The local area is not very cyclemotor friendly because of its hilly terrain so the Rudge Mini Motor only gets the occasional outing. I do like to ride all year round, however. My ‘Step-Thru’ Yamaha Townmate and, my friend of more than 30 years, Phil Nuttall’s Honda C90 get exercised around once a month. We meet to put the world to right in various cafes and bumble pleasurably around the Peak District at a maximum speed of approximately 45mph.
Not everyone has been observing our 45 mph speed limit, obviously…
Today was our first meeting of 2020 and the weather was kind, 8°C and cooling in a blustery wind but with the blessing, unusual in winter, of dry roads. We had arranged to meet at the Strines Inn on a wonderful old turnpike, Mortimer Road, constructed in 1777 on the edge of open moorland.
The Strines Inn has a niche in the hall of Step-Thru iconography as it appears in the 2002 film ‘Heartlands’ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heartlands_(film) about a jilted husband pursuing his wife to Blackpool on a Honda Cub. Anyway the pub was closed today so we headed north to Holme Moss, one of the smaller local Pennine ‘Passes’, blasted today by an ice-fingered wind.
The high points in the Dark or northern Peak are sombre places in winter. The grey of the dead wayside grasses, the varying browns of lifeless bracken and the dead-headed heather, the silhouettes of leafless deciduous branches and the dark green of the pines are lined out by Millstone Grit dry-stonewalls to sinister effect. The plunge down to cross the A638 and head over into Glossop produced a welcome lessening of the wind-chill factor. The Glossop Cafeteria serves amazingly generous platefuls at very low prices and always with a welcoming smile.
And we needed warming up. At this point Phil had clocked 58 miles, so we reckoned that, if we headed due south about another 25 miles, when we reached our respective homes we would have the obligatory 100 miles under our now straining belts.
Hayfield and Chapel-en-le-Frith led to Buxton where we picked up some fuel (about £3 for Phil and under £5 for me, a Step-Thru is a cheap date) and the A515 to Ashbourne. We turned off on to the ‘Via Gellia’ which eventually snaked down to Matlock Bath where we paused for a warming coffee at a very cheap price in a fish and chip shop with a pleasantly balmy restaurant. We are always on the lookout for a natter and usually meet someone to supply it, often although not exclusively, fellow disciples of the Step-Thru. Today a gentleman in a white Audi estate, a fellow Step-Thru owner, pulled over to share experiences and again at the chip shop we were engaged in conversation about the bikes.
We emerged from the warmth to start our third and final leg that took us up the A6 until we turned at Rowsley for the Chatsworth Estate, always an impressive ride-past.
We parted company at Baslow where Phil turned for Chesterfield and the south of Sheffield and I headed through Calver to skirt the western edge of Sheffield and head further north.
Phil’s 117 miles beat my total by 2 miles, a grand day out that momentarily blew away the cobwebs and dust of an enforced hibernation.
And the winner is: 👏