GHS Rides: a bit of a round up of the routes… and those hills

Sadly, in 2015 I won't be taking part in the George Herbert Stancer Memorial Rides (Sunday 19th April). At least my excuse is cycling related – I'll be away with a few mates having a go at Buttertubs Pass, Fleet Moss, Park Rash and some other dinks in North Yorkshire. But I can't help being a little worried about my declining fitness: rummaging around in Garmin Connect I am reminded that over the previous three years my GHS rides have got shorter and by my reckoning slower. It's those hills…

Burnby Hall Gardens

The café in the grounds of Burnby Hall, Pocklington is open especially for cyclists. Don't forget to have your card stamped

2012: the 102 mile route

I find this a particularly challenging ride. In 2011 I managed to get dropped just after Little Weighton 😮 but the following year it was on the approach to Terrington in North Yorkshire before I fell off the back of the group. At the top of that climb there is a downhill section before another uphill that has me in the granny gear every time. I tell myself it is worth if for the descent in to Hovingham. In 2012 my bit of fortune was for one of the 'fast lads' to puncture on the B1257 before Slingsby so I was able to take a breather and a bit of flapjack. But that only delayed the lumpy bits past Castle Howard where the group was really strung out. More descending follows on this route before crossing the busy A64 to the peaceful lanes around Barton le Willows. The next bit is a gradual wind up before taking on one of the hills that I simply have to grind out: Leavening Brow.

Leavening Brow climb

Leavening Brow. Gets me every time

If the value of the climb before Hovingham is open to debate there is no doubting the worth of what follows Leavening Brow. The descent through Water Dale in to Thixendale is surely the most peerless uninterrupted stretch of road in the whole of the Yorkshire Wolds. No wonder the Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route and pretty much every sportive in the area takes you up or down this way.

The only problem with dropping in to Thixendale is that you might not have turned a pedal for a few miles and then a rest will have followed in the village hall. That's always refreshing, but the Huggate Road is next and – in common with most ways out of Thixendale – it comes as a bit of a shock to the legs and lungs. Through Huggate and on towards North Dalton. So fatigued was I at this point that I managed to get dropped again on the downhill approach to North Dalton. The route takes in a mercifully short stretch of the A614 after Middleton on the Wolds and then the shallow incline south towards Holme on the Wolds. I think this was the year I struggled up with others only to see two people taking photographs at the top. At least they would have time to take a decent snap. "They'll have time to caputure us in oils", quipped Dave.

I managed to get separated again – this time from our splinter group – but regained some strength to pick up a few more riders (ironically on the gentle rise out of Etton that would scupper me the following year in my only start in the Big G). The 2012 GHS Rides took place on a windy day and I was ten minutes slower than in 2011, but 12 minutes instead of 40 behind the earliest finishers. This longest route is excellent. Especially if you like hills – and lemon drizzle cake.

2013: the 74 mile route

Don't be fooled by the Garmin Connect map below. The 74 mile route doesn't start on the outskirts of Bugthorpe. In the excitement of being waved away from Cottingham I had forgotten to set my computer to record the ride. The middle route diverges from the longer one at Full Sutton and the two don't join up again until Thixendale. That means that riders get to visit both cafés on this middle route, but miss out the hilliest parts of the long ride. However, there is still the not inconsiderable climb of Painsthorpe to deal with. The first time I rode this climb someone mocked my 34T rear sprocket even though I didn't actually use it on that day. By 2013 I was riding my jazzy new bike with its 28T largest sprocket. Be assured I used that 28T sprocket on the Painsthorpe climb. The scenery is very pleasant indeed. The road winds about a bit, unlike its neighbouring climb Uncleby Wold that stretches arrow straight up to the Roman Road. Once on to the ridge the 74 mile route takes the second right turn and a different descent in to Thixendale. Unlike Water Dale this road has a rough surface and perilous bends. So watch out. It comes out right next to the village hall, which is very welcoming. Just don't overshoot the junction.

Thixendale Village Hall

Thixendale Village Hall: resist that extra slice of lemon drizzle cake – the Huggate Road awaits…

Two bits of fortune on this ride: I rode most of this route with Leo, Joe and Ben, each a quarter century younger than me, but Ben had gastroenteritis (or something equally unpleasant) so kept us to a sensible pace 🙂 and the fast lads on the 102 mile route – having set off earlier than us – had punctured on the Cliffes road so when they overtook us we were able to hitch a ride for a while. I think we went out quicker than we returned…

2014: the 57 mile route

For some reason I remember little of this ride, other than that I rode it with Francis, who had to ring Sheila as we left Pocklington to give an idea when we'd be back. I don't even remember our climbing Nunburnholme Hill (we did, honest, it's on the Garmin map below). Perhaps memories of the day were overshadowed by Hull City's historic victory in the semi-final of the FA Cup later that day. Anyway, Nunburnholme Hill was also included in the two longer of our three September Standard Rides routes and is widely regarded as being one of the toughest hill climbs on the Yorkshire Wolds.

If you are reading this because you are thinking of riding with East Yorkshire CTC then each route represents a challenge in its own right and has much to recommend it. There are no route signs or feed stations just a route sheet and a café or two along the way. There will, however, be .gpx files available nearer the date. Ride one of these routes with others or by yourself. Proceeds from the day go towards supporting young cyclists in Yorkshire.

Download printable route sheets and .gpx files (added later)

Visit the page for the 2016 event >>>

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