Road Ride – Slippery Ford, Black Lane Ends, Coldwell

Today’s ride was with another CycleChat forum member – Ben, a.k.a. Rigid Raider. It was my first ride with Ben, though I’d met him briefly last year when he came to pick up a pair of Shimano SORA STI shifters from me at the start of a ride that I’d organised from Spring Wood picnic site near Whalley.

I’d planned a hilly 38 mile (61 km) route to show Ben some of the countryside round here that he is less familiar with than his normal riding area, the Ribble Valley. Weather conditions had been quite frosty overnight and I was concerned about the likelihood of ice in some steep-sided valleys which wouldn’t be catching the sun. I decided to slightly reroute our ride to avoid them, but we still needed to be careful.

My bike was still stuck without a front mech. and I decided to do most of the ride in the ‘granny’ ring (the smallest chainring of my 3), given how much climbing we would be doing.

I met Ben at 10:00 in a car park in Hebden Bridge and off we went. It was chilly but we had a good chance of sunny intervals later. Overnight fog had largely cleared, but clouds were still hanging about the hilltops as we climbed the Keighley Road to Cock Hill.

Low cloud over Heptonstall
Low cloud over Heptonstall

As predicted, the sun started to break through the clouds as we descended to Oxenhope. The fields on the shaded sides of the hills were still covered with frost, but out in the open conditions were warming up and it was becoming a fine winter’s day.

Oxenhope in winter sunshine
Oxenhope in winter sunshine

As we climbed out of Oxenhope to Penistone Hill on the Oxenhope Old Road, I noticed some patches of ice at the roadside but the roads had been gritted and most surfaces were safe to ride on.

We were heading over to Oakworth. My normal route is to turn right from Penistone Hill to Haworth, drop straight down into the valley, then climb back out the other side. It was just too risky today. What could you do on a 20% descent if you came across ice on the road? If you brake, you’re off! If you don’t brake, you’ll probably still come off only at a higher speed. No thanks! We turned left off the hill and headed for Stanbury.

At the edge of Scar Top, we turned right and headed back to Oakworth, and from there to Slippery Ford and up onto Sutton Moor.

The weather kept changing. At times we had sunshine, and at others we rode up into the clouds and temperatures dropped again but overall, conditions were really good for mid-December.

A quick descent off Sutton Moor took us down to Lane Ends where we crossed the busy A-road and immediately got back on to nice quiet roads.

Ben is a good climber so he easily climbed away from me on the long drag up over Cowling Hill. As I trailed behind him, I suddenly had a familiar and unpleasant feeling. I was close to hitting the wall, something I’ve been keen to avoid since my Trauma of Trawden ride many years ago. I hadn’t had enough to eat and drink, and I hadn’t noticed how much I was sweating in my heavy winter cycling kit. I was a bit taken aback to be suffering like this so early in the ride, but we had been out for over two hours and had already done well over 2,000 ft of climbing.

I took a big swig from my bottle in which I had a mixture of water, orange juice and Maltodextrin powder. I needed time for the calories to work their way into my system, so I climbed even more slowly to conserve what little energy I had left.

Ben was waiting for me further on, and when I caught up with him I stopped to wolf down a cereal bar. We still had a few hills to climb before we got to our cafe stop and I needed fuel to get me there.

Finally we got to Black Lane Ends, and did a quick descent to Laneshaw Bridge where we rejoined my usual Trauma of Trawden route.

Another couple of steep little hills to tackle, then we approached Trawden.

Winter fields, Trawden
Winter fields, Trawden

Dry stone walls, Trawden
Dry stone walls, Trawden

Another couple of tough little climbs and a quick descent took us to Coldwell Activity Centre, where we turned in for our much-needed cafe stop. I’d told Ben that there was a nice foreign waitress there and she spotted us getting off our bikes and gave us a welcoming smile as we walked in. I had a bowl of tasty Celery soup, followed by cheese and onion sandwiches with a side salad. That lot perked me up a lot, aided and abetted by several cups of strong coffee. Ben got chatting to the waitress when she came over with the bill. Turns out she is Polish. (I’d thought she was central european but hadn’t quite been able to place the accent.)

No rest for the wicked… It was soon time to set off again, but first we peered over the wall of the nearby reservoir as workmen were busily digging it out. I don’t know if it has sprung a leak and is being repaired, or perhaps they are expanding it. At any rate, it’s a big hole in the ground; much deeper than I would have expected.

We were heading back via Widdop Reservoir but first we had to tackle the steep hill at Thursden. It was the usual slog for me and Ben waited at the summit. When I got up there I dismounted and lifted my chain up onto the big chainring ready for a fast run home.

We quickly descended to the reservoir where we stopped to take a photo of us with our bikes. I really don’t seem to be able to run back from the camera, settle down and pose in 10 seconds! I’m always looking somewhere else or fidgeting about when the picture is taken…

Colin (L) and Ben by Widdop reservoir
Colin (L) and Ben (R) by Widdop Reservoir

Soon we were back on the bikes and whizzing down the road, only for Ben to discover that he’d trodden in a big dog shit at the reservoir! It was all over his shoe, pedal, bike chain, and back wheel. He also managed to get some on his gloves. Lovely… I wish people would clean up after their pooches! 👿

Ben cleaned off as much crap as he could at the side of the road, and then we rode back to town.

Nearly 38 miles (61 km) of scenic winter cycling with about 5,000 ft of hills (1,500 m). If you want to know the exact route, I’ve uploaded it to BikeHike for you. (I’m sure that my climbing stats are more accurate than BikeHike’s – I went through my Memory Map profile by hand and added up all the significant climbs.)

Oh, I nearly forgot… When I was saying goodbye to Ben at the car park, he fished out a large tub of home-made plum jam from the back of his car, a present from him and his wife – excellent!

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4 Responses to “Road Ride – Slippery Ford, Black Lane Ends, Coldwell”

  1. You are doing well at keeping the winter rides up, you’ll be storming up the hills in summer 2010!

  2. Just hanging on really! This time leading up to the Winter Solstice is difficult for me and I’m struggling not to gain weight. Soon, there’ll be the usual madness between Christmas and New Year where people tempt me with far too much calorie-dense food and drink, and then it’ll be back to work!

    I always start to feel better once we are into the New Year. Even though I haven’t achieved what I wanted to this year, at least I should be able to start 2010 in much better shape than I was in early 2009!

    I certainly fancy doing some hill-storming again. It’s been 8 years since I was last able to do it, but boy, it felt good!

  3. hehehe…told you he climbed like a mountain goat.

  4. I’m going to do my best to get myself into mountain goat mode in 2010. Mind you, I said that about 2009…! 😉

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