gated road. There are 7 gates and usually all of them will need opening and re-closing, which is a trifle tiresome but at the same time affords a chance to catch one’s breath without having to admit to the need to do so. On dismounting to open one of them I see a red kite circling overhead. A few isolated farmhouses dot the landscape and soon the tiny road I am on meets the “main road” from Muker to Askrigg, a beautiful Yorkshire village now known the world over as the centre of James Herriot’s veterinary practice. This route is just under 20 miles long and includes about 750 metres of ascent; I used just over two-fifths of the battery power so there was plenty left to have taken me on a short extra loop down through Bainbridge and up to Semerwater, had I felt so inclined. It took me an hour and three quarters so if speed is of the essence then I won’t be challenging any of the Tour de France riders but if the measure of a ride is the pleasure derived from it, then this route is up there with others in this area – Grinton Moor, Tan Hill and Arkengarthdale, the Pennines between Teesdale and Weardale, and many more.
Thanks to Jill one of our customers for sending this report. Obviously before lock-down!
More are very welcome …..