The Push Hog Strikes Back – Le Tour De Yorkshire Wolds

The Yorkshire Wolds may not be the first place that springs to mind when thinking about cycling in gods own county. The Wolds is a hidden gem, often overshadowed by the Dales and Moors to the North, the Pennines to the West and Peak District to the South, but it has a certain charm and is a popular destination for beginners, yet still offers extremely challenging terrain for the more advanced cyclist.

Where are the Yorkshire Wolds?

The Yorkshire Wolds are mainly located in the East Riding of Yorkshire, although at the most northerly section the hills drop sharply into neighbouring North Yorkshire.

East Yorkshire has a reputation for being flat, but this is a popular misconception of a county extending to over 1000 square miles, a day riding in the Wolds would soon put any cyclist right about this.

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What are the Wolds?

The Wolds are a string of low hills running from the East / North Yorkshire coast in a crescent down to the River Humber.

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Although the hills are low, the highest point of the Wolds is only 246m above sea level, the hill sides are steep and typical climbs include ramps of 15%+ as indicated on the hill chart below.

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So why should I visit the Wolds?

The Yorkshire Wolds are beautiful, don’t take my word for it, take the lead from David Hockney, the world renowned artist has based most of his best work on the views of the Wolds, his ‘Bigger Picture’ exhibition at the Royal Academy heavily featured the landscape of the Wolds throughout the seasons.

Welcome to Yorkshire / Hockney

What is the cycling like?

The simple answer is ‘great’.

There are hundreds of miles of country roads and it’s no exaggeration to say that you can go hours without seeing any kind of traffic, if solitude is what you like, then this is the place.

From a beginners point of view the low hills around Brantingham and Newbald to the South are manna from heaven, never too steep but challenging enough to keep your interest. A round trip of around 40 miles could see you tackle Elloughton Dale, Brantingham Dale, Trundlegate and North Newbald Hill, without the need to cycle any main roads of any consequence.

The keen intermediate level cyclist will enjoy a weekend in and around Millington Dale, with it’s switch backs, you might think the landscape was more French than English. A ride of 30 miles starting and ending in the village of Huggate could see you take in Life Hill in Wetwang, the Fuller Gallery Climb in Thixendale and Millington Dale, a hard workout leaving you shaken but not stirred.

The more extreme cyclists amongst us aren’t to be left out either, there are some very nasty climbs in the North Wolds, including Hanging Grimston and Staxton Hill, both could be included in a round trip starting in Thixendale and taking in other local monuments like Painsthorpe, the Acklam twins or Leavening Brow.

Cycling Holidays

Anybody who regularly reads my blog posts will be all too aware that my cycling stomping ground is the Yorkshire Wolds and because of that my view is slightly bias. However, I’m not alone in thinking the Wolds offer great cycling terrain, as I found out when I caught up with Steven Guymer, a former elite cyclist who runs Palmarès, a company based in the Wolds.

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Readers of Cycling Weekly may be already aware of Palmarès, they featured in a four page special back in March 2013…

Cycling Weekly Part 1

Cycling Weekly Part 2

…Palmarès offers cyclists of all abilities the opportunity to have two or three days cycling instruction in and around the Yorkshire Wolds, amongst other places. The rides are fully supported and accommodation is part of the deal, so all you have to worry about is turning those pedals. It is probably the closest any of us will come to being part of a professional cycling team and here’s what http://www.palmares-cycling.com has to say:

“…Palmarès cycling training camps that get results…”

“…At Palmarès we live and breathe cycling and we know you do too…”

“…Camps designed to help you ride harder, climb faster and give you a real insight into the world of road racing…”

“…We want you to go away with the skills and techniques, which will help, improve your training, finish on the podium in races or just prevent being dropped on your local club run…”

…the chance to ride the best hills and routes in the unspoilt rolling landscape of East and North Yorkshire plus other locations throughout Europe and beyond…

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PB: Tell me about you and your business and how you have ended up running a company offering cycling tours in and around East Yorkshire?

