The Harrogate circuit at the 2019 UCI road World Championships in Yorkshire features in many of the events, sometimes after a route from elsewhere in Yorkshire - for example, the elite women's road race, and the elite men's road race.
The mixed team time trial takes place exclusively on the Harrogate circuit, and covers it twice - the men ride it, then the women.
Penny Pot Lane
The official profile of the Harrogate circuit:
The start and finish line of the circuit is on West Park, at the junction with Victoria Avenue and Beech Grove. The photo shows the United Reform church, and Cathcart House to the left of the church; that's about where the start finish point will be.
Competitors will set off south on West Park, which is wide, level, and has only the most gradual of curves.
A little further along West Park is the West Park Hotel, then Weetons; then West Park reaches the Prince of Wales roundabout.
At the roundabout, it's a sweeping right turn, up the B6162 Otley Road. There's an old-fashioned red phonebox on the left.
The route continues up Otley Road, past West End Avenue and Queens Road.
The distance on Otley Road is nearly 4km. It's straight. The first 1.6km is an uphill drag, to Harlow Hill. The start height is about 125m, and the top is 180m, which means a height gain of 55m, and a modest average gradient of 3.4%. The hill is slightly steeper towards the top (after the junction with Pannal Ash Road).
The way the Shepherd's Dog pub is built gives a good idea of the steepness near the top of Harlow Hill.
The crest of the hill comes just past Nursery Lane (which leads to Harlow Hill Tower), when you're level with Harlow Hill Recreation Ground.
At Beckwithshaw, the route comes to a mini-roundabout junction. The competitors arrive from Harrogate (the road to the right, on the photo above), and turn right on the B6161. They pass Beckwithshaw Cricket Club.
The road (Pot Bank) descends towards Oak Beck.
There's a bend to the left then a bend to the right.
There are a couple more twists and turns just before the bridge over Oak Beck. Pot Bank then climbs the other side of the beck.
The climb of Pot Bank is quite steep at first, then the gradient eases further up.
Next, there's a roundabout junction, where it's a right turn.
The competitors will then be on Penny Pot Lane.
Penny Pot Lane passes a housing estate, takes a sharp bend to the right, and descends to Oak Beck again.
From coming down to the bridge to heading up the other side, it is a tight turn, and it will be a challenge to carry as much speed as possible from the descent into the climb that follows.
It's quite a steep pull up from Oak Beck. Anyone from Harrogate who cycles is familiar with this little ramp, which has to be tackled when coming back from a ride to the west of the town.
Penny Pot Lane becomes Cornwall Road, then Harlow Moor Road. The gradient gradually levels out as you pass the Harrogate Spring Water plant on the right.
As you continue through the Pinewoods to the junction with Harlow Moor Drive, it's still uphill, and there are some speed bumps. The Tour de Yorkshire 2019 (women's and men's events) came this way when a lap of the Harrogate circuit was integrated into a stage from Barnsley to Bedale.
Two new housing estates have been built off Harlow Moor Road, and s.106 money was available to the local authority for cycle infrastructure.
As far as I can understand, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), or perhaps one of the developers, re-surfaced the pavement between Cornwall Road and Harlow Moor Drive, with the intention of making it shared use. The pavement gives way to all side roads and driveways.
In some locations, shared use - which is an unsatisfactory compromise - may be the only option. Here, there is a grass verge between road and pavement, crying out to be turned into a segregated cycle lane - far preferable for everyone. Why not build something decent when it's possible? Pavement cycling is not convenient here, and the majority of people riding bikes will ignore it.
Another familiar feature of this scheme is delay. I first looked at it in October 2017, when the pavement had been re-surfaced, but the rest of the route up to Otley Road hadn't been completed, and no shared use signs had been put up. A year and a half later, nothing at all has changed.
