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There’s a new meme doing the rounds on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag BeSafeBeSeen. It features two shots of a street at dusk. In one, there is a child clearly visible by the roadside wearing a bright yellow raincoat. In the second, the child is in the same spot but barely visible in dark clothing:

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In this screenshot, shared by Buckingham Fire Station, the post urges walkers, cyclists, people on public transport and drivers to make sure you can be seen, but it is quite apparent that the post is aimed at walkers and cyclists as it is unlikely that drivers and bus companies are going to drape their vehicles in luminescent plastic to make them more visible.

My problem with this is that it again highlights the danger of taking a sustainable and active approach to getting around our towns and cities. Yet it is the cars that are dangerous: government figures show that they cause over 1700 deaths in accidents per year and over 400 of these are pedestrians. Then there are the estimated 40,000 deaths per year caused by air pollution to which motor vehicles are one of the greatest contributors, but when was the last time I saw a Facebook meme saying leave the car at home. Maybe the picture should feature the child wearing a face mask.


Harrogate – Sustainable Alternatives to the Harrogate Relief Road

Email address: ‎cllr.don.mackenzie@northyorks.gov.uk

Dear Cllr MacKenzie

We are writing to ask  you to give detailed consideration of a range of sustainable transport options which would have a much more beneficial effect on Harrogate residents than a new relief road would. We believe the environmental benefits would help to sustain economic benefits by keeping Harrogate and Knaresborough special as a tourist destination and for its inhabitants. Harrogate is a beautiful town which attracts tourists to visit and residents to stay and spend their money in the town. However, it does not have an excess of open community space and the proposed relief road would destroy the green lung of the Nidd Valley which attracts countless residents and visitors.
We agree that congestion on the roads in Harrogate does represent a problem for local people and the local environment, however we do not believe that this problem will be solved by building any of the potential relief road routes which have been proposed. Indeed, in many ways the problems will be made worse. We also believe the proposed route(s) of a northern relief road would have significantly negative effects on the health and quality of life for families in these towns.
Harrogate and Knaresborough already suffer from air pollution, which  causes 30 – 50,000 premature deaths per year in the UK. Studies show that when a new road is built, there is an increase in ‘induced traffic’. In our area (by providing a missing link in the current and extending dual carriageway system between Scarborough and the West coast) the proposed northern relief road would bring a large increase in the number of long distance East-West vehicles which would be driven alongside homes in our towns.
More traffic –  including  far more heavy vehicles than we see now – would inevitably increase the amount of air pollution, almost certainly without reducing the amount of local traffic using our currently congested roads. 
The CPRE “The End of the Road?” report earlier this year confirmed that major new roads increase traffic above the general traffic increases for their areas, with traffic increases of up to 47% over 20 years. 
The bad environmental effects of new roads, with loss of ancient woodland, wildlife habitats and damage to the landscape are well known. But this report confirms that the promised safety and economic benefits from new roads have not been delivered either. The report is available at http://cpre.org.uk
Like many other constituents living in North Yorkshire, we believe that improved infrastructure for public transport, cycling and walking are essential to provide an alternative to motor vehicle transport. For example, by encouraging people to cycle rather than drive we can help tackle air pollution. In addition, evidence from Transport for London suggests that roads with high quality cycle infrastructure are five times more efficient at moving people than a standard traffic lane. This suggests that Skipton Road’s congestion could probably be improved if local people felt able to walk or cycle safely on school runs or other short trips. More information about the value of cycling is available here https://www.cyclinguk.org/campaigns/briefings
All these benefits have a positive impact on the public purse and help to create community spaces that are accessible to all and enjoyable to be in.
To achieve this  will take time, a sustained budget and political will. We very much hope you will fully explore sustainable alternatives so that a northern relief road is not seen as the only option for Harrogate and Knaresborough.

If it would be helpful for us to chat about this or to provide you with more information please let us know.

Yours sincerely,
Include address and phone number

North England By Tandem

I don’t know how it happened, but despite months of planning, pouring over maps and checking kit, come Saturday morning I woke up hungover from a party the night before, jet lagged from my flight home from the US over Thursday night and nothing packed. But at least the Sun was shining.