SG: I was taken to my first cycle race before I was even two weeks old; I rode my first race at Brough Aerospace aged 7 and have been racing ever since. During my time at university studying Sports Rehabilitation I was supported by the Dave Rayner Fund and spent my summers living and racing in mainland Europe, which was a fantastic experience. After graduating I rode my bike full time for around 18 months during which time I went to the Alps. Whilst in the Alps I was approached by a cycle holiday company who asked me if I would like to work for them the following summer. I jumped at the chance and spent most of the 2011 summer living out of a suitcase staying in great hotels and getting paid to ride my bike! In April 2012 I decided I should combine the experience I gained from working in the Alps with all my years on the bike to set up my own company offering bespoke cycling holidays. From this Palmarès was born.

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PB: What level of cyclist most benefits from riding with Palmarès or can you tailor your service to the needs of the individual, from beginner to expert?

SG: Cyclists of all abilities can benefit from riding with Palmarès. We want to be able to provide a bespoke service, which allows the trip to be built around the individual client or group. However we do advise when booking one of our pre-scheduled trips that the cyclist is capable of riding up to 100 miles over varied terrain. This is so client can get the best experience possible during a Palmarès training camp. If a cyclist has not ridden 100 miles before with the support of Palmarès we believe they will be able to do so and achieve immense personal satisfaction from it. After all every cyclist gets an amazing buzz when they see three figures appear on their Garmin or other device.

PB: I’m a big fan of the Yorkshire Wolds and the cycling is great, but how do you sell our ‘hidden gem’ to cyclists who aren’t familiar with the area?

SG: That is the difficult bit. I believe Palmarès has an excellent product however like with all new businesses it takes time for word to spread and for people to come and see for themselves how great the Yorkshire Wolds are for cycling. A lot of people believe East Yorkshire is flat but it is clearly a misconception as it most certainly is not! I hope to use Palmarès as a vehicle to promote cycling in East Yorkshire and bring people to the area that would usually over look it when planning their next cycling trip. By using social networks, http://www.palmares-cycling.com and adverts in national cycling publications I hope to sell the area to the masses. I have had a four-page article in Cycling Weekly and have also had a 3-minute promotional film produced which can be found on YouTube.

Palmarés Promotional Film

PB: I notice from your website that you are offering not only cycling tours in Yorkshire, but also in Majorca, this sounds serious stuff, is this proving popular with more advanced riders or could we all benefit from a few days riding in the sun?

SG: I believe everyone can benefit from a few days riding in the sun. There is nothing like riding your bike without a care in the world and the sun on your back. Majorca is a mecca for cyclists and every rider should experience cycling on the island at least once in his or hers lifetime. I am also working on new and exciting locations for Palmarès trips and have had some exciting developments, which I will be able to announce soon. Palmarès aim to provide clients with numerous options when booking their holiday to allow them to ride in stunning locations across numerous countries. I aim to take Palmarès world wide and not just base ourselves solely in East Yorkshire however we will always run trips here as it holds a very special place in Palmarès’ heart.

PB: Your company also offer bespoke trips, so have you ever had any unusual requests from cyclists or haven’t you been asked to unicycle up Bealach-na-Ba yet?!?

SG: I have yet to receive any unusual requests but I am open to anything. Palmarès offer the bespoke option, as I want to provide the customer with the best possible cycling experience. Should they wish to unicycle up Bealach-na-Ba then I am sure we would be able to provide the support needed for the client to do so. The bespoke option allows the client to enjoy their perfect cycling holiday. All the client has to do is let Palmarès know where they want to ride, what sort of accommodation they want and what level of support they want.

PB: Do you see a market for one day tours or even guiding individuals or small groups in cyclosportives, as I could see beginners benefitting from this and would be less intimidated by the prospect of cycling two or three days in a row?

SG: Yes I do see a market in this, some clients may want some company and support during the event, which will either make their experience more enjoyable or help them reach a time specific goal, which they may not achieve without the guidance and support of Palmarès. Palmarès would also organise extra feed stations on route, which can be very handy in the bigger events where the feed stations can be over crowded and not very well stocked. It can also help having a familiar face along route to provide help and give morale support to the client.

