Yorkshire 2018 never happened. It was my great plan to cycle all of the National Cycle Network routes in Yorkshire during the calendar year 2018. If you are seen as an optimist even by those at the positive end of the thinking spectrum, you might point out that there are nearly two months remaining in 2018 and that, if I got off my backside, onto the saddle and started pedalling, I could probably still achieve my objective. But that’s not going to happen, especially as those two months are November and December. Had they been July and August, it might have been a challenge worthy of serious consideration but with short days, single-figure temperatures, rain, ice, perhaps even snow… You can see I’ve been preparing the excuses quite well.
It wasn’t a complete failure. I did get out and about in this fair county of York, mainly in West Yorkshire and the Dales – the proof is here – but nowhere near as often and as I would have needed to. The peak of the cycling year was September when I took on – and successfully achieved – the Cancer UK ‘Cycle 300’ challenge, cycling 300 miles in the course of September. I even managed to squeeze in three hiking challenges, summiting the three great national mountains of the UK; Scafell Pike, Mount Snowdon and Ben Nevis in August. So I haven’t been idle. I just haven’t focussed upon the objective that I had set out to achieve. That’s often the case in life and it’s not always a bad thing; we set off in one direction but end up meandering along a more tempting route. The result is a different one but surely the destination is the least important part of the journey. At the end of my three cycles across Europe I arrived at the end of the harbour wall in Brindisi in Italy, the lighthouse at Cape St Vincent in Portugal and the northernmost point of Europe at Nordkapp in Norway. They were all nice, satisfying, photogenic places to celebrate the achievement. But the achievement was not in arriving but in having cycled there in the first place. Enough of the excuses.
That said, others have succeeded where I ‘failed’ in my quest to cycle Yorkshire. I know of no one who has ever set out to cycle all the routes of the National Cycle Network in Yorkshire (although I’m pretty certain that they exist), but there are people out there who have embarked on similar, laudable adventures and who have been successful in achieving them. One of those people – as I mentioned in this post at the weekend – is the writer and cyclist Rob Ainsley who emailed me last week. In 2017 Rob decided to cycle Yorkshire. He lives in York and this fact was key to his plan. Taking the points of the compass as his guiding lights, he chose eight destinations on the border of the county towards which to cycle; Redcar (N), Robin Hood’s Bay (NE), Bridlington (E), Spurn Point (SE), Harthill (S), Saddleworth (SW), Dunsop Bridge (W ) and High Force (NW). I think that’s such a brilliantly simple idea and I wish I’d thought about it myself. The advantagefor Rob is that he lives in York which finds itself, more or less, in the centre of Yorkshire. Tucked away in the Pennine foothills here in West Yorkshire I would have had some longish rides heading east, and some remarkably short ones heading west. Rob wrote about each of the eight rides on his own website and links are below:
N: York to Redcar On-road 3 Apr 2017
NE: York to Robin Hood’s Bay Off-road 31 May–1 Jun 2017
E: York to Bridlington On-road 21 Apr 2017
SE: York to Spurn Point Off-road 11–12 Jun 2017
S: York to Harthill On-road 4 Apr 2017
SW: York to Saddleworth On-road 5–6 May 2017
W: York to Dunsop Bridge On-road 25–27 Jul 2017
NW: York to High Force Off-road 15–17 Oct 2017
He has called his collection of cycles ‘Yorkshire Ridings’. It’s a nice play on words that you may see again in these parts. Watch this space.
Rob is clearly never short of an interesting theme around which to plan his rides. In his own words, this is what he’s up to next:
“The next series of rides for 2019 will follow Yorkshire’s eight main rivers from source to mouth. The Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire, Calder, Don and Derwent all flow ultimately into the Ouse not far from York, and their dales and valleys span the entire county – see the map above. I’ll blog about these rides in due course.”
Aside from cycling Yorkshire, Rob has a keen interesting in riding ‘end-to-end’. More about that soon… In the meantime, enjoy some images of Rob’s cycling endeavours to the eight compass points of God’s Own County. There are many more in the online accounts of his rides the links to which are listed above.