Essentials

Distances:       77 km / 162 km
Participants:    300 (Entry available on the day)
Start:               Airville School, Skipton, BD23 1UQ
Cost:                £30 (£5 of which going to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research)
Transport:        Parking on-site
Skipton Station 1km
Feedstops:      2 / 3
Timed:             Yes (Ankle tag system)
Signs:              Clear Black Arrows on a pink background
Road:              On the whole OK with some rougher sections on the very minor roads
My Ride:         http://www.strava.com/rides/king-of-the-pennines-skipton-north-yorkshire-united-kingdom-1500459

Summary

Fantastic, what a great ride. Covering a large area of the Yorkshire moors and all the spectacular scenery that it offers. With a generous slice of climbing it had a beauty and scale comparable with the likes of the Fred Whitton but with a much sparser field. I’m sure that can’t last though so get in quick if it’s back next year.

The ride

I’ve got to admit that on Saturday evening, making our way to an Earby hostel in sideways rain and two metre visibility after leaving a sunny London that lunchtime, I had begun to seriously question my lifestyle choices. Who in their right mind travels to the other end of the country to get zero sleep in a dormitory shared with octogenarians with force nine snores, forces breakfast down at the crack of dawn just to put himself through hell over 100 miles of moorland? Well, me, it turns out, and in hindsight I wouldn’t change a thing (except maybe the snoring old guy bit).

Saturday’s bad feeling was a distant memory as we took our places on the start at Airville School in Skipton. The rain had run through and it was a bright and clear day. Registration followed the usual course of collecting a number for the bike bars and an ankle mounted timing tag along this time with a complimentary breakfast. We rolled out around ten to nine and after a brief section climbing out of town we were soon in open country lanes which were to form the rest of the ride.

The opening, though always undulating eased us in fairly gently for the first 20km but the scenery was incredible from the off. We were very soon climbing up to Malham Tarn (2.5km at 6.2%) where we hugged the valley before dropping into follow the River Skirfare. The beauty of the landscape throughout the ride was something else, it’s not an area I’ve ever visited and what a fantastic way to see it. The weather was just perfect, clear and bright and at times even sunny but enough cloud cover to keep it cool and give those amazing hills that dappled and sometimes foreboding look.

Around Oughtershore we began the biggest climb of the day, Fleet Moss (2.8km at 8.4%) and it was a real grinder that swung around the moors and took us onto the high country. The rivers and dales continued before climbing back up to pass the sailing boats on Semer Water for an unusually long period of mostly downhill respite.

Some of the course was shared with the Richmond CC Grand Prix and we passed straight through one of the feed-zones, though it looked like the riders were long gone. It says something for the quality of the roads and climbs that the elites compete here.

We were soon back in the high country as we climbed back over Carlton Highdale before ending the first loop at Kettlewell and heading south towards home. The last big climb was up Moor Lane (1.4km at 10.2%) and although comparatively short on tired legs it felt by far the toughest of the day. The last 5 mile sign at the top was a welcome sight as I just had enough left for the push for Skipton.

This ride was a real highlight of the year for me, a fantastic area to cycle with scenery straight out of a Bronte novel. It had a healthy amount of climbing, virtually no cars and was organised with the usual Evan’s aplomb. I hope this event stays in the calendar but if the secret gets out I can see it getting a lot busier next year.

Kit

Jamis Xenith Pro
Garmin Edge 500
Topeak Aero Wedge pack, Topeak TriBag, Camelbak Podium waterbottles
Blackburn Air Stick III pump, Topeak Mini18+, Bontrager Air Rush regulator
Specialized BG Comp Road shoes, Cyclosport Endura shorts and jersey, Specialized Propero helmet, dhb arm warmers, Gore bike wear Power mitts