Kirsty and I started pulling out cycling and camping kit from drawers, shelves and cupboards and, aided by multiple cups of coffee, we managed to get everything packed and on the tandem by mid-day.

Living North of Ripon, our plan was to cycle South and join the recently opened Way of the Roses cycle trail stretching across the North of England from Morecombe in the West to Bridlington on the East coast, via the southern part of the Yorkshire Dales and across the Yorkshire Wolds. Rather than starting at the beginning in Morecombe and heading East with the prevailing wind behind us, we were going to join it at the mid-way point in Ripon, follow it West to Morecombe, then follow the coast North to Barrow-in-Furness and Walney Island where we would pick up the W2W or Walney to Whitby route. From Whitby on the East coast of the North York Moors, we would head South to pick up the Way of the Roses to return to Ripon and then home. Camping out every night and with a load of kit, we reckoned we could average about 60 miles a day, completing the round trip in about 8 or 9 days.


With such a late start on our first day and 60 hilly miles to cover, you would have thought we would be keen to keep going, however, what was meant to be a quick stop in Ripon took longer as we were stopped by an elderly couple, pleased to see a fully loaded tandem and wanting to tell us about their cycling experiences. Finally setting off, we set the goal of Pateley Bridge as our next stop for a late lunch.

Once at Pateley, sitting on a bench on the High Street eating pies and cake from the local bakery, we were easy targets, first for someone who knew us and then by a couple wanted to discuss our tandem as they were thinking of getting one. Always keen to chat about bikes, I had to be dragged away so we could tackle the big climb out of Pateley and onto Greenhow. Here you have a choice of 2 routes, either up the main route out of Pately which would be fine in the opposite, downhill direction, or via the quieter Peat Lane. We decided on the latter route in anticipation of what turned out to be a bit of an uphill push.

With Greenhow out of the way, we were able to rush along, swooping past Stump Cross Caverns, down the road to Appletreewick and Burnsall, through Winterburn and Hetton, and on to Airton. The Sun shone as we passed village pubs with people sitting around outside, enjoying a pint on a sunny afternoon. Envious of their situation, we pushed on, hoping to make up for lost time and to reach our destination of Austwick for our first night of camping. But before we could get to Austwick, we had to climb over 200m out of Airton, over the moors before swooping into Settle.

Once in Settle, with only 7 more miles up the dale to Austwick, we stopped for fish and chips in the Square and loaded up with supplies of wine and snacks for the next day. The final 7 miles were a steady climb, followed by a descent to our campsite just outside Austwick. Starting late meant we didn’t get to the campsite at Woodend until after 9pm, so we were relieved to get the tent up, open up a bottle of red and climb into our sleeping bags.


Next day we started earlier, but not that much earlier! From Austwick it was 30 miles to Morecombe the next morning, passing through the Northern side of the Forest of Bowland before picking up the River Lune to Lancaster. Lancaster was full of bustle, so we picked up the cycle path, through the town, delivering us onto the crowded sea front at Morecombe. Being a fine Sunday morning, the path was busy with dog walkers, families of cyclists and joggers. It got busier as we approached the seafront where there was a big turn out for the Morecombe kite festival. We parked up the bike, mingled with the crowds, and walked along the seafront admiring the kites flying high in the wind.


After a cafe lunch and an obligatory photo with the statue of Eric Morecombe, we set off again, North along the coast towards Kendal, before heading West at Sedgwick and across the Southern part of the Lake District to our second night of camping at High Fell above Grange-over-Sands. We had considered using the train for this section to cut out having to ride both ways across this section, but tandems are not taken on trains between Morecambe and Barrow-in-Furness.

Arriving at Grange-over-Sands quite late and tired, we decided to dine on a chinese takeaway, eaten while sitting on a bench by the bandstand in the park, before covering the remaining mile to our planned campsite at High Fell. We should have guessed from the name, that this would be a steep climb, but it was worth it as the campsite was in a beautiful location on the side of the hill, facing west across the lakes. Weary after covering another 60 miles fully laden, we put up the tent, opened a bottle and sat outside, watching the warm glow of the Sun as it set in the West.

