Sunday, 1 June 2014

Sunday ride and the Doncaster Cycling Festival

Date: 1 June 2014
Length of route: 44.5km/27.8 miles
Route: Doncaster-Turnholme Wood-Thorpe-in-Balne-Trumfleet-Haywood-Holme- Cusworth-Sprotbrough-Doncaster

Difficult level: Easy-medium

Well today was an interesting today of cycling and bike-related things. Today was yet again the day of my intended ride in the Peak District. However, it appears that for one reason or another I am ill-fated not to do this ride. First of all it was the rain, then yesterday I was hampered by inner tube problems - today it was the turn of train's not running to Sheffield day, from where I intended to start the route. Since I had no intention of cycling all the way to Sheffield and then starting the route, I decided to give upping my mileage a go in Doncaster and around instead.

Fortunately for me, today was the day of the Doncaster Cycling Festival - the first in 25 years! Of course, it's no Tour De France/Giro D'Italia, but it made a nice change for Doncaster to have something interesting going on, whilst also giving the Council an opportunity to put the new 'Cultural Quarter' into action as June begins in earnest and the sun shines down on our heads. Basically, the festival was a series of races for different age/ability groups doing a number of laps around the town centre on closed roads, with a series of stalls nearby promoting cycling and offering a number of freebies (free drinking bottle, anyone?).

There were plenty of people at the festival strolling around in cycling gear, training on turbos and also a few of the local cycling clubs out and about in force, which I have to say makes a nice change from the usual Doncaster crowds. Anyway, enough of that and onto the ride.Almost as soon as I left the house my vision was assaulted by a couple of cyclists ahead of me, who I overtook in my earnest to get going. Whilst stopped at the red light out onto the main road however, they caught me up and I discovered that these were two female cyclists in their late 60's/early 70's (as far as I could tell).

They asked me very politely if I could possibly tell them how to get to the Doncaster Cycling Festival, as they had attempted to find it twice already and had failed. Fortunately for them, and me being a jolly amiable soul, I told them I was going that way and just to follow me, as I was headed into that direction. I imagined them saying 'What a nice young gentleman he was.' after we parted ways, however I decided not to dwell on such arrogant thoughts and after a brief look round the stalls and watching the racers go by, I headed on my merry way.

I had decided to head out to the country lanes to the west of Doncaster on a similar route to that me and my friend took a couple of months ago on our 120 mile/four day 'epic', as the roads round there tend to be very quiet and free of traffic. I somehow managed to take a wrong turning and therefore ended up going across som gravelly sections of tarmac and through a rather dark and mysterious forest - luckily the terrain wasn't anything I couldn't handle and I emerged into daylight on the other side to find a very wide and large brand new bridge (that somehow didn't fit with the area at all) to take me across to the quite farming villages that populate this area of the country.

Arriving in the small village of Thorpe-in-Balne, at about the halfway point of the ride, I had a snack and looked at my phone to find that unfortunately my Strava app had crashed, and I would have to start recording from scratched. Luckily the ride data were safe, but I couldn't carry on recording from where I left off. I set out again taking another turn off which informed me the road ahead was closed at the level crossing. So I took another left that I knew would bring me out at the same place but over the crossing. Unfortunately I had to turn back as some guard dogs began barking at me and I didn't feel too comfortable attempting to out cycle them on such a narrow country road. Back the way I came then!

I decided to make my way up to the level crossing rather than go round the houses as I thought there might be some way I could get across being just a bike - there was a manned signal box there, where I asked the guy inside if I could possibly get across, since the sign seemed to suggest the engineering works had come to an end, and the crossing simply not reopened. Fortunately, he checked the train schedule and let me across, where I eventually came out on the busy A638 main road leading back into Doncaster. Rather than carry on this busy and unpleasant road, I saw a sign not much further along pointing to Brodsworth Hall and Cusworth.

Since I knew this was a way I could get back home whilst adding in a few hills, I decided to go that way, thus avoiding more traffic. My legs were starting to feel slightly fatigued by this point so I stopped by the road side for a final snack and turned off before reaching more familiar territory and an excellent downhill (right before a nasty curving upward slope) before reaching home. I managed the hill much better than I used to and I'm pleased to say I resisted any urge to go into my lowest ring, as I really don't reckon it's necessary in almost all of Doncaster. I arrived home in one piece to take a refreshing shower and reflect on a pleasant days cycling. Here's to finally making it to the Peak District for a ride in the near future!

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