There is a reference in an NYCC document to 'the Miller Homes cycleway'. Miller Homes is one of the developers. I tried to find out from them what they are going to do and when, but it was hopeless. They admitted they 'will be building a cycleway eventually', but said there was 'no date set yet to start the works', and they are 'unsure about what part of Harlow Moor Road this relates to at this time.'
The UCI 2019 Harrogate circuit turns left on Harlow Moor Drive, which runs downhill along the south side of the Valley Gardens. By an entrance to the Valley Gardens, there's a roundabout. The pedestrian refuge is now removable rubber, so bike races can come along here more safely.
The route continues alongside the Valley Gardens, on what is now Valley Drive. At the bottom of the hill are the Royal Pump Rooms. Here, the riders turn left, up Cornwall Road.
Cornwall Road takes the riders back up the north side of the Valley Gardens. Part-way up, it's right on Hereford Road. This is a leafy residential area, with wide streets, and large houses.
Next, it's the third right turn, onto Kent Road.
It's fairly flat at first, then a bit downhill to the junction of Kent Road and the A61 Ripon Road. Where Kent Road meets the A61, the riders have to turn right, uphill for a short distance until they reach the crest of the hill.
Then it's downhill for a short way, with a view of Parliament Street on the other side of the dip.
Instead of going down into the dip, though, the competitors will turn right on Swan Road.
They pass the Swan Hotel.
Beyond the hotel, Swan Road bends left and runs towards the Royal Pump Rooms.
On this side of the Royal Pump Rooms, there's a tap that dispenses water from a sulphur spring. It was drunk by valetudinarians taking the cure in times past, but it is now labelled 'not fit for human consumption'; you can still drink it as long as you don't blame anyone else for your decision. Would a glass of it trigger an Adverse Analytical Finding?
At the Pump Rooms, it's sharp left onto Crescent Road. Hales Bar is on the corner here.
Crescent Road runs past the Crescent Gardens and the Royal Baths.
At the end of Crescent Road, there's a right turn up Parliament Street. Whereas on Stage 1 of the Tour de France 2014, the peloton arrived from the A61 Ripon Road, and went straight on up Parliament Street carrying a lot of momentum, this time riders will make a right-angle right turn onto Parliament Street, and so will carry less speed.
Parliament Street runs uphill to Bettys (the scene of Mark Cavendish's 2014 Tour de France crash). Then the road flattens out as it becomes West Park and leads to the finish line.
The start/finish point is about 300m beyond Bettys. (There's to be a Finish Line Pavilion there, for UCI officials, and anyone who buys a VIP package (prices from £195 to £495 per day)). It is level with the cycle parking outside the United Reform church, just before the junction of West Park with Victoria Avenue.
It is possible that the UCI are planning some sort of arch at the finish line, with timing equipment integrated. If that's not the case, my A4 sheet of paper is available for rent at a very reasonable rate.
Lizzie Deignan had the opportunity to ride the UCI 2019 Harrogate circuit under race conditions, along with the other participants in the Tour de Yorkshire 2019.
She said, 'I've been doing it wrong in training, so I'm glad I actually saw the proper course. Just the final couple of corners, I came at it from a different angle. The main points I've been doing properly. It's a good circuit, I like it.'
The UCI 2019 mixed time trial takes place on the opening Sunday of the World Championships in Yorkshire. A new event, it is likely to prove hugely popular, and draw big crowds to Harrogate.
Read about the UCI 2019 mixed team time trial.
Harrogate is a town of about 75,000 people, in North Yorkshire.
Its mineral waters were discovered in the 1500s, and it grew as a spa town in the centuries that followed. Many of the spa facilities were built in Queen Victoria's time.
You can visit the Royal Pump Rooms museum, drink the foul sulphur water from a tap outside (not advised but interesting), or dip into the Turkish Baths.
These days, Harrogate's economy is still partly based on tourism and visitors. It has a major Convention Centre, the Great Yorkshire Showground, and many good hotels.
Attractions include the RHS garden at Harlow Carr, the Valley Gardens, and Betty's tea rooms.
