Road Ride – Windy Hill and Cold Edge

Today's ride was with another selection of riders from the two UK cycling forums that I frequent (CycleChat and BikeRadar). I was a bit late posting details of the previous ‘forum ride' on March 15th, so I arranged to repeat the ride today for those who missed out last time.

I wasn't sure how big the turnout would be but when I got to the meeting place at Mytholmroyd Community Centre, I was a little disappointed to find only 3 riders waiting for me. A couple of friends had phoned to say that they had decided to do something else. A couple of others had already told me that they couldn't make it, but I was expecting a few more.

I said hello to Alun and goodspeed – I'd ridden with them before. The third rider introduced himself as Svendo – he looked vaguely familiar and it turned out that by an amazing coincidence, he'd actually stopped to talk to us on the previous ride when we stopped for coffees at the refreshments van parked at the top of the Buckstones climb. I suppose the cycling world in the UK is a fairly small one, so the same faces do tend to crop up over and over again.

Another familiar face emerged from the community centre – longers. If you look back through the rides on this blog, you'll see that he's been on a few this year already.

We decided to hang about for a while to see if anybody else turned up. After about 15 minutes, we'd given up and were about to set off when PaulB drove up. He too had been on one of my rides earlier in the year. He'd got the start time wrong so he was lucky to have caught us.

And so there were 6! Off we went, straight onto…

Cragg Vale sign

It was a lovely sunny day but, as there often is, there was a cross-headwind on the open moor higher up. I went ahead and got my camera out to take a picture of PaulB with the Calder Valley hills in the background.

PaulB approaching Blackstone Edge

We regrouped at the summit then plummeted off Blackstone Edge to Littleborough.

We continued on busy roads past Hollingworth Lake, through Milnrow to Newhey where we turned left onto the climb over to Denshaw. As usual it was a bit too much for me and I was soon dropped by PaulB, longers and Svendo, but this time I had Alun for company.

Alun and I are both trying to lose weight and we are doing quite well (we've each lost over a stone/14 pounds/6.5 kgs) but we still have quite a way to go and are therefore still slow uphill. We'll get there in the end.

The other lads were waiting patiently at the top of the climb. We dismounted, stretched our backs, and then the six of us whizzed down to the 5-way junction at Denshaw. The plan was to climb up Buckstones Road but we only got a couple of hundred yards before being stopped at a police road block! The two female police officers wouldn't tell us what was going on and they were adamant that we could not proceed. Time for a rethink…

There were two obvious choices – (1) make the ride longer and harder by going to Delph, Marsden, and then climbing one of the viciously steep roads up to Pole Moor, and climb to Buckstones from the opposite direction. (2) Head off up the A672 to Windy Hill, descend under the M62 and rejoin our planned route at Booth Wood.

Given that our ride was already going to be a tough little one, we settled on (2), the easier option. It only cut about 3 miles and about 300 feet of hills from our original route.

Once again, as on most of the climbs today, Alun and I brought up the rear, and met our companions at the summit. It was a good quick descent to Booth Wood where we turned off onto quiet lanes again. We found a suitable spot for today's group photo, but I didn't have anything to place the camera on to give it a shot of the fine scenery behind us. I had to balance the camera on the opposite side of the road, facing us. As a result, you can only see us, our bikes and a dry stone wall. You will have to trust me – there was a great view beyond the wall!

The Gang of Six

Soon on to cross the busy A58 at Baitings reservoir, and back onto more quiet lanes.

We headed over the rolling lanes towards Mytholmroyd, where we planned a refreshments stop but before that I managed to pick up my first puncture in ages when I hit an unseen object in the road. I knew straight away that it might have given me a ‘snake bite' or ‘pinch flat' because the force of the impact juddered through my bike. I normally avoid hitting things like that, but I wasn't concentrating – too much chatting and looking at scenery…

Sure enough, the bike handling soon got ‘twitchy', a clear sign that a tyre was going flat. When I took the old tube out, I found the point where the tube had been pinched – the characteristic pair of holes which give this type of puncture the nickname ‘snake bite'. It's always wise to check a tyre for penetrating objects anyway, even if you suspect a ‘snake bite' – a slow conventional puncture might have led to a drop in pressure which then led to a secondary ‘snake bite'. In this case, the tyre was okay (checked by visual inspection of the outside, and carefully running my fingertips round the inside). It's really annoying to replace a tube and pump it back up only for it to immediately get another puncture – always locate the source of the problem. Unless of course you enjoy standing around doing roadside repairs… 😉

I need to work on my upper body strength – I struggled to get enough pressure into the tyre using my mini-pump even though it is a very good one (a Blackburn Airstik). Thinking about it, I normally lay the wheel down on the road so I can use my weight on the punp but I forgot that time. My arm ended up as ‘pumped' as the tyre. Alun told me that he had a track pump in his car in Mytholmroyd so I used that to put another 30 or so PSI in when we got there.

