Road Ride – nedwarT fo amuarT ehT!

It was a lovely sunny morning and I wanted to get a ride in today so I… went upstairs and switched the computer on instead! Why do I do these things? I know that once I’m online, hours just fly by. But no, “one little peek won’t hurt”! Perhaps somebody had posted something interesting on CycleChat? Maybe the BBC were reporting the imminent eruption of a little-known volcano on some tiny island in the middle of the Pacific? Had the pound slipped by another tenth of a cent against the dollar? These important questions couldn’t wait until after my ride. I fired up the broadband, and whiled away the hours as the sun blazed outside.

Eventually it dawned on me that time was getting on. I’d better get out soon if I was going to go at all, so I reluctantly powered down the computer and got ready.

Oh, where had the sun gone? Black clouds were scudding over, a wind had picked up and the temperature was falling. Damn! It looked likely that I was going to get caught out in heavy rain.

I’d already decided that today’s cycling feast was going to be a hilly little route I call nedwarT fo amuarT ehT! It’s The Trauma of Trawden route, only tackled in reverse for a change.

I nipped through the centre of Hebden Bridge, turned at the turning circle on the Todmorden side of town and headed up the Heptonstall Road. I rode up through the village on Season of Mists last weekend and didn’t fancy it this time so I took the easier route up through Lee Wood to Slack.

I turned right down Widdop Road, a local favourite of mine which is scenic and quiet. A couple of families seemed to share my opinion – I encountered two separate family groups on bikes coming the other way. Super – get ’em started young! Hopefully the children will learn to love cycling and keep going when they are older. Those kids certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves.

As I got to Widdop, a few spots of rain started to fall. I was committed to the ride now – even if soaked, I was going to see it through. I wasn’t wearing waterproofs so anything more than a light shower and I was going to be getting very cold and wet. Another thing occurred to me – I hadn’t really allowed enough time for the ride. I didn’t have lights on the bike, and it would be getting dark quickly this evening because of the heavy cloud cover. If I got a puncture, I’d be doing the last part of the ride on an unlit bike after sunset; not very sensible! I must put my emergency LED lights back on the bike. I don’t deliberately ride in the dark, but it’s wise to be prepared for unexpected delays.

We had flash flooding in this area last week and I saw signs of it on the hills above Widdop. There was a small stream running down a little cleft in the hillside, under the road and out the other side. It was only a couple of inches deep today, but the long grass up the sides of the hill had been completely flattened by a recent torrent of water. It looked as though the water had been at least 4 feet deep at that time! 😯 Thousands of large stones littered the hillside, evidently washed down from higher up.

I’d stopped a few times to take photos but the light was really bad and I wasn’t happy with them. Here’s one though, that shows you what my nice sunny morning had turned into by mid-afternoon… 🙁

Dark clouds over Coldwell Activity Centre
Dark clouds over Coldwell Activity Centre

Just looking at that picture is almost enough to trigger my S.A.D.! Sometimes we get 3 or 4 months of those conditions here in the winter and I really struggle to cope with them. It’s one of the reasons for me gaining weight and losing fitness at this time of the year, and then I spend the following spring and summer trying to get the weight back off and restore my fitness again. I’m going to try really hard this time to build on the progress that I’ve made so far in 2009. I’m just getting my strength back and my weight is lower than it has been for about 12 months. If I continue to improve through the winter (for once), I’ll be ready for some really great riding in 2010.

As I began my descent into Trawden, light drizzle started. Somehow though, it didn’t really develop into much. I just had the feeling that I might be lucky and get round before the rain began.

I coped better than usual with the stiff drag up from Laneshaw Bridge to the former Herders Inn, and the one up to Stanbury from lower Scar Top. I even coped pretty well with the steepish ascent of Penistone Hill on the way round to Oxenhope.

With only the climb of Cock Hill to go, followed by the quick run down to Hebden Bridge, I thought I’d miss the rain but I didn’t quite make it! As I was hurtling down the hill, the rain started. Not too heavy at first though, and I was home before it really set in. It was dark within 20 minutes.

A satisfying hilly 29 mile ride (46.6 km), but I should have set off 3 or 4 hours earlier.

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4 Responses to “Road Ride – nedwarT fo amuarT ehT!”

  1. It might have taken a while to get out but it looks like you did a cracking ride once you did.

    I always keep a rear light on the bike now; but i’ve got to get a small LED that I can leave on the front. – Got to get a new main light too after my last one died last week!

  2. Yes, it is one of my favourite routes round here – in both directions. It packs a nice selection of hills and changes of scenery into a fairly short distance.

    I’ve not had much luck with LED rear lights. I’ve had about 4 or 5 over the past 10 years and all but one are now kaput. I must have a serious go at getting some of them working again. They are really simple internally so I’m surprised that they have been so unreliable. It’s probably due to the same problem you’ve been having – water penetration. One of them killed when I left flat batteries in from one winter to the next which consequently leaked corrosive chemicals everywhere.

    I’ve got a fairly powerful Cateye front LED light. It’s great for being seen by and I can see well enough by it to travel at about 10 mph (16 kph) down unlit roads. Anything faster than that though and I can’t see potholes and debris in time to safely avoid them. When I did more regular night riding, I used to wear a LED headtorch to back up the Cateye. I used it to light the road up directly in front of me and pointed the Cateye further ahead. The headtorch is also very handy for map reading (or lighting up the GPS), viewing signs and essential for fixing punctures in the dark. I also discovered that I could get (most) oncoming drivers to dip their lights by aiming the headtorch at them, then flicking the light down towards the road. The odd idiot didn’t take the hint, but (to my surprise!) most did.

  3. Key to the winter is planning rides with people, then you have to get out!

  4. Like this (autumn) one next Sunday! I’m definitely going to arrange at least one ride in November. I’ll have to see what kind of winter we have this year before deciding what to do in December and January. I’ve always got my trusty gym bike if the weather gets too grotty.

    Something else which will encourage me to get out is that my Basso is now equipped with Roadracer guards. I’ve done two rides since fitting them and they have kept the mucky water off me quite effectively. They are not so good for people riding behind though because the rear guard isn’t quite long enough to stop spray going back at them.

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