The 4th saw the start of our cycling year with a cold and frosty ride along the canal to Todmorden for lunch and then home. Admittedly, not the hardest ride we’ve ever done, but a good way of blowing a few cobwebs away after the excesses of Christmas.
However, riding for the next fortnight was abandoned due to atrocious weather conditions.
January 25th saw a big improvement in the weather and a hardy few set out from the Range, going up the valley through Tod., Hebden Bridge and on to Sowerby Bridge for lunch. The route home was through Ripponden and over Blackstone Edge with the inevitable gale force headwind making it seem a lot further than it is! In all we did about 40 miles.
You can tell by the smiles that we’ve done all the hard stuff and we’re nearly home.
February started with more bad weather and the first Sunday ride was abandoned.
February 8th: we had planned a decent ride but were surprised by freezing fog and, with Phil arriving with ice on his front light, we decided to stay on low ground and go along the valley to Hebden Bridge. Approaching Todmorden the fog began to lift and by the time we got to Hebden the sun was shining.
After lunch we chose to go to Mytholmroyd and up ‘the Cragg’. As we neared the top it soon became apparent that the sunshine belonged to Yorkshire and Lancashire was still covered in a blanket of freezing fog thus making for a very cold ride down Blackstone Edge and home.
We only did 32 miles but it’s a lot better than nowt!
February 15th: “Treasurer’s Trog“ What a difference a week makes. This hardy annual always takes place in February and, surprisingly, we always have good weather.
We enjoyed a great ride along canal towpaths, tracks and the ‘Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail’ with lunch at Bury. (37 miles, which, on mountain bikes, was a fairly tough ride.)
February 22nd. Again, we had planned a longish ride to Ribchester (about 65 miles) but the weather forecast was awful so we set off on a cold but dry morning up and over Blackstone Edge and followed back roads to Sowerby Bridge. From there we took the short but steep climb back up to the Halifax road and turned left to Hebden Bridge for lunch. We left the café in heavy rain which soon turned into sleet and then snow. It only takes about an hour to get back to Rochdale but it certainly felt like a lot longer!
(38 miles in total with the last 10 feeling like 100!)
March usually sees the start of the Sportive/Reliability Ride season for us and it began with a local sportive.
March 1st. – the ‘Walter Pilkington’ sportive is a 50k ride organised by Bury CTC and is in aid of 2 local charities. Starting from Bury and going via Ainsworth, Egerton, Tockholes, Haslingden Moor, Haslingden, Edenfield and finishing with the climb up to ‘Owd Betts’. It was very windy the whole way round but at least it stayed dry- dry that is until we left the pub after a sandwich and a couple drinks and were met with torrential rain. I’m beginning to think we spend too much time at the lunch stops! Total distance 48 miles.
March 8th. – This was the first of 4 Reliability Rides over the spring and summer and at just 30 miles is the shortest. Starting at the the Range and going via Whitworth, Rawtenstall, Haslingden, Holcombe Brook, Bury and back to the Range with a target time of 3 – 4 hours. Despite some fairly unpleasant weather and the odd mechanical we all made it back in under three hours comfortably.
The next Reliability Ride is 50 miles and should prove a bit more demanding.
March 15th – This ride went from the Range through Littleborough, Todmorden and Cliviger to Townley Park Garden Centre for lunch.
As I said earlier, I wasn’t on this ride but I’m pretty sure they didn’t eat outside in the sunshine because there wouldn’t have been any!
The return journey took them up the climb from Burnley, over Deerplay and back through Bacup to Rochdale. Total distance about 34 miles.
What we call the Deerplay climb is named after the pub of the same name which sits in isolation on top of the moor. Sadly, it’s so isolated that it’s now closed and badly in need of some TLC.
March 22nd – This ride turned out to be a repeat of the Walter Pilkington ride by those who missed it earlier in the month.
March 29th – This should have been the 50 mile Reliability Ride but it was abandoned because of the atrocious weather.M
April 4th – the weather being good this weekend we decided to do the 50 mile Reliability Ride which was postponed the week before.
Starting at the Range, the ride goes through Todmorden, Cliviger, Rawtenstall, Haslingden, Edgeworth, Ainsworth, Bury and finishes at Millcroft Tea Gardens near Norden. Total distance 57 miles in 4 hours and 12 minutes.
The remainder of April is a bit sketchy because I was away for 3 weekends and a few others were away for 2 weekends at our annual training camp in Majorca.
May got off to a poor start with the first ride of the month (following parts of the ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ route) being postponed because of bad weather.
