About the challenge
In 2014 the Tour de France, one of the most famous and gruelling sporting events in the world, makes its Grand Départ from Leeds in Yorkshire. Join us to ride the route of the first stage, from Leeds to Harrogate. The 111-mile route itself is tough, taking in the twisting, narrow stone-walled roads of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. With some challenging climbs, you’ll need to ensure you are fit enough to manage the distance and the terrain. Your reward will be riding the roads that some of the best cyclists in the world have raced over!
Day 1: Cycle Leeds to Harrogate
Cycle approx 111 miles
We meet early for registration and set off! We follow the route of Stage 1 of the 2014 Tour de France as closely as possible, though we avoid busy A-roads as, unlike the professionals, we don’t have the security of closed roads. We head out west from Leeds via Ilkley to Bolton Abbey, where we ride north up into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Our route takes us on narrow rolling roads with very little flat, though the first section is less demanding. Our first major climb lies at Kidstones Bank, after the village of Buckden; we’ll have ridden over 40 undulating miles by this point. Once over the top, there’s a great fast descent to Aysgarth. A flatter section then takes us west through beautiful scenery towards Hawes and Buttertubs Pass; over 4 miles long and steep, this is the toughest of the climbs we face today. The descent that follows is wonderful, though steep at the top with a 25% gradient. We follow a loop through scenic Swaledale – one of the most beautiful sections of this ride, with its well-kept villages and tiny stone bridges over the River Swale. There are sweeping views of sheep grazing in pastures and heather moorland – it’s wonderful cycling country. At Reeth our third and final big climb awaits, taking us up through heather-covered moorland, and then it’s predominantly downhill to Leyburn on a twisty descent which could be exposed in bad weather. We continue predominantly downhill through Masham and on narrow country roads where a few short sharp climbs burn our legs in the final stretch before Harrogate – we’ll be very relieved to reach the end, where we have time to take on some refreshments and say our farewells before heading home – tired but exhilarated!
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The tour cost includes Discover Adventure leaders/ mechanics, route notes and maps, back-up vehicle support, and snacks and water enroute.
It does not include personal travel insurance (optional), a bike, or meals. Cyclists should make their own way to the start. We recommend you have at least £50 with you for personal expenses. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Snacks and water-stops are provided en-route and there will be refreshments at the finish.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice.
Discover Adventure Crew & Support Vehicles
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip from sorting out any mechanical problems and ensuring you have enough water to cheering you up the hills! At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, first-aid kits and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
The cycling involves three challenging climbs, though much of the rest of the course is also undulating. The distance is demanding over this type of terrain, and this is not a ride which any cyclist should attempt without specific training. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
We strongly recommend that you ride a road /racing bike (rather than a mountain bike) for this trip due to the long distances involved on well-surfaced roads. It’s really important that you ride the bike you have been training on so you are used to it. Although training in the gym is useful, there is no substitute for getting out into all weathers and really getting to know your bike – especially the range of your gears.
Our support vehicles will carry a range of spares along with a full tool kit. However it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality so it is vital that you check your own bike is in good working order before departure. It is a condition of travel that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with the straps done up.
Clothing & Equipment
We are travelling through varied terrain and could be exposed to bad weather at any time. Although the weather in summer should be warm and (hopefully) dry, you should be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly in the UK, especially the hillier regions! We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race.
We strongly recommend that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up. Please see our website for more details.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conservation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.