Great Yorkshire Bike Ride (long report)
Today saw the 22nd running of the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride, a very
popular event taking 1500 cyclists from Wetherby to the Yorkshire Coast
at Filey. The previous events have raised a total of £1,224,534 for
various local and national charities.
I planned for an early start, the alarm going off at 6:20. A look
outside revealed a dull, heavily overcast and chilly morning, only 9C
with a light northerly blowing. A look at the Met Office Rain Radar
thankfully revealed that the weak cold front threatened for today had
already passed through the route area, with a patch of drizzle slowly
clearing to the south of York. However, the plans for an early start
went out of the window and I went back to bed.
I eventually crawled out of bed, forced down a double dose of weetabix
(all 4, count'em. Ugh) and loaded the car. Left home at 7:50, arriving
at Wetherby Racecourse for about 8:05. Another year when I didn't manage
to long promised ride to the start. Maybe next time.
The racecourse was already busy, the first starters had just left for
the ride to Filey, and a long queue of eager participants had formed up
ready for the off. I signed in, chatted to a few old friends, and
returned to the car to collect bike and get ready. What to wear? Shorts,
long sleeve top and wind/shower proof shell would have to do, I mean it
_is_ June, it _must_ warm up later. I joined the back of the start
queue, swapping stories with those around me of past events, fearsome
hills, nasty accidents and man eating Filey Seagulls. (OK I made up the
We slowly shuffle forwards towards the start line as groups a cyclists
are released every few minutes. The PA gives the usual warnings, its not
a race, single file, don't weave on the hills or the marshals will bite
your head off etc.
Off on my way at 8:55, out of the racecourse and onto the first village
of Walton. Also the first spots of rain of the day. No more than spots
fortunately. I quickly break free of the group I started with and catch
up the tail enders of the previous group. The first couple of legs are
always busy, with much passing of slower riders. Careful attention has
to be paid to those all around and other traffic, which is fairly light.
I suspect many locals know to avoid these roads on GYBR day! Onto
Cattal, with a brief stop at the railway level crossing. The busy A59
crossing was bereft of the usual Police control (some excuse about all
the police being busy with preparation for next weeks "Royal Ascot at
York" race meeting).
First short climb of the day up to Whixley. 184 on the HRM. Hmm, don't
what to see that again, must take things steady. On towards the first
drinks stop at Little Ouseburn (11 miles in), with a crowd of riders
around the village hall as water and squashes are dispensed. First slice
of Malt Loaf and Nutrigrain bar consumed. Energy, must take in energy.
Onward then, crossing the rattly old timber decked Aldwark Toll Bridge
over the River Ure. Cars 15p, cycles free. On through the pretty
villages of Alne, and a brief bad patch for me, with the old legs
lacking in the power department.
Two cars, both with bike racks, so probably participant's relatives, are
attempting to thread through the still dense throng of cyclists. The
effect is to hold faster riders up, we can't really overtake the cars,
and cars can't overtake the slower cyclists. Look, don't these people
read the event booklet?, there're supposed to stay off the event route,
especially early on when its busy.
Easingwold provides the first Caged Tosser of the day. The route crosses
the top of the main street at a mini roundabout. Several cars are queued
on the approach from our left, with the front one waiting to turn right,
held up by a near continuous stream of cyclists going straight across.
Mr Tosser, in an old blue Escort, pulls out from several cars back,
overtakes the waiting cars and goes straight across the mini roundabout
down into town. Pity there's no coppers around, the local nick is only
100yds up the road.
On through the delightful outskirts of Easingwold, then onto the very
pretty village of Crayke. On the fast decent out of Crayke, we pass the
scene of last year's nasty rider contact incident.
Next stop Stillington (24 miles), another lovely village with its green
invaded by hundereds of thirsty cyclists. Another Nutrigrain.
The next leg sees a change from mostly flat arable fields to rolling
countryside and woodland. Delightful in the warm summer weather. If
On the lookout for the next landmark, I finally spot the ruined castle
at Sheriff Hutton peaking out above the tree line. Turn right, then a
fast descent drops us back onto a flat valley floor, with the infamous
Terrington Bank looming ever larger on the other side. A steep little
number, it sees many riders off and pushing, but the marshals by the
road side give encouragement to those of us still pedalling. Terrington
Bank levels out quite suddenly, then right at the junction towards the
First glitch of the day as I zoom down into one of the dips in the road
and sprint up the other side, as cramps hits the right calf. Oooo, ooo,
slow down, minimal effort on that leg to keep the cramp under control.
Up ahead in Terrington village, we're diverted off down a little lane to
the Village Hall & Playing Fields for the lunch stop (34 miles).
11:20 and the field is covered with bikes and resting cyclists, busy
As usual, the caterers, Sodhexo, provide an excellent lunch. A choice of
sandwiches, various cereal bars, crisps, energy drinks, fruit, hot pasta
and tea/coffee are collected before finding a space to sit down on the
grass to transfer calories to stomach. I spot a friend, Mark, last seen
manning a registration desk back at Wetherby, already here. He has the
audacity to claim the fancy new wheels on his bike are slower than his
old ones, yet he's averaged 2mph faster then me according to our bike
Now if it was a sunny June day, Terrington Field would be a fine place
for a post lunch snooze. But its not, there's a cool breeze and spots of
drizzle in the air again, time to move on. There's news that an accident
has closed the busy A64 road, and traffic is being diverted along the
Bike Ride route ahead. Potentially this could be nasty on the narrow
winding road to Malton.
