The Legendary Batley Bash

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Team Cystic Fibrosis out for a bashing...

A collection of Yorkshire cyclists of all abilities gather at the same point every year to prove that they didn’t eat too many mince pies over the Christmas period and are indeed well on their way to cycling greatness!!!  This greatness is shown over a relatively flat route, starting at Tingley looping through Boothferry and back, roughly 70 miles.

The 2013 edition was tackled by 4 Team CF riders, Mark Davies, Danny Webb, Ivan Boyes and Myself.  The prelude to us arriving there was subject to much debate regarding the weather etc, the general consensus being ‘It will be fine.’  It most certainly was not ‘fine.’

Through the snow, I could just about make out the team bus (aka Marks van) as it reversed onto the driveway, with Mark at the helm. He jumped out, pointed at the falling snow and shook his head… ‘It will be fine’ I reassured him.

We arrived at the abandoned pub car park early and were joined in the van by Motor Cycle ace and prospective CF rider Dan Linfoot.  Introductions were made and the nice young chap asked a few questions as to what to expect from the forthcoming ride.  ‘It will be fine’ was the best I could muster.  Danny and Ivan rolled up next, having ridden to the start because obviously 70 odd miles in the gutter simply aren’t enough!!

The minutes ticked by and the car park filled with more and more eager cyclists, the sleet and snow apparently doing nothing to dampen their spirits.  At the click of 9.30am I heard the shout of ‘Are we off then?’ and we were…

The Batley Bash is not just a free for all, it has rules.  Rule number 1 is that all riders should have adequate mud guards and mud flaps, a rule myself and Mark chose to only partly adhere to.  This oversight did not go unnoticed by our peers, who promptly pointed this out from the first pedal rev… and continued to complain… and continued.. and continued.. Rule number 2 is that the ride shall be steady tempo until Boothferry.  This rule was also ignored rather early on, quickly diminishing the group of 100 strong to 40 by one moron on the very first drag.  After this initial burst of stupidity the ride settled down to an even tempo with the elements being the greatest issue for most, the constant whining over our lack of mud flaps being mine.

Apart from the small snag of the whole group getting lost thus adding a further 10 unwanted miles to our tally the remainder of the roll to Boothferry passed without incident.  The sleet persisted and most people lost the use of their fingers, mine getting so numb I couldn’t change gear, let alone attempt to grab my bottle.

With Boothferry in sight the inevitable happened, the 11 sprocket assassins hit the front with force, immediately throwing it up to 30 mph.  A group of riders of mixed ability travelling at 30 mph in wind, sleet and snow dodging pot holes and cars is an experience not to be taken lightly.  Fortunately this particular group were better than most and the line snaked its way safely through the hazards towards Pontefract and Ivan’s infamous ‘Pontenburg.’ Climbs or in this case drags, in cycling terms are completely relative and their impact on a rider is based on many things the least of which is the climb itself.  Far more of an issue is generally the speed at which your group is going. In this case it was quick, not stupid quick, but quick.  Quick enough to put most of the group into the red, thus thankfully taking the sting out of the rest of the journey home.

So that was it. 100 riders set off, about 15 arrived back, including of course all 4 brave CF lads!!..... and all in all ‘It was fine’

See you next year ;-)

Author: Martin Dainty

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Team Cystic Fibrosis is a charity cycling team riding and racing in a broad section of cycling disciplines.

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