Road Ride – ‘Beat the Clocks’

I’d organised another CycleChat forum ride for today and named it ‘Beat the Clocks’ because it would be one of the last weekend rides this year before the clocks go back an hour. Next Sunday’s sunset will be at a shockingly early 16:48! The end of BST (British Summer Time) catches me out every year; it just doesn’t seem ‘fair’. I would rather keep the extra hour of daylight in the evening and put up with darker mornings, but I don’t have to get up and commute in them any more so perhaps I’m biased?

The skies were blue when I got up, but the clouds were already building up by the time I rode round to the meeting place. Alun, Ed (Svendo) and Will (Bokonon) were already there and Andy (aJohnson) was due any minute. Sure enough, he turned up a couple of minutes later.

Alun had a lovely new carbon fibre Ribble. Ed’s bike had survived his recent attempt to get it (and himself) crushed underneath a bus. Will’s hair was growing back from some alarming pruning in aid of charity. Andy’s arms and legs were even skinnier than he’d said they were. As for me – I’m obviously getting old! Not only do many policemen/women look young enough to be my children, I’m now getting people coming on my rides who appear young enough to be my grandchildren. (Technically, Andy, being 17, is young enough to be my grandson!)

And then we were off…

We met Martin (Goodspeed) at the top of Cock Hill. He’d ridden up from Oxenhope, as previously arranged. It was getting colder and I felt quite chilled on the descent to the village. Unfortunately, the weather slowly deteriorated during the day. The light was very poor so I only took a couple of photographs and then gave up.

Glusburn Moor from Sutton Moor
Glusburn Moor from Sutton Moor

Still, we had a good ride round to Laneshaw Bridge, where Martin left us. He had promised his wife that he wouldn’t be out for too long, and was taking a shortcut home via Scar Top and Stanbury.

Then the drizzle started, and a cold wind picked up. It wasn’t very pleasant at all. Andy was seriously underdressed and didn’t even have the advantage that I have of a layer of blubber to keep him warm. By the time we got to our cafe stop, he realised that he couldn’t complete the ride so he sent for backup (rang his mum for a lift home!) We had a good stop at Coldwell Activity Centre cafe, then led Andy to the junction of the A671 and the A646 where he was getting picked up.

I had a feeling that we wouldn’t be doing the planned serious climb up to Blackshaw Head later, so I decided to squeeze a bit extra in before we got to Todmorden. Instead of going straight up the A671 to Deerplay Moor, I took us up the A646 towards Burnley and then turned up the steepish climb past Burnley Golf Club. We turned left at the top of that climb, and headed for Deerplay via Crown Point.

I was cold and wet and beginning to feel the effort of climbing all the hills we’d done so far. In fact. I got confused for a moment and thought we were at Sharneyford rather than Deerplay. My dismay on realising that we were several miles and a significant climb further from home than I’d thought made me realise that a change of route was called for. We needed to talk when we got to Sharneyford…

First though, a chilly descent into Bacup and a bit of a slog back out of it. Ed was only riding as far as Todmorden whatever the rest of us decided to do. Alun agreed with me – he didn’t fancy the original plan for a brutally hilly climax to the ride either. Will was happy to go with the majority.

So, we descended all the way to the A6033 and took the valley roads back to Hebden Bridge, saying goobye to Ed in Tod on the way.

We headed straight for Hebden Bridge station so Will could catch the next train to Leeds which was due shortly. While we were waiting for that, a steam train came thundering through in the opposite direction. I didn’t manage to get my camera out in time to snap it.

The route we ended up taking: Hebden Bridge, Cock Hill, Oxenhope, Haworth, Oakworth, Slippery Ford, Newsholme Dean, Sutton Moor, Lane Ends, Cowling Hill, Black Lane Ends, Laneshaw Bridge, Trawden, Coldwell Activity Centre (cafe), Haggate, Worsthorne, Mereclough, Walk Mill, A646 (northwest through junction with A671), left up past Burnley Golf Club, Crown Point, Deerplay Moor, Bacup, Sharneyford, Clough Foot, Shade, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge.

I’ve just checked my GPS tracklog. Despite the change of route, we still did 88 km with 2,100 m of climbs (55 miles, 6,600 ft).

We had disappointing weather, but I think it was still a good ride. It was nice to meet some of The Usual Suspects again, and to meet Andy for the first time. He is the only rider I’ve ever met who is quicker going up steep hills than he is coming down them! (A slight exaggeration – he climbs really well, but his skinny build doesn’t help him going downhill into the wind.)

I’ve been asked to organise another ride in November but we’ll have to see if winter comes early again this year. Last year, snow and ice arrived at the beginning of November and severely curtailed what should have been my late autumn riding.

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