30 Days of Biking in the South Pennines

Joining in the fun with #30daysofbiking

The Grand Departs (Day 5)

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How many cyclists does it take to pull a baby grand piano up Cragg Vale? It’s 18, and I saw it happen with my very own peepers!

I delayed my regular training run up and over Cragg Vale and down to Hollingworth Lake and its teeny tiny beach to coincide with ‘The Grand Departs’ the much publicised cycling/arts event which started at lunchtime from nearby Mytholmroyd.

As I rode up the lower part of the climb I saw cyclists of age and type, roadies out on their training runs, recreational cyclists on hybrids, mountain bikers having a break from the mud, families with trailer bikes and a good smattering of tandems. With huge crowds lining the road awaiting the spectacle it was a glimpse into what July might be when stage 2 of the Tour de France traverses as it passes through the South Pennines.


The Grand Depart itself consisted of a custom built articulated ‘bike’ for 18 riders, at the back a trailer with a baby grand piano and pianist in black tie providing the musical accompaniment. A word play on the Tour’s ‘Grand Départ’ this was sport meeting the arts with the community giving their full support and enthusiasm. With the BBC filming proceedings and photographers documenting every note and pedal stroke it was an extraordinary cavalcade, slowing crawling up Britain’s longest climb.


My own ride was the usual slog into a headwind to then get very wet on the tops, cold on the descent to Holingworth before doing it all again in reverse. By the time I’d done my ride the piano peloton had made it just past the 3km mark, it was going to be a long day for them, but in the end they did it.


I rounded off my efforts with a Cheese Pie and a pint – it is an ‘off’ week after all!

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