The Yorkshire Grand Départ, cycling and me

dest-yorkshiredales

I am not a cyclist.

I don’t know my hybrids from my roadbikes, I don’t have a clue what a derailleur is, and I used to think pannier was a misspelling of my favourite Indian cheese. I really wish that was a joke…  Until three weeks ago, I’d been on a bike for a grand total of about ten hours in the last ten years, approximately nine hours of which were spent on the floor. I’d blamed uneven paths, dodgy weather and, on one occasion, a pesky bunch of Vietnamese frogs whose cacophonic chorus of ribbits totally ruined my concentration. But it wasn’t them. It was me. I just wasn’t into it.

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Cycling in Vietnam – I didn’t exactly look the part, did I?

I remember the exact moment this changed. I was rattling through Cambodia on one of many long bus journeys during a six-month round-the-world-trip in 2011. I’d just finished reading an amazing book, so I reached into my bag to pull out the next. It wasn’t there. DISASTER! Luckily Rob had had the foresight to bring a spare, but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. It was called Thunder and Sunshine, the second part of a round-the-world bike adventure undertaken by someone called Alastair Humphreys. A story about cycling? So not my kind of thing. But Rob insisted. “Just give it a try. Trust me”. Begrudgingly, I opened it and started reading, convinced that I’d give in by page three and spend the rest of the journey trying to doze. By the time we arrived in Siem Reap, I’d nearly finished it – all 340 pages.

Thunder and Sunshine, by Alastair Humphreys

Thunder and Sunshine, by Alastair Humphreys

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A ‘Tour de Food’ in the Yorkshire Dales

dest-yorkshiredales

Last month, I came across Maptia for the first time. What. A. Find. A treasure trove of travel stories, it’s a website that offers a new, and very beautiful, way of telling stories about places. I’ve since become rather obsessed, and I’m absolutely delighted to have bagged myself an invite to become one of the site’s founding storytellers.

Maptia

My first Maptia story is about a journey through the Yorkshire Dales. Inspired by the Tour de France fever that’s swept through Yorkshire since it was chosen to host the race’s ‘Grand Départ’, I spent a day exploring Stage One of the route this Spring. Mine wasn’t a cycling pilgrimage, though. I didn’t even take a bike. My visit was motivated by something else that makes the Dales special. Its food. Visiting Bedale, Hawes, Masham and Jervaulx; I discovered amazing communities preserving centuries-old traditions such as cheesemaking, brewing and breadmaking. And I was only there for a day.

I’ve included a few photo highlights below, but you can read the full story over on Maptia. I hope you enjoy.

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