The Push Hog Legacy: Stage 6 – Flying Without Wings

On Saturday 18th August, having a good couple of hours to amuse myself, I headed out on the old push hog to get some miles in my legs. This particular day I had added impetus, as after months of threatening to do so, I had finally bitten the bullet and bought a new rear cassette, changing my rear ratio from a 12/26 to an 11/28, hopefully enough to take the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Setting off from Beverley Westwood in the late morning sunshine, by the time I’d reached the outskirts of Walkington the mood of the clouds overhead had changed and before long I found myself hurtling down Coppleflat Lane into a head wind, which in turn was driving rain into my face.

The rain storm only lasted 5 minutes and by the time I’d reached the junction with Dunflat Road the sun was once again shining and the evaporation of the water on the roads was causing steam to rise, very eerie and blinking greasy to ride on.

Tentatively continuing my journey, I took my time to negotiate the long and winding road, which culminates outside the village of Little Weighton. As I turned right on to Risby Hill, I rode (too fast) toward the left hander with Skidby Road, developing a worrying speed wobble along the way. I’ve never quite ‘got’ how to descend properly, I often end up feathering my breaks before corners, this tends to slow my progress, but I’m sure this will improve as I gain more experience.

Managing to keep upright, I crest the left hand corner as the road quickly rises through the village along Old Village Road, before levelling as I ride out of the village along White Gap Road. This particular road is about a mile long and as straight as a die, it could have been built by the Romans, and although not steep, I despise it because it saps my energy as I struggle to get a rhythm going.

As I approach a cross road, I take a left hand turn and ride along Comberdale Hill, a long undulating narrow country lane which rises to give a great vista over the Humber. Cresting the hill I soon reach the junction with Beverley Road, a section of road which takes a spectacularly steep down hill route through a wooded area and into the village of South Cave.

Making my way across the road, I cycle tentatively towards the start of the descent, I say ‘tentatively’ because in the canopy of the trees the roads haven’t dried yet, so with my wheels kicking up plenty of spray I take it easy. Although feathering my breaks as I hurtle down the hill, the road kicks down as I race at over 30mph towards a left hander, I could however quite easily be travelling 40mph plus.

After this point there isn’t any chance of touching your brakes, it just a case of controlling your bike as the road drops beneath you. As I approach the next right hander my handle bars begin to wobble again and seeing a car approach, I hold on tight in an effort to control my bike.

I’m not really sure what happened next, but 30 seconds later I’m laying at the side of the road in the wooded area, about 2 metres from my bike, which is laying in a heap on the road with the back wheel spinning, as my drinks bottle continues its journey down the hill.

My first thought is to check my wrist, I came down hard on my left hand side and I’ve broken my wrist twice before, once in a similar incident, however this time I’m lucky and no damage is done. Fortunately the area where I landed is soft and I seem okay, but I’m lucky as my head is right next to a hefty branch and looking at my helmet it looks as though I just clipped it on my way down.

Sitting up from the undergrowth, the car coming up the hill just drives past, there’s nothing quite like human nature, excuse my sarcasm, but I could have been badly injured so their lack of concern was astonishing. Managing to stand up I feel a mixture of stupid and disoriented, I grab my bike and drag it to the side of the road, then turn it upside down to give it a once over. Luckily all that’s required is a slight adjustment to the handle bars and to put the chain back on.

Before long I’m up and I continue my journey into South Cave. Clearly at this stage I was riding on adrenalin as I felt full of energy and as I cycled through the village centre onto Church Street, I hadn’t noticed that I was covered head to toe along my left hand side with mud, let alone notice I’d gashed my leg – See below (Excuse my non cyclist looking hairy legs!).

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Cycling along Ferry Road / Sand Lane towards North Cave, I start to wonder how I ended up crashing. My theory is that as I attempted to make the left hand corner my rear wheel slipped into one of the many ruts on that section of road, I’ll never know, I’m just glad I wore a helmet.

Entering North Cave on Station Road, I take a left hand turn onto Westgate and cycle through the village centre, then take a right onto Townend Lane. Before long I turn on to Hotham Lane / North Cave Road, a narrow country lane which leads to the small picturesque village of Hotham. Cycling through the village centre I’m soon on my way toward South Newbald via Radcroft Lane, another narrow country lane, which in places could best be described as a track with the amount of stones and mud allowed to build up on the surface.

After a mile of cycling I reach the junction with the busy A1035 Market Weighton to Hull road, I wait for a gap in the traffic and cross to join South Newbald Road and ride towards the bottom of Trundlegate. I realise that I’m a gluten for punishment, but at this stage my veins are still coursing with adrenalin from my earlier fall, so why not?!?

Now that I have a little bit of bike fitness I tend to attack climbs like Trundlegate, which starts with a very steep ramp, say 14%, but tails off to a shallow incline. With the bit between my teeth I keep in a relatively high gear and stomp on the peddles to build up some speed. I max out at around 14mph, but as soon as I hit the ramp proper the momentum soon drops and I’m out of my seat to keep my bike moving.

I know if I hit the shallow right hand corner towards the top in good shape, the worst of the climb is behind me, so digging deep I reach my goal and soon find the gradient much shallower. The next section of this climb is still work in progress, as my earlier exertions leave me blowing out of my rear end and I haven’t that much energy left as I slowly drag myself to the peak, achieving my second best time of 6 minutes 7 seconds, a good 20 seconds off my PB.

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Feeling quite exhausted I continue my ride along Whin Lane, cruising along and not even trying to achieve anything, as now I’m starting to hurt and quite frankly I could do with getting back home for a shower. With this in mind, I cross the road and take the back roads to Walkington along Littlewood Road, a roughly surfaced back lane, but down hill most of the way.

I soon reach the junction with Wold Road, I cross on to Middlehowe Road and head into Walkington. Once in the village I negotiate the narrow side streets and leave along Burton Gates, before taking a right onto Walkington Heads. Before long I reach the top of Newbald Road and a quick descent across the Westwood brings me into Beverley and the end of my journey.

I arrive home, tired, sore and slightly embarrassed, 35 year olds really shouldn’t be falling off bikes should they! Checking my Strava download I see that I’ve travelled 28 miles, averaging 13.5mph, worryingly I also see that I was travelling 33mph when I came off my bike…

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Total Distance Covered: 122 miles

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