With the start of the W2W route just under 30 miles away, we decided to leave the tent and other luggage behind, and to do a return trip to Walney the next day. With no tent to pack, we were off relatively early by 10 am! Heading out downhill to the centre of Sticky Toffee Pudding at Cartmel, we started the next day quite fast. The route to Ulverston was rolling and steep, with great views North towards the Lakes. From Ulverston, we had been advised to take the coast road. The road was flat and fast, and we made good time to Barrow, enjoying the views across the sands and across to Morecombe. After riding through the traffic at Barrow, we crossed a bridge onto a long straight road leading to the start of the W2W at Walney, a bleak looking place with an end of the world feeling.

Arriving at Walney before mid-day, we then turned around and headed back, picking up Sustrans Route 20 back through Barrow-in-Furness, and pushing on to Ulverston where we arrived just in time for a late lunch at the Farmers Arms on the Market Place at the top of the Main Street. After a bit of food and a coupe of beers, it was difficult to drag ourselves away as our legs were pretty weary now after two and a half days of cycling.

With only 15 miles to go to finish the day, we dragged ourselves out of the Farmers Arms, heading back over a familiar route that we had ridden heading West that morning. Arriving in Cartmel, too late to buy sticky toffee pudding, we stopped off at the Cavendish Arms for a pint of their Cavendish Ale to drink a toast to that other Cavendish who had triumphantly claimed the Green Jersey in the Tour de France the previous day. We then made our way back up the hill to the campsite, glad to stop before 7pm, so we could plan to get up early the next day as we had a long day planned up to the highest pub in the UK, the Tan Hill Inn.

Sleeping outside for the night, I was woken at 7am by a few light drops of rain on my face. This was to be the only rain we had all week and it was barely enough to wake me up. After a coffee and breakfast, we packed up and headed down the hill into Grange-over-Sands, stopping off in the town to top up with food for the day. As we pedalled out of the town, a creaking sound coming from the bottom bracket region got louder and about 5 miles down the road, my left hand pedal broke, coming off the shaft. Unable to repair it, and thinking we would not be able get a replacement in Grange-over-Sands, we limped on to Kendall, where we were able to buy a replacement set of Eggbeater pedals from Evan’s Cycles. By now it was late in the morning, so we stayed for coffee and cake and didn’t get away until the early afternoon; so much for an early start!

After crossing the M6, the road climbed along the edge of the Howgills, heading North before turning East to Kirkby Stephen. From here we started the climb over the Yorkshire Dales to the highest point of the ride and the highest pub in the UK at Tan Hill. Knowing we could camp here, get some good grub and beer, we didn’t mind putting the extra effort into the climb. Furthermore, we knew that the next day woud start off with a long stretch downhill into Barnard Castle.

After 2 miles the next morning, the route leaves the gently rolling tarmac and heads down a rough track to Bowes. With front and rear panniers, I was glad to have had some wide Schwalbe Marathon tyres fitted for the ride. Reaching Barnard Castle, we stopped off for bacon rolls and coffee for breakfast. Soon after Barnard Castle, the route splits and you can either head North East to Wear, or do as we did and take Sustran’s Route 52 which heads towards the North end of the North Yorks Moors, before going up Kildale soon after Great Ayton.

With flattish roads, we made that evening’s destination at Great Broughton in reasonable time, but had to deviate from the Sustrans route to stay at the small campsite at the back of the Jet Miners Arms.

The next day promised to be another big one as we had to traverse the North York Moors from North to South. The route from Great Broughton took us up Kildale, then climbed up over the moors through Castleton, Danby, Egton and Aslaby before getting to Ruswarp, just outside of Whitby. Whitby is a great coastal town with a fine mix of gothic and seaside tack, with a slice of history thrown in for good measure. Rather than risk the crowded streets with a fully laden tandem, we decided to give it a miss this time and joined the course of the old railway line which is Sustrans Route 1 and runs from Whitby to Scarborough. With no cars, this is a great track that steadily climbs from Whitby to Ravenscar before descending into the noise and bustle of a Supermarket car park in Scarborough. At this time of the year, though, it does get busy with dog walkers, families on bikes and dawdlers, so a bell or ability to squeal the brakes can be quite useful.

