Tuesday 7 April 2015

An Eggcellent Weekend of Riding!

Last weekend was Easter weekend, and one of those rare, but glorious occasions where time and weather line up perfectly. I popped home for the weekend, and planned to get a couple of hilly rides in and kick start summer training! It seemed the weather was on my side, with temperatures of up to 14C forecast Saturday and Sunday.

After a long drive Friday night, I got back about 1am, and needless to say I was feeling a little tired Saturday morning. After a few hours of lazing about, the sun outside inspired me to get out, if only for a short ride to get the legs going. I settled on the old staple of Hebden Bridge and back, about 55k, with the option of hills from there. It took a while to get going, and the legs felt heavy and tired cycling past a busy Hollingworth Lake, across to Todmorden and the final stretch to Hebden. A slight headwind channelled by the Calderdale valley didn't help. That said, when I arrived, I felt a bit better.

I stopped in Hebden Bridge for a quick drink, and to enjoy the festivities. No matter when you go there, there is always, always something going on in the square. One of the reasons it's always my first port of call when I'm home! By this time the legs had woken up and I felt quite good! I therefore decided to ride up to Oxenhope, just above Hebden Bridge, on the way to Haworth. It is in fact the backside of the Cote d'Oxenhope as it became known last year when descended in the Tour De France, and affectionately named 'Cock Hill'.

The climb starts steeply out of Hebden, with gradients of a bout 10% before dropping to 6/7% through a nicely tree shaded corridor. After about a mile, you turn a corner and arrive back into the open, where it levels to about 5% to the village of Peckett Well. From here, the road winds across the moorland for a couple of miles, at around 3/4%, before a final false flattish section to the top. The views are incredible, offering a panorama of West Yorkshire and (even better) Lancashire. Similarly impressive views are present of Haworth as your crest the top. I headed back down, and, feeling good, returned home via Cragg Vale, which had a unusually pleasant tailwind! Plenty about Cragg Vale in a previous post..

The legs were a little tired, not being used to climbing, but I was eager to get out and ride the next day, and pre-empt the many Easter eggs to be consumed later! I noticed on Facebook that my mate Danny and the Rochdale Tri Club were heading out for a ride, with a fun Hill Climb competition too! Of course I couldn't miss this, so headed to meet them in Littleborough on Sunday morning.

The plan was to have the hill climb up Blackstone Edge Old Road, a steep and poorly surfaced lane to add to the fun, then head up Blackstone Edge itself and over to Hebden for Coffee. Over 20 of us climbed the hill, setting off at 15s intervals. I tired not to set off too hard, but the lure of catching those ahead proved too much! Fortunately I managed to carry on, spying the timekeeper at the top of the steepest section was a welcome sight! It turned out I'd actually got the quickest time in 2.26! Definitely earned some cake! The Strava segment is below.

After this, we headed up Blackstone Edge, my favourite ever climb, probably because it was the first climb I ever rode! The mist was incredibly thick, with visibility of about 10m, though amazingly it burned off within the space of about 5 minutes as we waited to regroup at the top! A rapid descent of Cragg Vale followed, and we passed through Mytholmroyd to a pub in Hebden. I opted for coffee and a flapjack, both of which were tasty, but took about 20 minutes to materialise! Even then, I was one of the lucky ones, with a fair few giving up on waiting. Disappointing.

After a blast back to Littleborough, Danny and I decided to add in a bit more of a ride, opting (after ditching double base layers in the 15C heat!) to head up Blackstone Edge again, down the other side, and up a scenic single track lane, Blue Ball Lane. Here there are great views of Baitings Reservoir, Ripponden and the surrounding areas.

Heading up Blackstone Edge, I achieved my proudest cycling moment yet. Prouder than a 21 minute 10 TT, prouder than getting to 3rd cat...a cycling selfie! Admittedly it took about 5 attempts, but I managed it! Certainly the pinnacle of my cycling career! I also managed to big ring it all the way...(though I definitely didn't have a 30t sprocket on the back...definitely not!)

After climbing back up, and a speedy blast down the Edge, it was time to head back. We'd talked about another climb, Huddersfield Road out of Newhey, and as I cycled past it on the way home, I couldn't resist a trip up! It's a great road, averaging about 5-6% for 4km, with a steep 7/8% ramp at the beginning. It's alpine is characteristics, with sweeping turns, and smoothly tarmacked surface. I did regret my decision halfway up, as the legs started to feel the days climbing, but I got to the top and enjoyed the smooth, fast descent.

Shortly after, I arrived home and duly polished off 2 Easter eggs! A good day's work I'd say! All in all an eggcellent weekend of riding, and one that has hopefully kicked my legs into action!