The Peak District is one of the jewels in Yorkshire’s cycling crown so I thought it was about time I sampled it first-hand after witnessing the world’s best riders tackle some of its most famous peaks in this year’s Tour de Yorkshire. Whilst I was there I combined my route to retrace some of the 2014 Tour de France stage into Sheffield and in the process devised one of the toughest rides I’ve taken all year.
As this route was linear as opposed to my usual loops, I started in Brockholes which meant I could get a direct train back to my car after I’d finished in Meadowhall. That allowed me four miles to ease into things before the climbing commenced at Holmbridge. The Cote de Holme Moss had been looming large on the horizon even before I reached that point, and the unexpected ascent to Holme meant I was already breathing hard as I began this infamous category two climb. Holme Moss has to be as close to an alpine ascent as you can get in Yorkshire. The consistent 7% gradient means you can get into a steady rhythm, and the countdown markers in the last mile help gauge your effort so you reach the top without blowing up entirely.
Once you’ve crested the summit you’ll take a brief detour into Derbyshire, and I’d recommend every cyclist experiences the exhilarating descent to Woodhead Reservoir at least once in their lives as it is fast, furious and hugely enjoyable. Turn left onto the A628 and you’ll soon be back in Yorkshire. I pressed on towards Langsett and took a right turn at Bank View Café before crossing Langsett Reservoir.
I joined the Tour de Yorkshire route (albeit in the wrong direction) on the drag up Mortimer Road and the descent off the Cote de Ewden Height was a technical one with gradients in excess of 25%. Riders should be aware of a perilously tight right-hand bend which comes in the lower woodland section, and the equally steep ascent which follows. Thankfully though, the road surface here is immaculate.
The landscape really opens up as you pass Strines Reservoir and you’ll be rewarded with some great views across South Yorkshire before you turn left onto the A57 and head into Sheffield on Rivelyn Valley Road, skirting the river on this long, gentle descent as you do so. I followed signs for Hillsborough Stadium at that point and picked up the Tour de France route after turning right on Herries Road.
My legs were tiring as I headed towards the Cote de Jenkin Road, but I tried to keep something back as the 30% ramps on here have gone down in cycling folklore since the pros raced up them in 2014. The climb starts as soon as you turn left but the steepest section hits about 400 metres later when a white handrail appears on the side of the road. This segment may be short but it’s a killer. I was absolutely spent but fortunately there was only a mile left of descending before I was stood on the platform awaiting my train back to Brockholes.