With the Trans Continental Race (TCR) in mind, I knew this would be a good opportunity to begin getting used to bigger miles. The weather conditions weren’t at all ideal but I’m sure at times on the TCR the weather won’t be good all the time either. From one extreme (cold/wet) to the other (Heat/Wet).
After my first long haul on the saddle a few weeks ago I knew one of the biggest factors that affected me was riding in the dark near the end of the ride. It’s hard to stay focused and your mood plummets because there’s absolutely nothing to keep your mind occupied other than darkness.
This time I choose to set of early, with an aim to ride through the dark in hope to get back before darkness falls in the afternoon. I was doubtful that I would be back before dark, so chose to ride along main roads lit by street lamps, which is slightly better than riding in pitch black.
Luckily the weather was mild and damp rather than the sudden frost that’s hit the UK over the last few days. I arrived at Huddersfield around 7AM and was through the smaller villages into Holmfirth by 7:45 to be greeted by a very misty and mysterious Holme Moss.
Holme Moss never disappoints, a long gradual climb, which can be deceiving due to forceful winds coming in from the side. A slow and steady grind up the hill, I observed the paint marks from the Tour de France. I took a few minutes once at the top to take in the view, a little misty but beautiful. I always remember the climb but never the descents, in this instance I’d say the descent was tougher then the climb simply because of the cold.
Once at the bottom I was in the heart of the Moors, I joined a quiet but slightly sketchy A road that lead me to Stockport. Big waggons and a steady flow of traffic to keep me alert, the scenery continuing to astound me with atmospheric low cloud and ambient light.
Unfortunately the only negative part of this beautiful scenery was joining the A road that took me towards Stockport/Manchester.
There’s not much to say about Stockport or Manchester to be honest – the best feature was the obvious stop at the Rapha CC for a coffee before I headed back towards Rochdale.
I’d always been under the impression that Rochdale was much bigger, I hadn’t actually realised I was out the other end until I came upon Blackstrone Edge, another Tour de France climb. This one I wasn’t aware I’d be undertaking, the picture below gives an insight as to how far up it was, again a very similar climb to Holme Moss.
Back into Bradford and I felt like I was homeward bound! I was exhausted and the sun had just set meaning my mood had completely dipped. To add to this depletion of spirit the rain had also begun.
I knew at this point there were so many easier ways to get back to Leeds, essentially the route I’d planned went from the west of leeds, north and back in through the east side. I was so incredibly close to sacking it in at Bradford but somehow managed to continue on, it was all familiar ground which made me feel somewhat closer to home even if I knew I was going a bizarre way there.
The rain unfortunately continued and the wind picked up, it continued to get worse. Once I’d got up the Chevin I felt like I’d had enough but 15 miles out of Leeds it seemed any way I took was going to be a struggle, so once again I battled on. When I began taking the dark back roads towards Harewood House that’s when I knew enough was enough – pitch black soaking wet through; the final 30K I’d planned could wait.
It started a lot easier then expected but the good old british weather caught up with me in the end…