Leading up to the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France, North Yorkshire was ecstatic. Every small village and town put on its ‘Yorkshire Best’ filling the town with Yellow bikes, dotted jerseys and the occasional French flag.
To not only be a part of the preperation, but the event itself was a once in a lifetime experience that gave me newfound respect for the sport of cycling. To be honest, I always thought of cycling, and the tour itself, as kind of lame. We all know those avid ‘cyclist’ that somehow power through hours of cycling while still maintaining a healthy beer gut. I probably would have held that opinion longer if I hadn’t decided the best way to experience the tour would be to cycle the route myself.
While the pros managed to complete the 100 miles through the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales in 5 hours, we decided it would be prudent to split it up over 3 days. Taking a total of 15 hours over those 3 days, the rolling hills of England’s Yorkshire Dales were not easily conquered.
Starting in summerbridge and ending in the same locale, the route took us through Kettlewell, the Moors, Grinton and back through Ripon. We stayed in hostels along the way, including my favorite in Grinton which sat on the top of a hillside overlooking the valley we just climbed.
Although difficult, it was by far the best decision we had made. Not only was it stunning views and an intimate look at the British countryside, but we were able to watch the tour live in Harrogate, pinpointing exactly where the pros were on the trip.
The best part? Aside from witnessing the Grand Depart from start to finish, there is no greater satisfaction that having accomplished something challanging, only to truly enjoy the completion of it with a cold British Brew in your hand, and your friends on the other.