A tough day in the saddle with 3 ascents and descents of Cragg Vale the longest continuous climb in the UK, clinic I left my home at 8am and stayed low in Airedale valley to meet Ben Wood in Keighley, the Garmin was hovering around -5oc with wind chill and the finger ends numbed. A steady climb up through Oxenhope and over the tops and down into Hebden Bridge, the descent was sketchy with ice patches and slippery road surfaces in places. So onto Cragg Vale, something I had only been told about from cycling mates an awesome climb and one that would provide simulation for Ventoux. For me this was a recce to set out a plan to ride this regularly during the build to up Race to Space, with an increasing amount of ascents as our schedule builds towards our July target date.
So off Ben and I went up and up and up in shaded parts were the fingers would go numb once again with the freezing temperatures, then onto a steeper gradient with the heart rate increase the fingers would come back to life, then onto the top and into freezing fog blowing an easterly wind and somehow misting up my Dixon Eyewear glasses. And now back down for a rest on the legs or what I thought would be a rest, but the legs arms and shoulders struggled to rest with the concentration on the uneven road surface and the freezing chill on the face. In the end we were both glad to get off back up again to get the heart rate up and warm up. As we went up a second time we met a large number of other cyclists who were on an organised ride who were finding the climb tough and they were only on it the once, anyway it made for interesting conversation.
After 3 ascents of the Vale we headed for a café stop in Hebden Bridge and then the 6mile climb back over to Oxenhope and on to home. Yorkshire can be harsh in winter and make the training doubly hard, but the sense of achievement is worth while, especially after 86 miles and 6,750ft of ascent.