Last month saw the Etape du Dales return to North Yorkshire. A crisp and relatively still spring morning greeted just under 1000 entrants to the 2012 Etape du Dales cyclo-sportive on 20 May, and as the day wore on, it transformed into a Glorious summers day for all involved.
The route started and finished at Wharfedale rugby club in the Yorkshire Dales village of Grassington. The participants, including the We Love Mountains duo of Kevin Clark and Simon Pickering, commenced their 112 mile epic ride throught the Dales with a climb up Fleet Moss. Following this there is a descent into Hawes which, whilst being open, downhill and straight, must be approached with caution as the road surface provokes severe speed wobbles. A feed stop on the far side of Hawes then breaks the proceedings before a climb up Buttertubs Pass. The event’s major feed station of the day being based at the Highest Pub in England, Tan Hill, was no consolation for the riders: Being only half way through the ride dictates that best advice is to steer clear of refreshments imbibed from the public bar!
After a beat up a long Cumbrian valley, the participants have one final rest and recuperative stop before attempting an ascent of the Coal Road. Eventually, having passed the Ribblehead Viaduct, there is the final climb of the day under the watchful gaze of Pen-y-gent. Thereafter it is downhill almost all the way until the entrants are brought full circle.
The Etape is ranked as one of the most popular and challenging sportives in the UK and is considered one of the top ten rides in the UK. It has about 3,500 metres of climbing. It is not for the beginner. It is, however, certainly work training for and should prove to be an interesting addition to your 2013 calendar.