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How to ride the hills of the Yorkshire Moors

Joe Robinson
26 Jan 2018

Organiser of the Struggle Moors Matt Mannakee gives Cyclist a guide to tackling the steep ascents of the Yorkshire Moors. Images: Russ Ellis

Yorkshire has established itself as the heartland of cycling in Britain. It shot to prominence on the international stage with the Tour de France's visit to the scenic landscapes of 'God's Own Country' in 2014. And the race hasn't experienced anything like it since. 

The county now boasts its own stage race, the Tour de Yorkshire, and will host the 2019 UCI World Championships. 

Beyond the professional ranks, Yorkshire has also seen a steady influx of amateur cyclists making a pilgrimage to the county in order to experience the rolling hills and green pastures of the Moors and the Dales.

While it plays host to some of the UK's most beautiful landscapes it also has some of its most wicked ascents, with the likes of Fleet Moss, Rosedale Chimney and Buttertubs striking fear into anyone brave enough to take them on. 

With climbs this hard, any advice on how best to tackle them can make a big difference. Especially if that advice comes from a local who knows his way around Yorkshire's roads as well as anyone.

Organiser of two of the county's toughest sportives, the aptly named Struggle Moors and Struggle Dales, Matt Mannakee has ridden the many knee-crushing ascents of Yorkshire countless times in his quest to find the toughest yet most satisfying routes for these two rides.

So let's hear what he has to say about some of the harder climbs that can be found on the Struggle Moors event, along with some helpful advice on how to reach the top.

Glaisdale Horror

What Matt says:

This is the toughest climb on the Struggle Moors route because it just goes straight up! It’s a 25% gradient at its hardest, with no hairpins. What’s more, it’s so narrow there’s no road width to zig-zag across.

So if you start to lose momentum due to poor gear selection you’ll be forced to get off and push.

The road is not only narrow, it also has a dusting of gravel across its surface and grass shooting through the cracks in the middle of the road. You'll need every bit of body power and momentum you can muster to drag yourself to the top of this monster.

The horizon plays tricks with your mind as the steep gradient keeps fighting back. Once at the top, though, the view is breathtaking… especially when you spot the final climb of Struggle Moors, Rosedale Chimney Bank, looming on the horizon.

Stats:

Distance 0.8 miles, Elevation gain 608ft, Average gradient 14%

Rosedale Chimney

What Matt says:

Having just conquered Glaisdale Horror, in some respects the Chimney will feel like a formality.

Rosedale Chimney does have a couple of steeper (33%) sections but the wide hairpins on the lower slopes help you iron out the steepness and keep your momentum.

As the road straightens, however, the climb becomes unbelievably hard. To conquer this section you’ll have to summon every ounce of energy to just keep moving. The gradient then eases to 1 in 6 up to the top of the climb.

Stats:

Distance 0.8 miles, Elevation gain 600ft, Average gradient 14%

Boltby Bank

What Matt says:

As the first major climb on Struggle Moors, Boltby Bank will leave you in no doubt that you’re in for a very tough day.

There’s very little warning of its arrival, either. You rise up out of the village of Boltby where the gentle gradient lulls you into a false sense of security. But when you hit Boltby Bank for real, you’ll know about it!

Boltby Bank is a wall of a climb that really does hurt. The road doesn’t help you gain traction either – I’d hate to tackle it in the wet. The final section is a 1-in-5 slope straight after a tight right hander, which will take you to the crossroads at the top.

Stats:

Distance 0.7 miles, Elevation gain 527ft, Average gradient 13%

Cote de Grosmont 

What Matt says:

On Struggle Moors the Cote de Grosmont climb comes after a tough 25-mile undulating section that includes the climb of Limber Hill, and will sap the energy from your legs. Once over the railway crossing in Grosmont the road starts to climb. Take a right and the steeper section of this long climb begins; in fact it’s 33% in two sections.

Once over these extreme ramps, focus on pacing yourself especially if you’re fighting the wind on this exposed ascent. But once at the top the landscape opens up and you feel on top of the world.

You can see the sea, with Whitby off to your left, and you’ll then realise just how far away from home you really are. It’s an epic feeling as you turn right, then right again and settle into the awesome descent into Goathland.

Stats:

Distance 1.3 miles, Elevation gain 769ft, Average gradient 10%

Carlton Bank 

What Matt says:

The first section drags up through the trees to the cattle grid, but it is at the steep left-hand bend where Carlton Bank starts to bite.

A wall appears to the left which protects you from the drop below. Here the climb gets really tough. The road surface deteriorates as the climb continues, meaning you will need to keep your head up and the power down to get to the top.

There is a pretty good view at the top, but on Struggle Moors you'll most likely be too busy clicking up the gears ready to enjoy the sweeping descent that follows to notice.

Stats:

Distance 1.1 miles, Elevation gain 624ft, Average gradient 10%

Limber Hill

What Matt says:

Short and sharp is how Limber Hill is best described. It appears from nowhere and it's super-steep. You’ve just refuelled at the feed station in Glaisdale Horror, but be sure not to overeat as Limber Hill is just around the bend.

Many riders have been caught out and been forced to put their foot down, though more from poor gear selection at the foot of the climb than their ability to get over this brutal kicker.

Popular demand has seen this once-unclassified climb on Struggle Moors make it onto the top tube sticker.

Stats

Distance 0.2 miles, Elevation gain 176ft, Average gradient 16%

Pre-Registration for the Struggle Moors event opens on February 2nd.