Monday, 24 June 2013

Norwood Edge

It seemed such a simple plan; get up early, drive for half an hour from Bradley to the Norwood Edge climb, ride up the hill then be back in time for breakfast and take the rest of the day off. I figured that me, my dad and the dog could do with a day off from slogging around the countryside in hot weather and the nearby town of Skipton looked like an interesting place to spend a few hours

Simple plans however don’t always work out. Firstly I managed to get to Otley OK but my sat nav didn’t recognise the village of Farnley that I was aiming for. It turns out Farnley is more of a little hamlet than a village and whilst it shows up on Maps Tom Tom doesn’t believe it exists and so I went sailing down the road in entirely the wrong direction. I did eventually end up at a reservoir but it was clearly the wrong one. It was time to ditch the crap nav and rely on old fashioned road signs and a road atlas to retrace my steps to the junction I should have turned into. I finally ended up on a road that looked like it was the right one after a frustrating drive down some narrow lanes I could have easily avoided.

Referring to the little black book of pain and its route description confirmed that after a wasted 20 minutes I had indeed found the correct bit of road so I pulled off into a forestry commission car park at the summit of the climb, put the bike together and descended to the start.

The first thing that struck me as I started my ride was how busy the road was. It doesn’t come across in the accompanying video but there were a lot of aggregate trucks thundering up and down Norwood Edge. After a couple of days of riding on quite rural lanes it was a bit of a shock to the system. The second thing that struck me as I started to ride back up to the car was just how much of shock to my system the climb was proving to be. After two decent days on the bike it seems Norwood Edge was the bit of road where my body decided it had earned a break from all this cycling nonsense and no matter how hard I tried it was a struggle to get on top of the gears and establish a decent pace. Thankfully it was the only ride I intended to tackle that day as I was clearly trying to ride a bike with somebody elses legs and whoever they are they had obviously pedalled a bike uphill before.


Finding yourself pedalling squares before you have even reached the steep part of a climb is pretty depressing and the ride up Norwood Edge was a joyless grind to the top. As the gradient eased towards the summit I was able to recover a little bit but I really should have been pressing on and riding much harder. I’m fully prepared to admit that I’m not the fastest rider in the world but I had hoped for a better performance on a 5/10 rated climb. Pulling into the little car park at the top I noticed a nice piece of singletrack trail snaking towards the tree line and I thought about how much more fun I could have had riding that instead. Still, I had another of the climbs ticked off the list and the rest of the day to relax so I guess it had been a productive morning after all.

The ride I would rather have done was snaking through the forest. Another time maybe

After getting back to Bradley and having breakfast it was off to Skipton for a wander around and lunch. Skipton is quite a nice town with a prosperous feel to it. The market and shops were really drawing in the crowds and the place seemed to be full of large elderly Northern women in garish clothes picking through the contents of the numerous market stalls. It was actually quite nice to be a tourist for the afternoon and take in the sights of Skipton including a nice lunch outside the Castle Inn. The following day would see me taking on a couple of pretty fierce climbs so the rest was much needed. I could only hope that my legs would decide to start working properly before I took on Park Rash.

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