Monday, 21 April 2014

Lune Coal Road Ride

Starting in Lancashire and looping over to the Yorkshire Dales and then back via Cumbria, this sixty-five mile ride was one of the best I've ever ridden.  With rolling countryside, killer climbs, hidden villages and stunning scenery (see picture), it truly was four hours in the saddle well spent.

Without the prompt of Toby Cummins who had travelled North to spend the weekend at his in-laws and had offered an invite to join him and friend Deborah on the route, I'd never have got to discover this hidden gem of a ride called the 'Lune Coal Road Challenge.'

The Only Way Is Up

Setting off into a tough headwind which remained with us for much of the thirty miles as we headed East, the route steadily climbs for 25 miles, where you then get a break before hitting the big climb of the day called 'Garsdale Head' which is a steep climb around the 38 mile mark.  

222M high and 3.8km long, it's one of those where you just have to push the pedals through, with 20% gradients at points. It's one of the climbs that features in Simon Warrens book - 'The 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs'.  This was definitely the hardest hill of the day for me and I hit my heart rate max of 185bpm as I crested the top!

Route Profile for Lune Coal Road Challenge
It was well worth the pain as the descent from the other side was stunning.  You had to be on the brakes pretty much the whole way down as the slingshot speed was ridiculous, if you like descending fast, you'd love it.  There were some switchbacks where you could get caught out near the bottom but for the thrill lovers it was awesome.  I had carbon 50mm wheels on so had to take it easy in the winds, still managed 38mph with brakes on though!

Climb number two was heading out of the village of Dent around the 45M mark, called 'Barbondale' which was profile wise similar to Garsdale head but not quite as long.  The upside of that climb was a piece of road which dropped down into a valley, literally straight where you could just hit big speed.  As you can see from the route profile above, it was about five to six miles long and exhilarating to fly down after a tough couple of climbs.
Cobbled main street of Dent

 With the wind on our backs we pushed on to a lovely cafe in Kirkby Lonsdale, which fellow rider - Debbie - had up her sleeve, which had a good selection of hot food, cakes and more importantly - tea!  Pretty place and very much on the tourist route, very busy.  Heading back towards the start point in Caton, we picked the pace up and averaged around 20mph for the five miles running in, which was thoroughly enjoyable.
Stunning views on the Yorkshire Dales
Only an hour away from Manchester, this was really worth the drive up to ride.  Although windy, the scenery, roads and climbs just made for a perfect recipe of cycling.  Arriving back, the distance was 65 miles with just short of 5K ascent, giving a ride ascent ratio of 76 which is 'hilly/hard.'

June brings some big rides in the diary, so hard days with hilly profiles are a pre-requisite of building fitness and strength.  As my training builds I'll be doing hilly rides on a Saturday and flatter rides on a Sunday.  With the long Easter holiday here in the UK, it's meant a decent training block of 170 miles (272KM) with 7.5K of ascent (2300M).

You can find the link to the route here.  Thanks to Toby for the invite and pictures, plus Debbie for the route and cafe.  My Garmin data you can see here.

1 comment:

  1. I think the climb you're calling Garsdale Head is more commonly known locally as the Coal Road - Garsdale Head is the hamlet at the bottom where the station (Garsdale) is. It's on a couple of great sportives - both the Etape du Dales and the White Rose Classic go over there.