As it happens the road through Coneysthorpe and onto Malton isn't too
busy, a little more oncoming traffic than usual, but nothing much
heading our way. Crossing high over the A64 as we approach Malton, I
note traffic is flowing both ways, so looks like the main road has
The centre of Malton is however heavily congested, with long queues for
the traffic lights in the middle of town. Most of us pass the queues
along the middle of road to reach the traffic lights. Here is Caged
Tosser number 2. Middle aged poseur in an open top red Ford thingy. He's
getting very agitated, throwing his arms up in the air. Despite a long
line of cyclists turning right alongside him, he pulls off an impatient
turn amongst the riders.
I follow him down towards Norton, body language says he's still
impatient, even though we're all doing 15+mph though town centre
streets. Calm down, you'll have a heart attack matey!
On through Norton. I find myself alone on a long empty road heading out
of town, if I didn't know I was on the right route I'd be seriously
concerned about being lost! A marshal directs us onto a narrow rolling
lane, heading towards killer number 2 of the day, Settrington Bank.
Kicking off a 1:6, this climbs high onto the tops of Yorkshire Wolds.
Halfway up the gradient eases a little, allowing a cog or two to be
dropped and a better cadence achieved. Around the corner, which you'd
like to think of as the top, reveals a further mile of gradually rising
road to Settrington Beacon. Over the top and its a relief to have that
successfully out of the way for the day. Ahead the road winds along the
ridge, before descending to West Lutton, drinks stop 3 (52 miles) and
another village green (and pub!) heaving with cyclists. No ice-cream van
this year though. Bugger. It'll have to be malt loaf then.
Now we're back down in another valley, long flat, straight roads,
largely devoid of traffic, string together a series of non-descript
farming villages. My progress has slowed a little, with a bit of
headwind, but a couple of others pass me going slightly faster, so I
seize the opportunity and jump on their wheels for the next leg. (Look,
there's been plenty of riders on _my_ wheel so far, so its payback time
and I'll have some shelter!)
Ah, Wold Newton (60 miles) The Ladies of the Parish have exceeded
themselves again with a huge spread of home made cakes and biscuits to
bolster flagging riders, served from a marquee in the school yard.
Normally highlight of the ride, but to be honest I struggling to get any
more food down, it seems I may consume more calories on this ride than I
The final leg. A sharp left turns the route north to head towards Filey,
into the teeth of a howling northerly (OK then, light breeze).
My least favourite part of the route, a seemingly endless uphill drag
towards Hunmanby. The tedium of these few miles ends with a return to
civilisation, as villages, junctions and increasing traffic help to keep
the mind busy.
Cruising into the outskirts of Filey, we get stopped at the day's second
railway crossing. Two little used branch lines on the route, and we get
stopped by trains on both of them! People on the streets cheer us on,
"not far now", "You're nearly there".
On to the finish a Filey Country Park, a large grassy cliff-top car park
and campsite overlooking the bay.
Cheers and applause for everyone as they cross the finish line, at 69
miles and 3:15pm.
Filey may be a very nice place, but most times I've arrived there on the
bike ride, the weather has been less than glorious. Previously we've had
rain or mist, today the bay is hazey with drizzle in the air. I collect
my rucksack (efficiently transported from Wetherby by the organisers),
and don a fleece and trackie bottoms, then head down to the return
transport. A fleet of Moores Furniture lorries and trailers awaits for
our bikes, while tired bodies pile onto "East Yorkshire Transport"
double decker busses. Lucky timing means my bike is third from last
loaded into a trailer, I head for to top deck of a nearly full bus. This
means we're off on the road shortly after. A minor moment of panic -
which of those half-dozen lorries contains my bike! Ah, that one, number
84, make a mental note of that for later.
I regularly travel along the A64 between the coast and York for work, so
its nice to see over the hedges as we travel along. Every corner, every
farm, every village is mentally ticked off as we pass along.
We reach Wetherby for 5:05, no sign of the bikes yet, so I go and find
my car. I'm sure I left it somewhere in this field!
A few minutes later a Moores lorry arrives, swings neatly into position
so both lorry and trailer can be unload together. A group of local Army
Cadets leap into action, climbing aboard and handing bikes down to
awaiting cyclists. Mine was third out, told you my timing had been good!
Bike loaded into car, straight out of the racecourse on onto the A1 for
home. Passing though my home town of Knaresborough, there is much
evidence of the days festivities, the annual "Knaresborough Bed Race"
(No, don't ask!). Lots of people about, spilling out of the pubs, party
detritus, balloons, spray string and splodges of shaving foam abound.
Home for 5:35. Not bad eh, compare that to the London-Brighton!
How do I feel? OK actually, not tired, and not hungry either. Tea can
wait a few hours.
Overall? A great day out. Again next year? Oh yes.
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