In the valley just beyond the North Yorkshire Moors, where North Yorkshire meets the river Tees and goes no further, my family and I have lived for the last eight years. We are about to move further north, to the city of Durham, and I have been retracing many of Teesside’s little country lanes and climbs in a wistfully reminiscent mood. Climbing Carlton Bank one more time and looking back into the valley from the escarpment. Taking the crumbling farm track from Seamer to Middleton-in-Leven and admiring the isolated feeling of being lost in the middle of rolling farmland. Visiting the Three Tuns in Osmotherley for a pint before sweeping at breakneck speed down the main road towards Northallerton. Pootling along to Suggitts in Great Ayton for coffee and a Walnut Whip. I have really been blessed with freedom and gorgeous surroundings, I have been blessed with health and strength and I am deeply thankful for these blessings God has poured upon me. I will sing his praises, loudly, as I ride along.
While riding, I realise that what stands out most obviously in my memory, are the friends that have shared the road with me.
My very first Coast to Coast with Steve and Pew, we took three days and enjoyed a tour-de-gastronomic-delight (but really suffered in the hills). It was awesome when we rolled into Sunderland.
Mark and I explored the edge of the Cleveland hills together and reached Chop Gate. I remember the first time we rode to Helmsley and met our families there for a day out at the castle. We loaded the bikes onto the car for the return journey and were amazed to see cyclists riding the length of Bilsdale twice! It must have been 50 miles!
Ruth and I discovered our mutual love of cycling while talking outside church one day; Ruth became a close friend for Carol and I. We shared cycle camping holidays, audaxes, and exploring Teesside as a group with her and Jonathan. Ruth helped me to start the Ingleby Barwick Wheelers and Friends Cycling Club. We did the "White Rose Challenge" and 'led' the peloton up the first climb.
The “Halo Velo” bike ride, brainchild of Clay, suddenly we had loads of friends buying bicycles and training together for the ‘epic’ 75 mile lap of all the churches in the Stokesley Deanery. Ruth, Jonathan, Stephen, Mark, Adam, Tim, Ian, Dave, Gary, Ieuen, Graeme, Suzanne, and Froome-a-like-Gary. Our 'Halo Velo' became an annual event and has run for 5 years!
Helen organised an "Olympic Special" event which was hosted by the church to be a blessing on the community of Ingleby Barwick, and as part of this we organised a "SkyRide".
Meanwhile our cycling as a group was getting ambitious... first a three day 'Coast to Coast' as a group, from Arnside to Redcar... then a two day "3 Churches", York to Ingleby Barwick to Durham. Finally a Coast to Coast in one day, and back to the first Coast in one day... C2C2C: we'd gone critical!
We set off at dawn one morning to ride as far east as we could, to Redcar, to celebrate the sunrise and the Son rise simultaneously... Easter Sunday, He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!
We finally rode to Whitby and back across the moors!
I have loved seeing my sister Suzanne start with no cycling experience and become a genuine club rider with the Witham Wheelers... and our wonderful week in the Alps.
I remember the times I've joined Jonathan and Stephen to have my legs pulled off in the hills, and more recently the pleasure of riding with Mark and Paul who've added a new dimension to the pain. Stephen was a major contributor to the Audax Series we ran in 2013 and I still hope to see him try a 300!
Cycle camping with friends is a brilliant way to spend a few days lost in the wilderness...
and cycle camping with my daughter!
In fact any kind of camping... (so long as it involved toasted marshmallows)
I have sorted back through some photos, I hope these bring back good memories for my friends. Although we are moving away, and won’t be able to “pop out” like we used to, we're just over the border in County Durham, hoping my friends will show an interest in the Pennines and come exploring with me on the occasional weekend!
Family and Friends provide cakes and quiche to support riders on the Ralph Cross 200
Audaxing has brought some new friendships and I'm fairly confident that moving to Durham isn't far enough to stop "long distance" cyclists riding with me again... Dean!
We've had some deep winters.. but it hasn't stopped us cycling.
We certainly rode the the pub a few times! Winter or Summer.., sitting in the beer garden or sitting by a roaring fire. Cycling to the pub was a truly social experience!
And of course, I have enjoyed cycling with my wonderful wife. I'm looking forward to many more holidays together, camping and cycling and seeing this beautiful country.
And the best day out of all... with family Holdsworth at Loch Katrine:
Thank you to all my wonderful friends and family. Thank you for the pub nights, the curry nights, the church camping trips, the hostel take-over, the cycling, the walking; being there for each other: nobody gets left behind unless they have a puncture, turn blue from hypothermia, break an ankle, pass out, crash into a ditch, throw themselves into a ditch, hit a wall instead of a truck, use the breaks so hard they fly over the handlebars.. or just get lost.