Thursday 03 July 2014


Over the past week or so I’ve been touring the South West, trying to raise funds, visiting friends, relatives and taking in Cheltenham, Stow-in-the-Wold, Chipping Norton, Woodstock, Witney, Gloucester, Bristol and stopping in Worcester, to see my mate Richard, on my return journey.

I wanted to give the bike a test ride and get used to long journeys across the country.

I’m glad to report that all went well. The bike responded to the demands of the trip and I returned home safely on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, I experienced a medical episode which I would like to share.

I overstayed my period away and after my first week, I ran out of the drug Tamsulosin Hydrochloride (it relaxes the muscles surrounding the prostate gland and helps pass urine more easily) which I take for my bhp. It meant that for the last three days of my tour, I missed my daily dosage. 

On Monday, I stopped flowing altogether and couldn’t pee. I was up all night with an overblown bladder, which necessitated me checking into the A&E at The Bristol Royal Infirmary in the early hours of Tuesday. 

My condition was quickly diagnosed as urine retention and I was catheterised to get rid of the excess fluid. Ouch! and sweet. The procedure itself made me wince a bit, but the relief of being free from discomfort and able to pee again was glorious.

The Staff at the BRI were marvelous and I can’t praise them enough. Their recommendation was that I should keep the catheter in, until my safe return home. They did not wish to take the risk that the problem might reoccur. Having said that, my ride home was very uncomfortable, what with an artificial attachment at the end of my willy! Stopping to wee and drain the tube in open spaces was somewhat embarrassing, but I managed.

I checked into my own surgery on Wednesday and the Nursing Sister gently removed the foreign object from my appendage. Sweet!

I can now report that all is well and that I am back to my usual routine and can function normally.

The moral of the story is, those of you who are on Tamsulosin, please take your medicines regularly and daily. This was the cause of my retention. No infection and no kidney issues.


Happy Meeting


On the way up North, I stopped to refuel at the Trowell Service Station. I lost one of my ear plugs and the imbalance to my aural soundproofing annoyed me. Pulling up behind me was a fellow biker. I went over to chat, as is customary and as soon as I mention my lack of earplugs, she pulled out a brand new spare pair which she carried on her. Thank you very much. It made the rest of my journey home much more pleasant. 

If anyone knows Sue from Huddersfield, please ask her to look up this ‘thank you’ and if you read this Sue, please send me an email with your handle, so that I can stay in touch with you. As one has to pay to chat on Bikermatch, I don’t do it and would love to hear from you again.

Cheers (bikerbiker).

The Whitby/ Scarborough Run 

220 miles of superb riding. 5 hrs 40 mins (non- stop). Leave at 07.30 hrs when the roads are clear and the air is fresh. Enjoy your ride. Don’t rush. It’s not a race.

(The Short Version)

The Whitby - Scarborough Run > (The Short Version) Altofts / Normanton M62 East / A1(M) North / B1224 / A168 Thirsk / A19 Coxwold / Byland / A170 Hemsley / A169 Whitby / B1447 Robin Hood's Bay / A171 Scarborough / A170 Pickering / A169 Malton / A64 York / Tadcaster / A162 Sherburn - in - Elmet / A1 (M) South / M62 West / Normanton.

(The Long Version)

Starting from Altofts or Normanton.

M62 North A1(M) North.

As soon as you can, get off the A1(M).

Leave the A1 at the B1224 turn off and at the roundabout (rbt) take the last exit on to Deighton Lane which becomes the A168. 

The A168 runs parallel to the A1 and provides a less hectic ride than the A1(M).

Follow the A168 into Thirsk Market Square. Stop and have a cuppa.

Coming out of Thirsk I would recommend that you don’t take the A170 left at the rbt, but go straight on, following the York Road, A19 sign, which is the recommended alternative scenic route for caravans and avoiding Sutton Bank.

However, when you leave Thirsk, you can take the main A170 and go up Sutton Bank all the way to Hemsley.

If you’ve opted for the more scenic route, about a mile or so along the A19, watch out and take the left fork, Low Lane to Coxwold and Byland.

Stop at Byland Abbey. It’s worth the view.

At The Faucanberg Arms, in Coxwold, turn left.

When you reach Wass, don’t follow the road right, but go straight up Wass Bank Road, which rejoins the A170 at the top.

Turn right towards Hemsley.

