Road Ride – Hills to Waddington, Valley Roads Back

Fellow CycleChat forum members Calum and Alun met me in Hebden Bridge at 10:00 today to ride over the hills to the cyclists’ cafe at Waddington. A group of us did a similar ride back in mid-February, but then we went there and back on the valley roads because of icy conditions ‘on the tops’.

It was a beautiful day for cycling – blue skies, temperatures about 18 degrees C (65 degrees F), not too much wind. It was my first ride this year without leg-warmers on and wearing proper sunglasses.

We set off up the Heptonstall Road but opted for the easier option of bearing right up through Lee Wood, rather than taking the steeper road straight up through the village. That climb is a bit much for my old legs when they haven’t had a chance to get working properly.

Having taken the right turn at Slack, we headed out along the lovely Widdop Road, the first few miles of which look down over Hardcastle Crags. The road eventually plunges down to Blake Dean, a beauty spot at the end of the valley in which the Crags are located. The road kicks up viciously round two tight bends and Alun and I lagged behind as Calum powered on ahead of us. We regrouped higher up and cycled along at an easy pace to Widdop Reservoir which was looking lovely in the sunshine. A suitable backdrop for the traditional group ride photograph, thought I…

Three cyclists at Widdop Reservoir

Three cyclists at Widdop Reservoir

(Please not the artistic arrangement of exotic grasses, carefully positioned in front of the camera lens! 😉 )

Calum soon went ahead again but I expected that he’d wait for us at the foot of the steep hill at Thursden pasture since there was a choice of roads, and he didn’t know where we were going. Of course, I’d forgotten the impetuous nature of youth…

Apparently, Calum hadn’t let a choice of roads faze him -there was no sign of him at the junction. The likelihood was that he’d followed the road markings and continued up a stonking great 18% hill ahead of him to the right. I was sure that he’d taken a guess, and gone the wrong way but I wasn’t about to pursue him up there. Out with the phone. Two speech calls and several text messages later, we were reunited a couple of miles further on after we’d taken the planned road up a much gentler climb.

We turned right at the crossroads in Haggate, then left at the golf course at Marsden Height. A rapid descent took us through the urban sprawl of Brierfield, and out over the busy M65.

It wasn’t long before the roar of traffic had faded and we climbed up through the village of Fence to get onto the scenic lane from Hoarstones to Padiham Heights. We headed south-west along that and soon we could see Sabden below us to our right, and towering above it, the steep climb over the Nick o’ Pendle – we’d save that for another ride. On we went until we dropped down to the A671 near Spring Wood picnic centre and then did a cheeky ride along 50 yards of quiet footpath to go to the picnic centre without having to twice cross the busy road.

After a quick visit to the toilets there, we crossed the A671 at the traffic lights and dropped down into Whalley. I’m very familiar with the route from Whalley to Waddington via Great Mitton, so today I decided that we’d take a slightly different route via Bashall Eaves.

We were riding along past some big open gates (presumably leading to an even bigger house) next to which I spotted a ridiculous hand-painted sign saying “The terriers in the road live at this house”. I was amazed that someone would go to the trouble of painting the sign, but couldn’t be bothered to close the gate and keep the dogs in! I pointed at the sign and shouted “The dead terriers splatted all over the road used to live in that house!” which Calum seemed to find amusing. I mean, really folks – keep your dogs safe – close the ******* gate!

Soon we came out onto the descent from Waddington Fell and bombed down to our cafe stop.

We all ordered cheese and onion toasties. Mine came very quickly and I ate it while Calum and Alun waited for theirs. Unfortunately the staff forgot the rest of the order… It turned into a very long stop. Eventually, Calum had to remind them.

The sun was still shining as we set off back towards Great Mitton. Unfortunately, the traffic conditions on those lanes were appalling – take a look at this jam… 😉

Forest of Bowland traffic jam

Forest of Bowland traffic jam

I began to feel an old feeling, one which has been but a distant memory of late – I felt frisky on my bike! I wanted to exert myself and get some speed up, so every time I came to a little rise in the road I attacked it at full power. The very stiff Cannondale responded better to that than my steel framed Basso would have done. I like the Basso, but the frame is flexible compared to oversized aluminium.

I had a go at sprinting up the little hill from Whalley to the A671 but my legs started to go halfway up the climb. Still, I’m making progress. By the end of the summer, I should be able to power my way right up hills like that without having to slow down.

We took our scenic route back to Padiham, and even did a detour to check out some more scenery. Actually, I was talking to Calum and forgot to follow the GPS track. We’d taken the road towards Sabden by mistake. I remembered that the climb out of Sabden over Padiham Heights is pretty nasty, so it was better to turn round and go back the way we’d come.

Soon we were in Padiham, and on the busy roads back to Todmorden. I coped with the climbs much better than I normally do these days so even though I still have 2/3 of my original flab to lose, I’m obviously getting stronger.

I’d asked the lads if they wanted to head straight back to Hebden Bridge from Todmorden or could I take them on a little scenic diversion? They indulged me. We headed towards Littleborough but soon turned left up the little climb through Shade, and after that turned up the Lumbutts Road. We passed through Lumbutts and Mankinholes, and then descended to the A646 for a quick run back to base.

We did 65 miles today (104 km), with about 5,500 ft of hills (1,700 m). A great day out on the bikes.

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2 Responses to “Road Ride – Hills to Waddington, Valley Roads Back”

  1. Sounds a good ride! I was inside during the nice weather!

  2. Hi Trio.

    You featured in one of our conversations on Sunday’s ride. We were saying how fit you are and how busy you keep yourself. Calum said that he couldn’t keep up with you and longers on the hills on the mini North-West Passage; I couldn’t keep up with Calum!

    It was a pity that you were stuck indoors on Sunday, but you certainly make the most of what time you do have to ‘play’ outdoors!

    Yes, it was definitely the most enjoyable ride of the year so far.

    Of course I’ve enjoyed other rides too, but there has always been bad weather, backache, lack of fitness, or something else to stop me getting the most from my time on the bike. On Sunday, I felt that everything was right. Apart from a few comments shouted from passing cars (we didn’t catch what was said) we didn’t even encounter any stupid/dangerous drivers either!

    Hmm, thinking about it – I didn’t suffer from my usual cyclist’s backache… It could be because I was on a lighter bike and am lighter myself than I was earlier in the year. That probably amounted to a total of about 18 pounds less to drag up the hills. Another possibility is that the higher climbing gear on the Cannondale forces me to adopt a more ‘muscular’ style of riding. I’m bent over the bars more and using more upper body strength. I can tell when I get home by how tired my arms are from pulling on the bars. Whatever it was, it helped my back, but my legs felt more tired than they would have done riding the Basso. Mind you, I wouldn’t have been trying to sprint up any hills on that! 😉

    I’m going to suggest a ride for the weekend coming. PaulB wants to do something and I’m free. If you are up for another CycleChat ride, check the forum this evening.

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