Paria Paperboy – Riders view

Lou Gibson; Paria rider, Pink Bianchi owner and self confessed angry sweary Mary made the journey up from sunny Surrey to ride in the Paria Paperboy ride see what all the fuss around the Yorkshire countryside was. Not sure whether she left better off for the experience….

The Paria Paperboy Ride. What an experience. I wasn’t actually invited, but I managed to make myself free and invited myself up. I’m so glad I did. It was fantastic.

I drove up from London the day before so it wasn’t too much of an early start on the Sunday morning. I resisted getting stuck in at the wonderful North Brewing Co Brewery as soon as I arrived on the Saturday but promised I would be back and enjoy the products the following day after the ride.

Sunday morning I was up bright and early but I tried to resist going to the start hours in advance. That’s one of my usual tricks. I need plenty of time for my 400 pre ride loo visits. I don’t know why I do it, I don’t even need to go, it’s just in case I do.

Lucky I didn’t get there too early anyway, when I got there at about 8.30am Sam from Paria was wrestling with the front door, all the while a great big Bernese Mountain dog called Portland was humping his leg. It was quite a sight of a Sunday morning, but didn’t set the standard for the rest of the day.

The start and finish was at the aforementioned brewery, what a cool place and it already had my seal of approval that I didn’t need to use a portaloo, but had an actual toilet. I also particularly enjoyed filling up my bidon from the brewery taps, I was assured the one I was using was water. Shame.

Sam’s wife Emily and their cute little baby daughter Peggy arrived to man the check in. These girls are lovely; to be fair they are all lovely. The Paria culture of being inclusive, sticking two fingers up at elitism and generally being really sound people are embodied with Sam and Emily. (Rather annoyingly they make having kids look like a breeze; juggling parenting and running Paria as if it’s NBD. It is a big deal, but they are doing wonderfully)

As more and more riders rocked up I had some nice chats with some other women who had turned out. We are so underrepresented at these bike things it’s a shame, although because of that we tend to stick together a bit. Paria are really keen to work with more like minded women, and it’s great we can all hook up at these sort of events and make friends Well, until it gets competitive that is…

So, as I was sizing up my competition/ new friends, I locked eyes with Ollie Butterwick from the York Rouleurs across the drizzly car park on an industrial estate in Leeds (has to be the start of a beautiful cycling relationship clearly 😉 ) and we got chatting having recognised each other from t’internet. He was with a guy called Paul. We decided to ride together. Ollie claimed to have drunk a load of wine the night before and wasn’t really feeling it that day, I presumed he was just hustling. A guy called Gavin was standing nearby and decided to join us. Now, Gavin was a dark horse. Or should I say a freaking mountain goat.

Off we went just after 9am. We instantly got lost just trying to leave Leeds. Ollie clearly got bored of chatting with me as we rode because his bike light magically ended up on the floor and he had to go back to pick it up. That wasn’t the end of him trying to ditch us either. He apparently got cramp later on and suffered 2 punctures, I didn’t see evidence of that though, just that he wasn’t there chatting anymore…

Now, we got lost over and over again. I can only presume that Sam from Paria was suffering from the bee sting he incurred when he did a test route. It must have made him ride in circles….. The bee sting obviously made him either lose his mind and / or sense of judgement because he had described this route to me as fairly flat. When you are used to riding the circuits of Regent park, or the climbs of Box hill, your perspective of what is flat/ not flat is slightly different to the gnarled riders of the North.

Now, I have a fairly bad case of hill-induced Tourette’s. It came into full force on Sunday. The Yorkshire folk were unfazed. By both the hills and my language. I like these people.

We were glad to find our first pit stop in Harrogate, about 25 miles in. There were 2 during the ride, both North Bar pubs and we had to get our Paria map stamped at both and then again at the finish.

As we were finishing fuelling up on coffee and cake, and getting ready to head off towards the 2nd stop some of our fellow cyclists arrived. They had all got lost too and let us know that the only reason we’d beat them to the 25 mile mark was because they’d taken 71 miles to get there. We let them know we’d actually ridden 104 miles and they should make more of an effort. This was the nature of the day; plenty of banter and piss taking, I loved it.

We pushed on to the next North bar, in Otley at 40 miles. We of course got lost a few more times and ended up needing to google where it was. Miraculously despite all that we got there and were still in the lead; riding at a good pace despite the hills and wrong turns. Otley has been on the map a bit recently what with the Otley Cycle Races, as well as hosting the Tour De Yorkshire stages in 2016. It seemed pretty flat to me though…. no challenge at all (!)

We could have all settled in at this pub, it looked very inviting and we wouldn’t have minded a rest but we pushed on after we got our cards stamped again. We would rest and drink beers at the finish.

Paperboy riders

We pushed on and that’s when Ollie dropped back. We waited for a bit but then continued as we thought he might have actually just ditched us and gone elsewhere. I tried to ditch the remaining competition in Paul and Gavin by throwing my bidon in their path as I missed the holder on my bike after a slurp of water. Like complete gentlemen they waited for me as I retrieved my bottle and got back on my bike. They may have come to regret this move when I sprint finished and beat them bahahahahaha. I was merely excited to have managed to navigate back to the start and increased my pace in anticipation, I’m not competitive at all…

So, we made it back, I was presented with a can of Paria IPA as my trophy. I gracefully accepted it and downed it. YUM. I’m not normally an IPA fan but this is lush. As I was feeling victorious I sunk a few more. The refuelling was excellent. Beers and banter with my team and then others as they made it back. Everyone was lovely, super friendly and accepting of this southern softie who had rocked up on a bright pink bike and a bad case of potty mouth. Some people were bonkers though, there were a few lads from Leeds Fixed Gear that rode the whole thing on fixies. I don’t know how they did it and they did it fast as well! The scenery was beautiful and we were lucky with the weather.

Unfortunately some of the other riders later weren’t quite so lucky and some got drenched when the weather turned, oops. We all got goody bags and we raised some money for St Gemma’s Hospice. It was great and I’d love to do it all over again.

Massive thank you to Sam and Emily of Paria. I am loving the Paria brand. When I set out to work with a cycling kit company, I wanted the brand to epitomise what I was about and how I ride. Take the riding seriously, but not myself. The kit design is on point, fit is super comfortable and I’m currently working with them on some custom gear, very very exciting!!

Thank you also to everyone that came and were so friendly. I’ll be back up to Yorkshire again soon!

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