After much anticipation I took the long drive up to the North Yorkshire Moors last weekend. My purpose, to ride the Yorkshire True Grit 2018 off road cycling event.
Sixty gruelling miles through a surprising variety of landscapes, on a wide selection of surfaces unified, for the most part, by their bumpiness, looseness and the length and steepness of the gradients.
Riding True Grit
The sun was shining, in a gentle Northern way. The ground dry and dusty. Just the lightest of breezes. Perfect conditions for trying out my new jersey and shorts from the Aussie Grit range of cycling apparel.
By the time I’d got to the top of the first big climb I was already appreciating the apparent ability of the clothes to let heat out. I was feeling notably fresher than usual, both up top and down below. Perhaps for the first time ever I didn’t feel as though as I was wearing pants full of wet pitta bread. A good first impression further reinforced by the absence of bum discomfort for the whole jaw clattering day.
I’ve had my eye on Aussie Grit for a while as a possible good match for my desire to be wearing high quality gear that is toned down style wise. Sometimes, less is more.
After that first climb we were up, up and away across sweeping tracts of high moorland.
Long and dusty trails were often exhilaratingly fast rideable gravel.
Sections with sand pits, fist sized stones or surprise drainage gullies provided bike skittering, bum clenching moments to keep the adrenaline flowing and test the skills or, perhaps, just push the luck. Carrying too much speed and hitting a tricky section braking is often not a good option and it’s time to trust the bike and tyres to get through. Fortunately, my beloved Tripster ATR shod with Vittoria Terreno Mix tyres didn’t let me down. Though there were moments God had to get involved to prevent me being a broken heap on the ground.
A very welcome feed station was awaiting as the ride came down from the high moors at around the forty mile mark.
True Grit…..no misnomer!
I was feeling jolly pleased with myself at this point. ‘Dunno what all the fuss is about’ pleased. Only twenty more miles to go.
The hill out of the feed stop was a little taster of things to come – Relentless and steep. Relentless, steep and bumpy. Relentless, steep and friggin bumpy. Those last twenty miles had the ride take on a new character.
By this point the sequence of events was becoming slightly hazy but my recollection is of more singletrack, some of it pretty tricky, and of a much more viciously undulating landscape.
Bumpy and steep downhill sections were taking a toll on my upper body. The inevitable following uphills were sucking the strength out of my legs. A good pair of shoes with decent soles for walking were very much appreciated on more than one occasion. I was, by now, clear about the endurance aspect of this event. You really do have to to find your true grit!
Gods Own Country
Thankfully, the pain and suffering this ride can induce is constantly salved by the fabulous variety of stunning countryside you pedal through.
The final couple of miles was thin ribbon of singletrack with incredible views across the Vale of York. By this time I was knackered and really ready to get off my bike. The jarring surface was becoming intolerable and the only respite was to ride standing up, on tired legs. Not much respite actually.
And then, finally, onto a blissful little stretch of tarmac to take me back to the HQ for a well earned cold beer courtesy of ADVNTR.cc. Uphill….of course. What else!
It’s all about People
Cycling events are about much more than bikes and terrain. Bikes come alive because someone swings leg over them. And, it’s all those ‘someones’ that really make an event.
A couple of years ago I read about Ruth Cousins, a participant in the 2016 Rapha Festive 500. By her own admission no hardcore cyclist but looking for a challenge Ruth completed her 500 miles and entered the ‘Spirit of the Festive 500’ Awards. Her submission, Postcards From the Road, won a trip to the Moots factory in Colorado to collect the first prize of a custom Titanium bicycle. A really great story I thought.
For a few miles of Yorkshire True Grit I enjoyed an exchange with a lady and her partner on the benefits of Titanium bikes. On my comment about the pain of paying a premium for the wonder material she said she’d won hers. Yep, hello Ruth Cousins. Small world! It was great to hear how her cycling world expanded into things she never dreamt of since winning the Rapha prize.
The boys and girls who return to event HQ in amazing times are all ridiculously chiselled with aerodynamic cheek bones, spoiled only by those huge beards….especially on the ladies. The rest of us come in a reassuringly tumble-down assortment of shapes, sizes, levels of fitness and ideas on what bike befits an event such as True Yorkshire Grit.
It’s great to get together. Something only made possible by the enthusiasm, vision and sheer hard work put in by the organisers of Yorkshire True Grit – Andrew Wright and Deborah Goodall. They’ve built up an event that is truly a pleasure to attend. A splendidly welcoming, relaxed atmosphere underpinned by the attention to detail that makes for a smooth running event.
The choice of HQ, High Paradise Farm, is inspired. Befitting a location for a properly gritty ride the directions on their website say :
“Take this road and follow for a mile to the very top of the hill. If you haven’t got to the top you haven’t got to us. We are where the road runs out.”
Well, I would say that where the road runs out is always where the fun begins. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying ‘I’ll be back for more next year.’
Thanks to Yorkshire True Grit for letting me use photos from their event gallery.
Thanks to Andrew Theaker from Aussie Grit Apparel for giving me some kit to try out.