Bike route: Wet and tiring uphill challenge

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I took a trip to Wakefield this week to sample the countryside which lies to the south-east of the city.

I’d never been to this part of the world before so was heavily reliant on my bike computer to show me the way, and even though I got absolutely soaked in the torrential downpours I still had a good few hours in the saddle.

1I began my ride outside The Hepworth and headed out of the city on Doncaster Road which took me past Wakefield Trinity’s ground. Cycling in cities is rarely enjoyable, especially when you’re dodging puddles and pedestrians, but the bus lanes helped and after 10 minutes or so I was surrounded by fields. The first ramps came as I climbed towards Normanton, but before I reached that town I took the A655 which bypasses it to the south. The cycle lane was a welcome bonus here and I followed it all the way to the West Yorkshire Police headquarters.

2It wasn’t long before I reached High Ackworth and I was struck by the beauty of this little village. The countryside around here was also charming as I pressed through East Hardwick and on to Wentbridge. It was easy to imagine how quaint this part of the world must have been in summer as I forged on through the rain. Wentbridge itself also deserves a mention – this is another little gem that I enjoyed soaking up (quite literally) before I climbed towards Upton. The rise out of Wentbridge had me momentarily out of the saddle but it wasn’t a tricky ascent, more a very gradual drag.

3 I passed through Upton, South Elmsall and South Kirby in quick succession before taking another long drag towards Brierley. A good proportion of this was on the A628 a wide, single-lane road with plenty of space for drivers to pass. I ventured into Royston via South Hiendley and Ryhill, and the Young People’s Hall on Midland Road caught my eye for some reason as I hadn’t encountered a building called that before.

4There were some great views to my right as I passed Barnsley Golf Club, and I enjoyed a brief downhill section before the main climb of the day came on the approach to Woolley. It began as soon as I turned left onto New Road. Taken in isolation it wouldn’t pose much of a challenge, but I crept up it in the blustery conditions with 32 miles of heavy riding already in my legs. Woolley itself was another pretty village but I was staring mostly at my handlebars, distracted by the droplets of rain that were falling from my chin.

5The road had flattened out when I turned right onto Intake Lane and from there it was pretty much downhill all the way back into Wakefield. That drop rose in places and once I’d emerged from the woodland I encountered a mini roundabout which worked very effectively as a speed-calming measure. I’m sure there are some impressive Strava times down Stoney Lane, but I took my time as the road gradually got busier, and by the time I emerged onto Barnsley Road the traffic was at a standstill. Whilst frustrating for drivers this is generally good news for cyclists, and I picked my way through it before arriving back at base and changing into some warm and dry clothes.

Looking back, there was barely a flat metre of road, and while it lacked the larger climbs that can be found in other parts of the county, the successive peaks and troughs did have a cumulative effect and I certainly felt it once I’d finished.

Difficulty Rating: HHHHH

Time: 2 hours 34 minutes (at 15mph average speed)

Distance: 38.5 miles (62km)

Parking: Pay and display on Thornes Lane. Grid Ref: SE 33646 20163

Toilets: Located in The Hepworth Wakefield

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