We left the car park in Rosedale Abbey and headed straight for Chimney Bank, a couple of hundred yards down the road. This is (allegedly) the steepest road in the country at 1 in 3 in places. Strangely the sign at the top advises cyclists to dismount, though there is no such advice at the bottom. Good, off we went at whatever pace we could muster. At places the road is so steep it was a struggle to keep the nose of the bike down, but thankfully, despite its steepness, it's not such a long climb as some others and we were up it in seemingly no time (or just over 10 minutes to be more precise).
A well earned rest at the top and the obligatory photo and we were on our way again, off across the moor and past Ana Cross, left at the track junction to pass Redman Cross and towards the nice, rocky downhill back towards Hollins Farm.
A stop at the top to adjust seat posts and off we go. It's not too technical at first, but gets more and more so the further you get into it, so technical it has some people walking it. Eventually, towards the end, you come to a lip with a steep plummet just beyond it. This had washed out really badly, a deep gully having formed in the centre of the trail which made negotiating it even more tricky than usual - best keep to one side.
Down at the bottom we turn right to take the lovely "1 1/2 track" (not quite singletrack, not quite double) towards Lastingham. This is as fast and flowy as ever and proves to be a real popular find with those who haven't done it before (and those who have!). At one point I slow for walkers up ahead and have to call out "coming by on your right" which leads to one of the walkers actually stepping to the right, into path. Obviously clearer communication is needed!
Eventually after almost 3 miles of fun we hit the tarmac near Lastingham. We turn left at Lower Askew, left again at Cropton Bridge and then turn diagonally right into the forest about half a mile along the road. After 2 1/2 miles of gentle climbing along the forest road we hit a junction of fire roads just above Low Muffles.
We backtrack 10 yards because we've missed the entry into the forest and set off down a nice little forest run. Nothing too challenging but a little soft and slippery, and we then emerge at a field, which we cross and eventually hit the road at Muffles Bridge. This gives us a road climb almost as steep as Chimney Bank, but thankfully it's only a couple of hundred yards long. At this point Tim decides to puncture. It's been a while.
At the top of the bank we turn right and take the road for two miles to Higher Row Mire. I love place names with the word "mire" in them, you really know what to expect when you get there! This time it wasn't actually too bad and the "mire" was no more than a dirty, but firm and perfectly rideable track. It was however the start of seven miles of almost constant climbing, albeit gentle at times. It began on the track over Row Mires Rigg before hitting the road over to Glaisdale Moor. Here we went off road once more onto The Cut Road. It had been our intention to drop down into Fryup Dale here and re-emerge further along past Yew Grain Scar, but one of our number was starting to feel the pace and we decided to shorten the route and, more importantly, cut out another killer climb.
The Cut Road is quite a nice track, especially on the few downward sloping sections, but in general it climbs. Eventually at the end of that seven miles of constant climbing we'd gained another 700ft and reached our highest point of the day, on the road where The Cut Road emerges.
That would be welcome news for Steve.
Left onto the road, then left again at the next junction and we're soon at our next off-road transition, the bridleway that descends Sturdy Bank down to the Rosedale railway. We set off down it, with me at the head, and some way down I noticed I was well off track from where I "should" have been - according to my GPS anyway. I went trudging off at 90 degrees to the visible track, in search of where I should really have been, but there was nothing visible. This is one of those places where what is on the ground doesn't match what's on the map.
Back on the visible track again, we continued down the hillside, quite a fun descent, and a good place for some photos, until we reached the Rosedale railway.
Once on the railway the tea room a Rosedale was really calling, so we hared off as fast as we could, eating up the last few remaining miles along the railway and road back to Rosedale.
It had been a good ride with a good mix of terrain, some decent downhills, some tough climbs and perfect cycling weather.
Riders: Steve, Steve, Steve, Neil, Tony, Tim & Simon.
Rosedale Abbey - Chimney Bank - Cropton - Glaisdale Moor - Rosedale Railway
25 Miles, 2600' of up/down, 4 1/2 hours (2 hours 47 of moving time).
See the route, stats and download links here on GarminConnect.