Monday, 13 August 2007

Biking over mountains for fun

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.

7 comments:

Mich said...

I feel tired just thinking about it :-S 24 km on the city trails is my best ride this summer.
Mich

Paul Wilson said...

Oh, I reckon that 24 km is pretty good going. 80 km over mountains is just daft really, although I should point out that for 'proper' cyclists it would be nothing. A Tour de France mountain stage might be 200 km, and the mountains are significantly higher. They do have better drugs, though.

Jolan Sulinski said...

Congratulations! This is to notify you that Hawk-Handsaw is being considered for the 2007 Best Gratuitous Use of Google Earth Award.

Mich said...

For the record, my best ride was 42 km, not the previously stated 24 km. Kensington to Fish Creek Train Station along the Bow River. Ellie and I convinced Doug that getting the train home was a perfectly acceptable way to finish the bike ride ;-)

Paul Wilson said...

If you'd failed to convince Doug, you would have gone 84 km, and beaten my longest ride of the year by 4 km...

I've heard they have proper mountains in Canada as well.

Mich said...

It's a nice thought, but, Ellie and I were going to catch the train with or without Doug!

Canada does have proper mountains. We saw them (in the distance) from the top of one of the river terraces that got in the way of our otherwise flat bike trail.

George Walks said...

That is impressive paul, good to see that you're back on the bike proper, justifies more beer too.