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UK sportive preview: West Riding Classic

29 Mar 2018

An old-school sportive in the magnificent Yorkshire Dales

When: 28th April 2018
Where: Clapham, North Yorkshire
Distances: 120km/95km/50km
Cost: £26


What is the West Riding Classic?

A beautiful ride following quiet roads through some classic Yorkshire Dales scenery, such as Kingsdale, Dent, Ribblehead, Malham and Settle, with something for everyone from newbies to seasoned sportive riders.

The West Riding Classic is very much an old-school sportive – don’t expect electronic chip timing, instead the focus is on the old-fashioned hospitality with riders issued cards to clock in and out at control points on the route.

In place of high-energy gels at feed stations, you can expect to find ‘delicious home-cooked food and old-fashioned comradery’. Prices are old school too, with a flat-rate entry fee of £26 for all routes making it excellent value. 

What’s the route?

There are three options: Short, Long and Extra Long, all starting and finishing at Clapham village hall in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, where you’ll get a ride briefing over a cup of tea or coffee before setting off.

Rather than a fixed start time, you can set off at any time during the start window, adding to the relaxed feel of the event.

At 120km/75 miles, the ‘Extra Long’ route may not be the longest ride on the sportive calendar, but what the organisers describe as its ‘relentlessly up and down nature’ means it will be more challenging than many rides of similar length.

The first climb comes right at the start as you head up towards Ingleton, where the Short and Long routes split off.

The Extra Long continues through Deepdale and Dent, with more climbs and one or two spectacular descents too, including a long descent to the famous Ribblehead Viaduct.

After the lunch stop, the return leg takes you via Stainforth to another steep climb at Penyghent before descending to the only flat section of the whole ride, following the valley floor to Litton and yet another significant climb to Malham.

The next town on the route is Settle, which will also host the finish of the first stage of the Tour de Yorkshire, so you will get to ride some of the same roads as the pros.

Yet more troughs and climbs will sap any remaining energy from your legs before you arrive back at the finish in Clapham.

Are the other routes any easier?

At 33 and 60 miles respectively, the distances should be within the capabilities of most reasonably fit cyclists, but both the Short and Long routes share a similarly lumpy profile as the Extra Long route, so they’re still a test.

The Short route is a loop of Ingleborough, one of the famous ‘Three Peaks’, with views of Whernside and Penyghent.

What’s included in the entry fee?

With typical Yorkshire modesty, the ride organisers claim to have ‘the best feed station in the UK’, which comes at Horton village hall, not long after Ribblehead and features on all three routes.

Details are to be confirmed at the time of writing, but past editions suggest that this is one of the real highlights of the event, featuring hearty soups and home-made parkin, a traditional Yorkshire gingerbread-style cake.

Just the kind of fuel you need to keep you going on a long, hilly ride such as this. Official event timing is via a card, which riders use to clock in and out – and get to keep afterwards as a memento of the ride.

Although the roads are not closed, the route is well signposted, and while this is a low-tech kind of event, free GPX files are provided for those gadget-loving cyclists who like to follow the route on their Garmins.

Does the ride support any good causes?

The event supports two official event charities. The first is the Cave Rescue Organisation, an essential emergency service for the Dales, which also provides first aid services to riders on the event.

The other is Goma Cycling Club, a fledgling group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, providing riding, training, leadership and equipment for young cyclists in the city of Goma.

How do I sign up?

The event is open for entries right now at, but don’t delay because places are limited – this is not a large-scale event, and you’ll find rider numbers are in the hundreds rather than the thousands, which all adds to its homely, personal feel.

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