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Yorkshire Velo Tours Challenge Rides programme for 2018 is announced


The new and expanded Yorkshire Velo Tours programme of Challenge Rides for 2018 is has been announced via the brand’s website: http://www.yorkshirevelotours.com/challenge-rides

The seven events start in March 2018 and run each month through to September.

Each unique routes is designed to allow cyclists the full Yorkshire Dales experience, featuring roads used in the Tour de France and the Tour de Yorkshire that will also be ridden again in World Road Championships in 2019.

The Yorkshire Velo Tours Challenge Ride events are ‘guided rides’ where all riders benefit from a pre-ride bike check, a support vehicle and team mechanic and ride in a small group with a dedicated ride leader. There is also a carefully chosen cafe stop.

The rides all start and finish in the cycling-mad town of Ilkley and take riders over classic climbs like Fleet Moss, Malham Cove and Park Rash and a ride to the Druid’s Temple near Masham. The distances are comparable with a medium length hilly sportive and will present riders with a challenging route as well as a true taste of Yorkshire.

Cost is £40 with the option of a weekend package (2 days cycling / 2 nights B&B) from £220pp

Full details can be found at: http://www.yorkshirevelotours.com/challenge-rides

SportivesWomen's Cycling

Hundreds of women sign up for the second Yorkshire Lass charity cycling sportive


With over 380 female cyclists already signed up for Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club’s second annual sportive on Sunday 20th August, the club is urging any other women who want to take part to sign up before the closing date of the 1st August.

The sportive, which is once again being sponsored by All Terrain Cycles, follows the success of last year’s inaugural ladies-only event which saw 300 cyclists taking part and succeeded in raising over £14,500 for women’s cancer charities. The sportive will follow the same format as 2016, starting from Carlton Lodge Activity centre in Thirsk and offering three routes to suit different abilities.

The event is again being held in aid of Women v Cancer which comprises Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Action, and will also raise funds for Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Carlton Lodge Activity Centre Bursary Fund which hosts the event. It is being organised through British Cycling and offers three levels of difficulty with a 30 mile ‘Cuppa tea an a piece a cake’ ride; a 60 mile ‘Reet Gud Ride’; and a 103 mile ‘By Eck Tha War Ard Ride’ route – all riders will be again be rewarded for their efforts with a medal, a piece of cake and that all-important cup of Yorkshire tea!

Some of the cyclists from the 2016 Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club sportive celebrating at the finishing line

The Wetherby-based cycling club was launched in March 2015 by Kate Horsfall of Wetherby and Judith Worrall of Thirsk with support from All Terrain Cycles, which has superstores in Wetherby and Saltaire. It is one of the few women’s cycling clubs in the region and has proved hugely popular over the last two years, growing to more than 100 members. All Terrain will again be helping out with equipment and mobile mechanical support as well as supplying energy gels to help power the ladies up the hills.

There are three routes on offer: a 30 mile ‘Cuppa tea an a piece a cake’ ride; a 60 mile ‘Reet Gud Ride’; and a 103 mile ‘By Eck Tha War Ard Ride’ route

“Last year’s event surpassed our expectations with a fantastic turnout of female cyclists in Yorkshire as well as many travelling from all over the country, plus a staggering amount raised for charities which are close to our heart,” explains Kate and Jude . “Our fun and friendly members will once again be making the day special with lots of help and encouragement for those taking part as well as providing plenty of refreshments along the routes plus that well-earned cake after the finish line.”

Jude adds: “We really appreciate the continued support of all our sponsors including All Terrain Cycles who supplies our popular club kit and sponsorship as well as welcoming us as we set out on our Sunday morning rides from their Wetherby store. We’re looking forward to another successful event and hope that the sun shines on us again this year and that we raise lots of funds for these fantastic charities.”

The founders of the Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club Kate Horsfall (left) of Wetherby and Judith Worrall of Thirsk at last year’s sportive

Tony Booth, managing director of All Terrain Cycles, says: “As one of the first women’s only cycling clubs, YLCC has done an amazing job of encouraging more women to take up the sport and has established a loyal following. We wish them every success with this year’s event.”

The lunch stop will be at the famous Mousey Thompson shop and café for the participants doing the 60 mile and 100 mile routes. The ride will be well signposted with marshalls at points along the route, mechanical assistance will be provided by All Terrain Cycles and there will be well stocked feed stations.

The event is being supported by a number of local businesses including Carlton Lodge, where Judith works. David Sharpe, chief executive of the activity centre agreed to stage the sportive which has also attracted sponsors including Yorkshire Tea, Office Solutions, Paynes Dairies, Masham Sausages and Chia Bars which are donating cakes, tea, sausages, energy bars, milk and office supplies.

Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club meets most Sundays at 10am at All Terrain Cycles on Audby Lane, Wetherby. Anyone interested in joining the club should visit www.yorkshirelasscc.co.uk. To enter the charity sportive, visit British Cycling.

For any questions about the sportive or accommodation for the sportive, please contact sportive@yorkshirelasscc.co.uk.


Tour de Yorkshire 2017 helps cement Bradford’s reputation as a city that loves cycling


Bradford is often overlooked when it comes to Northern cities in favour of Leeds and Manchester. As someone who grew up on the border of North and West Yorkshire I have a fondness for the city – not least for its world class National Science & Media Museum, Pictureville Cinema and healthy craft beer scene. But it turns out it’s also a great city for cyclists, too.

It is a fantastic time for cycling in the Bradford district. The hugely successful Stage Three of the Tour de Yorkshire started in the multi-award winning City Park in Bradford City Centre on Sunday. It took in around 60 kilometres of beautiful Bradford countryside and included three of the eight UCI classified climbs of the stage. These were the 25% gradient Cote de Silsden, the famous cobbled setts of Haworth Main Street on the Cote de Haworth, not to mention the energy sapping 2.1km climb of Cote de Leeming.

 Early estimates from race organisers Welcome to Yorkshire suggested that around one million people lined the streets of Stage Three, according to City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

Tour de Yorkshire 2017
Riders battle up one of Stage 3’s toughest climbs. The Bradford district was home to three of the eight UCI classified climbs of the stage. Photo courtesy of SWpix.com.

It’s too early to say what the economic impact of the Tour de Yorkshire has been, although Welcome to Yorkshire will be compiling a countywide evaluation of the event which will make for some interesting reading.

Communities in the district pulled out all the stops to celebrate by holding events and decorating their towns, villages, streets and neighbourhoods, many with the help of Bradford Council by way of small community grants, logistical support and advice from council officers.

Many communities and organisations not directly on the TDY route still found a way to be involved by knitting and making mile upon mile of bunting, getting creative and producing artwork and flags, and lining the route on race day.

It’s estimated that more than 6km of bunting was used to decorate the route, 200 yellow plastic ducks floated in the Mogul Gardens in Lister Park and three giant ducks were painted along the road in Addingham in special permanent road-marking paint to be shown on TV across the globe to over 175 countries.

The Annual Women & Cycling Conference

City of Bradford MDC is keen to point out that the cycling fun in the city doesn’t stop at the Tour de Yorkshire: the momentum has continued this week with the role of women in cycling being championed at the third annual Women and Cycling Conference. The conference is being attended by women from across the district and beyond and seeks to encourage more women and girls to start cycling. The conference is being attended by Tour de Yorkshire winner, Olympic medallist, Commonwealth and World Champion local girl Lizzie Deignan. Also attending the event is ITV4 Bike Show presenter and cycling blogger, Jools Walker.

Cycle City Active City

Keeping up the cycling theme, Bradford will also be hosting the extremely popular Cycle City Active City conference on 11 and 12 May. The two-day conference will see delegates from across the country take part in discussions and workshops on all things cycling.

There will also be satellite events in City Park for members of the public to enjoy, including a Pedal-Powered Cinema showing Bradford-related films at 7pm on 11 May, a performance by Bicycle Ballet and an after party of musical performances featuring the Bradford Cycling Band 53-10.

Bradford City Cycle Event

A fun bicycle ride that is open to all will be held on May 14 at the Bradford City Cycle event which takes place on traffic-free roads in Bradford city centre.

The route winds its way through 2.5 mile loop of traffic free roads and people can start and finish at any point on the route. They can also do as many laps of the route as they like. The event has been designed so that anyone of any age, physical ability or cycling experience can have a go.

There will be a range of bikes and helmets for people to borrow if they don’t have their own, as well as adapted bikes for those with disabilities that mean conventional bikes are not accessible to them.

The city of Bradford is now also home to a cycling hub which aims to bring cycling to the fore with a programme of events and cycling themed activity that people can get involved in.

Bradford has more cycling clubs per population than anywhere else in the county and cycling continues to grow in popularity in the region.

Kersten England, Chief Executive of Bradford Council, said: “There really is a passion for cycling in our district. This was shown on Sunday for the start of Stage 3 of the Tour de Yorkshire.

“I’d like to thank everyone who made the event such a success. Hosting events like this take a tremendous amount of hard work and effort not just from communities, residents and businesses, but also from council staff and it really shows what we can do when we pull together.

