Helmsley - Carlton - Cow Bank - Cockayne - Gillamoor - Hutton-le-Hole - Spaunton - Appleton-le-Moors - Marton - Great Barugh - Amotherby - Malton - Norton - North Grimston - Wetwang - Bainton - Lund - Cherry Burton - Beverley - Cottingham - Hull - 125km/1500m climbing
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When I woke up on Saturday morning I felt rested and ready for the next dose, but the weather was not encouraging. The rain hadn't stopped all night and everywhere was damp. Although the sky looked like it was trying to clear up, everywhere was grey.
But people are made of tough stuff up North, and saying you're not going out because of the weather is the ultimate wussy Southerner thing to say. In fact, while it was raining the previous night, many Helmsley locals on their Friday night out stood outside in T-shirts, impervious to the elements while they supped beer and smoked. For them this was just all pretty normal!
I finally set off at 10am, feeling on the one hand, glad that this was my last leg of the trip - but on the other hand, anxious about the gradients I'd have to take in along the way.
Immediately I left the youth hostel, the road climbed up to the horizon. I could see a couple of cars in the distance chugging up the road. "Oh man, I've got to get up there?!" I thought. I just took it easy and ground up the road in the granny ring.
I would have to take it easy, as my back had not stopped aching from the previous day, and I would need to look after it if I wanted to get to my destination in one piece.
The road ground uphill for around 4 miles. At the top it seemed like I was the highest thing around. I was at Cow Bank. It was like being on top of the world. You just had farms and moorland beneath you. The countryside was beautiful, but desolate.
I swooped down a 16% gradient for about 2 miles - lovely, but then immediately had to climb again - 18%. And thus the routine continued. Up then down, then up then down - 15% then 14%, 15% then 16%, 20% (!!) then 18%. And throughout this area I must have seen just 4 cars, a few hundred sheep and zillions of tufts of heather. Such is life on the North York Moors.
After about 15 miles I arrived at Gillamoor, where I had the choice of continuing up to Farndale, or down to Hutton-le-hole. As time was marching on and I wanted to get back to my folks, I decided to head out of the Moors. My back was also relieved at the thought too, as it was aching quite alot now. So I went down to Hutton-le-Hole.
This is a very pretty spot. At this point you see a bit of life too - lots of walkers and tourists. Plus caravans that have to U-turn once they realise they won't be able to get up the 1 in 3 slope up Rosedale Chimney. As much as it was tempting, I passed on that opportunity too, and headed for Appleton-le-Moor, where my stint in the Moors ended, and I was in more farmland, until I reached Malton.
Phew, what a relief to have put all those interminable steep gradients of the North York Moors behind me! Once on the road to Beverley the Yorkshire Wolds would be a walk in the park, by comparison. They weren't though. The B1248 road was just one long rolling road that twisted and turned and danced up and down slopes of varying degrees. None of the climbs were long at all - just very frequent, and some were deceptively steep.
This road was also quite a favourite with motorbikers too, which meant it was impossible for me to slip into a reverie - something that I wanted to do to take my mind off my back which was beginning to scream at me.
Instead I resorted to things like seeing how far back I could pull my stomach muscles, and counting how many breaths I could take in a minute - desperate measures.
At last, I reached Beverley, where I was able to have a quick breather and admire the Minster, a mini version of the one in York. I then twiddled my way along the last 10 flat miles through the leafy burbs of Skidby and Cottingham before reaching Hull. Gosh, I've never been so happy to reach Hull!
So, 190 miles and lots of climbing. I was satisfied with my ride, but I had also given myself an unnecessary burden. Next time, it'll be panniers for sure. I also hope to spend more time in the North York Moors - get up to Danby and Whitby, and really freak myself out going up (and down) Blakey Bank and Rosedale Chimney. Something to look foward to !