No one who watched the Tour de France in 2014 will forget the wonderful TV coverage of the riders cycling through the Yorkshire Dales with the crowd-flanked climb of Buttertubs Pass looking like Alpe D’Huez!
The two days of racing in 2014, now complemented by the now annual Tour de Yorkshire, has shown the world the amazing variety of roads and scenery in Yorkshire. The great thing is that riders of all abilities can come and experience this for themselves.
The Yorkshire Dales offers countless classic climbs for riders to test themselves against, but also there are numerous valleys, miles of dry stoned walls and picturesque towns and villages along the way. The quiet roads are also a joy to cycle and you have to sometimes pinch yourself that you can be only an hour away from the cities of Leeds and Bradford.
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Charles is passionate about cycling and has been riding the roads of the Yorkshire Dales for decades.
He has been organising cycle tours and trips in the UK and Europe for over 10 years and also was a founder committee member of the Ilkley Cycling Club, (re) established in 2011.
Charles is the owner of Yorkshire Velo Tours which runs road cycling trips and events in Yorkshire.
The Yorkshire Dales is one of the great national parks of the UK and is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. The dramatic and varied landscape attracts visitors who come to walk, cycle or just relax.
Cycling is a great way to explore the area, either as part of a day ride or a touring holiday. You get to see more and feel in touch with the countryside around you, and you can be fully justified in stopping at one of the many cafes and pubs serving local food and drink.
For the leisure cyclist, there are many lovely villages and towns to explore along the way, where you get the chance to have a break and discover some of the fascinating history of the area. There are numerous different valleys each having its own distinct character.
For the road cyclist seeking a more challenging experience, there are plenty of classic climbs to test yourself against as well as barren moorland and twisty technical descents. There’s a good chance you’ll see one of the many pro riders who now live and train in the area - compare your strava segment times against them!
The Wharfe Valley
For new visitors to the Dales, cycle up the Wharfe Valley from Ilkley past the picturesque Bolton Abbey on the B6160. Carry on up towards Barden Tower and Burnsall and watch the valley open out. It's a truly wonderful sight as Simon’s Seat comes into view on your right as well as views of the village of Appletreewick. The 2017 Tour de Yorkshire will be heading this way in April 2017.
This climb is now iconic, so ride it from Hawes and then combine with the route of the Tour de France 2014 down through Swaledale to Reeth. It almost feels like you descend all the way from the top of Buttertubs, but there is a bit of pedalling involved as well.
If it’s a fast descent you want, the road down to Hawes from the top of Fleet Moss will take you as fast as you dare to go! It’s steep at the top, but then a long straight road for over a mile. If the pros did this, they would surely be hitting 100kph+. Take care though, the road eventually bends, so make sure you have notched the speed down in readiness.
Park Rash has so much to offer. Firstly the climb is probably the toughest in the Dales, but the reward as you descend into the untouched valley of Coverdale is sublime. Coast all the way down to the historic town of Middleham for a well-deserved cafe stop.
Start from Malham and first take in the view of famous Cove and then climb the road to the left of the giant face of limestone. As you near the top, views of stunning limestone pavements are a just reward for your effort. Carry on over the moor to Littondale and you enter a bleak moorland of immense character.
Best times to go:
The best months to visit are April to October, with the summer months usually having the best weather and benefiting from the long daylight hours.
If you are not part of a tour or have any support, make sure you are prepared in terms of clothing options as the weather can be changeable.
Also, once you head away from the towns and villages, mobile phone signal is often lost, so make sure you know exactly where you are going and tell others. We would recommend you also carry a hard copy map as well as any GPS device.
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