Cycling in North Yorkshire

Cycling in York
Looking for information about cycling in North Yorkshire? Cycling UK's guide to cycling in North Yorkshire gives you routes, events, clubs and advice to inspire you to cycle in the county.

The 2014 Tour de France started off here and showed the world what Yorkshire folk have always known: this is a part of the country unmatched for cycling, whether it’s full-on climbing in the Dales, mountain biking in Dalby Forest, sightseeing in York, or family trundling in Harrogate.

The Dales offer everything for the adventurous: astounding mountain, valley and dale scenery; characterful villages; and tremendous climbs and descents on quiet back roads. Whether leisurely touring or road workout, riding along or between Wensleydale, Swaledale, Wharfedale and the rest is unforgettable stuff. Excellent cafes, pubs (such as the Tan Hill Inn, Britain’s highest) and accommodation are easy to find.

For families, the ride from Harrogate to Ripley (NCN67) or to Knaresborough (NCN636) are great, even for small children. The railtrail between the seaside town of Scarborough to quaint and atmospheric Whitby (part of NCN1) could be Britain’s best with a better surface; views are great from Ravenscar but it’s awfully bumpy round there. The stretch from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby is OK, though.

York has a lovely child-friendly riverside path (NCN65) running picturesquely through the city; it continues traffic-free down to Selby on a railtrail with a fascinating scale model of the solar system. A genuine ‘cycling city’, York is great to explore by bike, with an Orbital Route, mostly car-free, taking you anywhere round it. (You can only cycle in the pedestrian centre outside shopping hours, though.)

Mountain bikers have endless possibilities in the Dales; but the Moors have more tracks and also have Dalby Forest, which is criss-crossed with forest paths. The Moors are a wonderful place to road-tour too, scenically awesome yet compact. Challenge yourself on Rosedale Chimney Bank, Britain’s steepest road climb at 33%; Yorkshire prides itself on having the biggest and best.

Cycling groups and clubs in North Yorkshire

CTC North Yorkshire (York)

Home page for CTC clubs, events and news in this area

York CTC (York)

Offers a variety of club runs from the beginner to the more advanced rider

Swaledale Outdoor Club (Swaledale)

Active social cycling group with rides from 30 to 125-mile Audaxes

Wensleydale Bike Club - Stage1cycles (Leyburn)

Ripon Cycling Club (Ripon)

Road club with leisure, intermediate and challenging sections 

Ripon Spa Cyclists (Ripon)

Dalby Forest (Dalby)

Forestry Commission’s site with cycle trails section

Malton Wheelers Road Club (Malton)

Ryedale-based (mainly) road cycling club competing in time trials, road races and cyclocross

Richardsons Cycle Club (Scarborough)

Club for mountain bikers and road cyclists

Burlington Care Ltd (Bridlington)

Wheel Easy (Harrogate)

Leisurely and more challenging rides in and around Harrogate

Knaresborough Spinners CC (Knaresborough)

Club for the over 16s of Knaresborough and surrounding villages

Velo Club 167 (North of England)

Cyclocross, Audax and time trials in Tyneside, Yorkshire and Lancashire

3 Cycling Club (Harrogate)

Wednesday Wheelers (York)

Two groups set out from Central York, year round; links to Monday and Friday groups

York Bike Belles (York)

Offers regular activities including cycle rides and walks

Bronte Wheelers/Neophix Engineering (Keighley)

Gargrave Tuesday Club (Gargrave)

Sherburn-In-Elmet (Sherburn-In-Elmet)

GSK Cycling Club 2012 (North Yorkshire)

Catterick Garrison Go Ride and Bike Library (Catterick)

Leyburn Cycling (Leyburn)

Cleveland Wheelers CC (Cleveland)

The Jo Cox Way Ride (North Yorkshire)

Middlesbrough Sports Village (Middlesbrough)

CTC Teesside Group (Teesside)

Thirteen Care and Support (North Yorkshire)

Scarborough & Ryedale Community Cycling (Scarborough)

The Tom Parsons Trust (Norton-on-Derwent)

Bridge Cycle Club (North Yorkshire)

Back in the Saddle - St Nicks Cycling Club (York)

York Cycle Campaign (York)

Tang Hall Community Cente (York)

Resurrection Bikes Harrogate (Harrogate)

Liferiders (Harrogate)

Nidderdale Adventure Club (Nidderdale)

Otley Cycle Club (Otley)

Ilkley Cycling Club (Ilkley)

What to take with you on your ride 

The only thing you really need for cycling is a bike. And maybe a phone, and credit card: in Britain you’re only a call away from any service you might need.

But unless money is no object, it’s wise to take a few things with you on a day ride. A saddlebagpanniers or bikepacking bags are best for carrying stuff. A front basket is second best. A rucksack is third best. Your sweaty back will soon tell you why.

Cycling short distances in jeans and t-shirt is fine, but on a long or strenuous ride – over ten miles say, or in hills – those jeans will rub and the t-shirt will get damp and clingy. Shorts or, yes, lycra leggings and padded shorts will be much comfier, and merino or polyester cycling tops wick away the sweat, keeping you dry and comfy. (They don’t have to be lurid colours.)

If rain’s in the air, pack a rainproof top. If it might turn chilly, take a fleece or warm top. But the thing you’re most likely to forget is the sunblock. 

It’s remarkable how often you enjoy being out on the bike so much that you suddenly realise it’s getting dark. So take lights (which are legally required at night). They’re price of a sandwich, take no space, are easy to put on thanks to tool-free plastic clips, and the batteries last for ever.

Take a puncture repair kit (with tyre levers) and pump. Make sure it fits your valves, which will be either ‘Presta’ or ‘Schraeder’ – realising they don’t match is a very common roadside discovery! Carrying a spare inner tube (make sure it matches your tyre size) makes puncture repair much easier: mend the old one back at home. If you do get in trouble, some kindly passing cyclist will probably stop to help.

Using a helmet is a personal choice – they’re not legally required.

Cycling makes you thirsty, so take lots of water. Long-distance riders talk about ‘the bonk’ – a sudden loss of energy rendering you almost stationary. It’s miraculously and instantly cured by eating something sweet. On short rides you’re unlikely to run out of energy, but just in case, take a snack like flapjack, banana, chocolate or jelly babies. 

Taking a packed lunch or picnic will save you money, though that hot drink and cake in a cosy cafe could yet prove very tempting!

Your phone GPS could be invaluable for showing where you are when lost; you can download free detailed UK maps and GPS software before your trip. 

Paper maps are still useful, though, so take one: no power source or wifi signal required, and they’re great for suggesting possibilities or changes of plan.

What have we missed? Recommend your favourite routes using the comments box below.