Jem Burke completes the Route in 11 hours 3 minutes
Bring Me Sunshine!
What cycling challenge does a bloke with a De Rosa bike and a wife named Rosie set for his 52nd birthday weekend away? A solo one-day attempt on the Way of the Roses of course!
D-day was Sunday 25th May and, as is the way with birthdays beyond the age of 50 and other daunting prospects, came along a lot faster than expected. We drove up from home in Surrey to Morecambe the day before and stayed overnight at The Crown Hotel opposite the Eric Morecambe statue. The Crown was comfortable and run by lovely people who provided an excellent early breakfast on a Sunday morning! I loved Eric and Ernie as a kid and hoped Eric would come through for me and ‘Bring me sunshine…’
I set off at 6:35 with my first stop planned for Burnsall where Rosie would meet me. The cloudy, dry weather was better than forecast though it had rained overnight and my lovely De Rosa was soon getting caked in muck. The scenery on this section was beautiful, particularly when the sun popped its head out. I gradually caught up quite a few other riders doing the route, feeling a bit of a fraud while they slogged up the hills laden down with panniers. Settle hill was duly conquered and my first scheduled stop at the busy but excellent Wharf View tearooms in Burnsall came along at about 10:20. Unfortunately Rosie’s journey had not been as enjoyable thanks to the car Satnav taking her the (very) tortuous route, so I kept on eating ‘til she arrived.
Off again soon after 11 and it looked as if Eric was waking up…the sun was out more than in and things were ticking along nicely. I was using a Garmin handheld GPS on a bike mount with each stage of the route programmed in. This was working really well for me as I am not particularly good at spotting small signposts, so that feeling of ‘Am I really meant to be going down this road?’ was eliminated. A little while before Ripon it started to drizzle and by Boroughbridge it was tipping down. This was the time to visualise the lunch stop and just get on with it. I had arranged to meet Rosie next at The Sidings restaurant just before York, about 100 miles into the ride. This time she was there well ahead of me and had ordered me a fantastic meatball tagliatelle which I wolfed down after a quick wash and change of kit. I heartily recommend this railway-themed restaurant for hungry cyclists!
By the time I left, the rain had stopped but the clouds still looked dark and scudding in the chilly breeze, so the waterproof stayed on. York was busy and slow to negotiate and I was very glad to have my GPS to direct me through the twists and turns. More rain on and off prompted me to sing Eric and Ernie’s theme song out loud on a few occasions…strange what you start doing after too much time on your own! The winding hill up to Huggate was a bit of a relief after so long riding on the flat, particularly as Rosie was waiting for me at the Wolds Inn with words of encouragement and a bowl of chips to keep me going. After a shorter break it was the final leg to Bridlington…I knew I could crack this now and Eric finally decided to bring me some proper sunshine. The meandering route was tougher than I had imagined, though I was now well into the twilight zone, my previous longest day ride having been 130 miles. Blurrily cruising up to the finish at about 8:40pm, my loyal support crew was there with an arms-length hug (who could blame her?) and a guiding hand to the nearby Bay Court Hotel . A grand day out!
Total time including stops: 14 hours 5 mins
Ride time: 11 hours 3 mins
Bike: De Rosa Milanino roadbike with Campagnolo Centaur 10 speed kit. 50/34t chainset, 12-27t cassette
Tyres: Continental GP4000S, 23c (no punctures)
Conditions: light south to south easterly wind. Dry, then wet then dry. Approx 10 to 14oC