Meals on wheels at the Yorkshire Rough Rider Classic

Jo Haywood reports on a food revolution in the cycling community

Energy gels, bars and drinks give you a boost on a long ride, but they don't exactly get your taste buds tingling, do they?

Cyclists have long believed in this 'food as fuel' ethos, but riders in a non-competitive event taking place in the hills and valleys of the Yorkshire Dales National Park on May 7th are looking forward to fare of an altogether different flavour.

People taking part in the Rough Rider Classic will be served spicy sweet potato soup with crusty ciabatta and homemade sticky Yorkshire parkin with bananas.

'One of the main reasons for us setting up this event was the disappointment we'd always felt when we arrived at a feed station on a cycling sportif,' explained Brendan McSherry, Rough Rider organiser. 'We'd be tired and hungry and would shovel down all the food on offer, but any satisfaction would be short-lived.

'Not on our ride. We have carefully designed a menu that will provide our cyclists with the energy boost they need and hopefully keep them on track to achieve their personal best.'

The food station will be social too with cyclists dismounting and eating at Ribblehead, half way through the ride, in a relaxed picnic setting rather than chugging back synthetic snacks while still perched precariously on their bikes.

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Cycle sportifs – non-competitive, organised rides – are enjoying a wave of popularity in the UK, with a 25-30 per cent jump in 2005 followed by a steady seven-10 per cent increase each year since, according to cycling's national governing body British Cycling. Last year, an estimated 80,000 British people took part in at least one cycle sportif.

Rough Rider has three circular 33, 60 and 75-mile routes, offering something for everyone from first time sportif entrants to intermediate riders and serious athletes.

Each route starts and finishes at Inglebrough Hall in the beautiful village of Clapham, passing several famous landmarks and cinematic backdrops along the way including Ribblehead Viaduct, the whitewashed village of Dent and Malham Cove.

For more information about this Yorkshire sportif, accommodation and the associated Rough Beats Music Festival (June 10th-12th), visit

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