May 10th saw the return of an old favourite, the Whalley Wobble. We brought it forward this year in the hope of better weather and we weren’t disappointed. The ‘Wobble’ starts and finishes at Springwood Picnic Site, Whalley and goes through the Ribble Valley, taking in some of the finest scenery Lancashire has to offer. With a café stop at the picturesque village of Waddington the ride is about 30 miles long but here is always the option to ride to and from Springwood and this is what we all did, making a round trip of about 80 miles. Tough ride!
May 17th – ‘Over the Edge’ celebration ride. We had planned to do the Gold Route but again we were met with poor weather conditions and so decided to do the Silver instead. This was only 35 miles but with a fierce head wind most of the day it felt like a lot longer. We had a cafe stop at Todmorden and, having heard that riders were being blown over on the ‘Cragg’, we came home down the valley.
May 24th – We had planned a ride through Denshaw and over the moors towards Brighouse but, as has become the norm recently, we woke up to steady rain and fog which made crossing the moors unattractive to all! With this in mind we decided to stay as low as possible and went through Rawtenstall, Helmshore and Hawkshaw to the café at Jumbles country Park, coming home via Tottington and Bury. Total distance 40 miles.
May 31st – Being the last day of one of the wettest Mays on record, we couldn’t really have expected anything else but rain and that’s what we got! We rode through Whitworth to Waterfoot and then climbed the hill up to the top of Deerplay before descending to the Bridge café in Todmorden for the usual lunch stop. After lunch we returned to Rochdale via the ‘Valley’ and Littleborough. 37 miles in total.
June 7th. Well the first ride in June was the 100k Reliability ride and the weather was good! Starting at the Range and finishing at ‘Owd Betts’ we went through Bury, Bolton, Horwich and past Haigh Hall to the Tea Rooms at Rivington for a café stop. From there the climbing really began, going over the hill to Belmont and left through Abbey Village to Feniscowles, Lower Darwen, Edgworth, Tottington, Ramsbottom and Edenfield before climbing the hill and finishing at Owd Betts. With 5,500 feet of climbing over 100k, this was a very tough ride!
June 14th – With a lot of the regular riders away, there was a small turnout with a new rider joining us for a shortish ride up Blackstone Edge, down Cragg Vale, through Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge to Todmorden for the café stop followed by a leisurely ride back down the valley to Rochdale. Total distance : 30 miles.
June 28th – We had half decent weather for a change so decided to combine the Ribchester ride with Steve C’s 70th and a bit Birthday Bash. There was the option to go via the Nick O’Pendle or take a more direct and less hilly route to Ribchester which divided us into two groups. We all arrived at the café at almost the same time which made for a bit of a party atmosphere!
After the unexpected ‘party at Ribchester we set off in two groups with the intention of meeting up at Owd Betts before going to Millcroft Tea Gardens for the real ‘Birthday Bash’. The faster group managed a couple of pints of the black stuff and then went to the tearooms whilst the slower group, after a minor route error which involved a rather vicious climb, went straight there.
June 21st – Being the longest day of the year, we had planned a good long ride to Ribchester for the café stop but, as is becoming the norm these days, the weather wasn’t good so we had a quick discussion and decided to postpone the planned ride for something a bit shorter. Going up the valley through Todmorden to Hebden Bridge, turning up Cock Hill as far as Pecket Well and then though Old Town, Midgley and Luddenden towards Halifax and Sowerby Bridge for the stop. After lunch it was a straight climb up through Ripponden and back down Blackstone Edge. Total distance : 43 miles.
July 5th – The weather was good for a change, cloudy early on but sunshine later. We followed the Walter Pilkington sportive route through Bury, Ainsworth, Egerton to Vaughn’s Country Café at Tockholes were we stopped for lunch. Having split into two groups, the faster group were just leaving as the others arrived.
From the café we went through Darwen, over the moor to Haslingden, Edenfield and over Owd Betts back to Rochdale. Total distance – 47 miles.
July 12th – Another decent day with only a slight threat of rain saw us take on ‘Phil’s Folly’ also known as the ‘North West Passage’. This regular favourite goes through Todmorden, Burnley, Barrowford, over Greystones, Gisburn and through a lot of country lanes to Waddington for lunch.
Again, having split into two groups, the faster group was just leaving as the others arrived. From there we came back through Whalley, Painter Wood, Haslingden Moor, Edenfield, up the hill to Owd Betts for the obligatory pint of the black stuff and then back to Rochdale. Total distance 76 miles with 5200 ft of ascent – HARD RIDE!
