Liam’s Riding Blog:
As we set off, like every Wednesday afternoon, we made our usual way through Cottingham, up to Skidby, through Little Weighton and on into the Yorkshire Wolds.
The wolds are everything you’ve heard about. Miles upon miles of rolling hills and countryside – you think Kent is beautiful, try Yorkshire for size.
As we made our way through hundreds of square miles of fields and farms, we approached the picturesque town of Beverley. From miles out, you can see the towering and extremely impressive Beverley Minster. This beast of a building is larger than one third of English cathedrals and is certainly a pleasure to ride past – only 30 minutes away from the University.
Onwards past Beverley, we find our first hills (or bumps as the locals call them). The thing about Yorkshire roads is that, unlike many places in Kent, the majority of motorists have a high level of respect for cyclists. There is a strange but friendly appreciation for one another, so we were signing to let a car go who was giving way (and them declining to let us go instead, it hit me that this is something that would be lovely to see in Kent.
Nevertheless, we approached the hills of east Yorkshire. Flying down an old country lane, we arrived in Brantingham. Brantingham has a fire station which is like a beacon to let you know you’re about 10 minutes away from Brantingham hill and the infamous “Spout”. Within minutes of cycling past the fire station, we arrive at the infamous “Spout” and pull over.
As I looked up this lovely looking hull, my Uni club mates are eyeing up a safe route and larking around. Last one up gets the first round! And we’re off.
Spout is infamous because it is just short 1km but the average gradient is 11%. Obviously, there are harder ones out there but Spout is daunting thanks to several elements. Firstly, there are 3 blind corners. Added with the extremely narrow road itself, it can be a problem if a car (or a van) decides to descend. Secondly, it’s one of those hills which kicks and kicks and kicks again. Just when you think you can see the end, it goes round again and kicks again! Finally, it’s quite slippery as it’s covered; moss grows so you’ve got to be very aware.
Thankfully I had done Spout before, so I knew what to expect. After a few pedal strokes, I felt like this would be a good one. Like mentioned, it’s on 900m or so but at an average 11%, it does burn after half way (especially when the first 200m is 15% average).
Suddenly I hear an explosion of metal and bike parts. It’s conspired, afterwards, that somebody’s brand new bike has blown up. The rear mech somehow diss-attached itself and the chain snapped. Nice.
As I began my ascent, I was 3rd behind the president and the captain and managed to retain that order. For some reason, Yorkshire hills are unforgiving so as my breathing began to sound dreadful, I thought that I wouldn’t make it. But I had managed to say with president and captain to get to the flatter bits at the top. We later found out, that the 3 of us secured a 2nd, 3rd and 7th overall on Strava for this hill. Not bad!
After making our way back down the slippery slope of doom, we find our teammate whose lovely new bike exploded. Unfortunately, it was unfixable. So we did what any good team would do and carried on without him and left him in Brantingham (don’t worry, someone picked him up later in a car)
Now for the School Lane of Yorkshire.
Brantingham Hill starts how you’d expect. Nice and flat at the bottom. It rolls a bit but soon picks up for a 7% average to the top. Its only 4.5k to the top, so it’s rather long. But it only stoops up in the last 2k.
After the exertions of Spout, however, my legs were not finding a second wind; I took it easy. I finally got to the top. From 9 riders down to 8, the president decides it’s a ‘good’ idea to go to the bottom and do another rep of Brantingham.
So of course we groan and manage another one. This time felt much better! I stayed with captain and did pacey climb to the top.
We call it a day after that, not before we take in the beautiful views of Yorkshire and the Humberside down below us. The good thing about Humberside being so flat, the elevation is quite big when you get up into the wolds; 250m feels strangely high.
Anyway, we had to be back for lots of revision/essays/end of year exams –Uni students have it bad.
However, there is a twist to the tale: my favourite part of the ride.
We always head back to Cottingham, 6k away from Uni. But first we have to get to Cottingham and the only way back is a 10k road from Raywell to Cottingham with an average gradient of -0.2%.
This is where the fun begins: I, captain, president and Moore the Tank Engine begin to set up a high pace at the front. Only 8k to go as we descend through the wolds and then it really gets fun.
Proper professional style, us 4 go single file and do 500m each at the front whilst always increasing speed. Right now we’ve got 5k to go and we’re doing 55kph.
Ok, its slightly negative gradient, but to push it this hard it a big ask. We manage to get up to 58kph and keep that up for 3 more kilometres. President is screaming to keep it tight and push but he burns out so it’s just the 3 of us. Captain puts a massive 1k shift in before dropping off and now it’s 1k until we reach Cottingham. Myself and Moore the Tank Engine can see the turn-off.
We go under a bridge and Moore notches it up to 62kph. No way boy, that’s not for me. Off he goes and absolutely smashes the Strava KOM by 12 seconds.
We are wheezing and breathing on the grass by turn-off and analyse our 10k team pursuit. All I can say is, you have to experience this (if you ever get the chance). Not only are you whizzing past beautiful Yorkshire countryside, you’re pushing speeds professionals often do and its feel so great because it’s a massive team effort.
Admittedly, I love Strava to bits. But when you accomplish an average speed of 54 kph for 7-8k, Strava doesn’t matter – it’s the teamwork that counts the most.
All in all, a very good ride and I can see more and more why Yorkshire got the chance to hold Le Grand Depart. It’s going to be a great event and the wolds/moors are eagerly anticipating the peloton.