It’s pretty obvious from this blog that we’re big fans of cycling, and in North Yorkshire especially. But there are times when we need to come out of our comfort zones and explore new areas, and when you’re doing that there’s nothing like having local knowledge to get you around. And when that local knowledge also includes full mechanical support and a team of terrific ride leaders you know you’re on to a winner.
Last Saturday, Dan was fortunate enough to be invited along by Charles at Yorkshire Velo Tours to get a guide of some of the legendary cobbled climbs with their inaugural Bronte Cobbled Classic Route. Here’s how it went.
Like the vast majority of people you meet in the cycling world, Charles is in it for the love of the bike, the love of good company and, of course, the love of Yorkshire. Having been a social rider for over twenty five years, in 2011 Charles was instrumental in the setting up of the now mighty Ilkley Cycling Club. After spending five years on the committee (during which time the Club grew from a a few people in a pub to an organisation of several hundred members including supporting children, racing and the terrific White Rose Classic sportive), he recognised a needto provide a first rate guiding experience to newcomers to the area.
Beyond guiding, Yorkshire Velo Tours will also hook you up with great local accommodation and the comfort you’ll only get from knowing your trip, be it for a day or a weekend, is being handled by someone with a genuine passion to share the best of the area with his guests.
We chose to join him on the Cobbled Classics route for two reasons. The first was that it takes place in West Yorkshire, an area which we really have zero personal knowledge of. The second is that it takes in some of the most challenging cobbled climbs you will ever encounter in the UK. Inevitably doing so means that it’s at the far end of navigationally challenging – these routes out of the valleys are typically tucked away on the more industrial peripheries of the County.
We were warmly welcomed by Charles and his Yorkshire Velo Tours support staff of Jayne, Mel and Chris with the opportunity for a full mechanical inspection with resident mechanic Chris as we popped inside for a morning Cappuccino. With wheels up at 9.30, we rolled out through Ikley and across the Moor.
Our first climb of the day was Thwaites Brow. Tucked out of site behind an industrial zone in Keighley, this is a climb with cobbles that would give a Classics winner pause for thought. Ascending steeply and turning sharply, you need to ride it with your weight in the right place, your wits about you and hopefully a set of wheels that aren’t too delicate. Thankfully I was on a gravel bike with 30 mm rubber so no problem for me but not as kind to a couple of other riders in the group, for whom the climb afforded no opportunity for recovery once their toes went down.
Coming out of Keighley, the ride blessed us with stunning views across West Yorkshire and then back in to the Valley on the other side After a quick recovery stop (complete with on-tap water, energy gels and home made sandwiches, flapjack and cake), we headed off to hit the Shibden Wall.
Shibden Wall was followed by further climbs of Gibb Lane and, of course the famous Haworth Main St before a lunch stop in Haworth. From here the ride took us back to Ilkley via Priest Bank and my own personal nemesis, Goose Eye before heading back to the Wheatley Arms for a well earned coffee and the added bonus of a commemorative bottle of local ale. All in all a terrific day out and a fantastic tour of the area that we would recommend for anyone looking for a great route and top guiding from a first rate team.
Charles plan to run further Cycle Saturday rides in June, July, August and September that are all listed on our events section. As a way to discover the region they are an absolute gem and wholeheartedly recommended.