Making good time, we were able to stop off at Robin Hoods Bay for a pub lunch, before the steady climb to Ravenscar. At Ravenscar we stopped to talk with another cycle camper heading North who suggested we should try and head on to Burton Flemming to camp at BobbyBees Campsite.

Pressing on, we arrived at the aforementioned supermarket car park in Scarborough, bought provisions for the evening, then headed through the town to try and pick up Sustrans Route 1 again. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to find the track due to roadworks and ended up heading out on a busy road before picking the route up at Cayton. We then headed to Humanby and detoured to BobbyBees at Burton Fleming.

BobbyBees was a revelation; a ramshackle place with bits of reclaimed furniture and masonry scattered around, interspersed with free roaming chickens, duck and geese. The owner, presumably BobbyBee himself, would even sell you a pile of wood and a burner so you could light your own fire. Soon after we stopped, however, a cold breeze sprung up, so after cooking supper, despite having an open fire to sit around, we retired to our tent for the night.

The following morning, we detoured to Flamborough Head, before heading West to pick up the start (or is it the end) of the Way of the Roses in Bridlington. After days of cycling over hilly moorland, the Yorkshire Wolds were a revelation with long straight roads, gentle climbs and drops allowing us to cover the miles at an average speed of 12 mph, compared with only 9 mph over the moors. The only problem was where the route crossed the railway line at the second crossing after Burton Agnes. The kiss gate was not big enough to take a tandem so we had to turn back and detour around it.

After a lunch stop at Driffield, the route climbed steadily before a sudden drop into a valley through Millington Woods. Getting close to home, we decided to stop that night at Pocklington, finding a campsite heading south out of the town by the A1079. The campsite marked on the Sustran’s map to the North of the town doesn’t seem to exist. Our campsite was not a perfect spot, as it was too far out of town to walk in for dinner, and was the most expensive campsite of the trip. There was a pub nearby where we went for a celebratory last night meal, so all was good!

Next morning we set off on our last day, pedalling to York for a cake and coffee stop in the City centre, then taking the route out along the river Ouse before joining the roads again taking us up to Boroughbridge for lunch, on to Ripon and then home by mid afternoon.

494 miles in 8 days in total!

Richmond 5 Dale Cyclosportive

With just a month to go until the start of the Richmond 5 Dale Cyclosportive (http://www.richmondcyclingclub.co.uk/cyclosportives/), the training was not going well. At a similar time last year, I had been training since Christmas to do the Glencoe 70 Wild Miles, and was cycling 100 miles and running 25 miles a week. This year, I was barely cycling 100 miles a month, had not been running and was piling on the weight, almost tipping the scales at 14 stone.

There was nothing for it but to put on the training shoes, go for a 4 mile run and start making plans to shed some weight. Then I realised that with a weeks holiday with brothers and friends coming up, I would be lucky if I managed to stay on the best side of 14 stone as this was obviously going to be a week of eating and drinking, even though it had been billed as a hiking holiday in the Spanish Pyrenees.

Sure enough, I returned no lighter than when I left. With one week to go, I managed to get out to ride 80 miles taking in a large part of the route, up and over Tan Hill. It was a glorious hot day (yes, it was that weekend) and I made a reasonable time.

The weekend of the ride arrived, the forecast promised cool, damp weather, so I turned up at the starting venue in Richmond at 8am with a wide range of clothing options to cover every eventuality as long as I wore shorts. Settling for a long sleeved jersey and a waterproof jacket, I regretted not bringing longer trousers as I shivered my way to the start, along with a record entry of 500 other cyclists.

