It was Derek who got me back into cycling in 2013 with an invite to join Fusion CC based out of Dronfield, and throughout my membership he was a regular on the Sunday club runs and the Tuesday chain gang rides, which he described as “cycling at a vomit-inducing pace”, he wasn’t far wrong.
After my second accident and all thosemonths off the bike, naturally we saw less of each other. But recently we resumed our friendship and have started riding together to get more miles in our legs. He’d had an accident a while back which had knocked his confidence, and now prefers to ride on the road with one other person only. So he no longer goes out with Fusion.
This morning we met up on the road between Cutthorpe and Barlow, returned to Barlow and headed up Wilkin Hill to join Grange Lane at Bolehill using the Wilkin Hill climb to discuss the route we’d take, that and Derek’s continual greetings to fellow Barlow residents stood outside their houses, or walkers heading down the lane while we pushed on up it, laboriously. We settled on a circuit that took in the top of Beeley, Darley Dale, Winster, Bakewell, Ashford-on-the-Water, Monsal Head, Longstone, Hassop, Calver, Curbar Gap, Shillito Wood and back into Barlow – a round trip of 40 miles for Derek and 46 miles, door-to-door, for me.
Whilst negotiating Grange Lane and before the top Derek confessed this was his least favourite climb out of Barlow, which brought back memories of a Fusion ride where the leader pushed on up that climb so hard I had severe lower back pain before the 8 mile mark, probably the shortest distance that that has happened to me. Nowadays, I take paracetemol and tramadol before leaving the house, which makes for a much more pleasant ride.
Today, the temperatures were quite low and neither of us had sufficient layers to keep the cold out, although with continued effort we were warming up. Turning right at the top of Grange Lane we carried on along the B6050 a short distance before turning left onto Top Lane, Syda Lane and right onto Longside Road. Further along we descended and went through two sharp bends where I got to test the handling of a new shorter stem I’d had fitted recently, and it worked a dream. My riding position is more comfortable, too.
Once we reached the top of Beeley it was a left onto Beeley Lane, then a right onto Chesterfield Road. Now, it had been my idea to descend into Darley Dale using Sydnope Hill, which has a nasty left bend at the bottom and if you’re not careful it gets very scary as you run wide to get round it. Many a time new riders to the area have had to use the other side of the road to get round it, not good.
Derek had a better idea, so we took a left onto Bents Lane, a single track road with lots of gravel down the middle but totally deserted, and a much kinder descent than Sydnope Hill, which brought us into Darley Hillside past such a quaint little church.
Here we crossed the A6 and took the road up to Winster; this was a long (2.25 mile) steep climb and had us both gasping for breath long before the top. Out the other side of Winster we came to a T junction and turned right instead of left, which meant joining the snarl of traffic into Bakewell on the A6 – not a great idea on a Bank Holiday Monday. Still, we spotted a friend of Derek’s with his family on the pavement so stopped for a quick chat before carrying onto Ashford-on-the-Water.
Another climb up to Monsal Head where we took the right turn down into Longstone and on to Hassop Station, passing the finish line of the Peak Hilly Time Trial I’d ridden a couple of years previously.
I’d hoped we’d stop at the cafe at Calver crossroads, but Derek wanted to stop for a coffee at the top of Curbar Gap, a hill climb used for competition by the University of Sheffield. Steep? Only 20% in places. My legs had had enough by now what with Saturday’s 54 miler, but we made it for a well-deserved Sanpelligreno Orange. Derek, I could tell, thought this was sacrilege, feeling coffee was the traditional drink for cafe stops, but I was just too thirsty!
By the time we left the coffee stop both of us had cooled down and really felt the wind bite into us on the descent to the A621 – it was so cold my shoulder (the good one) was aching quite painfully, but it wasn’t far to go now. Up through Shillito Wood and down Far Lane into Barlow where Jo, Derek’s partner, had laid the table and cooked us bacon & eggs (courtesy of her chickens) laid on a pitta bread base. Delicious!
Having recuperated somewhat I left for home at a very leisurely pace, taking a photo (above) of the fields from the road out of Barlow. And although we had overcast conditions throughout the ride, there wasn’t one drop of rain – result.