Road Ride – Booth, Turkey Lodge

It was a nice sunny day and gloomy, chilly, wet days are forecast for next week so I should have been really motivated to do a good cycle ride today. I wasn't! 😐

My continuing post-winter malaise is proving hard to shed. In fact, I sat indoors most of the day working on my burgeoning website empire. I began to despair of finding the energy to go out so rather than wait for inspiration to come along, I just decided to do a short local ride and make the most of a bad job…

I know from repeated experience over the years that no matter how bad I feel before a ride, in probably 95% of cases I feel much better within 20 minutes of setting off. I can only remember about 3 or 4 occasions where I've gone out, regretted it and turned back home. A couple of those times I turned out to be getting ill.

So, I got into my cycling kit and headed off up the A6033 Keighley Road. I had intended to ride over to Haworth, do a little loop round there and then come back but I decided that I didn't want to get mixed up with the Sunday tourist traffic over there. Instead, I turned right at Pecket Well, and rode through Old Town and on to Heights Road. I turned left up Thorney Lane in Midgley and headed up Luddenden Dean.

Yes, it was a pleasant afternoon with sunny spells, but there was a very chilly wind blowing from the NW. I could really see the forecast of wintry showers in the middle of next week proving correct.

I continued along High House Lane then dropped down Dry Carr Lane to where it loops back down Jerusalem Lane. It's very nice down there – there is a very popular campsite which would be a nice place to stop if you are touring in the area.

If you cycle down Jersusalem Lane, don't go mad – the camber is all over the place, it's quite steep, narrow, and it's easy to pick up too much speed and get yourself into trouble, especially if you meet oncoming traffic.

You can turn sharp left at the end of Jerusalem Lane and drop steeply down Booth Hill into a dip from which Bank House Lane climbs back up towards the village of Wainstalls. This climb is known locally as ‘Jowler' after an old mill which was located there.

My route took me the other way, into Booth, along to Solomon Hill, and then down to the A646 at Luddenden Foot. I didn't fancy the traffic on the A646, so I crossed over to Station Road and took the Calder Valley Cycleway back to Mytholmroyd. (Bear right on Station Road – the cycleway crosses the car park of the industrial units on the left and then heads west, parallel to the railway line.)

Even though I was doing a short ride, this was going to be too short if I headed straight for home but I didn't fancy climbing to Blackstone Edge with that cold wind blowing. Instead, I turned left onto the B6138 Cragg Road, and then left up Scout Road. It's a nice climb up through the woods and there are multiple choices of lanes to take once a little extra altitude has been gained.

I decided that I would try and get one hard climb in to make my legs feel like they had done some work so I continued up Scout Road, then Sowerby Lane and turned right up the demanding Shield Hall Lane. I was grovelling my way up that when a woman came out of a house at the roadside and announced that I'd find the hill a bit steep higher up. Through gritted teeth I told her that I knew how steep the road was – that's why I was cycling up it! She gave me the classic non-cyclist look of bewilderment – why would anybody choose to ride up a steep hill – especially someone of my size! Well why would anybody go for a walk or ride around a circular loop just for the sake of it? In the privileged Western world, we don't have many wild boar to hunt or enemies to kill so we have to find other ways to pass the time and use up our spare energy! 😉

Yes, it was tough and it leads straight into Steep Lane, which is, er, steep! My legs were finally telling me that I'd actually made an effort on this ride. I checked my GPS and a quick calculation told me that I'd have got my target of 20 miles in if I turned back down through Cragg Vale when I reached the B6138 after passing the The Turkey Lodge.

So, that's what I did. A chilly descent took me back to Mytholmroyd, and I followed the cycleway back to Hebden Bridge.

34.2 km in total (21.3 miles). I felt glad that I'd made the effort to get out. Sometimes it is easy to get into a faulty mindset – that it isn't worth bothering with a 20 mile ride. Okay, 40, 60, or even 100+ might be ‘better' but if you do enough short rides, the total distance starts to add up. In fact, multiple short rides are probably better for one's health and fitness than doing nothing for a week and then rushing out and doing a ‘century' ride!

PS It is now Tuesday. My legs seized up on Sunday evening, a couple of hours after I got home and they are still a bit stiff and sore now. At first, I couldn't figure out what was wrong – I normally wouldn't feel that amount of pain in my legs unless I'd ridden a hilly ‘200' (km audax). Then it dawned on me – the damage must have been done when I jogged down The Buttress with my camera on Sunday afternoon. I don't normally run these days so suddenly unleashing a 20% cobbled descent on my old legs was probably not the kindest thing that I could have done to them. Forcing them to then do a longish 15-20% climb on my bike the following day just finished them off!

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