Ronde Van Calderpain 2014

Saturday night I sit deliberating over which bike to take, looking out side at the moody clouds whilst I take a sip of beer. I new exactly what to expect, which in some sense was better but in some sense worse given it gave me more options to consider. The weather was set to be pretty miserable all day so I figured, especially with cobbles involved, it would be sensible taking the CX bike rather then the carbon. The weight might make it tougher but the grip would see me to the top rather then slipping on every stone.


Sunday morning, early doors, big breakfast and onwards towards the Huddersfield start point. The weather didn’t look quite as miserable as first thought but it was overcast and had a uncertainty too it so I wasn’t about to take any risks with legs or arms on show!

There was a great club presence on the ride, as much so as last year and what I’d droned on about on the Facebook group – It’s what made the ride so good, the camaraderie getting to the top of each climbing with everyone there cheering each other on. Even signing up at the start, a 3rd of the page taken up with ‘Alba Rose Cycling Club’, was a great incentive and reinstated some of my original excitement for the sportive!

The first 20/30 miles seemed to fly by without effort, a few little sharp climbs, some of which were cobbled but nothing too demanding.  It left me feeling a little unsettled as I thought I remembered quite a lot of the ride but seemingly I couldn’t have been further from remembering much of it!

There was lots of talk along the way about the best way to mange the climbs, the best I heard was from the first year, sit in the saddle and grind away in an attempt at keeping memento.


The majority of the climbs were fairly dry, typically the most difficult wasn’t dry, it was mossy and moist and very few managed to get up it. It was a climb I’d wanted to conquer this year, unfortunately due to unluckiness and stupidity from fellow riders I had no such luck. A 3rd of the way there was a gent walking up on the right side, the driest and smoother cobbled side, I had to take the centre line and unfortunately my rear wheel slipped causing me to put a foot down. With that climb it seems to be sheer luck though. I felt strong half way through but pendant the road is clear and no one gets in your way it should be manageable if you have the right mind set!

I can save that one for next year anyway…

At the first food stop it was soon evident that all the banter on the Facebook group was totally true, everyone was already feeling it and we were only 30 miles down. Some of us were sceptical at the start whether we’d exaggerated the ride a little too much and the pain we had continually mentioned wasn’t going to be experienced!


Trooper lane was my final task, one of the longest climbs and sadly at 72 out of 78 miles. It was all or nothing and after being defeated by Out Lane I was determined to get to the top! Holding on for dear like, more pushing from the arms given the legs had nothing left, trying to keep a steady pace as going too slow usually ends up in falling off or slipping. I made it to the top with a huge grin on my face.


^ Above photo curtesy of John Taylor


Ronde Van Calderdale still stands in my eyes as one of the uk’s toughest sportives. It’s a bold statement but I can assure you many many others will agree. Until next year RVC!