Sunday 9 April 2017

A jaunt around the White Rose County

I had said I would do it this year, and I managed to do so a couple of weeks ago - that is, to get up to Yorkshire. And it didn't rain!

The first part of my weekend was spent in the North York Moors, where I did some course reconnaissance of the route for the Yorkshire Lass Charity sportive, which takes place in August. I was keen to ride the full 103-mile route, as opposed to the 30-mile and 60-mile options, particularly as this recon will be for an article I'm writing for Cycling Weekly magazine. It was a nice ride, though I must say I did it over a couple of days as I didn't think I would be fit enough to do the whole thing before sunset!

Byland Abbey
In any case, riding the actual 103-mile sportive in one day is the to be saved for the day itself when you spin through the lanes against the clock with a group of other lycra-clad keenies haring down the road. A recon should be taken at a laid back pace, so you have time to enjoy the landscape and sample the local fare during a cafe stop or even at a pub lunch. That's my excuse for riding slowly, and I'm sticking to it!

So, I was treated to some of the best sights that North Yorkshire has to offer - Byland Abbey, the picturesque villages of Boroughbridge, Bishops Monkton and Topcliffe, lovely views of purple heather moorland, and the iconic White Horse Bank. With a gradient of 25% to get up the bank, I had no intention of riding up it - so I dutifully and thankfully followed the direction to ride around it. However, I still had to get up a couple of "easier" 16% options on Beacon Bank and Jerry Carr Bank later on!

White Horse Bank
Historically, the North York Moors have not tended to be visited by cyclists as much as other parts of Yorkshire, like the Dales and the Peak District. But in recent times, since the staging of the international Tour de Yorkshire stage race the profile of this area has been raised.

This year will be no exception when the race once again traces a route up through the Moors as it heads up to Scarborough from Bridlington with a detour up to Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay.

I hope to return to this area again to recce the Tour de Yorkshire route, and hopefully by the time the Yorkshire Lass sportive comes round, I will have been toughened up a little and will have lost some of my Southern softy ways!

The Strava recorded routes from the Yorkshire Lass Sportive

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

On the same weekend that I reconned the Yorkshire Lass Charity sportive I also met up with the good folks from Hull Thursday Club and went on a ride with them. This will also be a feature in a future issue of Cycling Weekly magazine.

Andy, snapping the lads from Hull Thursday Club
The photographer for the day, Andy Jones, and myself met with the guys and one lady at Skidby Windmill. Without much ado we did a spin through the lanes of the Yorkshire Wolds, with the main climbs being around the Nunburnholme area.

Initially I felt happy in the bunch with the guys and was able to hold my own. But just like with the professional cyclists in Wiggle High5, as soon as the road went uphill I got unceremoniously dropped.

They guys were friendly enough and waited for me at the top of the hill or at the junctions, but I still felt a little embarrassed by the fact, and I could feel myself turning into "fat journo who can write, but can't ride!" In fairness I was getting over a cold that had affected my lungs the previous week, but I didn't want to make any excuses. I was just slow!

The Wolds are definitely a good place to train. The hills are not particularly long like what I rode in Mallorca the previous week. Instead they are short and a little sharp, making them a little bit tougher than what you get on those long alpine climbs abroad. Hopefully I will return to the Wolds and this is something else that will make me stronger.

Cafe Velo, Beverley
Our ride was not mercilessly epic, and the lads said they were actually riding slower than usual (crikey)! So I was glad to get to the cafe stop, a very pleasant cycle cafe in Beverley, called Cafe Velo.

The place was decorated with cycling memorabilia from recently as well as from the times of the Milk Race 30 years ago. Gary, the owner had done a good job of decking out the place and making it appealing not just to cyclists, but also to non-cycling folks out in the pretty market squares of Beverley.

Andy and I were treated to some tasty sausage sandwiches and tea, which definitely hit the spot. We also heard lots of tales from the lads at Hull Thursday Club, a cycling club that has almost 110 years of history. There are no surviving members of the club from the time the club formed, but there was one 90-year old who was out on the club run and he seemed as spritely as ever, and probably faster than me up those hills! I almost wanted to check his birth certificate!

So there ended my pleasant Yorkshire weekend. I amassed quite a few good quality miles in my legs, and some interesting words for my article, which should hopefully amuse and entertain club members and other readers alike!

Strava record of the route I did with Hull Thursday Club:
Ride with Hull Thursday Club

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