- by Robert Thorpe, September 15, 2022
Riding in Autumn Colours
It’s difficult for cyclists as summer turns to autumn. As a global activity, you can’t always guarantee warm and dry weather, especially in Northern Europe. Your kit also needs to change, and you may be putting on the long bib tights, long sleeved jerseys and overshoes. On a positive note, the colours of autumn and fall are spectacular and make for amazing road cycling rides into the countryside - nowhere more so than in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
This beautiful part of the world has hosted the Tour de France (2014) and the UCI World Road Cycling Championships (2019), and is renowned all around the world for the hard and steep road cycling climbs in the area. As home to our Lake Cycling blogging editor, Robert, we know exactly how good the riding is here - which is why we want to share a ride with you, courtesy of Robert and his local knowledge. We’ll be bringing you lots of seasonal rides in the future, from all around the cycling globe, and this scenic and testing road cycling route in the magnificent Yorkshire Dales National Park is an epic start to the series. And, we also know what cycling shoes will suit the terrain and Robert best - Lake of course. Robert chose the Lake CX 219 Road Cycling shoes for this route through the hills.
Coverdale Loop, Castles and Abbeys Cycling Route
Head for the hills
Driving from home into the hills, I park at the rural market town of Masham, famed for its beer production and sheep - and beers that are surprisingly also named after sheep! The historic market square at Masham is surrounded by stone cottages and buildings, with the cobbles adding to the aesthetic. My Bianchi Infinito is soon lifted down from the bike carrier and made ready, and I slip on the Lake Cycling CX 219 shoes and clip in. It’s time to ride, and I head out of town, following the road into Wensleydale, with sheep filled meadows either side. The road weaves that draped thread across the landscape, rising and falling gently, before it dips down and around a series of twisting bends that lead towards Jervaulx Abbey, one of the many historic ruins in the Dales. The Tour de France came up this road, probably faster than I’m descending, but the scenery is spectacular and I soon reach the wonderful village of East Witton, where most cyclists stay in the road to Middleham and its castle.
However, local knowledge tells me to turn off, follow the village green and climb the narrow lane that wends its way into Coverdale, with autumn colours of reds and browns on the trees lining the tight and twisting descent that leads to Coverham Abbey, before climbing steeply on the narrow lane to the isolated, but extremely beautiful hamlet of West Scrafton. Time now to descend with care on the narrow and snake-like road that allows me to cross the River Cover, before I’m handed a brutal short climb up main road - which in truth is simply a slightly wider and more frequently used country lane, but with even more epic views.
Penn Hill awaits
And before long I’m riding through the large and picturesque village of Carlton in Coverdale and heading to Melmerby, where the renowned climb of Penn Hill awaits me. It’s time to dig deep and keep the Lake CX 219 shoes turning the cranks. I lean down and just twist the BOAs a little, to tighten the shoe slightly, in order to retain necessary stability and power transfer on the CX 219. Thankfully, my feet are stable and comfortable, as I add the watts and try to find a climbing rhythm on this long snaking climb, with confused sheep looking on at me from the heather clad hillside.
The final cattle grid is crossed and I’m heading for the summit, with Penn Hill to my left and the famed racehorse training gallops of Middleham to my right. In the distance, across Wensleydale I can see Castle Bolton and the hills that the Tour de France riders explored in 2014. Taking the next road on the right, that sweeps down towards Middleham, with the gallops alongside, I eventually re-join the main Coverdale road through the valley and I race along, rising and descending with the epic Yorkshire Dales autumn scenery surrounding me and the sound of the gravelly tarmac crunching away beneath the wheels.
Time for Coffee & Cake
Sweeping down at speed into historic Middleham, I soon pass the castle of Richard III, our most misunderstood monarch, from the 1500s, and I continue riding without stopping, making the most of the descending road through Wensleydale, passing Jervaulx Abbey once more, as the climbing begins. Masham awaits, but there’s still some small hills to tackle along the way. All too soon I’m back at the car, in the historic cobbled square, sitting astride my Bianchi and smiling. The BOAs are loosened and the Lake CX 219 shoes are removed, trainers replacing them and the bike secured to the car. Now for coffee and cake at the famous café in the corner of the square, where road bikes are always lined up outside as riders share coffee, lunches, cakes and conversation.
If you’d like to ride this route too, then visit the link below for maps and GPX file, to keep you on track. Don’t forget your Lake, road cycling shoes too!