A Wet and Windy ‘Trauma of Trawden’ Road Ride

I got together with Shaun (CycleChat member bromptonfb) and Dave (CC: potsy) again today to do another road ride, a shorter one than last week’s but much hillier – a slightly modified version of my ‘Trauma of Trawden‘ route.

Even with my lack of cycling recently, I wasn’t too worried by the hills or the distance. What did worry me was the forecast of strong winds with gale-force gusts, and a stroing possibility of some heavy rain. Still, ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’ eh? 😉

I met up with Shaun and Dave at 10:00 in the Market Place car park, Heben Bridge, as usual. It sure was windy, and the skies were cloudy but it was dry at that time.

We had a strong tailwind going up the 4.5 mile climb from Hebden Bridge up the Keighley Road.

At times, ridiculously powerful gusts were pushing us up the hill. One of those turned me into an Alberto Contador clone. I launched a devastating attack which took our little peloton by surprise. Not even Andy Shleck could have responded to my blistering pace. Okay, he wasn’t actually riding with us today, and if he had been, he’d have had the same tailwind shoving him up the hill, but hey, this is fantasy, right?

I’ve never before had the thrill of riding up a significant hill at 25 mph – it was fun, fun, fun and gave me a little taste of what being really fit must feel like! Okay, I’ll never be able to climb at that speed without wind assistance but I should be able to manage 15 mph on that section of the climb if I train hard and get my weight down. My long-term target is to be able to do that climb (and the Cragg Vale one) in 20 minutes. That implies an average speed of 13.5 mph but I’d be going slower on the steeper first couple of miles so I’d need to be doing 15+ mph higher up.

Shaun developed a quite worrying manic laugh as conditions deteriorated. We cycled under some big old trees on Penistone hill above Oxenhope and the amount of wind noise through the branches was incredible. Shaun seemed to find this very exciting. I was just worried that half a ton of wood was about to break off and fall on our heads! 😯

The video clip below gives you a slight taste of the conditions. You can tell that there is a lot of wind, but can you hear me shouting? That’s right – I was shouting, just a few inches from the camera’s microphone yet you can hardly hear a word I said.

Dave punctured just after I shot that video clip. As he started to fix the flat, Shaun looked to the west and pointed out some really unpleasant-looking black clouds scudding our way. Yes, you’ve got it – after that, we had heavy rain driven sideways at us at 20 mph! We quickly donned all the clothing we were carrying and got back under way, unfortunately now turning towards the wind. It made the cycling very hard work.

Dave started to flag at the halfway point and we had a chat about what to do next. We could have abandoned the scenic (hilly) route and taken to busy valley A-roads, but that would have been a great pity so Shaun lent him a jumper to keep him warm and we continued on our planned route.

I had doubts about us getting to Coldwell Activity Centre cafe in time so I rang them. Sure enough, they are still on winter opening hours and would be shutting by the time we got there so we decided to go to the tea rooms at Wycoller instead just before we reached Trawden.

A couple of miles later, we piled in there ordered coffee, pie and peas, and then chocolate cake and hot custard, a delight that I’ve never tried before will definitely be having again – it was a yummy combination!

Refreshed by our stop, we got back on our bikes and headed towards Trawden and some more tough little hills. Time was getting on. Our pace had been very slow, but I think most people wouldn’t have bothered riding today (they’d have more sense?) so I think we deserve credit for having made the effort. Speed can come later in the year!

I had a rear light but hadn’t brought a front life with me so I was a bit concerned about it getting dark. I let the others light my way and let motorists know we were coming. We finally got back into Hebden Bridge as it got properly dark. We’d done 32 miles, but it felt like a lot more than that!

All week, I’d been feeling the muscles in my legs growing in strength since last weekend’s ride to Waddington. It’s amazing how one ride and plenty of recovery time can make that much difference. I felt a lot stronger today than I did last weekend and didn’t have to walk any of the climbs, though I was riding no faster than Dave and Shaun were walking on the evil Thursden climb back towards Widdop.

Thanks for the company lads. There is no way I’d have gone out on my bike in the conditions today without you!

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