July 19th – Eric’s Epic. There’s always a choice of starts for this ride, the full ride from the Range is 75 miles and from Clough Head car park it’s 40 miles. We set off from the Range at 9.00 am to meet up at the car park at 10.30 am and found the other group sat having a coffee. We all set off together from there but soon split into two groups and made our way towards the lunch stop at Rivington Tea Rooms.
However, all our plans were shot to pieces when we arrived at Belmont Village and ran into the Bolton Ironman Triathlon competition which we watched for a while giving the second group time to catch up with us. But they were using the road we wanted to go up!
So, with all the local roads being closed for hours, we had to change our plans and retrace our route before going to the Jumbles Country Park café for lunch. From there we made our way back over Owd Betts and had what is rapidly becoming the usual, pint of the black stuff before returning to Rochdale. Total distance 56 miles but those who went by car to Clough Head about 30.
So, with all the local roads being closed for hours, we had to change our plans and retrace our steps for a while before going to the Jumbles Country Park café for lunch. From there we made our way back over Owd Betts and had what is rapidly becoming the usual, pint of the black stuff before going back to Rochdale. Total distance 56 miles but those who went by car to Clough Head about 30.
July 26th – The plan this week was to do a circular route to Blackpool but, with rain forecast for late morning, we set off with the intention of cutting it short as soon as the rain arrived. We had a very early start – 8.00 am – and went through Edenfield, Haslingden, over Blackburn Moor, Wilpshire, Ribchester and got to the far side of Longridge before the sky went very dark. With the rain fast approaching we beat a hasty retreat to Ribchester where we stopped at one of our favourite cafes for lunch. Just in time! It soon started to pour down so after lunch we retraced our tracks back to Rochdale. Blackpool will have to wait!
Total distance 68 miles, half of which were cold and wet.
August 2nd – The first weekend in August and it wasn’t raining although it looked like it might at any minute! We had planned a ride to Holmfirth for lunch and, for once, we were able to complete the whole ride without getting wet. From the Range, we went through Milnrow, Newhey, Saddleworth and over the Isle of Skye road to Holmfirth.
From there we returned to Rochdale via Netherthong, Meltham, Delph, Denshaw and over the hill to Newhey.
Total distance 50 miles, but with 5000 ft of climb this was not an easy ride!
August 9th – Another dry day saw us head through Hebden Bridge and over Cock Hill to Howarth for lunch. The climb up the cobbled main street featured recently in the ‘Tour de Yorkshire’.
After lunch we had a choice of routes but decided to return over Cock Hill to Hebden Bridge and from there some went up The Cragg and the others back down the valley. Total Distance = 50 miles.
August 16th – 100 mile Reliability Ride.
With the distance involved this week, we started at 8.00 am on a sunny, if chilly, morning. Going through Rawtenstall, Haslingden, over Blackburn Moor to Ribchester, Longridge and on to Waddington for lunch. From there we went through Bolton by Bowland, Hellifield, Otterburn, Bell Husk, Gargrave, Thornton in Craven, Earby, Foulridge as far as Colne where we stopped for a much needed cup of tea and then made our way back to the Range.
A long day, and with 6000 ft of climb, a very tiring one, but a fantastic day out. Being on roads new to us for much of the day, we were pleasantly surprised by some of the amazing scenery, particularly from Longridge, through Waddington and into the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
A day to remember.
August 23rd – After a very hard ride last week we had a much easier, but just as enjoyable, shorter ride this Sunday. The ‘Preston Guild Wheel’ is a circular route around the outskirts of Preston and is completely traffic free. Mainly on tarmac but with a few rougher bits, it can be done on foot or by bike and is 21 miles long. Obviously, we chose bikes which included mountain bikes, hybrids, road bikes and even a folding bike and an ‘E’ bike.
The route is very well signposted.
We chose to go in a clockwise direction following the Ribble estuary for a while before heading inland and stopping at the ‘Final Whistle’ café for lunch by the side of the Lancaster canal.
The ‘Final Whistle’ café with Lancaster canal on one side and UCLAN Sports Arena on the other. The sports arena is the home ground of Preston Ladies football team which is presumably why the ‘Final Whistle’ is so named.
With another stop for tea and cake at Brockholes Nature Reserve and good weather all day this was the easiest ride of the year so far but made a very pleasant change from the usual ride.
September 6th – I was away for this ride so I can’t give much detail but roughly – Blackstone Edge, down the Cragg, Heptonstall, Long Causeway and on to Todmorden for lunch. Total about 40 miles.
September 13th – I was still away so again not much detail but roughly – Todmorden, past JJ’s, Padiham, Nick O’Pendle, Wiswell to the Abbey café at Whalley for lunch and home via Accrington. This time, about 50 miles.
