Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2012/07/13 Hathersage Pool

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way ….
Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

These words welled up when I thought what I could and what I should write for the report on the ride to Hathersage Pool (and from the tales recounted to me they also seem apt for the ride to Stanage Pole).

The ride was staged to defy the capricious, wet, cool weather and the response from the atmosphere was weather that was dismally and continuously wet, misty, and cool. Weather that teased us with faint glimmers of lighter cloud and softer rain but then drenched us again or sent tiny beads of water to sting our faces. The cloud came down to envelope us as we pedalled out over Burbage and we could be tracked by our winking lights on the way there – at 6 in the afternoon. It was weather that belittled and sneered at our defiance.

Trusting the weather forecasts about 17 of us had set off up the Porter Valley. Passing walkers and strollers looked bemused when we explained our mission, we steadily climbed up to Ringinglow. There we met about 4 riders waiting in the rain and started up the gentle slope over the top, strung out along the road with some drivers giving us plenty of room – and others that didn’t. And soon we were immersed in mist and the rain poured down on us. As I waited at Burbage Brook car park to gather the rearguard, two stern lycra-clad road riders coming the other way, looking quizzical, sped past, stopped and U-turned back to ask what was going on.

I, the mad missionary for SFNR, who had just realised that my waterproof was in the pannier of a rider in the vanguard (don’t ask!), stood and explained who we were and what we were doing whilst my T-shirt soaked up whatever was coming down. They had seen 20 riders dressed in all sorts going the other way as they raced off the tops to get back to the dry and the warm. The message that one could ride a bike in solidarity with others for fun and companionship and do it time and time again seemed to be a revelation for both of them and as one said, “Perhaps that’s the way to do it”, and with at best a tentative conversion, and blessed with SFNR cards they carried on their journey to respite. The last clump of us freewheeled down to Hathersage and, as The Dale twisted our path into the wind, the rain became needle sharp pricks in our faces.

Many had got there earlier, the later ride with another 4 riders led by Andrew arrived, and we had all congregated at the pool by 6.30 for a session at 7 but some went in anyway before, others got a cup of tea or bite to eat at the cafe where the steam rising up off us misted the windows and created a humidity like the hothouse at Kew. So most of us changed and plunged into the pool after 7. The water was warmer than the air, the attendants stood in their waterproofs clutching brollies as we swam up and down and splashed about enjoying the soothing warmth of the water. The cafe was still open and fabulous fish and chips were eaten by the pool side, undercover, as we wrapped ourselves in towels and shivered, before warming up in the pool again. We smiled, we grinned, we laughed, and we couldn’t quite believe what we had done and as Laura emailed me, ‘It was a lovely way to spend a wet Friday evening’. As we changed back from our wet swimming costumes into our wet clothes we bantered from one cubicle to the other like adolescents. For me vivid memories of being a teenager at Bushey open air pool came flooding back. I find SFNR is a form of autobiography.

Some got lifts back, riders formed up small groups to ride back at different times, some went back over Surprise View, others went back over Burbage. As it had started raining heavily after 8 the bulk of us had a drink at The Scotsman’s Pack to wait for it to ease off. Wet, bedraggled and laughing and joking we had a drink amongst the Friday evening Hathersage set primly eating their gastro food and joshing each other at the bar. It was an interesting clash of cultures. We didn’t disturb them long and set off back up The Dale which is a steep slog at the beginning easing off as one climbs back towards and over Burbage. Again we got strung out but we had all agreed to have one last one in the Norfolk Arms. We climbed up into the cloud over the top and as the last of us started the descent to Ringinglow in the mist, there was a car parked by the side of the road with headlights and courtesy lights and three shadowy figures gathered by the roadside. Highwaymen? No, it was three riders who had collected their car at the Norfolk Arms and driven up to applaud and cheer us stragglers onwards. A really uplifting and considerate touch from Stacey, Bob and Andrew.

Eight of us had a last one or two in the Norfolk Arms, came out late and the rain had stopped so we freewheeled down the resurfaced Ringinglow Road with our ineffectual lights unable to penetrate the pitch black night. Using the lights of Bent Green as a beacon we got to the suburbs and whipped down to Hunters Bar where we chatted, and congratulated ourselves for packing in nigh on a weekend’s activity on a Friday night, and so we said our farewells.

We had done it. We compelled ourselves and each other to endure a ride which as individuals we would never have done. And sodden, exhausted and exhilarated, we enjoyed it, our company, our silliness, our commitment and achievement – none of which was necessary but all of which had a worthwhile satisfaction: for each and everyone of us. A wonderful madness and a legendary evening; you should have been there ….

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, ….

Laura cycled out via Burbage and back by Surprise View – her Garmin log is here

Fri 13 July
Last SFNR of the 2011-12 season
Hathersage Pool (7-8pm)

I’ve done a recce to see how my times were for cycling the route – I did it in 70 minutes each way on the scenic route, with a dip in the pool too!
Today’s Forecast for Friday – heavy showers so you may be wetter outside the pool than in it!!
If we think positive then, perchance, by some mysterious, paranormal causation the evening will be dry(-ish)

There will be TWO rides out. Map at

View Hathersage Pool ( in a larger map
Mick’s Ride (for the slow-ish and/or stout-ish): Leaving at 5.00 pm from Hunters Bar Entrance of Endcliffe Park, Porter Valley to Ringinglow then Burbage and The Dale to Hathersage. I think will suit any bike except swish road bikes with narrow tyres

Andrew’s Ride (for the faster and/or leaner/keener): Leaving at 5.45 pm from Barkers Pool, down to Waitrose, Cemetery Rd, Psalter Lane, Ringinglow Rd then as above. Will suit any bike

Pick up points with approx. times for Mick’s ride on the map.
Andrew’s ride will pick up/sweep up along the way too.
Ride leaders’ phone numbers on the map too (by Friday a.m.)

If you can’t make the ‘leave times’ drive out and meet us at pick-up points.
Pick up your car on the return.
The Norfolk Arms are OK if you want to leave a car there

Entrance to Pool £5 pp
Fish and chips (£5) at the cafe up to 7.30 – enormous portions so 1 between 2 would work for me

Return ride leaving 8-ish: up The Dale over Burbage, beer stop at the Norfolk Arms, freewheel back to the city – one last one in the Psalter for those who want/need it.

Go to the Doodle and
either revise/delete your entry
or put your name down (I want to tell the cafe approx how many for fish and chips)

Bring lights and locks (& waterproofs, & yr cozzie)

Other than that come out or return by train (NB can be restrictions) or in a car (apologies if you think all these car suggestions are heretical).

Or just take the train out and back, use a folding bike, get your partner to take the car one of the legs and so on.
Or go back by train or car – we haven’t heard if we can get lots of bikes on the last Northern Service back – apols, they don’t want to be magnanimous.