One of the best things about cycling in Yorkshire is the wide variety of landscapes we have at our disposal. A few weeks ago I took on one of the hilliest loops I’ve ever undertaken in the North York Moors, and this week I was in South Yorkshire to sample arguably the flattest long-distance ride I’ve ever undertaken. That’s not to say it was any less of a challenge, or any less enjoyable; as each terrain brings with it its own unique characteristics.
I didn’t fancy the hustle and bustle of Doncaster for my start and finish point so I parked up in the village of Adwick le Street which lies just to the north west of town, close to Adwick Interchange railway station. I headed towards the A19 but only followed it for a kilometre or so before taking a right on to Rockley Lane. This road was single-track and pretty much deserted, allowing me to get up to speed in a nice, peaceful setting. I barely saw a soul for the next 15 miles as I wound my way through Moss, Sykehouse and Fishlake, and there were some pretty churches to check out along the way. It was only when I crossed a rickety bridge over the River Don and on to Selby Road that I was thrust back in the land of the living.
Up to that point the lanes had been constantly twisting and turning, but as soon as I’d exited Thorne I was treated to a completely different experience. In the 13 miles it took me to get from there to Blaxton I only encountered two 90-degree bends, and they were interspersed with one six-mile section of completely dead-straight road. I was fortunate then that the winds never whipped up, but the abundance of turbines in the fields to my left hinted that this could have been a far from pleasant experience if Mother Nature had decided to throw some turbulence into the mix. I amused myself by trying to reach landmarks on either side of the road in a set amount of time and in doing so this section actually passed quite quickly.
After crossing the M18 at Branton the traffic got temporarily busier as I headed north towards Armthorpe, but once I’d passed through Barnby Dun things quietened down again and I stopped for a snack on the banks of the Don. As I pressed on towards Arksey I was surrounded by wheat fields once again, just as I had been for most of my ride, and as someone who grew up in more pastoral surroundings, I enjoyed looking out across countless acres of gently swaying spikes.
No sooner had I entered Arksey than I was exiting it again as I took the back road to Toll Bar which eventually joined back up with the busier A19. From Toll Bar there was only one right-hander left to take before I was wheeling my way back to the station and rounding off a fun venture into one of the far corners of God’s own county.
As with the last few columns I’ve written, if you are new to road cycling and want to see if you can take on a ride of almost 50 miles, this is a great route. I was amazed to find on my return to the car that I’d only racked up 234 feet of climb, and while it was easy enough on the day I tackled it, it could have been a whole different kettle of fish on a more blustery day.