Read more about Harrogate.
The Harrogate circuit begins on West Park. It runs alongside part of Harrogate Stray, or Two Hundred Acre. The Stray is land that was saved for the public at the time of the Enclosures, because the wells and springs upon which the town depended were on these parts of the Royal Forest of Knaresborough.
The start/finish line is near Cathcart House. It was built in the 1860s as a guest house, and Princess Alix of Hesse was one of the guests; she later become Empress of Russia.
Shortly after setting off up West Park, the Coach & Horses pub is on the left. It still has its fine cycling artwork on the exterior, decorations that were put up at the time of the 2014 Tour de France.
At the top of West Park is the Prince of Wales roundabout, overlooked by the Prince of Wales mansions. A plaque states that the building was constructed around 1815 as Hattersley's coaching inn, then renamed the Brunswick in 1833. (Brunswick was also the name of Harrogate's first railway station, which was diagonally opposite the coaching inn). In 1866, it became the Prince of Wales hotel, and in 1960, it was converted into apartments.
Harlow Hill Tower (the square tower on the left) is a listed building. It was built about 1829. During World War II, it was the local Home Guard HQ. It seems that it began to be used as an astronomical Observatory in the 1950s. There are 100 steps up to the top, which you can climb on one weekend a year, as part of a Heritage Open Day.
The other (round) tower is Harlow Hill Water Tower, also listed. It dates from 1902 (according to British Listed Buildings).
According to Wikipedia, one possible origin of the name Harrogate is 'Harlowgate', meaning the way to Harlow.
Beckwithshaw is a village just south west of Harrogate. It takes its name from Beckwith, a nearby village, although Beckwithshaw is now the larger of the two settlements. 'Shaw' means copse (Wikipedia).
The pub in Beckwithshaw is the Smiths Arms.
The Valley Gardens is an area of lawns and flower beds. Historically, it was known as Bogs Field, because it has a very high concentration of natural springs, with greatly varying mineral content. Bogs Field was very important in the era of spa tourism.
The Royal Pump Rooms houses one of the strongest sulphur wells in Europe.
It was built in 1842 on the initiative of newly-appointed Harrogate Improvement Commissioners. They commissioned Isaac Shutt, son of the owner of the Swan Inn, to build it. His octagonal, classical construction allowed visitors to Harrogate to be sheltered as they drank the sulphur water, provided they paid an entrance fee; to uphold the right of free access to the waters, an outside tap was put in place (Malcolm Neesam, Exclusively Harrogate).
The outside tap is still there, and the brave can taste water from the sulphur spring.
The waters declined in popularity after World War II. Following the founding of the NHS, people decided to rely on the science-based medecine, rather than drinking horrible-tasting water, to cure ailments. Eventually the Royal Pump Rooms closed. A museum opened in the building in 1953.
The Swan Hotel, Harrogate, is about 200 years old. The Swan Inn existed on this site in Low Harrogate since at least 1777 (Wikipedia). In the late 1800s, it was redeveloped, and became the Harrogate Hydro.
Agatha Christie disappeared in 1926, and was missing for 11 days. She checked into the Hydro under the name Mrs Teresa Neele. She was eventually recognised by one of the hotel's banjo players.
In 1939, the hotel was requisitioned by the Ministry of Aircraft Production.
It was renamed the Old Swan in the 1950s, and refurbished in 2006. It has 136 bedrooms, and its Wedgewood restaurant has a glass ceiling. (Presumably, then, there are lots of waitresses, but the maitre d' is a man).
The Crescent Gardens are small, but reasonably pleasant. They are close to busy roads.
They were developed in the 1890s on the site of the old Crescent Inn, to provide an area for strolling after taking the waters.
The old council offices take up one side of the gardens. The building has been sold to a property developer called Adam Thorpe, who is planning to turn it into really posh flats, costing £2.5 to 10 million.