Bike Route: Hills are back with a vengeance

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After taking a flat route last week I made sure the climbs were back with a vengeance this time around as I took on one of my favourite rides into the heart of Brontë Country. It’s a 57km (35 mile) loop which starts and finishes in Haworth and takes a very brief sojourn into Lancashire before dropping into Hebden Bridge and back over Oxenhope Moor.

1I parked in the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s public car park just off West Lane before heading to Goose Eye via Oakworth. It’s here where the first climb comes and it’s an absolute brute which featured in the 2015 Tour de Yorkshire. The gradient barely drops below 20% for the first 400m and it’s only when you reach the junction for Green Sykes Road that it finally relents and you can settle in to a more sustainable rhythm before turning left on to Pole Road. Lund’s Tower appears on the horizon a few kilometres later and you can take in the tremendous views to your right across the Aire Valley before you plunge down a fast descent into Cowling.

2Turn left onto the A6068 (Keighley Road) and you’ll rise gradually once again until you see Laneshaw Reservoir emerge on your left. This is where you cross into the Red Rose County and you’ll remain there for the next 14km (nine miles). Just as you enter the outskirts of Colne take a left towards Trawden then follow the signs for Hebden Bridge. This will take you up the tricky Sheffield Lane climb which has a helpful farmhouse at its summit which gives you something to aim for. Turn left after that and there’s only 3km between you and the next fierce ascent.

3You can see the Thursden Valley climb snaking its way skywards as you approach it, and the challenge begins as soon as you’ve crossed a small bridge at the bottom. 25% ramps immediately greet you there, and there’s only a brief lull in the action before you’re forced to tackle another painfully steep drag towards the summit. The satisfaction you’ll get from cresting that peak will spur you onwards though, and you’ll be flying along the fast section which follows as you cross back into Yorkshire.

4Classics fans might like to take a detour down Heptonstall’s cobbled main street before dropping into Hebden Bridge but I always opt for the smoother Draper Lane alternative which provides a far more exhilarating descent into the town.

5Team Sky rider David Lopez took just 15min 18sec to climb the Côte de Hebden Bridge back in 2015 and my 27min 45sec paled in comparison. That said, I actually enjoyed it’s consistent 5.5% gradient almost as much as the thrilling descent back off it. I was still buzzing as I passed through Oxenhope and knew there was only one last climb to conquer.

6Images of the peloton pedalling up Haworth’s cobbled Main Street during the 2014 Tour de France have become iconic and I purposefully saved this effort for last. The road first ramps up as you pass the steam railway back in the valley, and the worst of the ascending will already be over by the time you turn left onto the pavé. Then there’s only 350m of wobbly climbing to go, before you reach the summit outside the Visitor Information Centre.