PB: What is your USP? I’m guessing it’s your background in cycle racing, but assuming somebody reading this blog would be considering using your service, what sets you apart from the opposition?

SG: Palmarès have several unique selling points, yes I believe my background in cycle racing and extensive knowledge of the sport is great for the business however I do have several others. The level of support Palmarès aim to provide the client is second to none and will improve even more as the company develops. My numerous qualifications also allow me to give extra knowledge and services to the clients. My degree in Sports Rehabilitation allows me to treat clients with any sports injury they may have or to provide a sports massage after a particularly hard day in the saddle. My coaching and personal training qualifications also give the opportunity for the client to access those services and allow them to enhance their performance and cycling experience. Palmarès also aim to have other sports professionals present on selected trips such as nutritionists and bike fitters so the client can gain extra knowledge from those also. Palmarès also aim to organise trips in new un-tapped locations for a unique cycling experience.

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PB: As a relatively new business I am impressed with the level of detail on your website, I also noted that Cycling Weekly have already written an article on your company, but what else are you planning to do to get the name ‘Palmarès’ better known in this increasing popular market place?

SG: To increase awareness of Palmarès I aim to continue to push the business on the social networking sites, to keep advertising in numerous national publications, cycling and non-cycling, and to attend cycle events across the country and world wide to reach a wider audience. I want to take the Palmarès ‘Yellow and Black’ across the pond to America to give American cyclists the opportunity to experience cycling in the UK and mainland Europe. The initial promotional film is only the beginning, as more films will be produced as time goes by to showcase Palmarès and what it offers as a cycling training camp provider.

PB: What advice could you offer to anybody, like myself, who is relatively new to cycling and wants to improve certain aspects of their riding, like hill climbing or average speed?

SG: First and foremost I believe you have to enjoy riding your bike, don’t let your ‘Numbers’ take the enjoyment out of our wonderful sport. Like the old saying ‘Practice makes perfect’, cycling is exactly the same, you get back what you put in. Cycling is a hard sport and there aren’t any shortcuts, it rewards hard work and perseverance. Your performance will improve over time you just have to keep focused and ride your bike. Make sure you get into a routine of regularly riding your bike and have a goal so that you have something to aim for. If you have a goal you can work towards it and monitor your progress along the way. However make sure you set yourself realistic goals as otherwise you may find you lose motivation if you feel as if you will never achieve them. This is when a coach can come in as they can help you to set realistic goals and provide the support and knowledge to help you reach them. This is the beauty of a Palmarès training camp, the client can gain so much information along the way and will become a better cyclist because of it, all they have to do is ask.

PB: Finally, who’s your favourite cyclist and why?

SG: My absolute favourite cyclist has to be Eddy Merckx. He was the ultimate professional. He raced from the beginning of the season right to the end and even rode the six-day races on the track in the winter. Another attribute that I most admire was that he raced to win all the time no matter whether he was riding a local Belgian Kermesse or a major classic or stage race.

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Eddy ‘The Cannibal’ Merckx in 1973 [Picture courtesy of Anefo / Bert Verhoeff via Nationaal Archief]

If you’d like to find out more about Palmarès or would like to book one of their many cycling holidays in the Yorkshire Wolds or beyond, they can be contacted by using one of the following methods:

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So there we have it, hopefully I’ve managed to open your eyes up to a new part of the cycling world, so why not give the Yorkshire Wolds a try?

To whet your appetites further I’ve posted links to some related websites, so take a look and see what the Wolds have to offer…

The Yorkshire Wolds on the Web

Sustrans (Cycle Routes)

The Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Challenge

East Yorkshire CTC

Cycle Yorkshire Wolds

British Cycling

Cycle Seven

Wold Top Brewery

National Trail – The Wolds Way

Yorkshire Wolds Wiki

Welcome to Yorkshire

Visit Hull & East Yorkshire

Guardian – David Hockney / The Wolds

Walking the Riding

Yorkshire Wolds Heritage Trust

The Hockney Trail

Yorkshire Wolds Railway

The Fuller Gallery

Please let me know if you do get chance to cycle in the Wolds and leave any suggested routes in the comments section below.

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