A Cycle Ride To Lothersdale – ‘The Goose Eye Grovel’!

The sun was shining as I met up with some lads from the CycleChat forum this morning. Calum turned out for the first time since last November. By rights, he should have been too unfit to do today's tough hilly ride, but he's only 21 – so, no problem!. Shaun was up for another ride. He's really keen these days, having got very fit through 18 months of hard bicycle commuting. Paul (a.k.a. Pennine-Paul on CycleChat) made his CC forum ride debut on his fixed-wheel bike. Yikes – had he not studied today's route profile! 😉 Ed (Svendo) was going to catch us up somewhere later on. He's a fit rider and he had the route programmed into his GPS.

We headed off up the Keighley road, descended to Oxenhope where I heard the sound of a steam train at the station. We called in to take a look at it, but it had just set off back towards Haworth.

We continued over Penistone Hill by my now preferred Old Oxenhope Lane route.

Svendo finally caught up with us at Stanbury, having been delayed by a puncture on his way over from Rochdale.

We headed up the valley towards Scar Top but then doubled back on ourselves and continued through Oakworth.

There was a nasty little climb coming up, out of the hamlet of Goose Eye. As advertised, I did some grovelling on its 25% slopes. A friendly local at the roadside looked down the hill, looked back at me and gravely suggested that perhaps it would help if I selected a nice low gear for that climb. I was in my granniest gear and chewing the bar tape off at the time … Ho ho – laugh? I nearly did …

Shaun's GPS was giving him some problems, as were his ears! He went straight on at a junction above Goose Eye. The fact that I had plotted the route, knew the road, had my trusty reliable GPS switched on, and both Svendo and I were shouting “You're going the wrong way!” didn't put him off! He took Paul on a scenic tour of somewhere else, while Svendo, Calum and I headed off up Newsholme Dean, as planned.

Eventually we all got back together again and headed off towards Lothersdale.

Paul was finding the relentless climbs a bit much on his fixie and walked the worst stuff. I wasn't going much faster riding! Our 3 ride buddies were waiting patiently for us at each of the summits and the sun was shining. All was well in this part of the world.

As we descended into Lothersdale, I told Svendo and Shaun about the brutish little climb out of the village that I'd ascended on my only other visit to that valley. They took the bait! Calum, Paul and I took the saner route down the valley.

We came to a short climb at about 10% gradient and I tried to power up it on the middle ring. I managed to pull my back wheel out of the dropouts – twice! I've never managed to do that with Shimano or Campagnolo quick releases but I now have Mavic ones. I'll have to make sure to do them up extra tight in future. Having done so, I had no further wheel-slipping problems

We'd told Svendo and Paul to wait for us at The Black Lane Ends pub before our descent to Laneshaw Bridge, and there they were.

The original idea had been to head back to Scar Top to visit the Moor Lodge tea-rooms, but we spontaneously decided to have a pub lunch at Black Lane Ends instead. The sun was shining, and we had lovely blue skies so we decided to sit at the tables outside. The views were great, but there was a very cold wind blowing and we were shivering by the time our meals finally arrived. Still, we haven't had many opportunities to eat outside these past 4 or 5 months so we'd wanted to make the most of this one.

Having changed our lunch stop, we decided to change our route too. We'd been through Oxenhope and over Cock Hill already earlier on and now we were no longer going to the cafe at Moor Lodge, Scar Top, so there was no need to ride back that way. Instead, we decided to ride the second half of my infamous ‘Trauma of Trawden' loop.

The Killer climb at Thursden (before Widdop) was as evil as ever. When we regrouped at the summit, Calum fancied his chances of getting back to Hebden Bridge for a train leaving about 30 minutes later. He managed it once before. So we told him – go for it! The rest of us meandered back to Hebden Bridge at a more sedate pace.

Svendo was in a hurry to get home so he said his goodbyes and rode away. Shaun, Paul and I rode round to HB station to see if Calum had caught his train. He was sitting on a bench on the platform, having missed the train by 5 minutes! We kept him company until the next one was due.

It was nice to meet Pennine-Paul who bravely suffered an endless succession of tough hills on his fixie. He's probably muttering at me now, but he was polite enough not to do it within earshot of me!

Yes, another fun forum ride, this time in glorious sunshine! Pity about the cold wind, but let's not be ungrateful. I'd rather have a cold sunny day, than a mild gloomy one!

A scary PS: Svendo posted this on the CycleChat forum later this evening…

I set off home to walk dog, feeling fine until at junction of Kingsway and Milnrow road, car turning right pulled across the junction in front of me, just as the lights were going to yellow, and I crashed into the rear quarter. Bounced off the car then the road, helmet left a big dent in the panel! Fortunately the driver and a witness stopped so got all necessary details. Main damage is my front wheel is knackered, but rest of bike seems OK. My shoulder is a bit bruised, and I've got a cut by my eye, but got off lightly considering really.

Driver admitted blame, failing to give way. Said she'd not seen me behind another car that turned left so thought it was clear. I had both front lights on and was doing a reasonable 20 mph. Lights changed just before I crossed the line, but I couldn't have stopped, as demonstrated by the fact I hit the car!

Got a lift home from the driver (!), had a shower and walked the dog. I'm mainly annoyed with myself for letting myself get hit and not riding defensively, I'd thought as I approached, “if the lights change and the car goes I'll be in trouble…oh sh*t!”

Apart from that a Brill day – thanks ColinJ, Shaun, Calum, Pennine-Paul.

Crash-damaged American Classic 420 Aero bicycle wheel
Crash-damaged American Classic 420 Aero bicycle wheel

I'm really glad you are okay Ed, but – yikes – Let's Be Careful Out There! 😯

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