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.