Hebden Bridge Cycling Loops

I'd arranged a different kind of CycleChat forum ride for today. Normally we do one loop with a cafe stop somewhere in the second half. That's great for people who want to do the full distance, but it obviously puts off people who would rather do a shorter ride. Today's ride was going to be two main loops with an optional short 3rd loop with a ‘killer hill' on it.

Loop 1 was 28 miles and loop 2 was 22 miles, making a nice total of 50 miles with a total of about 5,500 ft of climbing (80 km & 1,700 m).

It turned out to be a gorgeous spring day! The sun was shining the whole time we were out and the sky was blue, almost cloudless. It was breezy at times, but not too bad.

We met in Market Place car park, Hebden Bridge at about 09:50. It was a good turnout – 12 riders, including myself:

Me (CycleChat: ColinJ), Dave (potsy), Will (Bokonon), Fiona (Fiona N), Ed (Svendo), Ben (Globalti), Paul #1 (PaulB) plus his son Liam, Paul #2 (Pennine-Paul), Kevin (tubbycyclist), Phil #1 (Uncle Phil) and a new face – Phil #2 (phil_hg_uk) from Harrogate on his first visit to Hebden Bridge.

Our route for loop 1 was: Hebden Bridge, Pecket Well, Old Town, Chiserley, Midgley, Jerusalem Lane, Booth, Solomon Hill, Luddenden Foot, Calder Valley Cycleway, Mytholmroyd, Cragg Vale, Blackstone Edge, A58 east, left down Blue Ball Lane, Hubberton Green, Scout Road, Mytholmroyd, Cycleway, Hebden Bridge.

I was riding my Cannondale because I discovered a cracked crank on my Basso yesterday when I was preparing it for this ride. I wanted the lower gears on the Basso for some of today's steeper climbs. I certainly felt that today's 3rd loop might be too much for me but now I'd let the ride decide!

We set off just after 10:00, heading up the backstreets to the Keighley Road and up to Pecket Well where we turned right to head for Midgley. I sprinted away to gain enough time to get my camera out and snap the other riders as they rode past me in Old Town.

CycleChat peloton in Spring sunshine
CycleChat peloton in Spring sunshine

We carried on to Midgley where we turned left and headed up the lane along the edge of the Luddenden valley to the top of Jerusalem Lane, which we then descended to Booth.

I played a childish trick on the riders just behind me – I somehow ‘forgot' to mention that we immediately turned right up the top of a steep climb into the village. It's only a couple of bends and no problem for those of who had sneaked into a climbing gear on the descent, but a bit of a shock to others who were still on the big chainrings … 😉

We took a look at the newly renovated Oats Royd Mill. It has gone from a derelict mess to a very swanky-looking apartment block. The views across the valley from the upper flats must be pretty special.

A quick descent took us to the A646 at Luddenden Foot. I wanted to show the other riders the Calder Valley Cycleway as an alternative to the busy main road. We followed the Cycleway to Mytholmroyd and I think most of the riders quite liked it. Anyway, they now know where it is and they have the option of going that way in future if they choose to.

Dave and I did a very relaxed ascent to Blackstone Edge through Cragg Vale. The other riders went on ahead and waited at the reservoir for us.

We regrouped and turned left for a quick descent to Blue Ball Lane. After turning left up that, we rode along some of my favourite quiet lanes back to Mytholmroyd with a short stop on the way at Ernie Saunders' Seat for a group photo.

CycleChatters group photo
CycleChatters group photo
[L-R: Phil #2, Kevin, Will, Ed, Paul #1 (kneeling), Me (ColinJ), Paul #2, Ben, Liam, Fiona (half-hidden!), Dave, Phil #1]

We rode back to Hebden Bridge on the Cycleway to have our lunch stop.

Paul #1, Liam, Ben and Kevin left us there. The rest of us parked our bikes down by the river in a shaded spot where we could relax to eat our sandwiches and drink our coffees.

(I've pinched this picture taken by Dave)

Bike parking by the river
Bike parking by the river

We had an extended break but eventually it was time to saddle up for loop 2. Paul #2 decided that he'd done enough. He was riding his fixed-gear bike and was getting over a chest infection and was still coughing and spluttering***. Phil #1 discovered that he'd broken one of his very expensive carbon fibre Campagnolo Record ergoshifters and didn't fancy doing the next 22 mile loop stuck in one gear so he said goodbye too. And then there were 6 …

Our route for loop 2 was: Hebden Bridge, A646, Mankinholes, Lumbutts, Walsden, A6033, Calderbrook, Littleborough, A58, Blackstone Edge Old Road, A58, Blackstone Edge, B6138, Cragg Vale, Mytholmroyd, Cycleway, Hebden Bridge.

We headed towards Todmorden and soon we were on the steep climb to Mankinholes. Any thoughts I'd had of tackling the killer hill on loop 3 evaporated instantly. My legs were struggling to turn the 39/29 bottom gear on my Cannondale, and my inner right thigh was aching again. (It has been troubling me the past few years. I think it might be a varicose vein.)

Fiona got a bad cramp in one leg on that climb and she was nursing it for the rest of the ride.

We made our way down to Walsden, then soon up and over through Calderbrook to get us off the A6033 for a while. We began the climb to Blackstone Edge and Fiona decided to stay on the steady A58 while we took the steeper, but more interesting Old Road. I was riding with Phil #2 and Dave but Will and Ed shot off to do the entire climb to the White House at warp speed. Put it this way – the next time I saw them was in the car park of the pub!

I was climbing slowest of all. I'm definitely getting fed up of being overweight now. The strain it is putting on my body is starting to show. I don't like the pain in my thigh, and my joints are starting to object to coping with 40-odd pounds of extra blubber too!

So, we regrouped at the summit. Ed went back down the hill to Rochdale after asking me where the ‘killer hill' of loop 3 was. (PS It was Birchcliffe Road and on up to the former Mount Skip pub. I told him and he rode over the next day to tackle it. I think he quite enjoyed the challenge! ;))

For the remaining 5 of us, it was a quick descent to Mytholmroyd and back to Hebden Bridge on the Cycleway again. Fiona and Will were dropped off at the station for their trains home and I said goodbye to Phil and Dave back at the car park.

50 hilly miles on a fine sunny day with nice people who (as ever) never complained about having to wait for me. Great stuff!

*** PS I'm not saying that it was definitely caught from Paul, but I came down with a very similar bug to his a few days after this ride and wasn't able to ride my bike during one of the best spells of sunny Spring weather for years. Hmph! 😕

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