Yorkshire Rider [pt 2]
And now for Day 2. As those of you who have bothered to read this far may know, I’m talking about a two day riding fest in West Yorkshire involving myself and fellow RST’er, Crudson. Day one had seen us notching up around 41 miles, with a vast ascent and descent and a bagging of the great Col de Moss. Day two dawned sunny and bright, with the promise of a clear morning and cloudy afternoon, but none of the dreaded rain that Huddersfield is well known for.
We started with a solid Yorkshire breakfast in the nearby Merrie England tea shop, part of a chain of such tea rooms that exist [and have, it seems, always existed] in Yorkshire, and which, although they invariably inhabit modest concrete premises along the most insalubrious streets, always contain acres of mock tudor wood panelling and clearly fake timber beams on the ceilings. Content, however, to play along with this conceit, we breakfasted like Lords in the manner shown in the photograph below.
Then, with exceedingly stiff legs up New Hey Road on the same initial route as yesterday. However, in the same manner as a great Jazz musician, we were inclined to improvise, and thus instead of turning off the A640 Rochdale Road, we decided to ride on, and over the M62 which looked in the near distance like a glittering strip of, errr, distant traffic.
If you have travelled along this motorway, you may know of the insanely high bridge that spans it just before Saddleworth Moor. Seeing this bridge in the distance, we decided to branch off the main road and aim to cross it and to ride northwards, perhaps giddy due to the thin air we imagined might exist that far aloft. The road we selected was a single track which took us down past a lovely and vast reservoir in a deep valley. However, looking at the hill on the other side, we saw that the way up could barely be called a road – a wall would have been a more accurate description. The photo below shows the road – and it really was that giddyingly steep. I stopped to take this photo and actually could not start pedalling again, such was the steepness – even in gear 1!!! You will notice Crudson, clearly shrewder having kept cycling, making progress up the hill.
I don’t think I have ever ridden anything as steep and concentrated as that hill. At the top, the motorway bridge I described previously was displaying some wise advice, given how we now felt.
A couple of miles of wildly up and down road later, we arrived in a valley which terminated in an impressive dam that formed the Booth Wood reservoir.
At this point, we found ourselves back on the main road again, and faced with a long, sweeping downhill that was only spoiled by a strong headwind that slowed our progress. The road kicked up again as we rode under the bridge at the Saddleworth junction, which presented us with a lot of fast traffic for a mile or two. However, as we reached the summit of the road, we were treated to impressive views of Oldham and in the distance, Manchester.
The inevitable descent followed, this time a wide, long and sweeping one into Denshaw. We wanted to ride towards Holmfirth, and this necessitated a bit of back road action, and we stopped off in Delph to stock up on Lucozade and crisps. The terrain changes here – instead of being on open moorland, you are in the valley bottom and the villages are filled with old textile mills, situated close to the rivers that powered them. Setting off again, we rode through Greenfield and then began the ascent of the longest of all our weekend climbs – the dreaded Greenfield Road towards Holmfirth. This hill snakes up for over two miles, and is always unpleasantly steep. The worst thing is that you can always see the whole hill – the top seems so impossibly far off! We got there eventually, after a good 30 minutes of climbing. Crudson can be seen celebrating at the top. The Thorns look impassive:
So, what do you do after 30 miles of almost solid climbing, the day after 41 miles of almost solid climbing? You suggest doing Holme Moss again, of course! A fast blast along what Yorkshire folks call ‘the tops’ saw us taking the same windy and embarrassingly steep road down to Digley reservoir, in preparation for our final ascent of the day. We were too shattered to even consider going into the Fleece for ‘a quick half’. Without conversation, we set off up the now familiar hairpin bends that make up the face of the Moss. Long, slow, agonisingly painful, these are all phrases that are perfectly fair to describe the ascent of the hill that has been called ‘England’s Alp’. This time I was slow and the efforts of the past 24 hours were really beginning to show. We both made it to the top for the second time in two days, and wondered aloud how many times you could manage it in a day.
Little more can be said regarding the riding. My ride ended half a mile from our lodgings, my RST having picked up its first puncture in my custody, much to the tyre-munching Crudson’s delight. Suffice to say that the long walk into town was punctuated with visits to the excellent Junction pub, followed by the Head of Steam situated in Huddersfield’s lovely rail station. A mix of great and well kept Timothy Taylor’s and some more local brews (the real ale scene has gone beserk up there! It’s fantastic!) whetted our appetites for another visit to the Rat and Ratchet where further research was carried out into the effects of German Pilsner on weak, tired muscles [conclusion: nice success!].
As with the first day, details here:
Total climb: 4884ft Total descent: 4884ft