Alternative Bike Rides In Yorkshire
Yorkshire - Synonymous for dry stone walls, flat caps and some of the finest tea in the UK, the county in recent years has embraced the global cycling scene, skyrocketing it to the forefront of many fans' minds. From the Tour de France's visit in 2014 to the annual Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain, it's safe to say Yorkshire is just a little crazy about cycling.
Adding another feather to their cap for 2019, the sport's biggest single day race, the UCI World Road Championships, will be visiting the county in September, bringing some of the best riders in the world with it, all ready to challenge for the coveted rainbow bands. Cycling in Yorkshire is a lot more than just a series of pro level races though, as Paul Ryan, a rider in the local Wetherby Cycling Club, explains. Paul has provided us with some of his favourite routes in the area, perfect for those looking for a true taste of cycling in Yorkshire. Pour yourself a brew, put your feet up and read on to discover just some of the fantastic cycling routes around Harrogate.
One Hour to Spare Partly Off Road - Spofforth Route
Only have an hour to spare? This ride is just for you! Beginning in Kings Road, the home of Cold Bath Brewing, the route heads east out of the town centre and onto an off-road cycle track accessed via the Dragon Road car park. Following the track north east alongside the railway line through to Bilton, you are then directed onto Bilton Lane where you will join the Beryl Burton Cycleway linking Harrogate and Knaresborough.
On entering Knaresborough the route takes you waterside, adjacent to the River Nidd. A picturesque area, you will be taken under the impressive Knaresborough Viaduct.
The route continues south alongside the river and across the A658 onto the Wetherby Road. Turning right at Little Ribston, it then follows quieter roads over to Spofforth and then northwest to Follifoot (part of National Cycle Network). Continuing across the A658 onto Rudding Lane, a change of direction is in order as you head north-west on off-road cycle routes through the Great Yorkshire Showground, back into Harrogate to complete the ride.
One Hour to Spare Road - Almscliffe Crag Loop
One for those looking to take in some of the region's most stunning road, you begin the loop in Harrogate and heading south to Pannal, crossing the A61 before climbing Drury Lane. From there you join the A658 southern bypass out onto quiet roads and a nice downhill segment into Kirkby Overblow. A cyclist's paradise, the undulating quiet rural roads through Dunkeswick and Weeton take you to Huby. Testing the legs, the 2 kilometre climb 'To the Crag' (a 4.5% average gradient) is a highlight of the route.
Killer Climbs Route
A 100km ride leaving Harrogate via Penny Pot Lane and heading north into Hampsthwaite, the legs will soon warm up as you tackle the first short climb, that of Clint Bank. From there the route heads west through Birstwith and over to Darley on undulating roads before turning onto Stumps Lane, Darley for the first significant climb (around a kilometre at a 10% average gradient). Climb complete you will head west past RAF Menwith Hill. A change to a northernly direction and onto the B6451 directs you towards Summerbridge.
Crossing the B6165 onto Hartwith Bank (a 1.5km climb that averages 9.6%) you will ride further west to Glasshouses and join the B6165. Pateley Bridge is next on the agenda and sets you up perfectly for the long climb of Greenhow Hill (a favourite and mainstay now on the Queen stage of the Tour de Yorkshire - 3.8km at 7.4% average). Feeling parched? At the top of the climb, the Toft Barn Cafe is well worth a stop for a coffee. Sit back, catch your breath and enjoy superb views over Nidderdale.
Things turn south as a long descent takes you across the A59 before being presented with a long climb up to Askwith Moor. Rewarded with a long descent into Askwith, you soon enter West Yorkshire and Ilkley. From Ilkley the route takes you south east to climb the famous Cow and Calf (1.92kms at 7% - the summit finish for stage two of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire won by Magnus Cort Neilson and Megan Guarnier in the womens race on the same day). Descending the south side of the Cow and Calf via Menston you will need to adjust your bearings south east as you approach the foot of East Chevin Road (The last climb on the now 'Queen stage' of the Tour de Yorkshire - 1.92kms at an 8% average gradient).
If you are feeling spritely at this point, this is the ideal opportunity to challenge Greg Van Avaermert's KOM time. Rewarding your effort is a fast descent through Pool in Wharfedale and back into North Yorkshire is next on the menu. That is not the end of the hills though as you'll soon be presented with the climb to Farnley before heading down into Lindley Wood. Here is the final big climb of the day - Norwood Edge. A 1.7km ascent with a 9.2% average gradient, the climb is steepest at the beginning, so punching over the first part is recommended. Climb complete, undulating roads heading east along Broad Dubb Road and another fast descent into Beckwithshaw are the final challenges. Once these are conquered it the route navigates you back into Harrogate via Otley Road. This is your chance to get a taste of the finishing circuit the UCI World Road Championships riders will encounter as you traverse the Harrogate loop via Harlow Moor Drive and Valley Drive.
A Taste of the World Championships Route
Get a taste of what the pros have to tackle at the 2019 UCI World Road Championships and begin this ride by heading out along the official Harrogate loop west along Otley Road and onto the B6161. From there you will go in the direction of Penny Pot Lane and across the A59 to commence a long climb up to Greenhow. This takes you beside the stunning Thruscross Reservoir. From there the route heads west via a short loop on undulating roads via Burnsall to pickup the men's elite race route (also featured in the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart) at Threshfield where you head north past Kilnsey Crag. Get your climbing legs at the ready, the KOM climb of Kidstones Bank, just north of Buckden, is sure to get the lactic acid flowing.
The climb is followed by a long fast descent down towards Newbiggin where the route cuts across the elite race route towards Aysgarth. From Aysgarth the route follows the elite race route on quiet roads, briefly crossing the A684 to pick up undulating roads from Askrigg through to Sedbusk, just north of Hawes. Here you rejoin the elite race route and the biggest and most iconic climb of the day (and that of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart) - Buttertubs Pass.
Buttertubs Pass conquered and you'll stay on the race route as you head through Muker and Gunnerside towards Reeth. As you roll through the lanes you will soon find yourself on the Men's Elite Time Trial route and in turn the long climb to Hackfall Woods. Punchy undulating roads through Grewelthorpe, Kirkby Malzeard, High Grantley, Risplith, Sawley and Hebden Bank follow and make this the ideal route for those really looking to explore Yorkshire's quaint and picturesque villages.
Leaving the time trial route, you join a section of the women's elite road race course, heading to Bishop Thornton before the descent into and climb out of Shaw Mills. This takes you up to Burnt Yates crossroads where the route descends Clint Bank into the village of Hampsthwaite.
Coming thick and fast, another climb out of Hampsthwaite via Rowden Lane has to be negotiated before crossing the A59. The familiar sight of Penny Pot Lane to the west of Harrogate is next up. This is the part where you rejoin the UCI Worlds Harrogate loop and the technical descent from Penny Pot Lane into Oakdale Bridge. As if the legs weren't sore enough already the leg testing climb up Cornwall Road will surely add to the pain. This is followed by a fast descent into the town centre, where you will conclude your ride at King's Road.
Inspired to take your bike to the Yorkshire Dales? We'd love to see your ride photos. Simply tag @sigmasports on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and we will share our favourites. Heading to the UCI World Road Championships in Yorkshire this September? Learn more about our involvement in the 2019 race.