On your bike! Taking on Tour de Yorkshire cycle challenge

Taking on Tour de Yorkshire cycle challenge
Taking on Tour de Yorkshire cycle challenge

Back in January riding the Calderdale section of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire seemed like a good idea. Last week when I actually had to do it, it didn’t.

A 10.5 mile cycle from Halifax to Pecket Well which would take the professionals 35 minutes to complete was pretty daunting but I sorted out a bike to borrow, roped my dad in to do it with me and got practising.

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A small disclaimer - before this I hadn’t been on a bike in about six years and my fitness level is very low. It was going to be a major challenge.

Before I went and collected my bike from Blazing Saddles in Hebden Bridge, who were amazing at putting me at ease with the thought of getting back on a bike for the first time in years, I thought the hardest part would be the actual cycling but it was actually dealing with cars.

The real riders will have the luxury of closed roads but I battled with cars, lorries and vans who thought it was fine to go hurtling past at 40mph with just a 30cm gap between us. If you drive, next time you see a cyclist please be more considerate. I know they can seem like an inconvenience but it’s worth being cautious for the 30 seconds it will add to your journey.

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Something else I didn’t anticipate to be a challenge was going downhill. Imagine riding a rollercoaster without being strapped in and the only thing coming between you and the ground is your own balance. It was scary but the more I practised the more confident I got and it felt great flying down through the valley.

Getting out of Luddenden Foot there was a bit of an uphill so I took the opportunity to look at the scenery. Even in the miserable rain it was a picturesque setting. Canal on the left, hills out in front it was something I hadn’t really paid much attention to when I’ve been in a car.

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The end of the ride was the climb from Hebden Bridge up to Pecket Well which was hard. Really hard. After a few dry sobs and a couple of stops we made it and I’ve never been so happy to see a road sign in my life.

Looking back on the ride after a cup of tea and a long bath, I really enjoyed it. It was good to get out and do something different and I surprised myself with how well I seemed to manage. But there’s no way I’d have been able to carry on for another 107 miles so I have serious respect for the cyclists taking on the Tour’s final stage on Sunday.

A big thank you to Blazing Saddles for lending me the bike to complete the ride and for talking me through the bike and making me feel comfortable with it.


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