8500 ft accent
Alarm went off at 0530, making my way to Robbo’s house for 0600. When I arrive Jeerve has his bike on its back. He has a flat, I fixed one for him the day before and Robbo also fixed his brakes the day before as well. So not a good start, but we were filling up on lovely tea and bacon sarnies made by Julie. Thank you very much Julie Robinson. We noticed that his tyre was shot so we swapped the whole wheel from one of Robbo’s spare bikes. Job done. On our way at about 0650.
The official route starts in Leeds, but we picked up the route in Skipton because it is the same number of miles on nicer roads. Who wants to ride around Leeds City centre? The first bit of the morning was cold and a bit overcast, but it was still pleasant riding conditions, taking it easy having a nice conversation. We did not stop in Skipton but carried on up through Grassingtion. We stopped for our second breakfast at about 1000 in what could be the most expensive coffee shop in Yorkshire, six pound for a bacon butty or beef sarnie!
It was after this stop that the weather started to get really bad. At one point we had a stonking head wind and the rain was driving horizontal. We knew to break the back of this one we needed to get Buttertubs out of the way before we had lunch. Buttertubs has a few steep sections, but it does have the bits in-between to get back into your rhythm before the next steep section. Our group did not find it too bad although there was a bloke doing the hill that had to zig zag it up, much to the annoyance of some car drivers even though the only way it was effecting them was the fact they might of had to touch the clutch and change gear, what an inconvenience 🙂
Going down the other side of Buttertubs is a nice reward though, a couple of sharp bends the pro riders will need to take care, but I am sure they will of done plenty of homework. With Buttertubs out the way we stopped for some dinner, a burger in a lovely little village, Jeerve you are going to have to comment on this blog and fill in all the places we stopped because I am rubbish at remembering. It had a lovely real fire and we were soaking wet so we really needed to get in front of it to eat. When we had finished our food we got back in our wet clothes and made our way outside. It was so cold and windy my knees where shaking and my teeth were chattering. We did not have to wait that long for the next big hill and that soon warmed us back up. The weather started to get a bit nicer for our run into to Harrogate, but it was one of those roads where milage signs to your destination do not exist and we were just batting for home. Even though you know approximately how long it will take, it is always nice to have road signs that keep you focused and count you down to your target.
We got into Harrogate in good time and found our guest house. It was lovely really nice spot and only walking distance to the centre. We had a pint and we needed to find food quick sharp because Robbo was starting to act like a diva, the beast needed pacifying! We found a spot, Robbo and the guys went for a mixed grill, it looked lush. With hungers sorted a couple more drinks then bed. We needed to get up to meet Darran Jugroop in Costa at about 1030.
1700 ft accent
This was just a steady ride to get to York to start Stage 2 the following day. We used the day to give our legs a run and stop off for a magnificent Sunday lunch in Tadcaster. When we got to York, it was another lovely guest house. They let us put our bikes in their summer house. We hit the streets for a couple of pints and a fish supper. Spot on! We had to get up very early the next morning because we knew Stage 2 was going to be a long hard day.
10,075 ft accent
This stage goes from York past Harrogate on to Keighley, Haworth, Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield, Holmfirth, Holme Moss then down into Sheffield. It did feel a bit strange doing a tour and then riding on some of the roads you ride on a regular basis, mainly the roads around Hebden Bridge and Ripponden. When you look at the profile of this route compared to Stage 1, they are completely different beasts. Stage 2 does not let up even in the last stages you still have hills. Check out the pictures below to see the difference. One thing to note though. Stage 1 takes you through some beautiful countryside, through little villages on calm roads. Stage 2 is all busy roads, loads of cars, loads of noise. The places it goes through are nice, they just don’t compare to the old Yorkshire feel of the first stage. But busy roads will not be a problem for the pro riders in the summer. It has to be noted some of the roads have shocking pot holes, some you could put your foot inside and they would be up to your ankle. Stuff like this needs to be sorted for every road user not just because an event is coming through. So this route takes you up over some big climbs. One of them is Blubberhouse. I did not find it too bad and we were up and over quite quickly but Nic got a puncture half way up so we had a bit of a wait at the top in the cold.
From here we had a steady climb up to Silsden and through Keighley. We stopped off at Aire Valley cycles to put some more pressure in Nic’s tyre. We got to the top of the climb out of Keighley, by the crossroads that take you to Haworth and Nic’s wheel went again, this time taking the tyre. A plan was hatched. Robbo took the wheel down to the shop, Darran, Jeerve and myself carried on doing the route. Robbo and Nic would bypass the Haworth loop and catch up with us in Hebden Bridge.
I think the Haworth section is the hardest bit of the whole UK stages. The little hill up to Haworth, then the cobbles THEN, a silly little hill that takes you over the reservoir then down into Oxenhope. It was at the start of this hill when I had a slight worry that my legs might be gone. But we got over and it made the climb over Cockhill Moors into Hebden Bridge seem a piece of cake. I have to say the conditions at this stage were the best I have experienced over that hill. It is normally very windy.