Road Ride – Emley Moor Fiasco!

I met up with fellow CycleChat member Calum today for a tough hilly ride in glorious sunshine. We had intended to do the same route as the Yorkshire Sculpture Park ride of 3 weeks ago, except for a 10 mile shortcut to miss out some busy A-roads and the park itself (especially its expensive cafe!). It didn’t exactly go according to plan…!

(For my fellow CycleChat members – yes, I lifted this post from my report on the forum – no point in writing it twice! :wink:)

Calum and I set off over a selection of nice West Yorkshire hills towards Marsden. It was already getting pretty hot and I wondered how the heat was going to affect me. We haven’t exactly had a hot start to 2010. In fact, on the ride 3 weeks ago I wore full winter cycling kit and encountered hail on the ride home!

I didn’t take many pictures on the ride because I was conscious of how slowly I was riding and I didn’t want to hold Calum up more than I had to, but here are a couple taken just before the wickedly steep descent to Marsden.

Lingards Wood, Marsden
Calum in front of Lingards Wood, Marsden

Towards Slaithwaite from Booth Bank
Towards Slaithwaite from Booth Bank

We stopped in Marsden to buy some goodies from the local Co-op. After refuelling, we crossed the A62 and climbed the hill on the way to Meltham. I descended the other side at speed ahead of Calum and waited for him in Meltham centre. I waited and waited… I realised that he’d had a problem and soon a text message confirmed that he’d got a puncture. I didn’t fancy climbing back up the hill so I texted him back to say that I’d wait for him at the bottom of the hill.

There was a long delay before Calum appeared. Turned out that he didn’t have a spare tube so he’d patched his original tube instead. Worryingly, he hadn’t found the cause of the puncture…

On we went and I was starting to cook in the heat. I’d been wearing a base layer in case it didn’t turn out as hot as forecast but that had to come off near Upperthong.

We descended into Holmfirth and then headed for Kirkburton. My right leg was developing some ominous painful twinges and I was beginning to worry about completing the ride, given that we were only halfway round and there were lots more tough hills to come.

Just as we were climbing out of Kirkburton, there was a loud hiss from Calum’s rear wheel, the same one that had suffered the original puncture. I had a bad feeling about it…

We checked his tyre and nothing had penetrated it. He hadn’t hit any potholes. In my experience, that left two possibilities – a faulty tube splitting (I had a batch of them once), or dodgy rim tape. Guess what? Yes – rim tape, or the lack of it in fact!

Calum has had that bike for years, but whoever originally put the wheel together had been a cheapskate and not used rim tape. Instead, (s)he had done the old black insulating tape trick. I’ve done it myself as a temporary measure while waiting to get hold of rim tape but have always replaced it when the rim tape was available. This insulating tape had been on Calum’s wheel for at least 4 or 5 years and had lost its stickiness and moved around. 3 or 4 spoke holes were revealed and an inspection of the tube revealed that it had been damaged at the location of one of those holes, Several other parts of the tube looked like they would soon have failed too.

I got Calum to straighten out what was left of the insulating tape. It looked like he had covered all the holes and that we’d manage to sort him out for the rest of the ride. I gave him one of my spare tubes. He pumped the tyre up, but a few seconds later – pssssssssssssst – it was flat again – damn!

We spent the next 90 minutes or so patching tubes, trying to cover the spoke holes with spare patches, even improvising temporary rim tape with sweet wrappers. Nothing held. We even managed to blow a hole straight through one of the patches over one of the punctures.

In the end we had to admit defeat. Calum had a very optimistic plan of taking his bike on a bus to Huddersfield to catch the train back to Leeds. Failing that, he’d have to walk the 6 miles with his bike or call a taxi. I didn’t like abandoning him there but he said he’d be okay. At least the weather was fabulous and he wasn’t shivering at the side of the road in freezing rain!

The delays, pain in my leg, and 90 minutes of standing cooking in the sun had sapped my will to do the original route. I really didn’t fancy taking to the hills again, so I did something very unusual for me – took flatter A-roads home.

I cycled into Huddersfield and followed the ring road round to get onto the A629 for Halifax. A long drag took me up to Ainley Top followed by a fun descent of the Elland Bypass. I continued on the dual carriageway towards Halifax and turned off to ride through Copley to Sowerby Bridge. By then I had enough of busy roads and took the Calder Valley Cycleway back to Hebden Bridge.

I’d ended up doing 92 km (57 miles) rather than the intended 120 km (75 miles). It was disappointing the way that things turned out but we’d got 60 km of good riding in before punctures stopped play.

Calum texted me later to say that he’d failed to persuade a bus driver to let him on board with his bike, but he’d remembered riding down past Stocksmoor station and had walked back up there in about 30 minutes and caught a train to Huddersfield, and another back to Leeds.

And the moral of this little story is – check your rim tapes folks!

I’m hoping that the pain in the leg isn’t anything serious. Calum wants to have another go at doing a decent ride this weekend coming and I have a strenuous 70-miler planned for us.

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2 Responses to “Road Ride – Emley Moor Fiasco!”

  1. It certainly was a scorther. I ended up with heat stroke after just 15mins of riding in a coat!

  2. It doesn’t help that I wear a bandana to protect my bald spot from the sun (I hate putting sunblock on my scalp) and to stop sweat getting in my eyes. I should dampen the bandana in hot weather but my bottles always contain carbo drink so that’s not ideal as a source of liquid to put on my head! I suppose that I could carry a small bottle of water for head-cooling purposes!

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