In our new series we look at our writers and friends favourite rides and routes around the UK and worldwide, first up is Fred Bamforth.
Oldham-Mottram-Glossop-Snake Pass- Strines-Holmfirth-Saddleworth Moor-Oldham
The Maxim ‘Quality not Quantity’ is often over used, but in cycling terms a good ride in hilly terrain can very quickly prove it….
Oldham is set within the foothills of the Pennines and over the years has been an amazing base for rides in the Saddleworth area, a hidden gem with a myriad of routes and styles of climbs that means you can never get bored.
In the modern era of cycling numbers matter so long climbs that offer ‘meters gained’ appeal to the climbers out there. One of my fave rides delivers in this respect, with long climbs, steep climbs and some amazing scenery.
Heading South-east from Oldham gentle undulations give way to the day’s first long climb from Stalybridge to Mottram Cutting, providing a great warm up for what is to come later. Within the cutting is a retaining wall where a ‘fossilised frog’ was found and is marked, so as you begin the gentle descent to Mottram village try to spot it on your left!
The road here goes downhill for a few miles, but in traffic, this means that once you’ve got towards Glossop following the A57 on the flat valley road the glory of hitting the base of the Snake pass is all the better. One of the classic northern climbs and a staple of the legendary old Tour of the Peak race the Snake delivers the challenge that its reputation has built over the decades.
What goes up must come down, and how! The twists and turns as you cross from Derbyshire into Yorkshire are what cyclists dream of and as you skirt the edge of Ladybower reservoir (of Dambusters fame) you begin to rise again before turning left onto Strines Moor. This next section of road gives a roller coaster reversing some of the route that le Tour de Yorkshire took. With steep descents and equally steep climbs, this is a test for you and your bike, good braking and swift gear changes are needed to ensure a smooth passage through this section.
Arriving at the A616 after this rural fairly quiet piece of road can be a shock as the next few miles heading North can be very busy with traffic, once past the Flouch roundabout and back into the lanes towards Holmfirth sees less vehicles and some splendid terrain.
After passing though Holmfirth and heading west on the A635 the climb over Saddleworth Moor beckons to its lofty height on the ‘Isle o’Skye’ road. This is usually a gritty head/cross wind fest but the sense of achievement of cresting the lip of the summit and dropping into Saddleworth towards Greenfield, and seeing the amazing view down the Chew Valley and over Dovestones Reservoir is something you will never tire of.
After some of the monster climbs the day has already thrown at you the mere couple of miles climbing out from Greenfield over Lydgate back towards Oldham on the A669 will not faze you, giving one last classic view over the Cheshire Plain and Manchester as you look down from this last big rise and the roll back in.
If you’ve got a favourite ride you’d like to share with us please get in touch.
Spin part two. The reviews…
Ok. So “Spin” the show, was spun into something a tad more than it ought to have been. I’m saying no more about the show, but nothing is completely bad and in amongst some very quirky stuff, were some very interesting products indeed and what follows is a concise (for me) look at the best and the noteworthy if only…
Jivr (Jiver) was the first exhibit we saw and it definitely has the WOW factor. Yes, I said an electric bike has the Wow factor. It is a folder that packs down into a size as compact as a Brompton (yes, I know nothing folds like a Brompton…until this) up and back down again in 22 seconds… and that was me at my first attempt. Martin Piatkowski, its designer and head of the company can do it in about 18.
It is light too at a mere 10 Kilos, which when you consider that it houses a motor, a battery and a chain free drive system, that is pretty amazing. The company claim a top speed on its motor of 25 km/h which is governed to make it legal in the company’s widening market place. Jivr also clocked in at 30KM on one charge, which if you only use the motor to arrive at work without needing to change your sweaty shirt because you’ve been climbing hills, will do you just fine. Pedal the remainder or indeed all of your journey although, because of its direct drive (hidden in the single beam of 7005 aluminium) peddling looks odd….no chain rings.
A fast nimble little folding electric bike that is stylish (my partner Carol wants one) light enough and looks amazing, make this a serious contender to Brompton. Yes its more expensive, has a two hour reachable battery and high tech motor and drive system on board. But if you’re after a commuter for on and off the train and you’d like the extra help of a motor to help with your briefcase etc, then its very well worth a look. If you can push the boat out to £1,200 plus for a Brompton, then I would suggest that the hike up to 2K must be in you remit. Especially when you take into account their unique way of selling this brilliantly crowd funded initiative. Jivr will place 70 hand made bikes per month on the market. Getting one initially works like this; pay £99 deposit refundable in 48 hours if you change your mind. You then go on the waiting list. Each month the waiting list members will be given the opportunity of getting their machine on a first come first served basis. Pay your balance and away you go.
So do you remember just a few weeks ago I brought you the news that our writer Heather Bamforth had been shortlisted for the #BeAGameChanger Women’s Sport Trust – Ambassador of Women’s Sport Award? Well the talented lady has only gone and beaten some formidable talent to the final (Judy Murray being one well know name who has fallen by the wayside). Heather will line up against two very well respected women; Ebony Rainford-Brent (cricketer) and Maureen McGonigle (Scottish Women in Sport advocate) for the final.
But lets not sit back… Heather needs all the support we can muster in the cycling community from both men and women to enable her to lift the trophy to represent all cyclists. So please take two seconds to drop by the Women’s Trust website and cast a well deserved vote in Heather’s direction. We can do this!
If my nagging hasn’t persuaded you here is a bit more about Heather:
Heather Bamforth has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to increase the number of opportunities for women in competitive cycling, and has done so as a volunteer in her spare time.
