Dales Grimpeur 200

Martin Malins writes…

I was sold this as the hardest 200 in the UK (and the 4.5 AAA points and over 4500m of climbing
support this view, it’s even harder than the Fred Whitton, sorry Ben!) and ideal preparation for La Marmotte.

Got
the train up Friday afternoon and rode from Harrogate up to Pateley
Bridge. Continued the 13k up the valley to Lofthouses for a very nice
and extremely cheap (£3.50) campsite, before dashing (fsvo dash) up
the 25% hill to the pub where I just made last orders for food.
Whizzed back down the valley for the 0800 start the next morning.
Various Clifton CC riders in the car park from whom I attempted to find
Arthur Clune (although he was a DNS due to a cold and after riding I
can see his point entirely). 2nd prize for team jersey entry went to
Team Ardechoise of which I was one of 3. Also present were Richard
Parrotte, having a day off from his Maniac Grimpeur activities, and
Robert from Gravesend CTC who had driven up for the day.

The ride started rudely with a ridiculous climb out of the town for a
short but steep loop; this seemed a bit gratuitous but was actually a
Good Thing (see later). After that was a brutal mostly 16% up to
Greenhow before settling into some fairly benign stuff to the control
at Malham. We had a route profile on our brevet cards just to rub it
in, and the next almost vertical line came past Malham Cove. This was
rewarded with a nice descent to Ribblesdale (where I raided the post
ofiice for pasty nuts and pop). After that it continued fairly benign
until the nasty climb up to Dent station where I resisted the
temptation to join the train spotters waiting for a steam special, as
this was one ride where the possibility of running out of time was very
real indeed.

A very grockle and motorbike strewn Hawes for a blag of a stamp
avoiding the big queue in the caff, more pasties ginger cake and water
from Spar and then up Fleet Moss. This isn’t that steep but very
intimidating as you can see the tiny dots that are other riders all the
way up the 5km. It was however rewarded with a superb 18km descent to
Kettlewell. All too soon it went pear shaped again though with Park
Rash, which is best described as A Sod. But also rewarded with a long
and pleasant descent of Coverdale.

I passed the designated distance for
the info; no village, no pub, S**t! had I taken the 183km route in
error?
But after 5km Horse House appeared. I was by now into counting down the
spikes on the route sheet. The last stop at Reeth cafe, and there was
now short cut possible so it was up over the tank ranges to Leyburn,
and another long descent. The village of East Witton had become a
Romany caravan sanctuary, and there were now just two spikes left. The
first a Jevaulx Abbey was short and steep; the second, up past Leighton
reservoir, was cruel. Just as we drew level with the final brow of the
hill back into Lofthouses we were plunged all the way back to river
level and had to climb the whole lot again.

At last! the last hill over
(and by virtue of the first loop we avoided what would have been a very
unwelcome climb back up to Greenhow) so after a very hairy descent it
was repeat of my morning campsite dash, where being veggy was tested to
its limits along the insect strewn resevoir road. Finally finished with
just 25 min to spare. Bring on those Alps!