“There is so much going on in the world of cycling in the district, so if you’ve been inspired by the success of the Tour de Yorkshire come along and get involved in the events that are planned over the coming weeks and months.

“Cycling is of great benefit to the city not just in terms proven health and wellbeing benefits, but also the social aspects of getting together both in hosting and taking part in cycling through events.

“The economic benefits of cycling in the district can not be missed – not just the spending power of people attending events but also the growth in cycling tourism and the boost to the amazing bike building and retail businesses we have in the district.”

For more information about cycling in the Bradford district visit cyclebradford.org.uk.

SportivesWomen's Cycling

Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club celebrates success with region’s first women’s charity sportive


Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club celebrated its first women’s charity sportive on 14 August with over 300 riders joining organisers Kate Horsfall of Wetherby,  Judith Worrall of Thirsk and Ali Tiffin of Leeds in an event which has raised around £11,000 for women’s cancer charities.

The sportive was supported by Carlton Lodge Activity Centre in Thirsk and All Terrain Cycles of Wetherby, as well as lots of other companies who contributed to this event, and more than 50 volunteers, many from YLCC and their friends and family, who marshalled and helped out at the sportive.  The event raised funds for Women v Cancer which comprises Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Action.

Female cyclists from as far afield as Ireland and Falkirk travelled to Carlton Lodge Activity Centre in Thirsk to take part in one of the three rides: a 30 mile ‘Cuppa tea and a piece a cake’ ride; a 60 mile ‘Reet Gud Ride’; and a 103 mile ‘By Eck Tha War Ard Ride’ route.

“It was an absolutely fantastic event which was even better than we expected – we filled every place, raised a staggering amount for women’s cancer charities and ate lots of cake!” said organisers Kate Horsfall and Judith Worrall.

“The sportive was everything that we wanted it to be, attracting riders of mixed abilities, but all with a common love of cycling. While we appreciated the many men who helped at the sportive, we felt that the rides really benefitted from being a ladies-only affair.  Our cyclists felt happy to give it a go, even if they hadn’t done a sportive before, and it was an extremely friendly event.

Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club
Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club sportive organisers Kate Horsfall (left) and Judith Worrall

“We’d like to thank everyone who helped to make it such a special day including our riders, volunteers and our many sponsors.  A big thank you to Carlton Lodge Activity Centre and their staff for hosting the event, it really was the perfect venue and to All Terrain Cycles for their ongoing support, from helping us to set up the club 18 months ago to providing equipment and mechanical help on the day and, it wouldn’t have been possible without them both.”

Tony Booth, managing director of All Terrain Cycles, which has bike superstores in Wetherby and Saltaire, says: “Congratulations to Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club for putting on such a magnificent event.  It was great to see so many ladies taking to two wheels in aid of such a good cause and no doubt the sportive will be even bigger and better next year.”

The event was supported by a number of local businesses including Carlton Lodge.  David Sharpe, chief executive of the activity centre agreed to stage the sportive which has also attracted sponsors including Yorkshire Tea Room, Yorkshire Tea, Office Solutions, Heck Sausages, Paynes Dairies, Masham Sausages and Chia Bars which donated cakes, tea, sausages, energy bars, milk and office supplies.

The women’s charity sportive will be held again next year on the 20th August 2017 and details will be released via British Cycling events at the beginning of September.

Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club meets at 10am most Sundays at All Terrain Cycles on Audby Lane, Wetherby.  Anyone interested in joining the club should visit YorkshireLass.cc.

Women's Cycling

Cycling goals: this weekend’s attempt at West Lane was better, but not good enough


Our summer holiday was supposed to be a week of cycling in North Yorkshire. Things didn’t go quite according to plan: if you read my previous post about taking part in the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, you’ll know that we spent the next four days hobbling around with bad knees, hips, calf muscles and blisters… And, typically, the weather was glorious while we were barely able to put one foot in front of the other, and turned cold, wet and windy the moment our muscles eased up. Holidaying in the UK, eh!

We were determined to fit in at least a couple of rides before we headed home, though, and one route we particularly wanted to try was a short, sharp, circular route close to where I grew up.

West Lane Sutton-in-Craven

About a month after I bought my first road bike in early 2015, Matt and I entered the Petit Depart cycling event in Skipton. The day before the ride, we thought it would be a good idea to have a go at a couple of Yorkshire hills, to acclimatise. (Bear in mind that at this point, I’d only ridden a few miles around London and a lap of Richmond Park…)

Could it really be that hard to get up in one piece?

