Four years ago we were very kindly offered a venue near Blubberhouses by one of our members, and they were keen to develop the ride into a national competitive ride. The area is very beautiful but it is not the easiest – there are a lot of hills and open moorland with its accompanying challenges.
The first year it rained pretty much all year and the ride never got off the ground. But it gave us the chance to really review the area to see what tracks were available.The second year we ran a pleasure ride. It was a bit of an experiment, and it was very roady, but everyone came back smiling and we started to think that something special might just be possible. More route research followed, and the next year we ran the ride as our ‘pink’ charity ride. Unfortunately the endurance gods had it in for us and the ride was caught in the middle of a Met Office severe weather warning. We curtailed the second day and realised that whatever route we used had to be absolutely weatherproof.
Our wonderful venue owners negotiated some more private land access and the potential for a national ride started to rear its head again. We walked and rode and walked and rode the potential routes and decided we had a go-er. The views were to die for, and although there were some bits of testing going, there was enough good going to allow people to make up the time. The ride needed a ‘hook’, though, and as the access roads were from the east and the west, and the route followed some of the ‘Way of the Roses’ cycle route, we decided it would be a good idea to try and answer that age old immortal question: “Which side of t’Pennines is the right side?”, and the “War of the Roses” ride was born. Each entrant would ride for either the “House of York” or the “House of Lancaster” and at the end of the weekend we would tally up all the points and crown a winner.
After weeks of preparation and stress and worry, the weekend rolled around. Amazingly, we were full to bursting and had a waiting list for entries. Had we bitten off more than we could chew?
The entrants got right into the spirit of things and there were red and white roses and flags all over the venue.
The Saturday social ride went well, and everyone arrived back smiling. The competitive classes were on the Sunday and we were anxious and excited about how people would get on. Would they enjoy it? Would the weather hold off to allow them to see the amazing views? Would they come back wanting to murder us because the tracks were too hilly/challenging? There was about 700 metres of climbing on the 40km route and about 1500 metres of climbing on the 65km route: a proper ‘old fashioned’ ride.
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves though. Kezza caught some good pics while she was up in the middle of no-where manning a gate:
Most people came back smiling and so far the feedback has been very good. As to the important question, Yorkshire won the War of the Roses. Julie Martin and Bridget Brown, chairs of the two Endurance GB Yorkshire groups, accepted the trophy on behalf of the county:
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate everyone’s support with putting this ride on. It has been three years of blood, sweat and tears to get it to this point and I think we can get it better still. Special thanks must go to Anne & Emily Ferguson (my co-organisers), Breaks Fold Farm (our amazing venue who pulled it out of the bag again and also sponsored the ‘most courteous rider’ award), Kerry Dawson (who just makes things happen and keeps me sane), technical steward Sue Cunningham, Jeni Gilbert & Brian Floyd Davies who helped us out with some logistical and health & safety issues, the local landowners who let us ride over their land, the farrier who came out on the Saturday evening to replace some lost shoes, Emma Husband who is getting very good at filling in incident report forms, Little Oak Therapies who sponsored the War of the Roses trophy, Wharfedale Equestrian who sponsored the West Riding Challenge, Station House Vets who vetted for us and sponsored the ‘Best Presented’ award, and lastly but by no means least each and every one of our amazing volunteers without whom the ride would not have happened. Endurance people really are the best – I love you all.