Tour de Yorkshire. My Experience.
I’ve been to Yorkshire a few times, luckily we have family who live in the Yorkshire Dales, so we’ve visited before, most notably for the Grand Depart in 2014, what an occasion that was. My first time was a year earlier, running and mountain biking the Pennine Bridleway from North to South, that was epic, but that’s a story for another time.
My visit this time was to take in some cycling across the Dales, and of course to watch some of the 3 day stage race that is, Tour de Yorkshire.
Friday arrived, and after spending 6 hours in the car on the way up on Thursday, I decided against the 3 hour round trip to catch any of Stage 1 by the roadside, and instead headed out to ride some of the local roads and lanes, which just so happened to mean taking in part of Stage 1 of the 2014 TdF, through Kettlewell and up Kiddstone. There really is some stunning scenery. I found myself stopping pretty much every 10-15 minutes just to take it all in, and take countless photos. I took in a few local sights too. Castle Bolton was a nice little stop, and riding through Leyburn, such a pretty little town. I enjoyed excellent weather and clocked up about 105km and 2000 metres climbing, it was ace.
Saturday meant time for Stage 2, which was calling close by to where I was staying. I got up early to get a bit of planning done, and managed to watch the womens race on TV, which meant I could do a bit of sneaky location spotting, choosing where would be a good place to watch from. I decided since I’ve seen so many bike races, that for once, I chose to watch the riders descending after a climb, and settled on the other side of Lofthouse, where the road kicks up a bit, and kinks round after a nice steep downhill. I thought that would be good.
So I set off on the ride, and took in some more stunning scenery, and some brutal roads, the road from Grassington to Pateley Bridge I think is considered kind of a “main road” … by my standards is was essentially empty, saw about 10 cars the whole time, bliss. Anyway, the road, yeah, that was a good challenge, a nice enough road, but some big old climbs. The scenery again makes it worthwhile, there’s a climb after you come out of Hebden and go down for a bit, then kicks right up, quite straight and nasty. That was a bit of a surprise!
Once I had ridden down into Pateley Bridge, which is a lovely sweeping descent, I found myself on the route for the race, and rode up past the Gouthwaite reservoir. What an enjoyable little road that is. A gently rolling road until you get to into Lofthouse … then it goes up hill, fast. To be honest, it was a really great climb, and it is so much fun to do with people watching, you’ve got guys at the bottom drinking beer and chanting for wheelies … I’m not good at wheelies, and even if I was, I wasn’t going to be doing that with the wall that was in front of me! So off I plodded up the climb past corner after corner full of people shouting and preparing themselves for the race, it’s a tough climb is Lofthouse, and it’s even worse with a 1km to go sign taunting you … especially when you get there only to realise you’re no where near the end of the climbing. Still, it’s a great view at the KOM point, looking down over the crowds massing ready for the race to pass though.
I rolled down the otherside and starting scouting for my spot, but suddenly felt a ping in my foot … “hmmm, I don’t remember unbuckling my shoes ….” … oh great. My tightening cable on my Bont shoes had broken and it was impossible to tighten. Disaster.
I tried to fix it by the roadside but no joy, I tied it together as best I could but then spotted a chap beside the road with a white van. A white van … in my head, he could have all sorts in there, including some electrical tape so I can bind the shoe to my foot :) Luckily… he did. What a result.
Now, with shoe taped to my foot, I sat a waited for the race to pass through, first the break of 4 which had split into two groups of two, and then a couple of minutes later the 180 strong peloton sped past me almost in single file, it was a great spot to watch it from as I managed to get photos of almost every rider. Result.
The next day things were a lot simpler. I only had a few hours as I needed to hit the roads, so decided I head down through Grassington and on to Burnsall, or Linton. After chatting to my hosts they had persuaded me to go to Linton. So off I went, a nice leisurely ride to Linton, chatting to a few locals as I past them on our bikes. I managed to find another good spot, a little rise, with a bridge. I got out my phone and had 4G so managed to watch the race live until it got to me, and the best bit was that the break had about 4 minutes, so I caught the break from up on a verge:
Then when they had gone through, hot footed it over the road, and waited for the bunch to scream through, didn’t take long and they’re all through. Direct Energie and Team Sky on the front. Followed of course by countless team cars and police.
Once they had all gone, it was time to jump on my bike, and get on back, but not before tackling number 45 on the 100 greatest climbs of Great Britain … Park Rash. That. Is. Brutal. Especially after 3 days hilly riding and about 250km’s in the legs. That’s my excuses anyway … But if you’re in the area, you’ve got to ride it, it’s so brutal, it’s beautiful, and it makes Lofthouse feel like a speed bump!
Needless to say, I’ll be back Yorkshire.