Report: Challenging Times Reliability Ride


Report on Lune Racing Cycling Club’s Coal Road Challenge, a 67 mile reliability ride which is fast becoming a regular fixture in the North West cycling calendar.

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The focus of the ride is the climb of 500m road in the Western Dales. This was on the route between Dent and Kirkby Stephen market and was regularly traversed by pack-horse trains. It also served the colliery above Garsdale and was known locally as The Coal Road.

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However such a high road can be challenging in winter, as BC Commisaire Gordon Helme and I were reminded when we drove round to check the route before the event. In some places, ice hard snow covered the road. It was obviously too risky to use on the day. We had had to provide an alternative route 3 years earlier when similar circumstances prevailed.

This involved the fast ride down to Sedbergh followed by turning into Dentdale to rejoin the original route at the bottom of the steep climb to Barbondale. This added about 3 miles to the ride but avoided the big snowy climb. The 97 riders chose one of 3 graded groups to suit their level of fitness. Group S1 starting at 8-30 was aimed at older or those wanting a more steady pace. S2 30 minutes later was for younger or sportive rides. The S3s, the racers, were a further 20 minutes behind.

The route via Ingleton and Hawes crossed the 3 Peaks area before turning to Garsdale Head and the halfway control. Here bottles were recharged and a selection of gels and energy bars were provided by sponsor

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Having to abandon the climb of The Coal Road, the riders continued to Sedbergh before tackling the climb to Barbon. The return route via Kirkby Lonsdale, Arkholme and Hornby led to the final flat miles down the Lune Valley back to Bull Beck. Most riders were back within a period of an hour to be presented with their certificate by 7 year old Katie Greenwood and to regale each other with details of their ride.

As ever, in cycling, such an event would be impossible without a team of hardworking helpers, generous sponsors and enthusiastic riders.

Organiser: Brian Greenwood

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