We decided to do a quick spin around the local area, out through Sutton-in-Craven, over the tops to Cowling (and we actually intended then riding on to Lothersdale). A cursory glance at elevation on the route made us aware that there was a bit of a climb out of Sutton, but we didn’t think too much about it. Well, within 10 minutes of leaving the house, we were on West Lane, attempting to climb out way out of the village. It’s a long pull, averaging 9.5% with a maximum 22.2% gradient, and I was such an inexperienced rider that I didn’t even know how to change from the big cog to the small cog.


West Lane Sutton-in-Craven


I slogged my way up the first bend, and then, convinced I was just going to topple off if I didn’t dismount, staggered off the bike. I huffed, and puffed, and sighed, and wondered what on earth I was doing, trying to cycle anywhere in Yorkshire. I had another attempt to go a bit further, but my legs couldn’t stand it. Within a few metres, I’d decided there was nothing for it but to get off and push.

I pushed my bike all the way up West Lane.

When we arrived home, I looked at Strava, and was amazed to see that I had a trophy for West Lane. What?!

Well, it turned out that only nine women had been foolish enough to attempt it, and I was the slowest. (By a very long way).

West Lane Sutton-in-Craven
A third of the way up, and I was already sweating…

Realising that other female cyclists had actually managed to ride the whole thing made me want to try it again at some point in the future.

Fast forward 15 months, and we decided to have another crack at it. I’m a much more experienced cyclist now, with a lot more hill work under my belt. Could it really be that hard to get up in one piece?

Well, yes, as it turns out.

It’s really easy to kid yourself that you’re a decent cyclist around London.

Even taking it slow and steady, I didn’t make it to the top in one go. In fact, I stopped three times to catch my breath. Three times! But, the big difference this time was that I did actually succeed in pedaling to the top. It might have taken me a while, but it felt like an achievement to get up there nevertheless.

West Lane Sutton-in-Craven
It’s worth the slog, if only for the laughter at the top when you turn on to Dick Lane…

The next time we head up to Yorkshire (which is never as frequently as we would like), I’m going to have another crack. Before the end of the year I want to be able to make it up there with just one stop. This time next year, I intend to ride all the way to the top without stopping at all! (I might need a different gear ratio. A poor workman blames his tools, I know, but the fact that I was riding on 11-28 this time, rather than my old 11-32, didn’t make it any easier. I love my new bike, but for comparative purposes it would have been interesting to have ridden it on my old steed. I missed my granny gear!)

It’s really easy to kid yourself that you’re a decent cyclist around London. It’s only when you head out to some real hills that you realise you’re not anywhere near as strong as you need to be. I’m still last on the list for that segment: 16th out of 16. Before 2016 is over, my cycling goal is to improve on that. And next year, I’m making it in to the top ten!

When I can scale West Lane, I’ll feel like a real cyclist. #CyclingGoals

FeaturedReviewsWomen's Cycling

Cycling in God’s own country – we ride out with Yorkshire Velo Tours


If you’re suffering delusions of grandeur about your climbing abilities from nailing Box Hill in the big ring, it might be time to take a reality check on a cycling weekend with Yorkshire Velo Tours.

Let me be frank.

We’d had a gruelling working week in the day job, finished late at the office on Friday night and had to leave for a conference in Geneva after the weekend. A five-hour drive up the M1 for a hilly Yorkshire ride was, in all honesty, not sounding appealing at 10pm on the motorway somewhere outside Mansfield.

But boy oh boy, the long drive, late night and early start was worth the pain. Our weekend outing with Ilkley-based Yorkshire Velo Tours was memorable for all the right reasons.

Yorkshire Velo Tours – CS2, Lancashire & Wharfedale

We awoke on Saturday morning to bright blue sky and glorious sunshine. Our spirits lifted, we loaded the bikes into the car, filled our pockets with snacks and inner tubes, and set off to The Wheatley Arms in Ilkley where we met the ride leader (and founder of Yorkshire Velo Tours) Charles for a pre-ride coffee while mechanic Chris gave our bikes the once over.

Happy that our brakes were sound and tyres pressure good, we coasted out through Ilkley. And within minutes, hit the first steep climb. Ten minutes in and I was already gasping. Had I made a horrible mistake, agreeing to this ride?

But then it was over, and we were crossing Cringles, and spinning out along the hillside to the villages of Kildwick and Farnhill.

Yorkshire Velo Tours

We descended to cross the valley, pedalling through the pretty village of Cononley and along a winding, undulating lane to Carleton in the dappled sunlight. Cycling doesn’t get much more picturesque than this. But as I sighed with happiness, feeling relaxed and in control, I heard:

“There’s a bit of a climb ahead…”

A local girl, it dawned on me which hill we were about to climb. Cocking Lane in Carleton.

