This has been one of the easiest 200km bike rides I’ve done: I was route-checking the Humber Bridge 200 (HB200) event planned for the 23rd September 2017. Nikki, a friend from church met me at 7am and we set off northbound from St Helen’s Church in Welton climbing immediately to one of the highest points on the ride and then following the tops of the Yorkshire Wolds to South Dalton.
It was a good job I was route-checking because I’d not actually bothered to add my first control point (South Dalton) to my GPS track. Thankfully the roads are familiar and I did the path-finding for Nikki and I. South Dalton is home to the ‘Pipe and Glass‘ a Michelin star gastro pub. Carol and I stumbled upon this place by accident one cycle-touring holiday and the pub lunch menus are affordable and delicious. I’m sorry that the HB200 will be passing here far too early for lunch. So, after deciding on an ‘Information Control’ question, we continued north to Thixendale.
This end-of-May warmth was lovely despite the unbroken clouds above us. We cycled along chatting about everything and nothing. The Yorkshire Wolds have some long gently climbs which don’t require much strength but do give you time to enjoy the quiet countryside – broken only by birdsong. There was hardly any traffic and Nikki reminded me that it was half-term.
The road to Thixendale was closed – well obviously that means closed for motorised traffic so we casually ignored the signs and sure enough the road was perfectly passable while balancing on two wheels. 🙂
We reached Thixendale and the second Information Control point – an obvious question presented itself and after saying hello to the village shop staff we started to climb back out via Waterdale, which weaves gentle back and forth between round green hills covered in sheep.
North we continued; the next goal was Sheriff Hutton but first we had to pass through Kirkham Abbey. The approach to Kirkham has a delightful road along the valley side looking down on fields, the river Derwent and the York-to-Scarborough railway which weaves along following the Derwent between here, Castle Howard and Malton. As we dropped into Kirkham we passed another excellent pub – The Stone Trough Inn. Dean introduced me to this place and it is yet another fabulous place to eat with perfect quality beer and an open log fire… again though, sorry, but the HB200 will be passing here too early to justifying a stop.
Perhaps I should organise a “PubStop 200” audax.
After the drop into Kirkham, past the Abbey, the road crosses the Derwent and immediately climbs, crossing the York-Scarborough line and ramping up for a short but challenging climb to the first major obstacle in iny route planning… a trunk road. This is the A64, it has been turned into a dual-carriageway and we join it at the brow of a hill. Thankfully there is a useable cyclepath along the side and we’re only following it for 500m.
What I noticed about the A64 was just how heavy it was with traffic compared to how utterly deserted the country lanes were. I was feeling rather pleased with myself that I’d found properly quiet roads all the way to Sheriff Hutton and our first proper Control Point. Here there is a pub, a village store, a rather excellent cafe and even a wine shop. I can heartily recommend the cafe: Quarmby’s, they have bike parking outside and really gorgeous custard tarts.
Finally we were turning south and the hills were over for the next 100km. We re-crossed the A64 at Flaxton, but here the road is single carriageway and the traffic, although heavy is slower. Another 500m and we’ve crossed this and once again have the tarmac to ourselves.
South and further south – to Melbourne. Okay, perhaps I’ve overstated how far south! Melbourne is on my favourite commute from Hull to York and I’ve got the perfect ‘Information Control’ before the HB200 riders will continue south to Howden and beyond. I had thoroughly enjoyed my ride with Nikki but work beckoned for her and she caught the train back from Howden, while I was looking forward to the river Ouse, river Trent and Humber crossing.
I crossed the river Ouse at Boothferry Bridge and turned immediately left for Hook. There is a nice looking village shop but sadly it shuts at 1pm on a Saturday and will be no good as a control for the HB200 – so I chose an Information Control question and continued south through Goole and over the many little bridges around the Goole docklands on the Ouse.
Once past Goole, the route follows the river Trent south to Keadby and everything is as flat as possible. With the wind in the wrong direction this could be a nightmare, but I was fortunate to have a west wind which hadn’t given me any trouble all day. Reaching Keadby there is a Post Office which is open until 8pm on a Saturday and makes the perfect full Control point – they have a stamp for brevet cards and riders will be able to stock-up on supplies before heading into the wilds of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
The second big water crossing happens here on Keadby Bridge – a monolithic tilting bridge which feels daunting to ride over but has a grim beauty to its industrial heritage.
From here on I was using a mixture of the GPS and some exploration to find the best route to Alkborough and the final Information Control of the day. Exploring the roads ‘at ground level’ can bring some wonderful rewards and I found a couple of lovely roads which avoid a dirt track and long main road diversion.
As I arrived at Alkborough I found that the countryside opened out and I could see the Humber Bridge in the distance. In honesty, it is for this reason that we are riding the route counter-clockwise… we get to see the Humber Bridge grow slowly closer for about 10 miles as we undulate along the top of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
I’m still deciding on the final section of the route to the Humber Bridge – there may be a traffic-free option and I plan to ride out to that in the next few weeks. Today I had a tailwind pushing me along to South Ferriby, all the while to the north of me, across the Humber, I could see ‘home’: Welton.
The last crossing of water was on the iconic Humber Bridge and with less than 10km to go I was back in Welton. My ‘Randonneur Round the Year‘ was still on track and my training for London Edinburgh London was also on track. This route-check had been extremely helpful and I’m thoroughly looking forward to running the event in September.