Ride Report - Emley Moor
I promised ups and downs, but never glorious weather. Nine hardy souls turned up at HQ for the alternative to the Big Red Ride which took us to see the UK’s largest freestanding structure via an undulating route which challenged but never bested.
Our 90km route started with a left turn onto Cow Rakes Lane and provided a hint as to what was to come further into the ride as we headed over to Greasborough for the first climb of the day up Stubbin Road, a leg warming 5% average gradient over a kilometre.
Heading though Wentworth and Harley (just avoiding a spooked horse) we made our way up to Hoyland Common and over to Birdwell where we took a good look at Lowe Lane and said ‘not today thank you’ and hit a right turn up the much gentler Gilroyd Lane and saved the legs for the climbs to come.
Dodworth, Silkstone and Cawthorne came next before the toughest climb of the day past Cannon Hall Farm, an apparent Category 4 climb (according to Strava) with an average gradient of 4% over a very long 2.4km. It’s a tricky little blighter with ramps at some points up at around 11% to 12%, there is a nice descent half way through which brings the overall average right down but then snakes its way back up to High Hoyland (wonder how it got that name), where on a clear day I imagine there will be some great views to reward the efforts. However, as it was a miserable drizzly day (up to this point) we had to make do with the watered-down version.
The next big ascent came with Hagg Hill, allegedly a Cat 3 climb in its entirety, being an average 4% over 4.5km which took us up to the café stop and the opportunity for a little sightseeing.
Unfortunately as we left the café, the heavens decided to open in anger which made for a very cold, wet and miserable last 40 odd kilometres back home. The good news was that most of the climbing had been done, however some sharp descents in the pouring rain were taken a little more carefully than normal and I for one was jealous of the stopping power of those with disc brakes. We all got our heads down and eventually once back within the Rotherham boundary began to split up as shorter routes home were calculated.
The Thorncliffe Farm Shop – a lovely little spot which was somewhat full inside when we arrived as a result of people taking refuge from the weather. We sat in a covered area outside which wasn’t ideal but would be fantastic in the summer months as the fayre on offer was top notch… just ask Joe ‘Two Sausage Rolls’ Strike who would heartily recommend their, er, sausage rolls.
Given the hilly nature of the route, combined with the terrible weather conditions, sticking together was always going to be difficult but we made the best of the situation. Shout out to Jonny who took more than his fair share of turns on the front, even if it was to avoid a Belgian Shower from those club riders without mudguards!
As miserable as it seemed at the time I think this is a route that should be revisited again later in the year. It’s fairly tough in places but not stupid, the café is top notch and the route after the stop should be nice and quick as predominantly flat or downhill.
Next ride is the Introduction to Club Riding on the 11th March.