Road Ride – Hilly 52 Miler

I saw that the weather forecast for today was looking good so I planned a good strenuous local bike ride and managed to get two cyclists from the CycleChat forum to join me. I met Will (forum name Bokonon) and Martin (forum name goodspeed) at Hebden Bridge railway station, Will having come in by train, and Martin having cycled over from Oxenhope.

We set off at 10:00 and climbed up through Cragg Vale to Blackstone Edge. Will rode up with me and Martin stretched his legs and went on ahead. Both riders are fitter than me so they did most of the day’s many climbs ahead of me, and waited at the summits for my arrival.

We regrouped at Blackstone Edge, did a rapid descent to Littleborough, and then rode round on the flattest and busiest roads of the day past Hollingworth Lake, through Milnrow and Newhey.

The climb from Newhey on the way over to Denshaw is steep enough to cause me a few problems when I’m below peak fitness. Once again I was reduced to a slow grovel while stronger riders went on ahead. I’m counting down the pounds and stacking up the miles until things get better. One day this year, I promise that I’ll be reporting how I romped up a climb like that, feeling great! Not today though…

I stretched my back at the top of the climb and then plunged down with Martin and Will to the 5-way junction at Denshaw.

We crossed to the Buckstones Road and I warned the others to watch out for mad motorcyclists. Nearly every time that I’ve ridden that road, bikers have been hurtling up and down and today was no exception. They make me nervous because you can hear them coming up really fast behind you but it’s best not to turn round in case you veer out in front of them. Often they come in groups and the slower ones always try to catch the ones in front. There’s always the chance that one of them will overcook a bend. Oh well, we have to be careful but there’s no point in being too afraid to venture out. Fingers crossed, eh?

Martin went on ahead, and Will stayed back and chatted with me for a while before setting off in pursuit of Martin. I was impressed by how quickly he closed the gap, and soon he’d gone past and was off into the distance.

As I toiled up the hill, I saw a roadside  police notice asking for witnesses to a serious collision which had occurred recently. See РI said that you have to watch out on that road.  :sad:

I’d told the lads to look out for a catering van at the summit of the climb. When I caught up with them they had just ordered coffees all round. They had jumbo hot dogs as well, but I don’t eat meat these days so I declined. I still eat fish, but I won’t bother trying to explain why that is. There isn’t really any logic to it and I’m not making judgements about meat-eaters either. It’s just not for me any more.

Suitably refreshed, we bombed down past Scammonden Water and over the M62 to Ringstone Edge reservoir. There’s a nice little road which goes round to Booth Wood reservoir and we took that. We turned left up the A672 and soon right up a quiet lane to Pike End and round to Baitings reservoir.

From Baitings, we crossed the A58 and turned right onto the network of little lanes taking us back to Mytholmroyd via Hubberton Green. Those are my favourite local lanes. I usually do them a couple of times a week at this time of year. We stopped at Ernie Saunders’ seat and took the traditional group photograph. I think the plaque on the seat says it all… :sad:

Ernie Saunders' seat

[Left to right] Colin, Martin, Will

It’s a scenic undulating road which eventually plunges down Scout Road back into Mytholmroyd.

We turned right across the busy A646 and soon left onto the climb of Midgley Road. That gradually increases in gradient as it climbs up to the village of Midgley about 400 feet above Mytholmroyd. I had to stop to remove my yellow wind jacket before the road ramped up – the sun had come out and I was cooking on the climb. I looked up and Will was nowhere to be seen, but Martin was towards the top removing his jacket too. Turns out he was having problems with his knee and had decided to walk the last bit of the climb.

By this point I was starting to feel tired but we still had a few tough climbs to tackle over the final 15 miles.

From Midgley we turned left and headed along a little road which climbs slowly before it eventually joins up with the top of Jerusalem Lane. A rapid descent of that lane took us to Booth where we took the hairpin bend left down a steep drop into a dip from which the brutal climb of ‘Jowler’ begins. Will whizzed off ahead, followed by Martin and I winched my way up at the rear. Martin’s knees were giving him problems again, so he walked the steepest part of the climb which I think is nearly 20% gradient. I think he should look into getting a new cassette for his bike to give him easier climbing gears. His knees would thank him for it.

We got back together at a junction, but then the road reared up again to our right. I was definitely starting to suffer by that point and so was Martin, but he had an advantage over Will and myself – he had already climbed over Cock Hill this morning as he lives in Oxenhope. He wouldn’t have to do it again at the end of the ride – he could just freewheel down into the village while we went in the opposite direction! But we weren’t there yet…

We climbed up through Wainstalls and up the draggy climb to Cold Edge, my remaining energy ebbing away by the minute. We passed over the rough road beside Warley Moor reservoir and whizzed down the lane beyond. There were some really horrendous potholes down there – I’m talking several feet long and a foot deep! Watch out if you decide to follow this route.

Eventually we plunged down to the A6033 (Keighley Road) where Will and I said goodbye to Martin. We turned left, and he turned right.

I was close to cracking on that last climb. I was running desperately low on energy. For once, Will rode behind me. Perhaps he sensed how bad I was feeling and didn’t want to demoralise me by riding off into the distance? I resorted to my new technique of watching the altitude reading on my Etrex GPS and counting down the climb in steps of 5 metres. I know that the climb goes up to 430 metres and we started at 275 metres at that junction, so it was 275, 280, 285… Somehow this trick makes climbs seem shorter, but it only works when there are no downhill sections. It’s really demoralising to watch the reading going in the wrong direction, knowing that any drop has to be made up again!

Finally we got to the summit. I stopped to stretch, and then we had a great 4.5 mile descent back into Hebden Bridge.

I escorted Will back to the station and chatted to him for a few minutes until his train to Leeds arrived.

It was a good hard day out on the bike but I was very glad when it was finished.

Metric route profile

PS

The ride took a lot out of me, including almost a pound of fat! I weighed 4 pounds less than when I’d set off, but about 3 pounds of that was due to fluid losses which were made up over the next 24 hours. Nearly a whole pound has gone though – whoopee!

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