A few weeks ago now Rapha posted up their plans for the #womens100
“On Sunday 7th July 2013 join thousands of women around the world to ride 100km. The aim is to create a global event, with thousands of women taking to the road to complete a 100km journey. The 7th July is the date of the Etape du Tour, the amateur cyclist’s chance to ride a major mountain stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France. Rapha are sending 100 women to ride the sportive, which will form part of the day’s festival of riding. The Rapha Women’s 100 is not a competition to see who is the fastest, it is about gathering a global community of women around the world to take part in this shared adventure.”
They invited women to post up rides that they were doing so that others could join in if they wanted to. Why not I thought. Now this plan was left rolling round my mind for a while, then an email arrived from our friend Alan, he had some friends in Manchester who were keen to come and explore the roads of the South Pennines. Lunch was duly arranged, cooked by Alan whilst a room of chattering women discussed all things cycling.
Now one thing that you can’t deny is that the South Pennines has some rather challenging riding. We worried that if we wrote a route too challenging, then we may put people off. Tricky, but then we thought that if you need a flat ride you’d go to Cheshire and that half the charm of the area is the hills, plus as I ride here so much it was easier to get all the best bits in, and why shouldn’t women have a challenging route? We’re more than capable of looking after ourselves. As the Tour de France is coming through the South Pennines in 2014 we wanted to include some of the route too. This is what we plotted http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1340812
With a sunny weekend heading our way my partner Ali and I decided to test the route out. Well any excuse for a day out on the bikes really. Climbing up from Hebden Bridge in dappled sunlight with the smell of wild garlic wafting upwards from Hardcastle Craggs it was looking like it was going to be a great day out. Bluebells carpeted the woodland around us.
We climbed ever upwards towards Pecket Well and out onto the moors towards Oxenhope. The views here are amazing, every season brings new colours, this time fresh green lush grass and bright yellow dandelions. Ali’s bike was jumping it’s gears a little, we stopped to tweak them. The last thing you want on a ride like this is a jumping drivetrain!
We whooshed down and up and down again, passing reservoirs along the route. There are loads of them in the area from it’s industrial past when all the fabric mills used them. Beautiful stone dams and workings are still there today.
Sometimes it makes me sad to see the great mill buildings looking all skeletal and neglected. Today though in the sun they looked magnificent. We turned before getting to Burnley and headed up a short climb to the east. From the top of it the Dales come into view. It’s so clear you can see for miles. I can see Lapwings on the moors. Being so close to Bronte country I often find myself humming Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights as I roll along.
We drop into Earby, close to the Hope factory, I’m so glad such engineering still goes on up here. We make our way north, now in my mind this bit is flat, Ali informed me otherwise, we finally agreed on ‘undulating but very pretty’.
After winding our way round the lower climbs of the Dales around Hetton we arrived at the Dalesman Cafe, a frequent haunt. I’ve arrived here in all weathers, there’s a roaring fire in the winter and they’re very used to cyclists. There’s even a few cycle groups who meet here. A hungry Ali managed to down beans on toast followed by two, yes two cakes, her argument being that I might steal some if she only had one.
From the top you can see a climb which, shall we say, isn’t a favourite of Ali’s. The locals call it ‘Salt and Pepper Pots’, it can be avoided if need be, but it’s worth it for the views. Cowling Tower is one of the ‘pots’.
All that is left then is the long descent into Hebden Bridge again, I wonder what speed the pro’s will take it?
So incase you’re wondering, yes girls can be geeks about their bikes too.
I’m riding the final prototype Kinesis UK GF-Ti, Dura-Ace 7900 with FSA SLK-light Cranks with 50/34 Rotor Q-rings with 12/27 at the back, TRP brakes, FSA SLK compact bars, Fizik Donna saddle. The perfect climbing machine. Every time I ride it, it makes me smile.
Ali is riding her Enigma Etape, full Ulterga with 50/34 rings and 11/28 on the back, Selle Italia Diva saddle, PRO compact bars and hand built climbing wheels.
See you on the 7th July – details – http://www.facebook.com/events/315119101951618/