Gavin Smith of Commute Cycle Cafe on Yorkshire cycling

Cycling in Yorkshire: With the White Rose Classic and Commute Cycle Cafe

The cycling community is well known to be one of inclusivity and encouragement, from the boneshaker days of early adopters, creating the very first cycling clubs, to the thousands of organised clubs, groups and rides we have today. In Yorkshire, that same sense of community has never been stronger. Whilst there are a host of like-minded cycling-orientated businesses dotted across our rolling hills – Ilkley, the Wharfe Valley and West Yorkshire as a whole, is somewhat of a hotbed.

With enough cycling heritage to write the book on club culture and one of the most active cycling regions in the country, we’re taking some time out to get to know the people behind two wheeled adventures in God’s Own County. In this post, we’re talking to Gavin Smith of The Commute Cycle Cafe in Ilkley – on Yorkshire, riding and the people in-between.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the Commute Cycle Cafe

Commute Cafe from Leeds roadI have always been a cyclist. The love for coffee and travel came later, as I grew older and my wife and I had more opportunities to travel, our experiences gave us food for thought and the Commute steadily grew in our plans. In 2016 we took the plunge and decided to open, with influences from London’s ‘Look Mum, No Hands’ and our visits to Copenhagen and the Netherlands generally.

The Commute is a fantastic hub for all outdoor lovers, from road riders to mountain bikers, hiking enthusiasts to dog walkers. We’re a family-friendly place and your perfect cycling stop-off. We plan social rides 4 days a week and have free bike parking, a workshop on site and loaner locks, a great locally sourced menu and the best coffee for miles. Our bike stash is stocked with perfect gifts for the cyclist in your life, from t-shirts to awesome accessories from brands like Paria, Hiplok and Overland – just to mention a few.

When did you first really get into cycling?

I have ridden bikes from being young, mainly MTB until about ten years ago when Yorkshire grabbed me with its road scene and the beautiful routes available right on my doorstep. I ride as much as I can, both commuting and leading our social rides, but generally just having fun. For me, its life-on-two-wheels that helps clear my mind and stay healthy.

Any favourite routes / vistas / climbs?

Park Rash for sure is a favourite climb, and the route over to Kettlewell riverside is stunning.

In your opinion, what is it about the cycling community that appeals to so many?

I think the Community appeals to many because it’s so accessible. In Yorkshire you can find like-minded people from every walk of life who, despite their day jobs, just want to get together and ride their bikes for a few hours.

In the Commute, you can see great local guys like Scott Thwaites or the Brownlee brothers pulling up for a quick stop to refuel and relax – these guys are legends, and they can be sat on the next table chatting away with other cyclists! It all just feels so laid back, so easy.

What’s not to love about being part of the coffee-searching, bike-loving cycling community?

Any tips for fellow-riders planning on riding the Yorkshire Dales this summer?

For sure! I’d say definitely pay us a visit, fill up your water bottle, grab a coffee and some healthy food. If you’re heading into the Dales, be prepared for some elevation! Ask us for tips on routes and other stops along the way, so you can make sure you stay well hydrated and fuelled up.

One definite tip I would suggest – look at your set up. If you’re riding a 25 on the rear with a standard chain-set you’re going to struggle! Most riders in the dales will have a 11-28 and either a compact or semi, helps make life enjoyable without losing top end when you’re zipping down the country lanes with the group.

Get out on your bike and experience Yorkshire

Big thanks to Gavin for taking the time out to give us his thoughts and insights into the Yorkshire cycling community. If you’re riding to, through or from Ilkley – be sure to stop by The Commute for fresh coffee, good eats and top cycling chat all round. Alongside their awesome grub, grog and wares – they also have White Rose Classic discount vouchers available for Commute customers – ask at the bar for more details.

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