Friday, 8 April 2016

Friday 57 Miles Vaguely in the Shape of Italy by Lewis Clegg

The fact that it was the last weekday off of the Easter Holiday (yeah I know, life’s hard) was all the motivation I needed to get a few miles under my belt – that and the favourable forecast of course. Setting off at around quarter past nine while the sun was shining I knew I wanted to head south, in the general direction of Penistone, but with no particular route in mind. I had to remember to go steady for the first hour or two as I often find that if I go out alone I tire myself out too soon and end up turning back before I had planned to. I headed down the A640 to Huddersfield Ring Road and then got spat out onto the A629 towards Penistone. The road surface is generally good and wide on this road out of town and so I stayed on it for a while, enjoying the easy speed, before turning left at Highburton.

Somewhere along the line yesterday I had decided to bite a bit of my inner cheek off while eating and so this morning I entertained myself by endlessly waggling my tongue around the remaining dangling bit of flesh.  A small insight into the focussed and pin-sharp mind of the cyclist.

It was easy riding through along Huddersfield Road through Kirkburton and Shelley, save for one incident where a Yodel ('We love Cyclists') delivery driver opened her van door about a second before i came past, and I eventually turned right on the road from Lower to Upper Cumberworth until accidentally finding my way back onto the A629. I passed a sign for a Quaker Visitor Centre, but hungry for Porridge though I was, I pressed on. In my sights ahead was a cyclist and this was when I decided to ride a little less sedately for a while.

After passing him up a hill I wanted to make sure he wouldn’t be able to find me again so I took a left turn in the direction of Cawthorne and inhaled my free energy bar I’d got from the London Bike Show (“Etixx Energy - now with added Magnesium” – well thank goodness for that). On the left across the valley was an old hall, resplendent in the Sunshine and so I went to investigate, it turned out to be Cannon Hall and there was a large car park full of children and ice cream vans and parking attendants so I carried on past it on country roads to High Hoyland before descending into Darton.
I don’t have a Garmin and mostly enjoy heading off in whatever direction I fancy and discovering new roads that way, it means I get fairly good at knowing good roads for cycling, but it can also mean that I spend a mile going up a farm track until I reach a confused looking cow in a field. At Darton I was presented with a choice of heading back towards Huddersfield on the A637 or going straight on through to some Barnsley suburb and hopefully turning left at some point and heading north until I could see Emley Moor Tower on my port bow. I took the latter option and saw a man who looked remarkably like Gordon Strachan, taking his shopping for a walk. Up a hill I found a left turn and duly took it, and then followed the road through a housing estate and back down a hill and saw Gordon again, I’d hoped it was some glitch in the matrix but alas not, I’d just done a pointless loop. Nice equaliser by team Garmin.

So back onto the A637 I went and then past the Sculpture Park and through Flockton. Stopping at a roadside café somewhere for a bacon and egg butty. To add a bit extra I headed off down towards Ravensthorpe and onto the Spen Valley Greenway until I couldn’t take any more slowing down for pedestrians with headphones on and instead joined some B road into Heckmondwike. Then it was a case of heading back through Roberttown and past the Spen Valley High School (tagline ‘this is a good school') and back to Brighouse for the final stretch.

I’d like to thank my bike for being in one of its better moods, didn’t hear a peep out of it all day. Also to JK, you’d mentioned you wanted more write ups for the blog – changed your mind?



  1. Well done that man, a pleasant sojourn on the edges of "Punishment Park"

  2. A very funny and interesting report! Thanks Lewis


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