No ride is complete without the cafe stop, and the Yorkshire Dales are blessed with the finest hosts and cake-makers in the land.
Jonathan Brownlee is reported to have said the Wharfe View at Burnsall was a cornerstone of his training programme, and Tom Pidcock mentioned the Cavendish at Bolton Abbey when interviewed as part of ITV’s Tour De France coverage. So what makes a great cycling cafe?
A hungry set of Alba Rosa riders recently set out the criteria for success that amounted to value for money, on-site bike locks, food, speedy service and location. They’re a demanding bunch.
Zarina’s Tearoom Café in Kettlewell is 55km from Leeds and a good stopover before either heading home or pushing upwards into the more adventurous territory of Park Rash, Fleet Moss or Kidstones.
The owner of the café, Zarina Belk, explained to Spokesman how cycling was an important part of her business. ‘70% of it (the business) is dependent on cyclists,’ said Zarina. ‘We do as much as we can to provide everything they need from gels, gluten-free food and of course the best fresh food and homemade cakes. I think good healthy food is what visitors want and we set out to serve that.
‘I’ve seen a big increase in cycling since the London Olympics in 2012 and the Tour De France in 2014,’ says Zarina, ‘and they come because they appreciate the little things we do. As well as food at reasonable prices we offer up our Aga and tumble drier if it’s been raining.’
The friendly Zarina then outlined her genius. ‘We have introduced a loyalty scheme for cyclists who don’t want to carrying loose change in their rear pockets. We have a yellow card where they can give us their coins, and put it on the card for the next time they come in.’ Plus, you get an extra 10% discount.
Spokesman had an Americano coffee and poached eggs on toast for £7.95.
Lodged between Ilkley and Kettlewell is the picturesque village of Burnsall. The Wharfe View Café has been fuelling cyclists for 30 years including regulars such as the Brownlee brothers, Ilkley CC, Valley Striders and the Leeds Alecarts.
It has guidebook charm, and run by two sisters, Jennifer Stapleton and Heather Schindler. Jennifer had her own ideas about what makes a good cycling café. ‘We’ve got great atmosphere here and you can turn up on your own and we’ll fix you up with someone to chat to. It’s more like a social club with good homemade food.’
Jennifer showed me the towels used by the Brownlees as well as a high grade pump, and toolbox just to make certain cyclist are catered for in every eventuality. It is a small, welcoming café and a place with real atmosphere. Its charm sucks out the lactic acid, and the cakes are varied, tasty and well priced.
Spokesman had a filter coffee (no posh Arabica beans here) and carrot cake for £3.95. Good portions and well priced with reading matter if you so wished.
There’s a theme building here but that is shattered by the imposing presence of the Cavendish Pavilion (aka Cav Pav)
The proximity to Leeds is its asset and the location on the banks of the River Wharfe makes it a well positioned stop. There’s little evidence of Yorkshire charm, but this is premium factory farming of flapjack, teacakes, and coffee.
On a Saturday morning it is packed with cyclists with ample space (both inside and out) to gather and recharge for the short trek (35km) back to Leeds. It pretty much stands out as the cycling stop.
However, arrive after midday and the place is overrun with dog walkers and families (paying a hefty £10 to park the car).
I ordered black coffee (medium) and toasted teacake – £4.95. A pot of jam was extra at 50p.
Do you have a cycling stop you’d like to champion? We’d love to hear about it.