This blog is becoming far too serious, again, so it's time for some Pennine punishment. On Saturday I got up at 8:30 just so I could do some proper cycling. I was on the road by 9:15, and headed out through Longsight, Belle Vue and Gorton (all the sights), into Hyde and over to Mottram via Godley and Hattersley. At Mottram I took a left, over the hill and then a fast and long descent into Stalybridge. Then out towards Greenfield. A section of the main road was closed here, so I had to follow a diversion that takes you all the way to the valley bottom, before you climb steeply through a housing estate back to the main road. I'm unreasonably annoyed by this, as I know the ride already has plenty of hills. At Greenfield the ride really begins, as you begin the climb past Dove Stones Reservoir onto Saddleworth Moor. This is a longish climb, but not that steep, and I was able to get into a low gear and plod my way up easily enough, though drenched in sweat as the sun came out. You get good views of Dove Stones behind you and to your right before you get onto the featureless moor top.
Then a very fast and long descent into Homfirth, where I stop to have an apple. I'm in West Yorkshire now, and on roads I used to train on when I raced relatively seriously. In Holmfirth, you're really out of good options. You're in the valley bottom, and whichever way you go to get back to Manchester involves some serious climbing. I'm out to prove to myself that I'm fit, so I'm going over Holme Moss. Holme Moss is the highest main road in England, and it climbs about 400 m in 5 km or so. I once rode a 25 mile mountain time trial that started in Homfirth, and I went from Holmebridge to the summit in 22:15. This is not going to happen today.
I get up the lower half of the climb into Holme village OK, and you get a brief respite through Holme and Lane, and even a short downhill before the serious part of the climb begins. There's a series of hairpins, followed by the last gruelling section to the road summit. I run out of gears far too early, and I'm barely making walking pace by the last section. Every quarter of a mile the distance to summit is painted on the road, and I'm already suffering as I pass the 1 mile to go marker. Goddamnit, I grit my teeth and I get to the summit somehow. Beautiful views over West and South Yorkshire at the top, and then the steep descent to the Woodhead road.
This bit is narrow and lacking in fun as the trucks fly past, and I'm out of water. I head through Tintwistle and into Hollingworth, and start the climb into Mottram. The traffic here is solid, waiting for the lights at the top of the hill, and I ride down the middle of the road. Past Mottram there's a filling station, where I get some cold water down my neck and rest for a couple of minutes. Downhill into Hyde, then back through Gorton and Longsight, and I'm home at 1:30. The ride is only 80 km or so, but I reckon it makes up for it in climbing.