Image Credit: NaomiBooth
Those of you who know me know that I am a very keen cyclist, and I love nothing more than a long bike ride on a Sunny day. Last Summer, I took a cheap train to Scarborough on a sunny, hot weekend and cycled back to York. While the centre of Scarborough isn’t too nice in my opinion, pedalling around the castle by the sea and heading North West you are greeted by beautiful coastal and countryside views. The roads twist through the valleys of the North York Moors, past little villages and farms, leading up to Dalby forest; a luscious green forest on a hillside that seems to go on forever. A smooth toll road runs through it, which is free for cyclists and populated by ‘biker dudes’ or mountain bikers with their vans. Many of UYCC’s Mountain Biking trips have gone there before, and I must say I am tempted to have a go on the trails there.
Leaving Dalby, I headed towards Rosedale Abbey; a little village at the bottom of one of the UK’s steepest roads: Rosedale Chimney Bank. I had to stop for a preporational ice cream before taking on the beast, and by the time I got to the top I wouldn’t have minded another! It was a very hot day and I was quite sweaty, but I will always prefer that to a cold winter day.
Rolling back to York was easy enough after that — still a bit hilly but definitely manageable. I returned in the afternoon and relaxed for the rest of the day. I will certainly be doing this, or maybe a ride from Robin Hood’s Bay, later this term. A grand day out to some amazing places you probably won’t visit otherwise.
On a similarly hot and sunny weekend, I went along with the mountaineering club, YUMC, for a sport climbing trip to Giggleswick crag, near Settle in the Yorkshire Dales. The crag is a steep cliff of limestone which spans alongside a main road. There are climbs of all difficulties there and it is a great spot- shaded from the sun and wind, unlike many other crags which are very exposed (and can be brutally chilly in Winter!).
We shared lifts on the way over there and while it was quite a drive, it was certainly worthwhile for all the excellent climbing there. You have to make a day of it really, but in my view this ‘forces’ you to spend one day of the weekend solely on something you want to do. Halfway up the rock face, you become focused on nothing other than the climb ahead. Climbing poses both a physical and mental puzzle; once you crack it and find the best way up a route then you get a feeling of satisfaction unlike any other. Every single climb is different and poses its own unique features or set of challenges. Climbing outdoors even moreso, as there are no nicely coloured holds to help you find your way up, which brings the challenge of finding and trusting tiny holds on real walls of rock.
Getting to the top, you can look across the beautiful countryside and realise how far you have climbed, in such a beautiful part of the world. It is yet another sport that makes you appreciate your surroundings while doing it, unlike some ball sports where you play on a pretty universal court each time.
All the committee and team at YUMC are so friendly, knowledgeable and trustworthy. I began climbing at University and am very proud of how far I have come and how much I have grown to love it as a secondary sport. It compliments several other sports very well and is surprisingly safe when you’re doing things correctly. It is also relatively cheap — the outdoors is free and once you own the basic kit you’re set for good, and YUMC really helps you by loaning out some kit and teaching anyone and everyone voluntarily. I have a lot to thank YUMC for and look forward to going on many future trips with them, which I will be sure to find some time for. I returned that day to a BBQ with my housemates, somewhat exhausted, yet feeling great mentally and looking back on the day with a smile on my face.
Last Summer I also went out and about with the Motorsport club karting at Middlesbrough and Hull. I love speed and high adrenaline sports — two things which karting merges together pretty effectively. The startup of engines, squealing of tyres on the limit of their grip and smell of petrol really gets me going!
Every lap you seek to go faster, nailing each corner slightly better and better. It is difficult though, as you always have to make sure that you don’t go over the limit; get stuck in a gravel trap or go flying into a wall at 40mph and your race may soon be over entirely. Getting the tires warmed up, braking at the right points and getting on the throttle as early as possible without spinning out is a tricky balancing act, nevermind when you are also racing against others trying to do the same thing.
While cycle racing requires you to have good form and technique, karting puts everyone in the same machine, so it is just about technique. There are some seriously fast drivers in the club of all shapes and sizes, but it is a good mix of abilities really. It is also quite physical- getting out of the kart after just 45 minutes of driving takes quite a toll on your muscles! Even though a 40mph max speed may seem slow, when you’re that close to the ground, have so much cornering grip and aren’t wearing a seatbelt (which is done for good reason), it feels very fast indeed.
While every lap is the same, each track is different. Middlesbrough, for example, is the longest karting circuit in Europe with a lot of high speed straights and corners, which I am not a fan of. Hull, however, is very tight and technical, which I favour as a lighter person who prefers tighter circuits. Karting can also be quite pricey, but it is such good fun and a great way to treat yourself.
The motorsport society welcomes anyone to give karting a go. While the first time is extremely nerve wracking, you quickly get used to it. In some ways, you have to leave your comfort zone entirely, which can be horrendous but in hindsight a really courageous thing, which really teaches you that you are capable of more than you will imagine at first. Good fun in the sun, but I do want to try it in the wet as I think I have a good idea of grip levels in mixed conditions from all of my cycling.