Saturday, 16 March 2013

My local ride

When I first came Oop North, I stayed with Jon on a wee holiday and he took me across to Holmfirth. It was summer, a nice drive out, and the area looked stunning. We are Last of the Summer Wine sandwiches and drank Last of the Summer Wine coffee. When I moved to Mossley itself, just across the moors from Holmfirth, I started mapping out my local rides. The most obvious was to turn left out of the house and head for Holmfirth. For several weeks and then months, getting up that road has been a bit of an obstacle. It's often closed to traffic because of the weather, so getting my hybrid up there proved an adventure and Red the Road Bike was positively skittish even in the winter dry. And let's not forget that I am a cyclist whose thighs are made of marshmallow. 

I was really lucky that one of the local Team Glows organised a ride out there coming back on some of the other nearby but smaller hills so I first got to conquer the ride out with the company and support of others. The first hill out to Holmfirth didn't seem so bad - the final descent into town was hairy but the smaller succession of hills (some with a headwind) did cause me to actually stop once before riding them all. I thought that as this was my local route, that conquering would put me in great stead for Mallorca, without having to go very far. Unfortunately the winter has been icy and my cycling fraught with bad luck (rashes, infections, antibiotic reactions etc) so I'd barely tackled the first 3 miles up hill (to Dove Stone Reservoir) let alone the 10 miles to Holmfirth. So I decided to take a day off work to put that to rights. 

The snow had stopped the day before, and the sun was out. It should have been perfect cycling weather. Instead it ended up being the coldest I had ever been - and I have been out in sub zero for several hours in the night. The Saddleworth Moors, apart from being a haunt of serial killers, seems to have its own microclimate, to match the lunar landscape and the eeriness of the place. I found the first hill very hard and had to stop a lot, which I later realise was down to overheating (bizarrely) due to an early morning cycle, low blood pressure and too quick a rise in heart rate. This meant I took a lot of my clothes off and then couldn't regulate temperature. Not to mention losing a glove so I only had a liner for my brake hand, so I cut the descent short. All in all, 20 miles there and back - mentally tough. Not just because I had to keep stopping on the hills but the Moors are so bleak, with little features, icy winds, the scare from the trucks sending you cross the road, and that bumpy surface from riding over peat bogs. Still makes good training and I want to keep repeating it and the original longer ride until Mallorca time to get confidence. 

If anyone wants to do the longer cycle with me and use the spare room you are very welcome - it's definitely one for company and there are some great Last of the Summer Wine cafes! There is a short version (26 miles to Holmfirth and back) or the longer version here which I did with Team Glow. 

 Above: wooshing past the Moors. Endless and cold. And bouncy. And there be ghosts. 
 Above: the way up. With blue skies, who'd have thought the Moors Murk lies ahead
 Above: only eight miles! But they are testing eight miles. 
 Lost: one glove. 
 Our local: Dove Stone Reservoir, only a few miles from home.
Alpine descent. Still no glove... 

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