Deep in the North Yorkshire Moors, not very much happens. You can stand atop a heather covered moor and on a calm day, you’ll hear nothing more than the calling of grouse in the heather and the occasional sheep bleating at its lambs.
This is the soundtrack that accompanied me on my ride around the Yorkshire True Grit course in 2017. An event that rocketed to the top of my ‘best rides’ list before I’d even reached the half way point. The eclectic mix of gravel roads, sweeping forest singletrack and quiet country roads means that you’ll never be on the right bike. The start line was a mixture of gravel bikes, mountain bikes and fat bikes. Post ride, everyone compared notes over a beer and no one could agree what bike had the overall advantage.
When news hit my desk that the organisers had been granted access to even more private land, I just had to get in touch and see if we go for a little look see…
I was welcomed by Debs and Andy at our rendezvous point, deep in the Moors accompanied by the familiar backing track of bleating sheep and……whats this? The subdued electric whirr of an e-bike? As Andy explains, they make course marking and setup a whole lot quicker… Especially when they are derestricted! Thankfully Debs kept the balance in the gravel favour with a classy Salsa Deadwood drop bar 29er.
With permission granted from the landowner, we headed up a private shooting path onto Whorlton Moor and I soon started to recognise landmarks from last years Yorkshire True Grit; the lonely little shooting house, the fast flowing gravel descents, the climbs… Ah yeah, I remember them more than anything!
Before we go further, look back at that last paragraph and heed the words, private and shooting… A lot of the trails featured on Yorkshire True Grit are on private shooting estates and are exclusive to the event. If you fancy taking a trip up onto these moorland estates on any other day, you’re likely to get frogmarched off or shot. Do yourself a favour and enter the event, hey?
So how did the organisers secure access? Everywhere I look there are signs of the ‘gerr off mah land’ ilk. With a deep sigh Andy explains “It wasn’t easy to get to where we are now. The landowners took a dim view on cyclists due to previous experience of trespass and cheeky trail building but after a lot of negotiation, agreed to give us a chance. The increased access for this years event is due, in no small part, to the respect shown by last year’s riders.”
What was down is now up
Our ride suddenly takes a diversion away from what I remember of last years course and now we’re climbing again. As Debs points out, this is the new stuff! Rather than just sandwiching in a few token pieces of new track into the existing course, the duo have reworked around 75% of the 60 mile ‘Outlaw’ route. Sections that may in the past have been a rip roaring descent may well be a lung busting climb this year. And it just so happens that Debs is quite the fan of a good hill climb…
If I was to give away too much information, it’d be like spoiling a good film by telling you the plot. So I won’t. What I will let you know though, is that all those evil climbs are worth the effort. One in particular has you grinding away up towards a huge TV mast. You’ll feel as if you are climbing Yorkshire’s version of Mount Ventoux. The reward is a breathtaking view over the Moors with the Vale of York in the distance. And then, there’s the descent. This will likely be a prime spot for the photographers, but don’t worry, you’ll be smiling already.
Yorkshire True Grit runs from the 22nd – 24th June and entries are open now. To find out more and register, click here.
Last modified: 20th May 2018