I girded my loins and dropped down a couple of gears to begin the ascent across to Lothersdale. I dropped down a couple more gears. Into the small cog. Dammit! No gears left. Ok. These legs are just going to have to work…

Finally, we were at the top, and the mechanic’s van pulled ahead of us. We crowded around as Chris opened the back doors to reveal a hoard of flapjacks and bananas. Fully supported rides are awesome.

Yorkshire Velo Tours

Energy levels restored, we set off again and the uphill slog was rewarded with a swooping descent I’ve always wanted to make on two wheels. Utterly exhilarating.

We crossed the border into Lancashire and, after a brief dose of urban reality in the town of Colne, we were heading back into the hills via Blacko on our way to the glorious Ribble Valley – birthplace of my dear dad. My heart soared when we rolled into the village of Chatburn which I used to visit as a child, where the ice cream shop Hudson’s – which I thought would have long since closed – still stands on the corner.

Yorkshire Velo Tours
It made me so happy to cycle through the village of Chatburn which I used to visit as a child. The old ice cream shop, Hudson’s, still stands on the corner.

Relief: lunch time

38 miles in (and a hell of a lot of elevation), we heaved a sigh of relief when we arrived at Holden Clough Garden Centre for lunch. The Garden Kitchen serves excellent food and to sit outside in the sunshine while we devoured hearty sandwiches and cold drinks revived us for what lay ahead.

Yorkshire Velo Tours
The route took in some of the best climbs and scenery in the Ribble Valley and the Yorkshire Dales

Another long climb after lunch was hard work, weighed down by sandwiches. But, as any cyclist knows, a tough climb is always rewarded with an exhilarating descent. And despite a brief shower which saw us all don our waterproof jackets, in no time the sun was out again as we coasted toward Tosside and Hellifield.

Dammit! No gears left. Ok. These legs are just going to have to work…

But I’ll admit it. By this point, my energy levels were waning and I knew there were plenty more climbs ahead. At 60 miles, I waved the white flag and accepted a lift for the final leg in mechanic Chris’s van. As we trundled up the next steep hill behind the rest of the group, it dawned on me how wonderful it was to be on a fully supported ride… Several more hills, including the Cat 4 Burnsall climb, and we were homeward bound. The heavens opened, but with less than 10 miles to go, it didn’t matter. (Certainly not to me, in the comfort of the van!)

Yorkshire Velo Tours

Finally, we were back in Ilkley. I’d ridden 60 miles, with 6,000ft of elevation; the rest of the group had managed the full 77 miles with almost 7,000ft of climbing. Gruelling? Yes. Enjoyable? Absolutely! There was just time for a celebratory pint in The Wheatley Arms before we headed off for a warm bath and hearty supper. Lord knows that having burned 3,000 calories apiece we’d earned it…

About Yorkshire Velo Tours

Yorkshire Velo Tours was launched by Charles Oxtoby, who has been organising cycle tours and trips in the UK and Europe for a decade. Charles was a founding committee member of the Ilkley Cycling Club which was re-established in 2011. A highly experienced cyclist and guide, Charles and has been riding the roads of the Yorkshire dales for decades – there are few people better qualified to escort you around the county on two wheels.

Yorkshire Velo Tours

Designed for keen cyclists of all abilities who want to challenge themselves on some of the best roads and climbs in Europe, Yorkshire Velo Tours showcase the beautiful scenery of Yorkshire – the training ground of Lizzie Armitstead and Scott Thwaites. If you want to become a world-class cyclist, you could do worse than train in the county.

Yorkshire Velo Tours rides are fully supported with a back-up vehicle and qualified cycle mechanic, and every route includes a carefully selected cafe stop – we at Vamper.cc never underestimate the importance of a good lunch on a ride! With support and experienced ride leaders, all you have to worry about is getting up those hills.

Yorkshire Velo Tours

The tours typically split into 2 or more ride groups of around 8 riders per group, all covering a similar route. Group 1 will be the faster ride and typically average over 15mph. (We know, right? That doesn’t sound very fast! But just you wait until you see the elevation…) Meanwhile the slower groups will average 11-14mph.

And for those labouring under the misapprehension that the weather is always shit in Yorkshire – we enjoyed bright sunshine and 25 degree heat for ¾ of the ride before it finally clouded over and began to rain.

If you haven’t yet cycled in God’s own country, don’t you think it’s time you did?