Road Ride – Tour of Five Reservoirs

The sun was shining earlier on today but by the time I was ready to go out the clouds were moving in. Typical!

I wanted to give the Cannondale another run while I’m waiting to get my ailing Basso back on the road and thought that it would be nice to do something a bit different, but because I’d left it until 15:45 I didn’t really have time for a long ride. I came up with the idea of visiting 5 local reservoirs, going to them in an order that involved me riding familiar roads in an unfamiliar direction.

I am a creature of habit. (If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll have already realised that I have a beer habit!) I end up riding many routes in the same direction every time.

Tip for today – try riding your favourite routes in the opposite direction to normal – it’s like riding somewhere new!

The extent of my riding habits is revealed by the fact that in 20 years of cycling round here, I had never done the climb to Buckstones from Ringstone Edge despite having done it as a descent many times; I decided to rectify that today. It would give me an excuse to ride round the fringes of Scammonden Water. I wanted to see how I would cope on the tough climb up from Deanhead.

The final major target of today’s ride was the steep climb from Triangle to Sowerby village. I’ve only done that once before, on my lower-geared Basso, and it was tough enough on that. I have been letting myself down by drinking too much beer recently and I needed to face the consequences. The pain that I’d soon be feeling would be a stark reminder of what my boozing is doing to me. Knowing that it was going to happen was a bit intimidating, but I’d made the decision and didn’t want to chicken out later and take an easier route home!

I set off and rode along from Hebden Bridge to Mytholmroyd feeling like a cycling god – my legs were hardly making any effort and I was travelling at over 25 mph, but the illusion was soon shattered. I had to stop at traffic lights on the outskirts of the village and then realised that there was a strong tailwind! You often can’t feel the wind behind when you are moving because you are riding faster than the air is, but it still makes your speed go up. When you stop, it becomes very obvious.

The climb up through Cragg Vale was pleasant, as usual. Again, as usual, the wind was evident on the moor, and from the usual direction.

Cannondale at Blackstone Edge reservoir

Blackstone Edge reservoir

I did a quick wind-assisted descent to the end of Blue Ball Lane. Normally I follow the West Yorkshire Cycle Route down that lane to the left. Today I crossed the road and followed the WYCR in the opposite direction. I climbed away from my second reservoir of the day – Baitings and stopped on the hill above it to take another photograph. You may remember me commenting on the view behind the wall where the group picture was taken on this ride? Well folks, here it is…

Cannondale above Baitings reservoir

Baitings reservoir

There are a couple of testing little climbs round Pike End and I had to get out of the saddle to power my way up them. Normally, I’d be sitting down and using a lower gear to spin my way up.

Soon, I emerged next to Booth Wood reservoir. The roar of traffic from the M62 motorway was very evident.

Cannondale above Booth Wood reservoir

Booth Wood reservoir

You can just see the M62 in the distance, and the impressive Scammonden arch bridge over it. I’d soon be crossing that bridge left-to-right, climbing to Buckstones, descending towards Outlane, touring Scammonden Water, climbing back to the main road from Deanhead and crossing the bridge again in the opposite direction.

[For those of you who (like me) are interested in Civil Engineering, there is a fascinating article on the construction of that part of the M62 – here. There are articles for the other sections of the M62 too.]

Before I got to the bridge I had some more short, sharp climbs to get over and another photo-stop at Ringstone Edge.

Cannondale at Ringstone Edge reservoir

Ringstone Edge reservoir

I turned right and headed for the bridge. There are warning signs about sidewinds. The wind wasn’t too bad today; not enough to be dangerous. I can imagine on some days, however, that you could easily be blown off your bike – it’s very exposed out there!

The long drag up to Buckstones was pretty easy despite the cross/headwinds. On a windless day (or with a tailwind) you could really power your way up there, probably using the big chainring.

I turned left at the top and whizzed down and took the turn for Scammonden Water. It was time to stop to take pictures of the last new reservoir for today.

Cannondale at Scammonden Water

Scammonden Water

The bike is facing the wrong way; I was actually now travelling from right-to-left around the reservoir. You can see the motorway along the top of the dam, and the arch bridge over the motorway again, this time from the other side.

I turned to look down the lane, spotted something and screamed… “No, STOP!!!”

A woman had been walking past me when I dismounted to take my photos. I’d noticed a large black labrador and a small grey mongrel trotting down the lane behind her. When I looked round from my photo-shoot, I saw that the labrador was on the left of the road as I looked at it, and a guy in a remarkably quiet car had driven up the lane and was trying to squeeze past the dog. The driver was peering over the front of the car at the labrador and didn’t realise that the little mongrel had wandered into a blind-spot on the other side of the car. The dog was just inches away from being crushed!

The driver braked when he heard me shouting and gave me a “What have I done wrong?” look. I pointed down at the mongrel emerging into sight in front of the car. He smiled and shook his head. The woman came running back down the lane and got hold of the dogs, and gave both me and the driver withering looks as if we were to blame for her not keeping the dogs under control. Some people are strange – a simple “Thanks for saving my dog’s life!” would have sufficed… 😉

The road was covered in gravel. Further on, it becomes singletrack. It had some very bad potholes, and there was broken glass littered about. There were some steep sections of road. I’m not trying to put you off riding there – it’s very nice, but proceed with caution!

Steep climb from Deanhead

Steep climb from Deanhead

I just can’t get photographs to really show the severity of steep climbs. That little stretch of road at Deanhead was very tough. I was out of the saddle and working really hard to get round that bend. Fortunately, the gradient eased to about 15% or so after that. It’s amazing how easy 15% feels after 20%+!

Back down over Scammonden bridge, past Ringstone Edge again and on down to Barkisland. A very quick descent to Ripponden, and then a quick blast down the road towards Sowerby Bridge to Triangle. Let the suffering begin…!

I turned left after the village post office and there the road goes straight up the hillside. I really had to dig deep to ride up that damn thing. The road kinked right and left but stayed steep for a painful distance before finally easing off at a T-junction where I stopped and slumped over my handlebars to catch my breath. Repeat after me… “Drink less beer, lose more weight, enjoy 20% climbs! Drink less beer, lose more weight…”

It’s an easy ride back from Sowerby village, down through Mytholmroyd and along the A646 to Hebden Bridge.

Mission accomplished – a very hilly 33 miler, 4,100 ft of climbs, some short very steep ones. My arms are aching now from pulling so hard on the handlebars on those 20% climbs. The Cannondale’s 39/29 bottom gear and my 206 pound bulk mean a lot of brute force is needed on steep climbs, rather than the gentler spinning I do on the Basso.

These rides will be so much easier when I’m slimmer and fitter again. I’m getting there. Too slowly though…

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2 Responses to “Road Ride – Tour of Five Reservoirs”

  1. Great report and pictures Colin! saw you setting off from Hebden yesterday on my return from Hardcastle Crags (bus906 service) you like your late Saturday afternoon rides dont you? The Cannondale looks a nice bike shame its not got a triple as im sure you would ride it more ,like me i think you prefer spinning up hills? I would also like to add you can justly be proud of your cycling acheivements so far this year, your doing great.

  2. Thanks Andy.

    Funnily enough, I was watching out for you whenever I went past any buses yesterday but I must have missed the one you were driving.

    I went out a bit late really and missed the best of the sunshine. It was still a good ride though.

    I do like the Cannondale, but as you say – the overgearing (for my weight/these hills) is one reason why I don’t ride it more. The main reason for it languishing in my bike box for two years was the past two awful UK summers. I did some good rides on it a few years back when I was slim and fit enough to get up the harder hills on 39/29.

    Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to check out your new bike soon? 😉

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