I headed into the North York Moors for this week’s ride and took on one of the toughest loops I’ve ever undertaken for this column.
The wind played as much a part in that as the hilly terrain, and even though it was a struggle at times, I enjoyed exploring a stunning part of the county.
1. No sooner had I exited the car park in Helmsley and I was on my first climb of the day, heading out to the north west of town. This stretch wasn’t particularly steep but it dragged for the best part of five miles and it became obvious I was in for a blustery day in the saddle. A persistent sidewind slowed my progress and the descent off Newgate Bank was also a nervy one as I struggled to keep my front wheel straight. I did catch a glimpse of the stunning view down Rye Dale and just wish I’d had more time to take it all in instead of being fixated on my wobbling front tyre.
2. The B1257 was wide and quiet with a grippy surface and I followed it through Fangdale Beck and Chop Gate. I passed a green telephone box at one point which puzzled me no end and later found out it had been given special dispensation as to exist as a red box in such an idyllic location would have spoiled the view. I got some respite from the wind as I climbed alongside some coniferous woodland and then turned right just before the popular Clay Bank look-out point. The descent off there was a narrow and technical one as I pressed on towards Ingleby Greenhow. The quaint villages of Battersby and Kildale followed in quick succession before the real climbing began.
3. The first hill out of Kildale served as an appetiser to get the blood pumping and no sooner had I turned off that than I saw my next ascent looming large before me. It looked pretty imposing but I got my head down and grinded my way to the summit. The next descent was a steep one and I had to break hard and come to a stop when a ford appeared in front of me. I didn’t fancy pedalling through a foot of water so I unclipped and walked over the bridge instead. This meant I had no momentum to tackle the 20% ramp on the other side though. The gradient relented slightly as I headed back on to the moorside and then down the other side.
4. Then it was my biggest ascent of the day. Once again the early ramps were the steepest before settling into a 7% gradient at Westerdale. The straightness of the road meant you could see it rise way into the distance. The gusts which had thwarted my progress earlier in the ride were now aiding me somewhat.
5. Instead of dropping back down, the road ran along Blakey Ridge for a few miles and it was only when I’d passed The Lion Inn that my speed ramped up. Instead of continuing into Hutton-le-Hole I headed for Fadmoor and the climb caught me unaware. I was running low on energy and while it was only a bump in the road compared to the beasts before, it nearly defeated me. I dug deep and felt a sense of satisfaction when I crept over the summit. From there, it was all plain sailing into Helmsley.
Difficulty Rating: HHHHH
Time: 3 hours 32 minutes (at 13mph average speed)
Distance: 46 miles (74km)
Parking: Cleveland Way car park in Helmsley.
Grid Ref: SE 61008 83848
Public toilets: Located in Cleveland Way car park
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