With a late withdrawal by Chairman Martin Bagshaw and the arrival in the car park at Elsecarr of some pretty decent TVC Red regulars there was an apprehensive Jenny Down wondering whether or not she had made the right decision to take on a fairly short but VERY hilly route around the Bradfield!
Reassuring words were kindly given by other riders and, in rather dull and slightly misty conditions, the group of nine rolled out of Elsecarr turning left (not right Pete!) on the main road towards Chapeltown and the first ‘drag’
Some riders were keen to show off their climbing legs whilst the morse seasoned campaigners knew that this drag was just the first of many climbs to come and that it may be more prudent to save the legs until later.
Lights flashing on the fast descent through Chapeltown before the turn onto the first categorised climb of the day Whitley Lane (4 Cat) leading into the Norfolk and Steven climbs with slightly steeper slopes (3 Cat).
Local boy John met the group in Ecclesfield and added some welcome local knowledge to the group.
You can all check your own times on STRAVA and then compare with the KOM’s set by some of the local ‘hitters’ just to see how it should be done! at least the Tour didn’t come up this one!
A regroup at the top and a few comments about the number of cyclists that never made it beyond Grenoside cemetery before a fast descent down into Oughtibridge.
At this point it was pretty clear that disk brakes definitely beat rim brakes when it comes to speedy and confident descending! It also helps when you’ve done this descent so many times that you know every inch of the road.
A brief respite and time to take some liquid and maybe a gel on board before what is probably the toughest climb of the day out of Oughtibridge and up to Burnt Hill Lane and the famous Bradfield Cross. Unfortunately the views weren’t quite as magnificent as they normally are due to the inclement weather but the skies started to clear as the group once again dropped down to Upper Bradfield and wound their way back towards Manchester Road at Wharncliffe Side.
There was a brief but amusing moment where the group passed two young ladies walking two miniature ponies and Paul Ferguson was tempted to switch from pedal power to pony power!
Just enough time for a brief smile before yet another climb had everyone chewing on their stems yet again. The climbing had settled into a familiar rhythm of those wishing to push hard and then recover on the descents, those experiencing this type of terrain for the first time and just taking it all in and those simply hoping that it would all end very soon…you know who you are!
With these roads being Andy’s favourite place to ride his bike there was always a reassuring “this one gets even steeper” or “careful on this descent…it’s very dangerous”….just to keep everyone nice and relaxed!
On a serious note this is a very tough area to ride and the descents can indeed be very technical especially with water washing across the surface as it was today so CHAPEAU to the whole group for sticking together and successfully negotiating all of the ups and the downs.
Talking of ‘ups’ the group still had to take on the Sunny Bank (More Hall Reservoir) climb (Cat 3) up to Bolsterstones village. A really great climb of just under 3km at an average of 5.6% and some friendly flat/downhill sections to give the group a rest in between some pretty tasty 15-18% ramps.
At least we had the cafe after the descent back into Langsett via Midhope and a sadly too brief foray onto the best cycling road in the UK…The Strines.
Riders simply must come back to do more if this stunning road another day…maybe skirt around Deliverance though!
Bikes locked up outside the famous Spotty Cafe and a little luck in finding a table big enough for nine before teas, coffees, cake and butties were scoffed and lost calories and energy banks replenished.
Oh…and Graham almost had to pay for everyone having left his helmet on the table and the most annoying beeping GARMIN that we had ever heard! At one point I thought that it was the alarm on Jon Brough’s wallet going off!
“Only one climb to go now” lied Andy as the group set off using thd pavement to avoid a short stretch on the very busy main road linking Sheffield to Manchester.
The speed picked up as the terrain became more friendly and there were some legs being stretched as the group hit the long stretch back down to Wortley. Progress only briefly slowed by the climb back up past the rugby club where we waved goodbye to John (although Dave was obviously enjoying his company as he forgot ti turn left with us and started to follow John home!) and made our way happily back to Elsecarr and the cars.
The weather had cleared.
Arm warmers and gilets had long been divested and those apprehensive faces of 9am had turned into much happier smiles and feelings of accomplishment.
40miles and over 5,000ft of climbing is a very decent ratio in anyone’s books and plenty of 3rd and 4th category climbs in the bag.
Big chapeau to Jenny for seeing it through.
And chapeau to the whole group for some excellent riding, great company and not one single incident.