Tour de Yorkshire

4 Rides to Try

The rides below offer the equivalent of a cycling badge of honour. They are rides to tell your friends about, ones that entice but ultimately come at a price - usually in the form of sweat and aching muscles. As with all sporting challenges the memories always outlast the need for hot baths and you will forever be able to say you conquered some of Yorkshire's giants (before of course, you seek to slay some more on your two wheeled chariot.)

However, if you are not a regular lycra wearer and simply want to rediscover the childhood feeling of freedom that biking brings then don't worry, Yorkshire is a pedal powered paradise. You don't need to be a club rider or one of our cycling superstars to enjoy Yorkshire to the full. If you have simply been inspired by the recent performances of men like Yorkshire bid ambassador Mark Cavendish and his British team-mates and are thinking about saddling up again for the first time in a long time then use the next few pages to stoke your imagination further. We have rides to suit all ages and all abilities.

It is by no means a comprehensive guide but it will give you a flavour of what you can ride and hopefully introduce you to some new places at the same time. We have included some of the county's best routes, the most scenic sections and those perfect places to give your feet a break, freewheel and enjoy the views for a bit. Remember, whatever your ability and whatever your level of fitness, Yorkshire is ready and waiting to welcome you.

Etape du Dales

One of the first and still one of the best mass participation rides in the country. Held each May in the Yorkshire Dales this 110 mile timed circular loop takes in testing climbs, fast descents and the highest pub in the country, though not many take a pint in passing.

Based near Grassington, entry is limited to 1,000 riders but those lucky few get to tick off a list of iconic climbs in one day: Fleet Moss, Buttertubs, Reeth Moor, Tan Hill, Galloway Gate (aka The Coal Road) which takes you past the highest railway station in the country at Dent before an easy section through Ribblehead and Yorkshire's Three Peaks. A final climb over Fountains Fell leaves riders with a speedy return down Littondale and the finish. Although not a race, if you are looking for a benchmark Yorkshire bid ambassador Malcolm Elliott rode the Etape in 5hrs 43mins 24 seconds - and he was riding steady. 

YouTube clip Watch a film from the 2012 Etape du Dales

Filmed & Produced by Dave Lee

Holme Moss

One of the most iconic climbs in the country which has featured on most major cycle races since the 1950s. From West Yorkshire riders pass between the village church and cricket field at Holmebridge for probably the steepest part of the climb (1:8). The road eases through the village of Holme before the climb starts on the bridge over the stream, up one and half miles of twisting road to the summit at 1,719ft. The climb from Yorkshire has the added advantage of being measured providing countdown markers on the road as you continue to climb.

Strangely, times for cycling up Holme Moss have not changed much in the last 60 years with Yorkshire cycling legend Brian Robinson posting 6m 30seconds in 1952 and Mike Cuming of Team Raleigh recording 6m 27seconds in a recent attempt.

Strines Moor

Forming the link between Yorkshire and the Peak District the road crossing over Strines Moor is a testing ride but one well worth the effort.

After a warming brew in the Bank View Café the 11 mile crossing rolls past reservoirs and hamlets before the first of the four valleys. Riding the route this way you get the worst over with first as the 25% descent over Ewden Beck tests both bike and bottle with slippery surfaces, a sharp camber and a hairpin over the bridge. A 1.5 mile climb comes next before the drop into Agden Bridge and a sharp 200ft climb once more, quickly passing Thornseats. Riders get some respite before the final hairpin roller coaster over Strines Dike takes you past the 18th century Strines Inn, which is an inviting place to refuel before thinking about home.

Garrowby Hill

Take the A166 from York to Driffield and soon after the historic town of Stamford Bridge you may find yourself asking, "why am I doing this?" The infamous East Yorkshire climb -captured in oils by David Hockney - has sections exceeding 20% on the three mile ascent.

Listed as the highest point in the East Riding and topping out at 804ft the climb, though on a main road, has good visibility for other road users. However, as with all must do climbs, it should be treated with respect or you may find yourself having to stop midway to allow the heart and lungs to calm down. The views from the top are stunning stretching out across the Yorkshire Wolds with route choices towards the coast, into the North York Moors or back towards the west via the pretty market town of Pocklington where there are plenty of cafes in which to pitstop.