Yorkshire True Grit 2019
United Kingdom • 22 June, 2019 • by rpcutts
I was nervous and excited to do my first event ride. At 100km it would be almost the longest ride I’d done. Given this along with the elevation and terrain involved I was anticipating it would be my toughest. An added concern was the huge amounts of rain that had been falling for the previous few weeks. Though thankfully, race day was sunny.
I hung back at the start as I had no intention of getting in the way of anyone that was going to be going full gas. I was there for a good time, not a fast time.
After setting off in groups to avoid a bottleneck at the first gate we went down a very steep hill surrounded by cows and then… got stuck at the bottleneck that was at the first gate. What can you do?
The first 20 or so kilometres sucked the fun right out of the event for me. Huge sections came again and again that were too steep, too technical, and too sodden to pass. A huge train of cyclists walking their bikes through boggy woods. The odd cyclist for every few dozen would be slowly and skilfully making their way through. The occasional extremely skilled mountain cyclist or the odd fat bike that look like you could ride them on the moon, otherwise, everyone is walking. Some of the stretches at the start were just a joke. I wouldn’t be surprised if I spent more time on foor than in the saddle during these first 20km.
Then after spinning up a decent climb we arrived at the first food station. And here I made the classic mistake of over eating. I think I spent the next 10km of climbing feeling like I might chunder but we were now in the moors and on roads or grassland and I could at least just ride. It was also in this stretch that we cycled passed the BnB we were staying at in Levisham which made me chuckle.
Shortly after this we crossed the A169 and the next 20km or so whilst still interspersed with some more muddy silliness were probably the most enjoyable.
This section brought us back in a loop, despite a few signage issues, and one mad descent back down to the food station that most riders around me assumed was a routing mistake. It was here that I over compensated for my earlier error by not eating and drinking enough. In part because I was sure there were 3 food station, but there were only 2. I would pay for this later.
As the route headed north, tracking Pickering Beck there was another ridiculous, un-rideable climb. At this point I was just pissed off with all the walking. It sent me into full sulk. I came for a bike ride not a hike. The next few hours were a repeating pattern of gravel, mud, tarmac, and bog. I think I would have no recollection of this section if not for the amusing flip-flopping between me and a bloke on a mountain bike. Every muddy, sodden forest path he’d come tootling past me. When it cleared to harder ground or roads, I’d overtake him. This went on until almost the end when due to lack of water, and realising the 3rd food station didn’t exist, I decided to rest for a few minutes.
The vibrations in my arms were agony in those last 5 to 10km that meant my speed went through the floor and lack of water made the roof of my mouth feel like it was cracking in half. Then, back up that first 20% hill of cows (the kind of climb where your sure you are going to just tip backwards and roll down). At the top of the hill the gate was being held open by my wife and my dog.
I finished, put on some clothes, sat with my wife and had a pork sandwich and a pint with my dog curled up at my feet and that was the best bit of the day.
This is the part where I say how it was hard and punishing but wonderful and rewarding. But it wasn’t. It was frustrating and kind of stupid for far too many parts. The enjoyable parts or the ride were far to fleeting. I can’t believe this was considered a ‘gravel’ ride and I wouldn’t consider doing it again for even a passing moment.