I love the Tour de France. I love Yorkshire. Next year the two collide in the most unlikely of unions. The 2014 Tour de France begins in Yorkshire. It seemed a great opportunity to ride some of the course and try to get a sneak preview on this famous event.
I strongly urge anyone who enjoys cycling to do the same: it was a fantastic ride.
You could do the ride in one long day, as the pros will do. It would be a nice 120 mile challenge.
Or you can spread it out into two days, as I did.
The route goes from Leeds to Harrogate through beautiful scenery and past huge numbers of pubs and tea shops… Even if you live down south you can easily do this ride over a weekend.
If you catch the train to Leeds on Saturday morning you’ll be there in time for lunch. A 40 or 50 mile ride will see you nicely up the valley between Skipton and Buckden.
Each village has a decent pub so you can have your evening meal whenever your stomach demands it. Then sleep in a B&B or a bivvy bag (depending on your level of manliness). (Here is my advice on ultralight cycle touring).
In the morning the steep climb out of Buckden will build a nice appetite for breakfast in a cafe in Aysgarth or Bainbridge. Be sure to eat lots because from Hawes you climb over Buttertubs, the biggest climb of the ride. There’s a white-knuckle descent into the Muker valley and, apart from a big climb to reach Leyburn, now you’ve broken the back of the ride.
Pop into one of Masham’s breweries for a quick morale-boosting sup and then it’s an easy ride to Harrogate and the end…
Here is a photographic account of my ride. I was travelling light so only had my camera phone. But I really hope they encourage you to give the route a go – it is fabulous to be able to enjoy both Yorkshire’s special scenery and the razmattazz of the Tour de France at the same time.
Now comes the day’s biggest climb, up Buttertubs Pass. I was propelled both by my breakfast and one of my favourite quatrains.
We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further: it may be
Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow,
Across that angry or that glimmering sea.
And then it’s just a mad dash through the cheering, glorious crowds to the finish of a fabulous microadventure, however few people are there to welcome you and however pitiful your final stats may be…