Tour de Yorkshire Decisions, Decisions!
I’ve just been looking over the details of this stage having come to terms with the fact that the route organisers have opted to leave out all the local area’s iconic climbs. The Cote de Rosedale Abbey aka Bell End Farm climb is a tough proposition no doubt but when I reckoned up the severity of local climbs a couple of years ago I ranked 23 higher! Not only that, even after Danby they seem to have followed the line of least resistance by bypassing Houlsyke and Lealholm so avoiding the tough little climb up towards Glaisdale.
Make no mistake it’s still a tough route though. I know from experience of plotting club run routes that if you take a ride over the North York Moors you nearly always end up with around 1,000 feet of climbing per 10 miles ridden and I suspect that the section from Rosedale to Sleights will work out somewhere around this. The reason why? All the little steep climbs just add up, think of the section between Castleton down the Esk Valley to Danby and then onto Glaisdale, lots of tough short little climbs, yet none you would think of as a climb. Then they climb Limber Hill, not categorised on the route but a break must surely go away somewhere along here you would think?
Before they get to Castleton though the route makes its way to Cropton then heads towards Rosedale. It’s hard to believe that they have opted for the easiest way out and ignored the spectacle of the Chimney but the climb up past Bell End is the toughest on the stage nonetheless and has a steep ramp just before the cattlegrid. As the first real challenge on the stage it’s hard to see a break going away here though, so tempting as it is to watch it at this point it might be rather uneventful. The race will then continue to Ralph’s Cross before descending down to Castleton and no doubt on this section the pros will imagine that they are a member of Cleveland Wheelers attempting to win the prestigious CW Castleton 50 (‘it’s not a road race’) Challenge Ride and be later presented with a certificate by Bryan Bevis. Then they essentially work their way along the stretch I described in the previous paragraph, make their way to Egton, descend into Grosmont, do the first bit of the Black Brow climb but ignore the right turn, and steepest section, and make their way to Sleights joining the main road at the bottom of Blue Bank. They go left here, over the bridge and then up the drag to join the moor road, bizarrely this is categorised, descend into Whitby, skirt with the edges of Robin Hood’s Bay and finish by joining the main road before the sea front finale in Scarborough.
It will be great to think that the pros will be riding on roads so familiar to CW riders but I suspect many, including myself, are agonising over where to watch it? My initial thought was the biggest climb, but now I am not so sure. Bike races are hard to predict but ideally you want to view from a spot where the race is starting to explode. You also want a good atmosphere and ideally a café or pub! Danby, Glaisdale and Grosmont are all good options as are Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay. Watching them descend through Castleton is also appealing and for watching the race approach maybe even Ralph’s Cross itself, then nip into the Lion for a pint. Whatever I decide I am still ridiculously excited, just as much as I was when I made my way to Rosedale nearly 20 years ago to watch the Tour of Britain, they went up the Chimney in those days mind, proper ‘ard!