Stop in Helmsley for a break. Everybody does. Mingle with other bikers before setting off to Pickering.

Left at the Pickering rbt, A169 to Whitby.

Before you reach the Saltergate Bank, stop at the Hole of Horcum, park up and admire the view. It’s one of biggest natural craters in the UK and is awesome.

Take it steady down the Saltergate Bank. Many a biker thinks he can lean and accelerate through it. By all means lean, but the cars coming uphill the other way sometimes give the curve a wide berth and overshoot the centre line. They will not stop for you!

After the RAF Fylingdales Radar Installation on your right, which look like something out an Alien film, if you have time, visit Goathland aka Aindensfield, where the series Heartbeat was filmed. Have some fudge and walk the platform of the local train station (still in use).

Back on the A169, as you descend into Whitby, The Blue Bank is steep, so make sure you cover your brakes.

Parking outside the Whitby Tourist Information Centre is a popular stop and is within walking distance to the Quayside and over the River Esk Bridge.

The Magpie is the most popular visitor destination for Fish & Chips, but try Alexanders which I now favour for its more welcoming service and truly exceptional fish. It’s opposite and to the left of the swing bridge, corner of St Anne’s Staith and Flowergate. There is also the Royal Fisheries at the top end of Flowergate, which serves a very good Haddock and chips.

Leaving Whitby, go over the Bridge and turn right into Church Street, which follows the River Esk on your right, crosses the Spital Bridge and joins with the A171 to Scarborough.

It’s worth taking a detour, B1447, to Robin Hood’s Bay, for a locally made ice cream and the breathtaking view of the bay.

Out of Robin Hood’s Bay, rejoin the A171 towards Scarborough, by-pass it (that’s for another trip), follow the A171 and join the A170 to Pickering.

Take the A169, Malton Road to Malton and then the A64 towards York and Tadcaster.

The A162 will take you to the Squires Café in Sherburn-in-Elmet for a well earned coffee and steak pie.

You’re almost back home.

A1 South, M62 West back to Altofts or Normanton.

Well done.


The journey is approximately 115 Miles. It should take about 3.5 hrs, non-stop, but I recommend stopping en route to admire and enjoy the vistas ahead. Lovely on a Sunday morning.

Route Description:

(The Short Version)

Starting Altofts > Stanley Ferry, Ferry Lane > A642 Aberford Road to Stanley > Oulton > Woodlesford > Bullerthorpe Lane > Temple Newsam > A6120 Ring Road West > A61 to Harrogate > A659 to Otley > Blubberhouses > A59 > Greenhow > B6265 to Appletreewick > B6160 to Burnsall > Bolton Abbey > A59 to Harrogate > B6161 to Killinghall > A61 to Ripley > B6165 to Knaresborough > B6164 to Wetherby > B1224 to A1(M) South > A63 > B1222 to Squires Café, Sherburn-in-Elmet > A1(M) South> M62 West > M642 to Stanley > Ferry Lane back to Altofts.

(The Long Version)

Out of Altofts and left turn on to Kirkwood Road.

Over the River Calder, past the Stanley Ferry Boat to end of Ferry Lane.

Turn right on the A642 Aberford Road towards Stanley & Leeds, past the Thatched House Pub. 

Enter the dual carriageway at Moorhouse.

Go straight at the M62 roundabout. 2nd Exit

Follow signs to Rothwell.

Take the 1st exit at the next roundabout. 

At the Oulton Roundabout (Oulton Hall is on the left) take the 3rd exit, Calverly Road, past the Midland Hotel and continue on the A642 Aberford Road to Woodlesford. 

Go over the River Aire bridge.

Turn left on Bullerthorpe Lane past Temple Newsam.

At the A6120 Ring Road West, take the 1st exit 

Follow signs to Crossgates > Seacroft > York > Wetherby> Harrogate>Bradford Airport

Watch out for a speed camera at Crossgates. It works!!! (30mph)


You will go over several roundabouts. 

Go straight at the A64 rbt to York.

Go straight at the A58 rbt to Wetherby.

Follow directions to Harrogate and when you get through the double set of lights at Shadwell, take the 3rd exit at the A61 Moortown roundabout to Harrogate.

After the lights at Harewood House, the road sweeps downhill and left. 

At the next right bend and before the bridge, turn left on the A659 to Pool-in-Wharfedale, Arthington & Otley.

