Road cycling Staycation | Up, down & around the Dales
Find your adventure... With Staycations on the cards this year for many of us this year, we have decided to find some of the best Road, Mountain, Gravel and Leisure cycling routes and Locations around the UK that provide you with stunning scenery and a sense of freedom! This week, Becky will be riding her new Specialized Aethos Pro, on a challenging yet spectacular route, riding on silky smooth roads, around the Yorkshire Dales.
I'm Becky. I'm a road cyclist, hill climb and crit racer, and an avid women's cycling fanatic! My parents live in Yorkshire, and I'm here to give you a fabulous route with some spicy climbs! �God's own country�, as the locals may say, with it's ragged gruelling hills and gale force winds at the top - it's impossible not to be seduced by the cycling here.
Today we're riding a 90km road route from Muker, around some of the most famous Yorkshire Dales climbs on a route that just keeps giving and giving. Your legs will thank me in a week or so once they've recovered! It's definitely a hard route, so I'd say it's intermediate-expert level, but with plenty of ways to cut it short so you can make it suit you.
For me, I'm all about the climbs but the descents on this route also make it 100% worth it! At one stage there's about 10 km of downhill, on sweeping roads with beautiful views. I promise, as you take a swig from your bottle you might need to pinch yourself with how lucky you are..
The Route - Becky's tour of Yorkshire
We go up Buttertubs pass (they used to keep the butter churns in the caves here to keep them cool). This is a steady ride up, with stunning views behind you - don't forget to look back down the valley! We spotted a few low flying aircrafts when we were tootling up here! Then we roll down through Hawes (perfect for a caf� stop if you wished!), then towards Gayle and up Fleet Moss (watch out for the final little kicker - save a gear or two and make sure you stay clipped in!). If you pause at the top to take a photo - make sure to bring a wind proof jacket, it's pretty cold up there even on a fine day.
Then we have the beautiful descent I mentioned earlier - think pretty river crossings, and many photo opportunities as you ride down by the river and through the valley!
As we rolled down the road, we actually saw 'All Creatures Great and Small' being filmed - always worth a watch, to get you into the Yorkshire mood! There's a very cheeky left turn here called Cam Gill Road on the way to Park Rash, make sure you're in the right gear before you take it - oooft! There's also a village store here if you need a stop before taking on the next big climb.
As you ride down by the river, you see Park Rash straight ahead. If you've ever googled this climb, it's the ski slope one, and by 'eck it delivers! Roll into it, if there are any cars then wait at the bottom, you want to try and take it wide so that you don't need to go right up the inside where it's at it's steepest. Just keep tapping away at this bit, and push through into the next park of the climb. There's a little respite but it is just the start of a fairly steady climb.
The road flattens for a hundred metres or so and you should take a pause here. Look back and see how far you've come, that single track as it creeps up around the corner and delivers you onto the straight road ahead - it feels hard but you've smashed it!
Keep on pushing past here, as you get over the top it kicks up a little, but then you're rewarded with the descent of dreams! Watch out for the cows and bulls, and make sure you keep pedalling and hold the bike straight as you pop over the cattle grids!
From the top of Park Rash most of the hard work is out of the way, and you're into the second, easier half of the ride. Use this descent and the next 6 miles of rolling downhill to spin the legs out, take on some fluids and munch down some food before a sharp kicker through Carlton. A quick section of downhill tarmac will send you towards a sharp left into Melmerby, but be ready with your gears as the road ramps up for a quick 2km climb topping out at 6%. On a normal day this might be one of the main climbs on your ride, but having conquered Park Rash just before this will feel like a walk in the park.
Nearly there, just one big climb left on the list to tick off for the day. From here the route heads North West to get back to the starting point with a few rollers bringing you into Aysgarth. If the legs are calling out for a stop, or if you want to take a quick stop to look at the beautiful views over the Aysgarth Falls, the crossing over the river is an ideal place to stop. On the right is a nice little tea shop, and there are some great viewpoints down over the river.
The only way is up (and then back down again) when you set off out of Aygarth. When you see the sign for Askrigg it is time to psych yourself up and get ready for the last climb of the day. Don't worry, it doesn't have the whopping gradients like Park Rash, but it is long, and it is consistently steep. Sitting at 11% for the duration of the 3km climb you will benefit from getting your head down, finding your rhythm and tapping out the watts. When the road starts to ease up you can relax, take in the views and comfort yourself knowing that it's all downhill from here... in a good way.
As you finish off the route, make sure you reward yourself with a smile and a rightful pat on the bike. That's what it's all about.
The bike - Specialized Aethos Pro eTap
I'm riding the Specialized Aethos Pro Disc. The lightest road bike with disc wheels, it was only released recently, and my god it's a beauty. Slick design, immaculate look, minimal advertising. It's built for the enthusiasts, and the hill climbers. It's built for you to enjoy the ride. I'm riding SRAM force and the alpinist wheelset for extra responsiveness. We have fallen in love with this bike. It's built for these climbs and sweeping descents, and it handles phenomenally even when you're at your limit.
The Kit -
In terms of kit and equipment - pack your usual snacks and tool kit (you don't want to be left out here if you have a mechanical!). We're riding it on a cloudy but sunny day and I've made sure to pack a set of arm warmers, and wind jacket to keep me warm when I'm on the tops. I've kept my accessories lightweight to help me up the climbs (helmet and shoes) and am playing on my Garmin pedals to give me an idea of what my power output is doing. This helps a lot with my training!
Too follow my route, track my training and everything else in between, I was using my trusty Wahoo Elemnt Roam GPS Computer which gave us turn-by-turn navigation well in advance of our route... even when we were hundreds of feet above sea level! Having all of these training statistics at your disposal, makes your hard training feel effortless as the Roam is working everything out for you.