Five recommended big rides

Working out how to scale all these climbs is part of the enjoyment of it all I think, it certainly was for me, and I would certainly encourage people to embrace the challenge in this way. However I have no problem suggesting some routes that allow you to tick off a lot of the climbs in one go, 29 of the 52 in the case of these five rides. I also thought that visitors from other areas could benefit from a bit of local knowledge if their time is limited and they just want to get out on the bike without worrying too much about finding the right route. Even if you do them all though you will still have to work out how to do some of the remaining climbs as they do not all lend themselves to logical circular routes linking them to other climbs. Wilton Bank, Carlton Bank, Gribdale and Boltby Bank are examples that immediately spring to mind and there are others, but what I didn’t want to do was compromise great natural circular routes just to somehow fit them in.

I have used some different starting points just to give a bit of variety and have provided a short route description to go with the GPS route. I have done all these routes, or close variations of, and in my opinion they represent some of the finest cycling country there is. Be warned though they are all tough, especially number 2 and 3, but all offer options to cut bits out if you need to, if you can average 15 mph on rides 2,3,4 and 5 you will be doing well, expect to be 1-2 mph quicker overall for number 1. If you choose to do them I hope they live up to the billing!

1. Hawnby and Rievaulx. Distance 63.5 miles, climbing 4,808 feet.

The route map can be viewed here.

Starting from Stewart Park car park in Middlesbrough (though you could start and finish a variation of this ride at numerous points) this ride warms you up with the second easiest climb on the site, Ormesby Bank, then takes you through the familiar cycling terrain of Seamer and Hutton Rudby before reaching the foot of Scarth Nick after the village of Swainby. This 7 rated climb is where the hard work starts, but to offset this you will get to enjoy what is deservedly one of the finest stretches of cycling road there is. Once past Cod Beck and Osmotherley the road to Hawnby, then Rievaulx, takes you over the climbs of Chequers, Murton Bank and Rievaulx Bank as well as many minor yet challenging lumps not individually rated. There are options to cut it short at Hawnby but do the whole route if you can. Top tip though is don’t pick a day with a northerly wind as the ride back down Bilsdale will be a struggle and it might leave you dreading the prospect of the final climb up the ‘easy’ side of Clay Bank.

Climbs ticked off:

Café: The Coffee Pot at Osmotherley, Ryeburn’s at Helmsley (slight detour).

2. Tour de 33%. Distance 66.3 miles, climbing 7,657 feet

The route map can be viewed here.

Starting at Great Ayton this route takes you through Commondale to Castleton and then along the Esk Valley to Glaisdale before experiencing the delights of Grosmont, Goathland, Egton Bridge and Rosedale, finishing with the infamous Chimney Bank. On the way you will tick off seven of the climbs on this site, including five with a claimed 33% gradient, hence its name, although only the Chimney probably is. Don’t underestimate Black Brow and the Delves climb, which are both long and have steep sections. A true epic!

Climbs ticked off:

Cafés: Suggitt’s, Number 5 Coffee House and Fletcher’s, all in Great Ayton, Castleton Tea Rooms, Glebe Cottage at Kildale and Beck View Tea Room at Lealholm

3. The Big Four. Distance 54.7 miles, climbing 6,569 feet

The route map can be viewed here.

Is this ride the hardest 54.7 miles there is on the moors? It might well be and it is brutal, so be warned. Again starting at Great Ayton the first major challenge is the little known climb of Street in Great Fryup Dale (although you will already have done a couple of tough little climbs before you get to Castleton), be warned this is the easiest of the Big Four, and it is very hard. Next comes Caper Hill, then Chimney Bank and finally Blakey Bank, all monsters and deservedly have a claim to be the hardest climb on the site! If that doesn’t have you on your knees the ride back ‘the easy way’ via Westerdale will draw on all your resources, save a little bit for the drag out of Hob Hole ford.

Climbs ticked off:

Cafés: as above

4. Coastal Killer. 54.6 miles, climbing 6,310 feet

The route map can be viewed here.

I know from running and cycling that you should never underestimate coastal routes. This route starts at Saltburn and goes straight down Saltburn Bank, this will also be your final climb, one of the easiest you will do on this route. Skinningrove Bank is an underrated hill with a severe bottom section and tests you out early on before the long Roxby climb, Blue Bank after Sleights and the climbs out of Grosmont, picturesque Lealholm and Danby chip away at your resolve as you grind your way back to Saltburn. If you have any energy left showboat in front of the crowds as you ease your way to the top of Saltburn Bank.

Climbs ticked off:

Cafés: Beck View Tea Room at Lealholm, Sandside Café at Sandsend (slight detour) Signals Bistro at Saltburn.

5. Westerdale and Rosedale. Distance 54.5, climbing 5,452 feet

The route map can be viewed here.

As you leave Chapters at Stokesley you will be eased into this ride with a relatively benign 6 or 7 miles of flat, then mildly uphill terrain. Once you turn right and head towards Westerdale, then Rosedale Head this is all over as you will be faced with the three Westerdale climbs then the often forgotten, yet very tough, Heygate Bank at Rosedale and the long grind up to Danby Beacon. Later in the ride will be the gruelling drag out of Castleton and then once you think it might be over the toughest of the three ways up Clay Bank, a connoisseur’s route, or that’s what you can console yourself with as you have your post ride coffee in Chapters.

Climbs ticked off:

Cafés: Chapters Bistro at Stokesley

Recommended Cafes

The cafés recommended have always, in our experience, been welcoming to cyclists and allow you to keep an eye on the bike. We’ve listed some en route, some at the end of rides and some that require a slight detour from the route but are worth effort. If this changes we will update things

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