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Pinsent Masons Charity Ride Featuring Tom ‘Wiggnot’ Fleet
Martin Priestley, a Partner in the Commercial team at Pinsent Masons, had heard I had bought a new bike recently, and invited me to join him and some colleagues on a ride. A core group of Pinsent Masons’ cyclists are cycling from Aberdeen to London via all its UK offices and are being joined at each stage by local partners, clients and contacts. The ride is in aid of the firm’s nominated charity – SOS Children’s Villages – and it also supports local charities near each of the firm’s offices.
For the Leeds leg I joined a team of 10 cyclists in Ilkley – we were a mixture of abilities with Martin and I firmly at the back of the pack. The plan was to leave Ilkley, head through Keithly, Hebden Bridge and then link up with the main Pinsent’s ride in Denshaw, after a 40mile cross Pennine ride. We would have lunch and join them for the last 30 miles into Leeds.
The dual themes of the ride were water and hills. The weather started off a bit drizzly and then just got worse. The route would have been tough in the sunshine, with hills so steep it took an age to labour up them, and then seconds to scream down the other side. The exception was one hill with a nice gentle gradient – except this particular hill happened to be the infamous Cragg Vale, the longest continuous gradient in England, at 5 ½ miles and a climb of 968 feet. The views would have been spectacular, if we could have seen them, but a combination of thick cloud and driving rain obscured most. Occasionally a 50 mile an hour gust of wind would rip a hole in the cloud for a few seconds, but at such moments we were mainly concerned with trying to stay upright.
Four brutal hours or rain and cycling later, we linked up with the main group at the Rams Head in Denshaw – they looked disgustingly untroubled by either hills or weather. After a sandwich or two and some hot coffee we set off again, into the biting wind with the odd sensation of looking forward to the next climb to start generating some heat again. After the efforts of the morning, and with no sight of a break in the weather, our leader (Jonathan Riley of Pinsent Masons) had made the wise call for our little group to head to Huddersfield and to get a train into Leeds from there. Our legs were spent. Thankfully the last 10 miles were nearly all downhill and we regularly broke 40 mph. This was enough to drag the ride average speed up to 11 mph, which just shows how slow most of the going was.
We cycled through the rush hour traffic, and as we reached the entrance to Huddersfield station the rain stopped, the wind dropped, and the sun finally came out to play. Undeterred, we bought our tickets and climbed aboard.
04:27:01: Moving Time