With 6 major climbs, 2 of the steepest of which are near the end, the Richmond 5 Dale Cyclosportive is described as a serious proposition. Even the shorter routes of 80 and 50 miles have epic climbs including The Stang and Tan Hill. Hundred milers also have Fleet Moss and Park Rash, which are posted as 25% gradients, to contend with. Last year, entries had been high at around 300 participants, but this year things had really taken off and the ride was fully booked with 500 brave souls, many coming from surrounding towns, but I also spoke with riders from as far afield as London, Southampton and Bath.

Once underway, the pace was gentle and relaxed as we coasted down the hill from the start, before turning right after a couple of hundred yards and starting a short, steep ascent as we climbed out of Richmond. This short, sharp shock, was a reminder to riders of what lay ahead and to stop any complacency. The ride soon evened out into rolling North Yorkshire countryside through wide open villages, lined with Yorkshire stone houses. The riding settled into a relaxed pace before we hit the first major challenge as we climbed up onto wide open moorland to a height of over 500m and onto the Stang. For the first time riders with triple setups started dropping down to the granny rings or even dismounting and pushing. As I strained up the hill, out of the forest that lined the road, I was over taken by several riders, but managed to hold my overall position.

At the top, the weather had cleared giving fine views over the open moorland. We then shot down the hill, rapidly losing about 200m that we had just struggled so hard to gain, before having to regain height with the climb up to Tan Hill. After Tan Hill came the first check point at Keld where we lost the 50 milers as they headed back to Richmond along Swaledale.

The next climb up to Birkdale Common was followed by a fabulous, grin-inducing swoop down off the moorland to Naseby. From Naseby, the route turned south and straight into a strong headwind. I struggled to catch up with a group of about 5 cyclists, most from Richmond, to share some of the headwind as we climbed up over Mallerstang and into Wensleydale and the 2nd  check point in Hawes. My companions through the headwind headed West along the North side of the dales and back to Richmond along with the other 80 milers.

From here, the whole character of the ride seems to change and take on a more serious tone. The route takes a bumpy road, closely lined with dry stone walls and austere but functional stone farmhouses as it climbs towards what is possibly the hardest climb for legs that have already completed over 50 miles: the dreaded Fleet Moss. The weather also closed back in, turning to a constant rain, cyclists become more spread out and isolated and, as if to warn riders of things to come, the route passes a line of dead moles, spread along a wire fence.This is no longer a pleasurable pedal, but a serious challenge for the remaining 140 riders.

As I struggle up Fleet Moss, a rider from London slowly comes alongside, threatening to make the slowest takeover in cycling. ‘Oh yeah’ I reply taking up the challenge and taking my speed up to a muscle tearing 4mph. He finally pulls ahead, but I catch him again before the top, but it is a phyrric victory and I am relieved to head downhill to Oughtershaw and into Wharfedale. Legs are tired as the road winds down the dale and I hitch onto the back wheels of two riders as they pass and follow the into Kettlewell and the final checkpoint.

After filling up with more flapjack and water, I start the final big climb up Park Rash. Last year, I had shot up here twice on the same ride after leaving my glasses, having removed them to mend a puncture, at the bottom of the hill only to discover this after climbing to the top. This time it is different and I have to get off and push around the two hairpin bends, before remounting and straining my way to the top. Before the top, I am passed by a boy of about 14, followed closely by a wiry middle aged rider. ‘He’s a good climber’ says the rider, gazing ahead at the youngster. ‘Oh to be younger and lighter’ is my almost breathless response.

With the last climb out of the way, my legs seem to gain new energy as I pedal along Coverdale, into Leyburn, make the relatively small climb over to Swaledale and to the finish line as the road goes into Richmond. To avoid having too many people racing through the town to complete within specific times, the organisers have taken the wise precaution of putting the finish where the road enters the town. The downside of this is that having completed the ride, you have to pedal the final mile and a half back to the start, including the small climb up to the school from where the ride started. With the ride completed, legs weary and motivation just down to just staying on the bike, this seems like a cruel end to an excellent ride.

Finally back at the start point, I change out of my wet clothes and tuck into my free cuppa and a meal of chilli and baked potato, happy with my ride time of 7 h 9 minutes, even though it is half an hour longer than last year.