There was some sort of ‘bring and buy' sale on at the community centre when we arrived. Judging by the small number of people who seemed to be doing more than just gawping at the piles of stuff on display, perhaps it would more accurately be a ‘bring, display, then pack up and take back with you' sale. Anyway, the presence of all those people meant that the centre had a cafe open and we availed ourself of its resources, some of us more than others. I am instructed to point out that longers grabbed the last piece of sponge cake! Oh, by the way – did I mention that longers grabbed the last piece of sponge cake! 😉 Never mind, we all got something. Just not sponge cake – we're not bitter about it…

PaulB was concerned about some funny noises coming from his bike so he abandoned the ride at that point. That's his excuse anyway – I reckon the noises were really coming from his old knees!

And then there were 5!

We did the stiff little climb to Midgley – this one, in fact! Quite tough at the top, it is…

Looking down Midgley Road

That was enough for goodspeed – he left us there and went home along Heights Road (top right of photo) to Pecket well and up over Cock Hill.

And then there were 4!

I knew what was coming – Jowler! After a scenic detour round the lip of the lovely Luddenden Dene (valley), we descended Jerusalem Lane to Booth and plunged down. Here we go… 😯

Svendo and longers romped away from we more conservative climbers, and disappeared from sight round the bend ahead. Alun and I panted our way slowly upwards. After a considerable expenditure of energy, we finally conquered the steepest part of the climb and made our way up through the village of Wainstalls. No sign of the other two… I realised that they hadn't come through the village, but must have continued straight up Wainstalls Lane. I sent Alun on up the long drag towards Cold Edge, and went round to the top of Wainstalls Lane to try and find Svendo and longers. It took a phone call to reunite us, and then we rejoined Alun and continued ever upwards.

As we passed over the rough broken road surface on Oxenhope Moor, we spotted a pair of offroad drivers in a very dodgy-looking predicament. Their Land Rover was teetering on the slopes of a rutted 45 degree slope. They had tried to drive round the contour of the hill and got stuck. It looked as though the vehicle might tumble down the slope at any moment. One guy got out the passenger side which was facing up the hill, and tried to hold the vehicle down. The driver got out his side below the vehicle – not the smartest move, in my opinion. If it had slipped it would have rolled straight over him! They ended up on the phone trying to summon help. There was no way that they were going to drive off that hill…

Soon we were at the foot of the climb up to Cock Hill. Svendo and longers did their romping-up-hills thing, and Alun and I did a more dignified staring-at-our-front-wheels-and-praying-for-the-climbing-to-be-over thing and eventually it was. I had been looking forward to this bit! I shot off with Svendo on the 4.5 mile descent, and longers and Alun followed at a more sedate pace. I couldn't quite stay with Svendo (despite my turbo-lard) because I only have a 14 sprocket on my bike and I was soon spinning out at about 35 mph. As we passed through Pecket Well and into the woods, Svendo came up to a red car which was going slower than him. I knew that he'd ‘go for it' and he did. My heart was in my mouth… Please don't let red car driver be a “No bloody cyclist overtakes me!” type. There was a blind bend coming up and if the driver accelerated, he'd force Svendo to corner on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately, the driver let him past (Svendo told me that he looked somewhat surprised that a cyclist doing 40+ mph had suddenly appeared alongside him!).

I said goodbye to Svendo in Hebden Bridge and waited for longers and Alun to catch up. We rode back to Mytholmroyd along the Calder Valley Cycleway and stood chatting for a while in the car park at the community centre. Alun drove back to Liverpool, and longers rode back with me to Hebden Bridge before setting off on his ride home. He'd end up doing about 90 or so miles for the day. I was happy with my total of about 52, including the extra trips to and from Mytholmroyd.

Another fine day in the saddle in good company!

PS The local paper reported that the road closure at Buckstones was due to the discovery of a body dumped up on the moors. A murder investigation was under way!

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4 Responses to “Road Ride – Windy Hill and Cold Edge”

  1. Nice write up. Thanks for organising the ride, I enjoyed the splendid company and discovering new variations on areas I already know a bit. In my defence I’d clocked the red car was a conservative old bloke driving, and would have had time to pull in if he’d decided to be uncooperative. There was no red mist involved, oh no!
    With the ride out to Mytholmroyd from Rochdale and back I had 77 miles for the day.

  2. Years ago, I had a scary moment overtaking a tractor just where you overtook the car. I’ve been hesitant to do it again…

  3. Sounds a great ride, I’m sorry to have missed it but no day pass after being out all of saturday!

  4. Thanks trio.

    I hope your OH is feeling better soon!

    See you at Spring Into The Dales, a week on Sunday!

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