Road Ride – Wainstalls Loop

I wanted to get a ride in this afternoon, but I left it a bit late so it had to be a short one. I didn't fancy the usual Cragg Vale loop so I decided to do one that I haven't done for a while. It's only 16 miles (26 km) but it packs in 2,300 ft (700 m) of climbs, some of them steep.

Route: Hebden Bridge, Pecket Well, Cock Hill, descent towards Oxenhope. right turn onto Hill House Edge Lane (very steep hill), Warley Moor, Wainstalls, Jowler, Booth, Midgley, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge.

The sun was shining but there was a cold westerly wind blowing so I had some extra layers of clothing on. I got a bit warm on the sheltered climb up through the woods to Pecket Well, but after that I certainly didn't feel over-dressed.

I encountered an elderly couple on touring bikes halfway up the climb to Cock Hill. They were scanning a map so I stopped to see if they needed help. It turned out that they were trying to get to Widdop on the way over to Earby (probably to the Youth Hostel there?) so they were way off course. They had got to the foot of the Buttress in Hebden Bridge and given it up as a bad job. What is wrong with cycling up this on a heavily laden touring bike? 😉

The Buttress, Hebden Bridge
The Buttress, Hebden Bridge

A local (either ignorantly or maliciously) had told them that The Buttress was the only way up to Heptonstall from Hebden Bridge. The trouble was that their map was very small scale and only major roads really stood out on it. I confirmed that their alternative route was viable (through Oxenhope and Stanbury to Laneshaw Bridge, and on to Earby). I didn't notice whether they had lights on their bikes – I hope that they did because that's a strenuous route on heavy bikes and they might have struggled to get to their destination in daylight.

Anyway, on with my ride…

I thought that perhaps the little break chatting to the tourists had revitalised my legs because I was soon flying up the hill. Nope – it was just wind assistance. The road had turned and I now had a tailwind for a while. I liked that feeling – it was how I was climbing in 2001 without wind assistance.

I had to take care on the descent from Cock Hill because the wind was now gusting from the side. I didn't fancy getting blown into the path of the commuters starting to stream up the hill on their way home from Keighley and the Aire valley.

I turned for home up the steep climb round to Warley Moor and started to pick up a cold cross/headwind. I didn't hang about once I headed down through Wainstalls. I toyed with the idea of riding back round to Old Town on Heights Road but I was getting cold, so I dropped down to Mytholmroyd and came home on the Calder Valley Cycleway to avoid the rush hour traffic.

A nice little ride!

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2 Responses to “Road Ride – Wainstalls Loop”

  1. That route sounds brutal. It’a about time I started to do some long rides in the hills. In a few months time it will be too dark and cold to tempt me up them.

  2. Well Jon, from what I saw on our MTL ride at the weekend, you are obviously fit enough to enjoy the hills!

    What made the climbs really hard work was that I’d been fiddling about with my rear gear adjustment to try and get rid of a mysterious ticking noise. After that, the bike kept slipping out of gear on the steepest ramps whenever I put a big effort in. It’s really tiring suddenly losing all your momentum when the chain slips and it must be really bad for the chain and sprockets. I was having to do the climbs with the gear lever forced over to the left to keep the bike in gear; it was really uncomfortable. Eventually, I’d had enough of it and dismounted to sort it out – I’d confused myself as to which direction to turn the adjuster so I had been making the problem worse rather than better! 😳

    I can devise many little loops round here taking in very tough climbs so I can pack a lot into a short ride if I’m pressed for time.

    There are a few places that don’t see the sun all winter because it is so low in the sky that it doesn’t ever get above the surrounding hills. There is one of them on yesterday afternoon’s route. It’s not so bad on busy roads because they get gritted by the local councils, but minor, sheltered roads like those can be lethal.

    I did the same loop in mid-winter once and came upon a sweeping bend covered in a river of black ice. I had to walk the bike past it and as soon as I got round the bend, I encountered a motorcyclist coming the other way at speed. I managed to flag him down before the bend and warn him; it was a good job I was there or he’d have had a nasty spill. Soon after that I did the same for a couple of car drivers.

    Yeah, some of those roads are best left alone in winter!

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