At the White Hart Pub, Pool, Turn right on the A658 at the mini roundabout and left, before the Shell Garage, on the A659 to Otley.

You may like to stop in Otley, which is a quaint historic market town. Walk around its market square and call at Middlemiss, the Butchers and sample of one their pies. 

Ask for Tony Middlemiss and mention me. He’s a biker too.

From the Market Square, Turn right on the B6451 through the staggered main traffic lights.

Stay right, otherwise you’ll end up in Ilkley! and follow the road, left bend, out of Otley on  to Bridge Street which goes over the bridge, Billams Hill, straight uphill, Newall Carr Road and towards the Blubberhouses. 

There is a biker’s cafe on the right just before the mediaeval Otley bridge. 

By all means stop and have a coffee, but whatever you do, do not indulge in a full breakfast. You will regret it. 

Before you reach the end of this wonderful stretch of road to the Blubberhouses, there is a lovely tight and narrowing double “s” bend awaiting you.

Don’t do anything silly. Oncoming farm vehicles and other 4x4’s don’t care much for your safely and will come at you blind in the middle of the road.

The last 20 or so yards down Church Hill to the A59 is very tricky. Take it easy. Don’t approach it too fast. Really. Brake early, slow down. It’s downhill and very badly maintained, otherwise you’ll end up o the other side of the A59!

St Andrews Church on the right.

Turn right towards Harrogate and immediately first left, up Hardisty Hill and towards Greenhow Hill Road. It’s a long stretch of road which gives you plenty of opportunity to open up.

You will be approaching the Stone House Inn at speed. Slow down. This particular crossroads is dangerous and vehicles tend to just cross over without stopping. 

Go straight. This road ends at Duck Street Lane.

Turn left at the T junction, B6265 (Greenhow Hill) to Hebden and Grassington.

This road is not altogether smooth tarmac, so watch out for patchy and rough bumps especially riding through the bends.

Past Stumps Cross Caverns on your left.

Look out for the sign to Parceval Hall on the right as you approach Fancarl House (B&B)on your right. 

Turn left turn on New Road. 

This road is narrow and full of sudden dips. 

Also watch out for Farmer Giles and his tractor/trailer.

Sharp right turn on to Hazler Lane and to Appletreewick.

Stop at The Craven Arms Pub for a sandwich! or other. 

In 2003, I was their Head Chef and the food was pukka. Many things have since changed and the atmosphere and the service is second to none. 

Out of Appletreewick, past the Masons campsite.

Mind the narrow road and oncoming vehicles being driven by city folks.

Turn left on the B6160, after the Burnsall Bridge and The Lion Hotel, towards Bolton Abbey.

Go over the Bolton Bridge and Rejoin A59.

At the roundabout, take the 1st exit left, towards Harrogate.

Let rip.

You will pass by the Blubberhouses and Otley turnoff to your right, but carry on uphill, Skipton Road, towards Harrogate.

You know you’re almost at the end of this run when you see The Nelson Inn.

Next is the Old Spring Well Pub coming up.

Turn left at the roundabout, on Otley Road, B6161 to Killinghall, which joins the A61 further down opposite The Three Horseshoes.

Turn left on the A61 to Ripon, but don’t go all the way to Ripon.

Stop at the Ripley and take time to investigate the charms of this replicated French hamlet, its Castle and its grounds.

From Ripley, take the B6165, Ripley Road, to Knaresborough. 

The B6165 rejoins the A59.

At the end of the B6165, turn left (A59), then right (A59) on to the High Street.

Proceed down York Place leading on to York Road.

Watch out for the B6164 sign, right turn to Wetherby, which will take you off the A59.

The B6164 will cross over the A658 on the way and eventually becomes the Knaresborough Road to become the Wetherby Road again as it nears Wetherby.

The Wetherby Road ends at a fork (left to right) and continues on to Deighton Road. It’s still the B6164. 

It’s feels like you’re going back on yourself, but turn left at the fork and follow the B1224 sign. This will avoid you entering Wetherby and take you to the A1(M) South.

Your next stop should be at The Squires Café because you will be parched and hungry.

Exit A63 off the A1(M) to Leeds.

Turn right on to the B1222 to The Squires Café.

Enjoy a well deserved pie and peas. 

Home via the A1(M) South

M62 West

A642 to Altofts via Stanley.

Be Happy.

