The easy midnight ride to Conistone

You requested stories about cycle rides. I have many happy memories of cycle rides with the Halifax section of the Cyclist’s Touring Club.

At one time the section worked hard to recruit youngsters to the pastime of cycling.

Ages varied from about 12 years old upwards. Many had no knowledge of the lovely countryside that could be reached by bike. After a few short rides of about 20 or 30 miles ridden at a low speed they quickly became very fit and runs of over 50 miles were arranged.

Eventually the young people wanted to try a night ride. The club usually had at least one midnight ride each year, usually to Morecambe via Settle and returning over The Trough of Bowland, but this was a bit to much for the youngsters so an Easy Midnight was arranged for a few years.

The riders assembled at the gates of Wellesley Park at 11.45 pm. Bikes were checked over and lamps were tested. Most of the riders had dynamos or primitive battery lamps. At midnight we were off. Up to Wainstalls and over the old road to Oxenhope and then via Keighley to Skipton where the riders had a hot drink from their Thermos flasks.

The group continued up to Grassington for a refreshment stop, usually on the approach after crossing the bridge over the Wharfe.

The next stretch was along the little lane alongside the river to Conistone. It was now daylight, and usually the weather was kind.

At this point the riders crossed the valley to Kilnsey before climbing over the grass surfaced road known as Mastiles Lane. This meant a long push to the summit followed by an easy section until the tarmac was rejoined on the long descent to Gordale and within a mile or so the riders reached Malham.

The riders had brought simple stoves along to cook breakfast. Many had brought a tin of baked beans, bread and butter and biscuits. The more experienced riders prepared porridge, bacon, eggs sausages plus baked beans and finished off with fruit cake.

It was then time to make for home. Heading back for Gargrave, Broughton, Carleton. Connonley, Crosshills and Keighley. Then followed the long climb to Flappit. Many walked this section. Soon the riders were passing through Denholme and over Causeway Foot cutting and down into Halifax. The time would be early afternoon.

Although some were a bit sleepy the youngsters were soon talking about having another Easy Midnight.

Some of the young riders later did a Midnight Ride to Bridlington and back, but that is another story.

Ron Bunce

Former President and Youth Leader Halifax Section CTC