Went out for a ride on Monday with AP. We haven’t been out for weeks, what with one thing and another. As usual, we drove over the hill to Swaledale – on this occasion, to Surrender Bridge. Neither of us felt up to much, so we opted to head up to the top of Great Pinseat (583m) via the Old Gang lead mine. It’s a circular route of about five miles – a long, gradual ascent ending with an exhilarating, bone-shaking descent back to the road.
The track up to the mine is cut into a steep, bare hillside overlooking a beck. As you make your way up the valley, beck and track converge. At first the beck is too far away to hear but as you approach the old mine buildings, one becomes gradually aware of the sound of rushing water. This is the course of the “Coast to Coast” path. It’s sometimes busy but today we only saw one or two walkers and nobody seemed in a hurry to go anywhere. There is plenty to explore here: just out of sight over the skyline is Healaugh Crag, a jumbled mass of rocks strung out along the edge of the plateau above us.
When we reached the far side of the mine buildings we stopped for a drink. The track steepens briefly here. Quite soon it becomes a lot more desolate and exposed until you reach an area of spoil-heaps close to the summit. We took another break here. It was such a bright, sunny afternoon it was easy not to notice just how cold it was.
We were looking forward to the fast, exciting descent back to Surrender Bridge. However, we’d not gone far when, bouncing over a rough section of the track I heard a sharp “clang” behind me. Riding over a rock I had just been bounced out of the saddle and instinct told me not to sit down again! I stopped to see what had happened. The bolt securing the saddle had sheared: the saddle and it’s associated components had flown off. We recovered the saddle but most of the small parts were lost in the heather.
I didn’t realise how tiring it is to cycle without a saddle. It’s impossible, obviously, to sit down for a rest. Fortunately, we didn’t have far to go. On the way home we stopped at the nearest bike shop to see what could be done. Unfortunately, it was closed. When I got home I telephoned one of the next nearest, Arthur Caygill’s, instead.
They told me to bring in the saddle and the saddle-post, as they had a box of second-hand parts and might well be able to fix them together again. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a combination of bolts and clamps that fitted, so I had to buy a new saddle post. When you ride a bike you quickly discover how a bike is an assemblage of replaceable components most of which are not too expensive. They shortened the new post for me and I took it home to reassemble myself. Total cost £20.
Arthur Caygill was a well-known time-trialler in the north of England the early 1970s, before moving into bike-building. While we were sorting through the saddle bolts, he told me about Arthur Metcalfe. Metcalfe rode twice In the Tour de France and won the Milk Race in 1964. His winner’s jersey (seen in the video below) is on display in the shop.