Road Ride – Back to Buckstones

A nice sunny day, and time to see if I was really over the ‘lurgy’…

Today’s road ride was 42.7 miles with 4,500 feet of hills, some very steep. Companionship was provided by buddies Bill and Martin (‘goodspeed‘).

Details of the route: Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Scout Road, Boulder Clough, Hubberton Green, Cotton Stones, Ripponden, Ripponden Bank, Barkisland, Ringstone Edge, Moselden Height (bridge over M62), Buckstones, Denshaw, Windy Hill, Booth Wood, Pike End, Baitings Reservoir, Blackstone Edge, Littleborough, Calderbrook, Walsden, Lumbutts, Mankinholes, Hebden Bridge.

I met the lads in the centre of Hebden Bridge at 10:00 and we set off towards Mytholmroyd at a nice easy pace to get some sort of a warm-up before hitting the hills. They weren’t long coming… We went up Scout Road for a change rather than doing the long draggy climb up to Blackshaw Head. As often round here, there was quite a strong south-westerly wind blowing and I didn’t fancy yet another slog into that so early on in the ride.

The 20% descent into Ripponden was enlivened by the realisation that I hadn’t cleaned my wheel rims after discovering that they were greasy on my previous ride! 😯 As a result, I had to use all my strength to slow down enough not to shoot out into the main road at the bottom of the hill. We three decided that to ride up that climb would officially be ‘a bit of a bugger’ (that’s old Yorkshire dialect for ‘a right bastard’!) It is filed under ‘must do one day, but not today thank you!’

I’d lined up an easier but still sweat-inducing climb – from Ripponden to Barkisland up Ripponden Bank. Bill and Martin rapidly pulled away from me as I climbed in ‘I have been ill recently’ mode which excuses lack of fitness in the guise of ‘not overdoing things’. 5 mph up that climb was not overdoing things. 5.1 mph would have been… 😉

And so we got onto my kind of climb, the 2.7 mile drag up to Buckstones. It only averages 3.3% and even with my bulk, that isn’t much of a problem. The cross-headwind was, but my weight makes me less susceptible to the wind than lighter riders so I wasn’t getting left too far behind by my two pals. At least I wouldn’t have been, but as I got onto the bridge over the M62, I had the curious urge to activate my fear of heights. I normally ride straight over the bridge without looking down, but today I stopped and whipped my camera out. Within nanoseconds I felt as though I was about to be hurled over the guardrail to meet a grisly fate under the wheels of a fast-moving lorry far below. Heights-‘R’-not-me!

M62 looking east over Scammonden dam
M62 looking east over Scammonden dam

M62 looking west to Windy Hill
M62 looking west to Windy Hill

Scary, but a magnificent feat of civil engineering!

I caught up with Bill and Martin at Buckstones and we stopped a while to admire the view and the antics of a paraglider pilot swooping about above us.

The usual ultra-rapid descent to Denshaw was thwarted by the headwind. I don’t think I went above 35 mph whereas I’d normally be hitting 50+ mph going down there.

No rest for the wicked – we turned right at the 5-way junction at Denshaw and climbed back towards Windy Hill. My two riding partners went on ahead as I stopped to take the following picture…

S-bend...think!
S-bend…think!

Two S-bend signs, a reflective chevron sign pointing round a tight bend and the giant message SLOW daubed across the road ought to be enough to get drivers to do it, but no – apparently they need to be told to THINK!

A quick wind-assisted blast down from Windy Hill under the M62 almost came to a sticky end as I fiddled with my gear-adjustment. I couldn’t get into ‘top’ and rode one-handed at 40 mph for about 200 metres looking down and fiddling about with my hand an inch or so from a rapidly turning wheel. Not recommended folks! I didn’t think about how dodgy it was until afterwards when I started getting flashbacks to Jens Voight’s horrific high-speed crash in this year’s Tour de France – hey, Hey, HEY – let’s be careful out there! 😯

We got off the busy A-road at Booth Wood and took the scenic undulating lanes over to Baitings Reservoir and then began to climb up to Blackstone Edge. Bill wanted to go shopping in Todmorden so he whizzed off and left Martin to wait for me at the top of the climb.

I decided to show Martin the quieter, more scenic route to Walsden via Calderbrook and fortunately remembered to tell him about the landslip in the road before he got to it…

Landslip-affected road after Calderbrook
Landslip-affected road after Calderbrook

After rejoining the A6033, we bombed down into Walsden and then turned up Hollins Lane to take the nicer route back to Hebden Bridge via Lumbutts and Mankinholes.

It was about the perfect ride for me after my long lay-off from the bike. Challenging, but not enough to reduce me to a grovelling heap.

Well folks, I now appear to be lurgy-free. I just have to get back the fitness I’ve lost and re-lose the weight I’ve put back on.

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