As my meal settles, I start planning on improving my fitness and losing weight for the Kielder 100mile mountainbike ride in September. Now if I can get back down to 13 stone, keep the training going through Winter and lose another half stone over the following Spring, maybe I can break the 6h 30 minutes next year, or maybe I just need to buy one of those carbon fibre, Ultegra equipped speed machines …

Beadle’s Bash – The First Attempt

I raced down the hill off the moor soaked to the skin, fat mountain bike tyres dragging on the tarmac, wind off the North Sea blasting rain into my face, legs tired after fighting my way across trails, rutted and slippery. By the time I reached my car, parked at the train station at Malton, the rain had stopped and the wind had almost blown dry my clothing. Momentarily I regretted my decision not to push on, but a quick look back at the Moor covered in dark cloud convinced me I had made the right move.

What had I been doing to get into such a state?

This was my first attempt at Beadle’s Bash, A 100 Mile Challenge Route for Mountain Bikers. I had picked up the small book describing the route at a bike shop a few years ago and determined at the time that one day I would attempt it. Written in 1995, the book describes a ‘cycle through history across the North York Moors National Park’, as the book’s author, J Brian Beadle calls it. Starting in Scarborough, the route follows the course of the old railway line Northwards as far as Fylingthorpe, before heading West, over the moor, passing through places such as Goathland, Levisham, Glaisdale, and finally ending in Helmsley. A mixture of bridleways, moorland tracks and roads, Beadle suggests the route can be completed at a leisurely pace in 3 to 4 days , or, he challenges, you can go full blast and complete it in 12 hours.

Beadle's Bash: A 100 Mile Challenge Ride For Mountain Bikers

Beadle's Bash: A 100 Mile Challenge Ride For Mountain Bikers

After an initial read and a look at the route on the OS maps, the book had been put away and almost forgotten until it resurfaced during a recent clearout. With the family going away for the Autumn half-term, this seemed like an ideal time to make an initial attempt to scope out the route over 2 days with an overnight stop. Not wanting to restrict myself by having to be somewhere by Saturday night, I decided that sleeping out was the only way and that to keep the weight down, I should just bivvy.

With so much road work involved and because the railway line out of Scarborough has been converted to a well surfaced cycle route, I decided that the best bike for the job would be my On-One Inbred singlespeed with solid carbon forks, rather than going for the full suspension alternative, although the option of taking the On-One Pompino singlespeed with cyclocross tyres was also considered.

An On-One Snglespeed with Carbon Forks; an ideal bike for the job

An On-One Snglespeed with Carbon Forks; an ideal bike for the job ?

The week leading up to the expedition was taken up with fettling the bike, changing tyres, fitting new drive chain, marking up the maps, keeping an eye on the weather forecast and wondering how I was going to get back to my car once I reached Helmsley which is 30 miles along the busy A170 from Scarborough. A flash of inspiration the night before lead to me taking the car to Malton, just 15 miles South of Helmsley and on the Transpennine trainline to Scarborough. This would add 15 road miles to the journey, but it shouldn’t be too busy, alternatively I could chain the bike up at the end and hitch, certain that someone, possibly another cyclist, would stop and give me a lift.

I arrived at Malton at 8:30 on Saturday morning and, after scrabbling around for change for parking, getting the bike on the 9:02 to Scarborough was no problem. Out of the train station at Scarborough, I turned left up the A171, taking the first right signposted to a supermarket and the start of the enigmatically named Sustrans Route 1. This route follows the old railway line to Whitby, and I had cycled it earlier in the year so it was pretty familiar territory.

Cycling through Scarborough, the route is covered in tarmac and bends it’s way past graffitti covered walls and housing estates, while being populated with dog walkers, pram pushers and bmx bikers. The track soon leaves the town and the tarmac transforms to cinder track. Now populated by more serious hikers, joggers and dog walkers, everyone smiles, says hello and stands aside to smile as they let me past. Non of the conflict that seems to exist in the cities between lycra lout cyclists, and walkers and car drivers here, everyone is happy to be out on this grey and blustery morning sharing the access to the surrounding countryside.