She joined the Cyclingshorts.cc writing team in 2012 where she actively promotes women’s cycling, and the inaugural North West women’s series in 2013, which featured groundbreaking grassroots road racing for women, this was Heather’s brainchild.
In 2014, along with three others Heather established The Racing Chance Foundation, a registered charity which provides women with a pathway in competitive cycling from novice to elite level.
Racing Chance has already coached over 200 women and inspired similar series across the UK that have resulted in British Cycling seeing an increase in female membership, with female racing licences increasing from 800 in 2012 to over 1,500 in 2015.
Heather spends an enormous amount of time helping to get women cycling by running training rides, with training sessions on closed circuits to help novices build confidence and skills before venturing onto the roads, along with events which are suitable for women who want to try road racing for the first time.
During the day Heather has a full time career, working in Restructuring Services for Mazars LLP, an international accountancy and business advisory firm.
About the Women’s Sports Trust:
Women’s Sports Trust are a charity that identifies and promotes a diverse range of role models, they find ways to shift the funding landscape for women’s sport and increase the percentage and quality of media coverage women receive.
While I’ve got your ear cycling feature in the following categories as finalists. Please give them a vote too…
Sporting Role Model – Individual – Helen Wyman
Sponsor Partnership of the Year – Queensway Print/Drops Cycling Team
Inspiring Initative – National Award – Aviva Women’s Tour
Inspiring Initiate Award Local/Grassroots – Abergavenny Road Club
Established in 2013, a Northern-Irish based start up company called See.Sense, Kickstarter funded ICON intelligent lights.
I tested the rear ICON light which has two 95 lumen CREE LEDs and retails at £64.99.
The box contained 2 x rubber mounts, USB cable, the light and a simple, clear user guide.
The set of front and rear is £119.99 and the 30% brighter ICON+ is also available at £149.99 for the set.
ICON is primarily designed as a ‘to be seen’ light, giving up to 270 degrees of side visibility. This is ideal in urban environments. The front ICON has twin LED’s, one with a focused beam, and one with a dispersed beam. According to See.Sense 80% of accidents happen in daylight and the ICON is certainly bright enough to be visible in daylight.
So what is so clever about it…..?
Within 2 minutes of opening the package I had downloaded the app and connected the light with my iphone via Bluetooth. The app allows you to:
- Check your battery level
- Change from flashing light to constant
- Customise your lights to optimise your brightness/run-time using a simple slider
- Control multiple lights at once
- Set auto-on/off, which automatically turns off your light after 3 minutes of inactivity, or if you walk more than 3 metres from your light
- Turn on theft alert, the light will then send you an alert if anything or anyone disturbs your bike to a range of up to 15 metres
- Turn on crash alert, if you have a crash, ICON knows and will send a text to your nominated contact for help, which you can cancel if you are ok
- Download firmware and application updates as new features become available
The battery life is up to 15 hours (5hr charge) on flashing mode and on the light itself there is a mini LED to indicate battery level, green for 75%+ and red for less than 25%. The app gives a more accurate battery level and you can adjust the brightness of your light using the app, so it’s easy to maximise your battery life if you’re running low.
I am not sure I would ever adjust brightness/flashing with app myself, but it was fun initially dazzling the family!
See.Sense say the theft detection is ideal for the coffee stop, but would I leave my bike locked outside cafe with a £120 of lights still attached? And perhaps the alarm should be on the light, not the phone to scare away the thief? Having said that it worked and I did indeed get the alert when the light was moved.
I like the crash alert feature as I often ride alone, but the most impressive thing about the light is that it adapts to its environment, increasing its brightness and flash rate to keep you more visible in riskier situations such as junctions, roundabouts, filtering in traffic and to approaching car headlights. If you are in an urban setting, where there is a higher level of ambient lighting from street lighting and approaching cars at night, ICON will automatically adjust to be less bright. It is the only light in the world that can react to road junctions, filtering traffic, roundabouts and car headlights.
Even more intelligent is the fact that ICON will soon monitor your environment. It can monitor road surfaces, crashes, near-miss events, light levels, temperature levels and routes taken. With your permission data will be uploaded to the cloud and aggregated data can then be shared with councils to provide information for cycling infrastructure provision, pothole repairs and identify hot spot areas where there are a high frequency of ‘near-miss’ events and crashes.
Philip McAleese, CEO of See.Sense said, “It is our hope that ICON will help to ignite a cycling revolution. Not only does ICON enhance the cycling experience through improved safety and convenience, it also has the potential to empower cyclists to influence their cities through the use of highly accurate, crowd-sourced data. This can create smarter and better cities for everyone.”
It comes with a 12 month warranty and is weather sealed, the website actually shows it being dropped in a jug of water and mine has been soaked several times in winter rain and road spray with no adverse effects.
However after about 6 rides the on/off button became somewhat intermittent requiring a really hard press at an angle to switch the light on as if something is perhaps loose or out of alignment behind it.
The light itself is bulky and doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal of some of the other lights on the market; one rider even went so far as to call it ‘ugly’.
Overall it is bright, functional and easy to fit. It is certainly visible and I even received a couple of complaints about how bright it is! Gadget lovers will like the app and although I hope I never need it, I feel reassured by the crash alert. It will be interesting to see how much data See.Sense is able to collect in the future and how this is used, anything that improves the cycling infrastructure and safety must be a good thing.
Watch this space… Visit seesense.cc website.