In the third instalment of his coast-to-coast cycling diary, the Chronicle’s Ashley Ball talks you through day three which is probably a familiar track for Barnsley enthusiasts.


September 9

OUR numbers are boosted today with Nathan, another old university pal of ours, joining us.

It is rightly pointed out to him that today is the easiest of the lot.

The insult backfires as I end up paying for his breakfast (and later his lunch).

The heat is certainly going to be a problem today as it’s already pretty hot when we tuck into eggs on toast with a fruit smoothie.

It’s a later start too, as this is the shortest day, and Neil, regularly up at 5am, is straining on the handlebars to get going.

This part of the TPT is one most of us are familiar with, as it’s where we head out to regularly given its close proximity and quality of the road/trail surface in Doncaster.

If the section near Thurgoland is the worst part of the trail then the section from Mexborough to Sprotbrough is certainly the best.

This is the leg of the journey I would recommend for someone starting out cycling and heading towards Doncaster on the TPT ensures you get a good mix of terrain, places to refuel and sights to see, whether that is Manvers Lake, RSPB Old Moor or the brilliant Boat Inn at Sprotbrough.

Nathan, a resident of York but native of Northern Ireland, marvels at the sight of Conisbrough Castle but it’s one we barely notice as we assuredly head towards Doncaster and then north.

The route from the confluence of the Dearne and Don near Pastures Road would be described by any cycling commentator as ‘lumpy’ and we whizz down from the viaduct on the paved track rather than the more risky gravel route.

That is genuinely the only hill standing in our way between here and Selby but we know from experience that the flatness makes the ride boring rather than a breeze.

Matt and I have been to Selby and back before so know the complexities of the route meaning Mark’s beloved Komoot can enjoy a bit of a rest day.

The only real trouble is having to open the railway bridge yourself near Barnby Dun and then the bumpy and seemingly never-ending route along the canal from Braithwaite to Sykehouse, where we have lunch off the barbecue at a large pub, the only site for miles.

With the temperature cranked right up to 30 degrees, an easy day on paper is becoming tougher on tarmac and the day is almost as sapping as the previous two had been.

Veering into Snaith takes us into the East Riding for the first time but you quickly snake back westwardly which adds to the illusion that Drax power station, always on the horizon, is never getting any closer no matter how much further you ride.

We know there is a double-header of England football and rugby union on television tonight which speeds us up as we get into Selby itself.

Nathan departs on the final spur of the TPT (which runs slightly uphill all the way to York) with our best wishes and later makes a generous donation to the cause.

As I mentioned earlier, all I needed to do to summon further inspiration was to look down at my bar bag to see a picture of my dad and Matt was getting a similar boost as the donations continued to roll in. Halloumi fajitas and a couple of lager shandies make it a pleasing end to the day, as does George Ford’s kicking accuracy against Argentina


Komoot difficulty rating: Intermediate.

Read the first segment of Ashley's story here

Read the second segment of Ashley's story here

Read the fourth segment of Ashley's story here