Road Bike Ride – Extended Trawden Loop

Last night, a local cyclist contacted me on the CycleChat forum and suggested getting together for a ride some time. Martin (forum name goodspeed) lives in the village of Oxenhope which is only 6 miles from Hebden Bridge. That 6 miles consists of a big hill – 4.5 miles up from this side and 1.5 miles down the other. I was intending to ride over there today anyway so I replied to Martin’s message and arranged to meet him this morning.

The weather was a bit gloomy when I set off, and there was a chilly wind blowing. I’d guessed that it would take me about 30 minutes to get over to Oxenhope station, the arranged meeting place. This is the end of the line for the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway which is run by local steam enthusiasts (if you’ve ever seen the film The Railway Children, you’ll have seen the station, the railway line, and some of the local scenery). I hadn’t allowed enough time for my weight-retarded climbing and I ended up being almost 10 minutes late when I met up with Martin. We had a quick chat and then got underway.

It was straight into a short hill and it was immediately obvious that Martin could climb more quickly than me. He didn’t seem to mind waiting at the top of every climb for me. It has become a bit of a theme recently – meeting other cyclists and them having to hang about for me. It’s not really something which I like making them do, but until I’ve got my weight down to a sensible level, that’s how it will be.

We climbed round to the top of Haworth village (you know, the Bronte sisters, Wuthering Heights and all that…). I wanted to go over to the Oakworth side of the valley before heading off in the direction of Laneshaw Bridge. I’ve ridden the Oxenhope side of the valley many times, so I’ve started going the other way just for the change of scenery.

There is a steep descent from Haworth and an equally steep climb back up to the outskirts of Oakworth. I stopped to take a picture of Martin attacking the climb. As usual, it doesn’t really show the severity of the gradient. It must be something like 17% to 20%. I went up the hill at a more sedate pace.

Steep climb to Oakworth

There were some nice highland cattle in the fields beside the hill. I like them because they remind me of my summer holidays in Scotland as a boy (my mother is Scottish and we used to go up there every year when I was young). I was tempted to stop and take some photographs of them but I didn’t think I’d have been able to get going again. Best to just keep pedalling, onwards and upwards…

We rode on along the flatter road towards Scar Top, and gradually up to the defunct Herders Inn (it closed down a few years ago). There are often great views from up there of Wycoller park and the brooding hulk of Pendle Hill in the distance. Unfortunately, conditions were still a bit murky and not really good for taking scenic photos. I set off ahead of Martin on the rapid descent to Laneshaw Bridge. It’s a fun descent but take care if you ever go down there – you could get caught out. I nearly got hit once by a stupid motorist who was too busy looking at the scenery to bother staying on his side of the road.

I showed Martin the little lanes I take round to Trawden village. He had been over that way recently, but had used the main road through nearby Colne. I think he liked my route, since it avoids traffic and is more scenic.

We turned off to visit the cafe at Wycoller village but had second thoughts when we saw how many cars were in the visitors’ car park. We thought the chances of getting seats and served in less than about an hour were vanishingly small, so we turned back on ourselves and continued down into Trawden.

As we climbed out of the village, I remembered doing it for the first time about 20 years ago. It was a very bad experience – I’ll post my story of that ride another day.

Martin and I discussed the route home. The crunch point was coming up. We could come back via the brutally steep climb of Thursden Pasture on the way to Widdop, or we could extend our ride through Worsthorne village. We stopped to take a look at the Thursden climb. ‘Not today, thank you!’

Thursden climb - not today, thank you!

I showed my companion the route round to Worsthorne. It didn’t strike me at the time, but thinking about it now – I found riding this route quite easy which is surprising given how much it used to take out of me. The truth is – I’m a pretty fit, fairly fat guy.

We stopped at the village shop in Worsthorne. Martin’s energy levels were dropping so he bought a cheese sandwich to refuel himself. It was mouldy! Only slightly, but mould is mould and you don’t want to pay for it or to eat it! He took it back and replaced it with a sausage roll which seemed to perk him up immediately.

We’d been planning to come back along The Long Causeway. It’s the high level route back to Hebden Bridge, past Cliviger windfarm. It’s a nice road, but there is a fair amount of climbing to do, and that would have meant more chasing Martin. I’d started to consider ‘Plan C’ – dropping down onto the A646 valley road and bombing back along that. (It’s the way that Calum, longers and I rode back from Waddington a couple of weeks ago.) I took one look at the sky, and my mind was made up – we’d had a few minutes of sunshine as we came into the village, but I spotted some black clouds blowing in and I could see that it was raining over nearby Burnley. We jumped back on our bikes and set off down to the valley and at that moment, the rain started. It was bitterly cold! Getting drenched in water close to freezing point really isn’t fun but fortunately it blew over as quickly as it had blown in. Still, I rather fancied having a blast along a quick road after a lot of slow hill climbing…

We rode up the false flat from Walk Mill and then plunged down Cliviger Gorge. Soon we were in Todmorden, big grins on our faces – downhill is good!

It didn’t take long to get back to Hebden Bridge and the sun had come out to play again so we bought coffees and sat outdoors to drink them. I checked my GPS – 41 miles, and lots of hills! I felt good…

Soon it was time to say goodbye. Before he left, Martin amused 50 Sunday afternoon tourists with his demonstration of how to fall onto cobbles, still attached to a bicycle. I suggested that he might like to reduce the release tension on his pedals… 😉 No serious harm done to man or bike.

Remember that 4.5 mile hill I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Martin had to go over that to get home!

It was a good ride and I think we’ll be doing more like it as the year goes on.

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6 Responses to “Road Bike Ride – Extended Trawden Loop”

  1. Glad you have realised you are fit!

    How was the back?

  2. Fit, but fat! Even though the weight loss has stalled, the fitness is still coming on nicely so it isn’t all bad news.

    My back and neck have been no better and no worse then usual, thanks. I’m okay for 40 to 50 miles but then it gets worse and worse.

    Before you ask – I’ve forgotten to do ‘The Plank’! I’ll do it tomorow and see how many many seconds I can hold it for (last time, it was only about 15!).

  3. I can’t tell you off too much I haven’t been doing my core work either. At spring into the dales remind me to show you neutral spine postition – we did it on my course last week – it really helps protect the back. I’ve been using it on my singlespeed and getting less lower back pain – until I get tired and forget.

  4. I’ve been trying to work out what happens when I get tired because that is when I get the backache. I have noticed that when I’m relaxed I pedal smoothly but once I start to tire, my pedalling style becomes terrible. There is a definite cycle of push-hard-with-right-foot, coast-a-bit, push-hard-with-left-foot, coast-a-bit… and I think that it causes my pelvis to rock from side to side. This is often referred to as pedalling squares. Working on my core strength and flexibility will help put off the time when I get that tired, but I think that there is more to it than that.

    Hmm, I’ve just found this article – pedal like a pro. Interesting! I must try some of those ideas out too.

  5. Great report as usual Colin!
    Very inspiring Web Log, your weight loss reports in particular brutally honest!
    (makes me feel better though!!!)as you know i have always been a fan of your cycling write ups, you take the most mundane ride and turn it into an adventure! motivating stuff
    Best Wishes Andy.

  6. Hi Andy!

    Well, hopefully my reports will have motivated a special day trip to Leyland…! 😉

    As you can see – Martin likes doing the same kind of rides as us so you will get the chance to meet him once you are back on the road, and then you can feature in one of the reports yourself!

    I’m checking my email regularly while I’m away if you want to update me, otherwise give me a ring next week (after Monday).


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