In 2003, I was hospitalised with a severe urinary infection. My bladder was critically distended and I had great difficulty passing urine. I was in hospital for 10 days. When I was eventually discharged, my PSA protein level read 14.1 ng/ml. I was told that I had prostate cancer. I didn’t particular care for that diagnosis, especially as the attending consultant urologist possessed little and no significant bedside manner. He just sat me down and told me outright and bluntly that I had cancer. No preamble, no apologies, no sympathy, no empathy, nothing. He didn’t give a shit really. Hey Ho. I walked out.

I rang a GP friend of mine (Mike B) to discuss the matter and he reassured me that due to the severe nature of my UTI (urinary tract infection) and the treatment I received (catheterization etc) it was quite possible that the PSA test had produced a falsely elevated result. He advised me to finish my course of prescribed antibiotics and get retested again.

Over the period of the next 3 months, I was retested and my PSA level tumbled to 5 ng/ml and eventually leveled off at 2+ ng/ml. However, since that episode, I have suffered from an enlarged prostate, but I have enjoyed a relatively normal urological life. I watch what I eat and drink and try to exercise as much as I can. In the intervening years, I lost a few good friends who were less fortunate than I and succumbed to prostate cancer.

When I decided to do this charity ride, it was vital for me to adopt the same advice being given out to others. I felt that it was important for me to practice what I preached, so to speak. In Feb 2014, booked for a PSA test which showed a raised level of protein to 5+ ng/ml. My physician concluded that it may have been one of those false positive results. I didn’t care much for the side effects of Finasteride and had stopped taking it totally, in favour of Saw Palmetto. It was deemed prudent for me to have another PSA test and when the results showed the same previous level of 5+ ng/ml, I was then referred to a urologist.

Panic set in and all kinds of imagined scenarios entered my head. I became convinced that I had prostate cancer. My personality changed and with it, I developed a very short tolerance for what I deemed insignificant day to day matters. I was heading for depression and as my partner will attest, I became a very difficult bunny to be with. It’s not that I feared death, but my own idea of my end days was to die with my biking boots on riding into the sunset. I never wished to linger.

I underwent a third PSA which then showed a slight increased level above 5+ ng/ml and the urologist decided that the only definitive course of action left was to have a biopsy. I cancelled my first appointment through fear, took a holiday and wished the test results away.

The advance information on the procedure of having a biopsy was very thorough, but nevertheless it didn’t prepare me for the trauma that awaited me. I need not have worried because, in the end, it very much depended on the attending nurse, the competence and the bedside manner of the urologist. In my case, both were absolutely superb in alleviating my fears, anxiety and paranoia.

I’ve never cared much for having anything up my bottom. My parents were partly French and believed in the virtues of the suppository solution to all ailments. So, the experience of that particular invasive procedure was to say the least, discomforting. Watch out for the loud snapping noise of the spring loaded needleas it scrapes away at your prostate!Ouch!!Apart from that, the only negative was internal pressure while the probe was in place.

The two weeks wait for the results was mentally terrifying. I couldn’t sleep at night. I became even more indifferent to my surroundings and life took on its own twists and turns. I was depressed and ate a lot. It didn’t help that someone I knew was dying of cancer and that his prognosis was grim.

When I received the results of the biopsy and given the all clear, it was as if a heavy load had lifted off my shoulders. I could breathe again and I viewed what laid ahead of me through fresh visors.

The moral of this story is SHARE. Don’t live alone with your fears. I didn’t communicate my predicament with anyone. I chose to internalise all my doubts and convinced myself that I had contracted cancer. Talk to your partner, family and close friends. Trust that they will and can help you through your journey of discovery, whatever the outcome.

I didn’t discuss my plight with anyone, except with my doctor who was marvelous, but that wasn’t enough. Doctors deal with death everyday and their empathy is genuine, but clinical. You need to know that you are genuinely cared about and able to rely on the comfort of real emotions.

I was recommended to go back on Finasteride, but I am also taking Saw Palmetto as a supplement. I am informed that a combination of Alpha-blockers such as (terazomin) and 5-Alpha reductase inhibitors (dutasteride) may help to reduce the size of the prostate. I am due for a consultation on that option and more on that later.

I believe that I have been blessed and it is therefore with great humility that I am doing this ride in aid of those, who like me have been affected, in one way or the other, by Prostate issues.

Specialist Nurses are available for you to talk to on 0800 074 8383. You can also email them your concerns by visiting prostatecanceruk.org