Cycling in the Yorkshire Dales is a special experience.
It’s barren, wild and desolate.
While many of our tips for how to get the most from your trip are similar to what you should do whenever you cycle somewhere new, some are specific to cycling in Yorkshire. Read on and ensure you have a trip that’s unforgettable for all the right reasons!
Looking for route guides or tips on where to stay for your Yorkshire trip? Head to our ultimate guide to Yorkshire which lists all of this information from a road cyclist’s perspective.
Preparing for your Yorkshire cycling extravaganza
1. Plan your routes before you leave home. Our guide to cycling in Yorkshire shares all our firsthand guides to the best rides in the Dales - we’ve checked them out for you so you know what to expect.
2. Memorise the essentials. Don’t just download our routes, read the guides and have some idea of where you’re going and what the route looks like before you head out! We all rely on GPS units and phones these days, but what if either or both breaks, or there’s no mobile signal? It’s a good idea to have an idea of where you are and how far you are from home.
3. Plan your café stops. If you want to do some long rides, you may well want to break the ride somewhere en route. Throughout the Dales you’ll find cafes, tea shops and pubs that should be able to supply you with any ad hoc refreshments you need. Just bear in mind that this is the countryside and opening hours can be short and vary with the seasons. There is also less in the way of shops and petrol stations in these parts, so you need to consider whether you’ll be in the right place at the right time when deciding where to stop for a break.
4. Think about the gearing for your bike before you arrive. If you’re planning to tackle some of the big hills, you’ll probably want a semi-compact or compact chainset.
5. Check your bike before you leave home and consider a service. There are bike shops in the Yorkshire Dales, but you don’t want to spend your trip in one. Also consider what spares to bring on your trip - our packing list should help.
5. Check your brakes. Yorkshire cycling climbs are characterised by being very steep at the bottom (which can often be a stop sign as the road joins another) and flattish at the top. It’s easy to lose control, so practise strategies to maintain control throughout the descent and if you use rim brakes, check your pads before you set out.
Things to bring with you
6. Consider riding with a friend. It’s more fun, and if something goes wrong, there’s someone there to help you out.
7. Remember bike lights. At a minimum, keep a small rear light fitted to your bike in cause you get caught out by the light or bad weather. As ever, money, ID and your phone are also essential.
Weather in the Yorkshire Dales
9. The weather in the Dales is not predictable and you’ll often find weather turning up in the wrong season. For example, historically, May is meant to be the driest month - yet when we visited at the end of May, it rained every day and temperatures barely reached double digits. The answer? Don’t expect good weather and always carry a rain jacket.
10. Many of the climbs are very exposed to the elements and can be windy in the upper reaches. Check the forecast before you go and bring appropriate clothing.
While out riding
11. Follow the Highway Code. Ride a safe distance from the roadside and in urban areas allow room for a car door to open out on you unexpectedly.
12. Take cash. You’ll find cashpoints in all the main towns but probably won’t find a cash point in a village. Some shops may offer a cashback service, but it’s better to come prepared.
13. Exercise caution when descending. On the open moors there are often wild animals grazing and possibly wandering into the road. It’s also not uncommon to find mud from farmer’s tractors and small rocks in the road, where they’ve been knocked from the dry stone wall. Also bear in mind that if you’re on a singletrack road with dry stone walls either side, there’s nowhere to go if you meet something coming in the opposite direction.
14. Be safe. Many of the roads you’ll ride will be extremely quiet. But don’t get lulled into a false sense of security and assume there’s nothing around the next corner. Stay on the correct side of the road and always be confident you could stop within your sightlines.
Been on a Yorkshire cycling trip?
Got some additional tips? Please comment below!