September 20th- With no structured ride planned for this weekend, we decided to have a re-run of the 50 mile Reliability Ride, giving those who missed it last time another chance.
Going via Todmorden, Cliviger, Rawtenstall, Haslingden and on to the Grane Road where we stopped for a quick snack at Clough Head Visitor’s Centre. From there, over the Grane Road, turning left opposite the Grey Mare Inn and on through Edgeworth, Bradshaw, Ainsworth and Bury to Millcroft Tea Gardens at Norden and the finish.
September 27th – A lovely sunny in Rochdale for once! We set off through Newhey and went over the hill to Denshaw. From there we headed over Nont Sarah’s towards Huddersfield and were met by dense, cold fog which persisted as far as Brighouse.
From there we went through Elland and on to Sowerby Bridge for lunch. By the time we left, the fog and cloud had lifted and we were blessed with sun for the climb up through Ripponden and over Blackstone Edge back to Rochdale. 45 miles in total.
October 4th – For the first ride this month we did an old favourite – the canal and trail ride to Manchester and back. The last time we did this ride we stopped for lunch in Piccadilly Gardens and came out of the café to find Chris’s bike had been stolen. We walked with Chris to the bus station and then made our way back to the canal and home as fast as we could. Even so, it was going dark by the time we got back to Rochdale and, having had 8 punctures between us, it wasn’t the best day we’d ever had.
With this in mind, we decided to meet a bit earlier and have an ‘all you can eat breakfast‘ at the Sandbrook before setting off.
With full bellies, we made good time down the canal to the outskirts of Manchester where, as usual, the towpaths are either blocked or diverted making it more difficult to follow the canal.
We eventually made our way across Manchester towards the start of the Irwell Valley Trail and, having stopped for coffee and doughnuts on the way, we headed north towards home. The trail isn’t very straightforward at that end but Dave knew the way and we only had minor problems finding our way.
As we approached Philips Park, Dave took us up to the start of one of the mountain bike trails which we all did without mishap. (Quite an achievement seeing as I’d come a cropper on the canal!). From there we followed the trail up to Bury and the along the road to Bamford, going past the Crimble to Heywood and past Castlehawk Golf club to the canalside at Castleton and then home.
Total distance 43 miles.
October 11th – ‘The Season of Mists’ and ‘Mellow Fruitfulness’ Audaxes are run from Mytholmroyd, the former being 100km and the other a shorter 50km: we usually do the short one, but, riding to the start and back home afterwards makes it a challenging day.
From Mytholmroyd the route goes through Heptonstall, Blackshaw Head, Knowl Top, (the first control was the name of the last cottage) and over the Long Causeway, going to JJ’s café for the second control. From there, the next control is at Hurstwood. The clue for this control was ‘name of house number 33’. After a bit of head scratching, the lady of the house came out to tell us that the house didn’t have a name now but it used to be called ‘Moorside’ – problem solved! Going through the picturesque village of Worsthorne and on to Caldwell Activity Centre for the next control and tea and cake before tackling the infamous ‘Widdop Climb’.
After several hours in the saddle, this climb is brutal, going on for almost a mile and very steep. From the top of the climb the route is mostly downhill with just a few rises before reaching the Packhorse Inn. After stopping for a while to re-group, we made our back to Heptonstall, Hebden Bridge and the finish at Mytholmroyd.
Caldervale Cycling Club, who organise this event, provide a superb buffet meal at the finish and we certainly made the most of it. Whilst most riders packed their bikes away in their cars, we had to ride back to Rochdale via ‘The Cragg’ which made the whole ride 63 miles with 6100 ft of climb. A tough but very enjoyable day.
October 18th – A new café stop for us this week – the Dalesman at Gargrave is a well known cyclist’s café but we hadn’t been before so this was a new ride for us.
Going through Whitworth, Bacup, Padiham, Barrowford and Barnoldswick to reach the café and then back through Earby, Colne, Nelson and Burnley giving a total distance of 73 miles with 5100 ft of climb. Decent weather and some great back roads made this a route we’re sure to add to our list of regulars.
October 25th – The ride to the café at Whalley Abbey, situated in the grounds of the Abbey, used to be one of our regular rides until the closure of the café a couple of years ago. Now, with its’ re-opening, it’s back on the agenda again
Going via Whitworth, Newline, Waterfoot, Crown Point and Padiham to Whalley and returning via Painter Wood, Haslingden Moor and Rawtenstall. Total distance 55 miles.
(This is still an active update – early 2023 [Ed])