I solely race cyclocross, meaning that the Spring is my off season, a time for long rides and building strength, a time to take things in and reflect. This year the start of #30daysofbiking coincided with an ‘off’ week, no rides in the plan, the perfect opportunity to do something different.
I’ve not long moved to the South Pennines and I’ve seen the brooding Stoodley Pike from passing valley trains, looming large over off-road runs and silently watching as we thrashed past on last weekend’s Clifcross. With clear skies, no wind and rising temperatures I decided that today I’d finally visit the Pike and do it in style on the ‘cross bike.
You can access this imposing monument to Napoleon’s Waterloo defeat via a criss-crossing network of bridleways and footpaths, it’s not exactly easy but nearly all rideable. Today however I decided that I’d go straight up the valley side, a bit more challenging on two wheels. I rode the short distance to where the footpaths rise up from Hebden Bridge, dismounted, swung the bike onto my shoulder and tramped up through the woods, boggy underfoot from recent rain but eagerly promising with green shoots a plenty.
The trees slowly opened out to flatter countryside and fields full of expectant sheep. Taking care not to spook the mothers-to-be I wheeled my bike, just the click, click, click of the freewheel disturbing the flock before I joined the bridleway for the rocky ride up to the Pike. Climbing through the patchwork of fields, farmyards and finally up onto the moors, it was a gentle and pleasant ride, dismounting for the stiles and steeper parts of the route, drinking everything in as I rode.
The evening sun illuminated the valley and rolling tops, and my only company was silence – perhaps a perfect short, rewarding ride. Sadly no phone charge meant no photos from my hilltop goal, but doing something different was a great start to what will hopefully be a varied and fulfilling 30 days on (and off) the bike.