Welcome to Harrogate from the Cappuccino Cycling Club…
When Bradley Wiggins won the tour in 2012, in the same year Team GB dominated the Olympic Velodrome, you may well have thought that there could never be a better time to be a cyclist in Britain. Then a year later ASO announced that the 2014 Tour de France would start in Yorkshire and everything went crazy. The Grandest Ever Grand Depart was a huge success, and Yorkshire has become a hot bed of cycling ever since. Historians might argue that this was always the case – the first Brit to win a stage in the tour, Brian Robinson, was from Yorkshire, as was Barry Hoban who won eight stages between 1967 and 1975. The greatest female cyclist ever won seven world titles and ninety national championships. She was called Beryl Burton and came from Morley, near Leeds. And of course local lass Lizzie Deignan is one of the favourites for the women’s world title this year.
Yorkshire, and Harrogate in particular, will once again be the focus of the cycling world when the world championships are held here in late September. There will no doubt be thousands of cycling fans visiting the town, but if you are visiting, what should you do when you get here?
Ride your bike!! A good starting point for any ride from Harrogate is Prologue Performance Cycling, which is on Cold Bath Road in the centre of town. As well as being an excellent shop where you can buy all the spare tubes, tyre leavers, CO2 canisters that you forgot to bring, it is also a great café with a sunny terrace, and a fine selection of coffee, cakes, snacks and beer.
In the days of web based route planning tools, it seems best just to offer general advice of the sort of ride we as locals enjoy ourselves. So for a starter, why not warm your legs up on roads that will become very famous in the time you are here?
Set off uphill from Prologue until you reach the traffic lights, and take a right turn which takes you onto Otley Road and the closing circuit which the riders will tackle as they bid to get their hands on the rainbow jersey. Keep straight on until you reach the village of Beckwithshaw, and turn right at the mini roundabout. You’ll then drop down a steep hill with a couple of tricky bends, before a short and steep climb. Once you’ve recovered from this another right turn takes you down a descent to more technical corners at Oak Bank, then another potential attack point as you climb towards the town again. A left turn down Harlow Moor Drive takes the course down the side of Harrogate’s famous Valley Gardens before a hairpin turn takes it back up the other side. Next, take the right turn into Hereford Road and pass through the very grand houses of the prestigious Duchy area of Harrogate, turning right again into Kent Road as you head towards the closing stages of the lap. A right turn puts you briefly on the road that the Tour de France took in it’s last kilometre in 2014, before a another right turn into Swan Road. You’ll briefly glimpse the Valley Gardens again from the end of Swan Road as you turn left to being your approach to the finish. At this point your lap of the circuit has to end because although the riders will be taking a sharp right into Parliament Street to race up the hill to the finish line, the road is one way with the traffic heading down the hill towards you. So, instead of breaking the law, retrace your ride to the for a couple of hundred metres, bear left by the Tourist Information Centre and leave the roundabout up Cold Bath Road, back to Prologue for recovery coffee and cake. Or beer of course.
If you want a longer ride and to take in some of the local area, Harrogate makes a great starting point. Heading out of town in a North Westerly direction takes you into the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The B6165 road from just north of the village of Ripley (accessible from town via the Nidderdale Greenway) heads up a steeply sided valley with plenty of challenging roads heading off to either side. Look out for Hartwith Bank and Stripe Lane. These take you away from the main road, and turning left at the top of either of them brings you into the town of Pateley Bridge. Pause here and sample fantastic pork pies from Weatherhead’s or Kendal’s – almost opposite each other on the high street. If you want a few more miles, take the right turn by the park and head up the road by the reservoir until you reach Lofthouse, where, just on the other side of the village How Stean Gorge serves one of the best bacon sandwiches you’ll ever taste. From here you can climb Trapping Hill where Lizzie Deignan launched her winning attack in the Tour de Yorkshire a couple of years ago towards Masham. The town is the home of the Black Sheep brewery if your thirsty, and the excellent Sun Catchers Café in the market square if your hungry. There are plenty of route options for your ride back to Harrogate – heading back via Ripon and the surrounding villages is recommended. If you want a shorter route back from Pateley Bridge, try your hand at climbing Greenhow Hill which has tested the Tour de Yorkshire peleton for the last two editions. Be warned – its quite brutal, but Toft House Barn is another good café almost (but not quite) at the top. A left turn in the village of Greenhow Hill takes you back towards Harrogate.
The Yorkshire Dales are close by too – head out of Harrogate as if you were repeating your worlds circuit ride, but go left in Beckwithshaw. You can then head towards Otley, turning right along Farnley Park after you pass through the village of Leathley. Take Weston Lane out of Otley and stay on this relatively quiet road to Ilkley , where you can head out along Denton Road towards Bolton Abbey to the locally famous Cavendish Pavilion for refreshments by the river. There are numerous options to get back to Harrogate from here – crossing the wooden bridge and turning left takes you through the woods to Barden where you can bear right towards Appletreewick. Right again takes up the challenging Skyreholme Hill and back to the main road. A another right turn takes you in the direction of Pateley Bridge, but take the right turn in the village of Greenhow Hill and head back to Harrogate.
For those who want flatter rides, head out towards the Vale of York. The surrounding villages are almost all served by good cafes – Beningbrough Hall and Easingwold being regular stopping points for our club.
After all your efforts you will no doubt need sustenance and refreshment. Harrogate has all the usual chain restaurants dotted around the town centre, but instead why not try something more local? Yorkshire is famous for Fish and Chips and Graveley’s on Cheltenham Parade is excellent, either as a takeaway or inside. If curry is more your thing, a few doors up from Graveley’s you could splash out at Cardamom Black , or further down the hill Jinnah is also popular. If you were in Prologue earlier in the day, you may have noticed La Feria next door, which is good for tapas. For pizza, seek out Major Tom’s Social. This alternative style place is on The Ginnel, only metres from the finishing straight. Not only does it do great pizza, it has a range of real ales and craft beers, which leads me nicely onto the subject of liquid refreshment. Once you’ve had enough of recovery shakes and been for tea and and cake in the world famous Betty’s Tea Rooms, you may well fancy a pint or two.
On your ride round the circuit you will have passed the Shepherds Dog on Otley road which will be a good spot to watch the race. You may also have noticed the Corner Haus at the end of Swan Road in the town centre, which has an excellent selection of Belgian Beers and a nice seating area where you will see the race pass twice on each lap. There is also a thriving craft beer scene in Harrogate. Try The Harrogate Tap in the railway station, and The Disappearing Chin just opposite. In the town centre North Bar on Cheltenham Parade is cycling friendly, Starling Independent Bar Café and The Cold Bath Brew Co are also worth a visit. Don’t leave town without visiting Rich and Danni in the Little Ale House on Cheltenham Crescent. It’s a fantastic micro pub with well-kept beer and pork pies from Addyman’s to accompany your pint. If you fancy something on the out-skirts of town then pay a visit to the Rooster’s Brewery Tap Room on Hornbeam Park and then maybe a some good pasta/pizza at Al Bivio’s Italian, which is about 400m down the road, also on Hornbeam Park.
If, while you’re here, you’ve had enough of riding on your own, or your mates are too full of beer to ride, then the Cappuccino Cycling Club ride from Harrogate Squash and Fitness Centre on Hookstone Wood Road on Saturdays and Sundays at 8.30 am and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7.30 pm. As long as you wear a helmet, have lights (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and enjoy a pie and a pint, you would be very welcome to tag along.
Enjoy your time in Yorkshire!