I was back on familiar roads this week to tackle a loop which started and finished in Keighley and took me right to the edge of the county before venturing into the Dales and then back through the Wharfe and Aire Valleys. It was a tough old route.
I parked in Victoria Park and headed through the centre of Keighley before turning right off Oakworth Road and on to West Lane. This marked the start of the first climb and it was a good job I was fresh as this ascent always proves a test. It actually starts out OK but I’d advise conserving your energy early on as it gets progressively harder. There was one latter section easily in excess of 15% which came just as the housing made way for moorside, but mercifully the gradient eased slightly as I got close to my limit. The climbing didn’t finish there though, and the road continued to rise steadily for another few miles after turning left at Redcar Tarn.
There was a nice, fast upland section as I crossed from West to North Yorkshire on Pole Road, and I was treated to great views over the Aire Valley before I dropped like a stone past Lund’s Tower and into Cowling. Then it was on to Cross Hills and my next climb was awaiting me after turning left at a mini roundabout and on to Lothersdale Road. This is more my type of ascent, 1.5 miles long at a steady gradient of 4%. The descent into Lothersdale was also fun, but the short, sharp climb back out of it on Calf Wood Lane did prove a challenge.
I reached the highest point of the ride just before I commenced a breakneck descent into Elslack on a twisting road, and my neck muscles were tight from the breaking as I passed The Tempest Arms and on to the A59. I returned to the back roads at West Marton and the stretch from there to Gargrave was a real treat, just as the subsequent one was to Hetton.
After turning right on to Grassington Road, I followed that in the direction of Skipton for 3.5 miles before taking a left on to Brackenley Lane. I didn’t see a soul before I reached Embsay and then I followed the signs to Bolton Abbey. This took me on another quaint backroad, but I nearly got caught out by a closed gate on one brisk descent. From there I rode on to Addingham and passed St Peter’s Church before continuing on to Ilkley Road. After 600m I took a small turning on my right and crossed the A65 before commencing my next big climb.
The steepest ramps came early on Lumb Gill Lane but the gradient only relented slightly as I turned right onto Cocking Lane. The next 2.5 miles were a tough old slog. I was running on empty once I’d made it to the top but could recharge my batteries on the descent into Silsden.
I joined this year’s Tour de Yorkshire route by turning on to Howden Road, and no sooner had I left the town when the Côte de Silsden was upon me. The climb had never beaten me so I dug deep to ensure that record continued. I just managed to regain focus on the descent into Riddlesden. Only when I’d crossed the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and turned back towards Keighley could I soft pedal.