The cycle path north of Scarborough, gently climbing towards Ravenscar

The cycle path north of Scarborough, gently climbing towards Ravenscar

I make good progress despite the wind coming in off the North Sea to my right and eventually the path starts the long and gentle climb up to Ravenscar, the highest point on the track and, as if to emphasise this point, the wind picks up and a light drizzle starts to fall. Here the track leaves the course of the old railway line to join the road before taking a relatively steep downhill track by the visitor centre along a track made of wet cobbled bricks, hidden by a layer of slippery Autumn leaves. I make it down the slope without embarrassing myself in front of a dog walker.

The path takes a detour before joining the railway line as part of the line has been covered by a minor landslip and is under repair. Picking up the railway line again, I pass a caravan site as I head towards Robin Hood’s Bay. Somewhere I should have taken a track bearing off to the left to Fylingthorpe, but I miss it, cross the next road and end up in the car park at the old railway station at Robin Hood’s Bay. I take the road to the left and start a steep ascent before turning left again, and loosing my height to get back on track at Fylingthorpe. An even steeper 25% climb on the road out of Fylingthorpe takes me up to the main Whitby to Scarborough road and into the mist and rain. I had completed the first 15 miles in a leisurely hour and a half, not bad going so far! I cross the road, taking the bridleway opposite the junction and onto the moor. The path is indistinct in the mist and heather but I pick my line and soon come to a wider track cutting across my way. I turn left which takes me to a road which swoops down to Red Gate where I turn sharp left, taking the tarmaced track to May Beck.

Shrouded in mist, the path leading onto the moors; Bad Moon Rising!

Shrouded in mist, the path leading onto the moors; Bad Moon Rising!

At New May Beck, I turn left and mistakenly take a track up onto the moor. By now it is raining persistently and visibility is  down to about 100 ft. I pick out a track through the heather taking me down the East side of the Newton House Plantation. Initially difficult to find, the path is soon joined by a wider track coming in from the left that is deeply rutted and puddle filled from motorbikes racing up and down. Newly wet after a relatively dry Summer, the track is slippery and virtually unrideable without the option of a lower gear, or any suspension in the front end. I end up dragging the bike, slipping and sliding, through heather and water, while rapidly getting wetter and wetter.

Deep ruts and water made riding very difficult

You're in a rut and you gotta get out of it: Deep ruts and water made riding very difficult

The next junction requires the use of map and compass to get me on the right path as visibility is so poor that I can’t see any of the normally visible landmarks. The path soon improves and I make a stoney descent towards the road, passing a pair of bedraggled walkers in the rain. By the time I hit the road, I have covered another 15 miles, but it has taken me over 3 hours. What’s more, I am soaking wet, have no complete change of clothes and am faced with the bleak prospect of more rain and a cold and windy night in the open, so I decide that maybe it is time to call it quits for the weekend and take the main road South to where ever it goes and try and make it back to the car. The fact that the road heading South is downhill makes it all the more inviting!

The rain stings my face and I can hardly see as I start what I imagine is a descent off the moor, but no, I soon meet a long climb that takes me up past the US base at Fylingthorpe. Eventually a milestone tells me I have 7 miles to Pickering and 14 miles to Malton. Coming out of the mist and rain, off the moor and down to Pickering, my clothes start to dry up. I cycle through Pickering and am now on a long flat road to Malton, stopping only to eat an energy gel, I pedal on to Malton and the car. Total distance covered: 52 miles.

Back home, warm and dry, I study the book and map again. On the map there is a track marked that runs through the Newton House Plantation, I look at the book and see that rather than taking the exposed and rutted route over the Moors, it suggests the more sheltered route through the forest.

Having had a first attempt, I am now committed to completing the route in one go, possibly in a single day. Doing the ride in a single day can only be done with careful planning and a bit of route knowledge, as I won’t be able to afford to make mistakes that hold me up or cause me to have to go back. So rather than being disappointed with my first attempt, I am keen to explore the route further, breaking it down into circular sections that can be easily done in a day through the winter so that I can make an attempt on the 12 hour challenge laid down by J Brian Beadle in the Summer.

Is anyone else up to the challenge?