As Wordsworth wrote in his great long-form poem, The Prelude, “Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be on a bike was very heaven.” We wandered, but far from being lonely as the madding clouds, it was another ABC Centreville social ride, and as readers of these well thumbed web-pages will know, that means wheel-fueled bliss on routes that delight the eye, ravish the senses and knacker your legs up with their high climb to mile rate; all in the company of a mongrel group with the consistency and class of an Aldi remainder bin. But then who doesn’t love an Aldi remainder bin?
Luddenden Dean is a gem of place to ride, run or walk in, as beautiful as anything in the Yorkshire Dales. It does, however, have some notoriously steep lanes, like cobbled Old lane, which Cycling Weekly describes as “… a truly terrifying mixture of slippy, skewiff cobbles and a stupidly steep incline; it demands a flat-out effort just to avoid falling over. Like the most famous cobbles of Europe, it’s exciting to ride in the same way that sprinting on a set of rollers is exciting to ride.” Halifax Lane and Luddenden Bank is also up there on the ‘pig of a climb’ list, along with Stocks lane, both having Hill Climb events on them that have been used for the national championship race. Yeah, we didn’t do any of them.
The well graded and eminently rideable unmade lane that sneaks up by the river at least gets you to the bottom of another of Luddenden’s piggy climbs un-harmed, though the climb up Banks Lane from the bridge below Jerusalem Farm up the east side of the valley sets the record straight with it’s gradient and cobbled section. It gets you, albeit slightly the worse for wear, to the magic of Saltonstall Lane, which contours the valley past the home of Richard Saltonstall Lord Mayor of London in 1597. I read that in a guide to the Calderdale way, so it must be true.
Once round the head of Luddenden Dean a sneakily steep few metres kicks you round on to another unmade lane which takes you back on the other side of the valley, again rideable on a road bike. Can’t beat a bit of rough stuff in my opinion, although there was muttering from the delicate roadie sensibilities in the ranks. Inspired by recent political events (who’d have though it, turkeys actually do vote for Christmas) I simply screamed “Back you dogs, down I tell ye!” which did the trick. Let’s make Centreville great again.
Through Midgely and down the steep descent to Mytholmroyd, there was only a half Cragg between us and Craggies café, though Ed and Jack (soon to be gracing an A ride) used their young legs to good effect, put the hammer down and did a full Cragg and were pleased to do a PB. Mel, Jim, Norman, and Andy were therefore first in the caff, with Nick helping me with a gun-shot-loud rear blowout which was unrepairable: smart-arse off-roader gets punished straight away. I walked the bike up through the fields to Blazing Saddles and bought a new tyre. There are worse places to have a blowout, but then in heaven a bike shop is always there when you need it.