Posted on Aug 18, 2015 at 13:19 PM
If you want to go out on a big bike ride for the day, and by the day we mean up to 24 hours maybe more; the Calderdale Big Dog provides such a challenge. The route exists after 7 local mountain bikers set out to conquer 50 of the best off road climbs in Calderdale. The route covers a 152 miles and climbs a staggering 23,000ft, big numbers in the world of mountain biking. At this point you are probably thinking why would a group of people attempt this? The simple answer was to raise funds for Bipolar UK and obviously complete the challenge of a lifetime. The team rose over £3K for the charity completing the route in 23 hours.
So how hard is the actual route….honestly pretty brutal, due to the route being based on climbs the route very much follows a up and down spiked profile with very little time spent on the flat lands just spinning away. If you are not familiar with the area Calderdale is made up of steep sided valleys that offer some of the best natural mountain biking in the UK.
The route starts and finishes at the Stubbing Wharf Pub, Hebden Bridge and hits the hills pretty much from the off. Spencer Lane a steep cobbled climb offers an early challenge before the route descends to Mytholmroyd. Leaving the village things get pretty tough in the form of Stake Lane a road climb that merges into some real challenging off road terrain. The route continues up the Luddenden Valley before picking off a few climbs around Wainstalls and Ogden. At this point you have covered 30km and its time to descend to Halifax before you climb up to Southowram. The top of this climb offers some fantastic views over Halifax looking up the Calder Valley. The route continues to some tough climbs around Copley that include Copley Wood and the technical and steep Hollas Lane.
As you head south the route heads through Greetland,Holywell Green and Sowood chalking off a number of climbs in the process. Approaching Scammonden the route becomes complex for the first time looping back and forth around the reservoir before moving onto the tricky Fiddle Lane. In the dry you may clear this one with a boat load of luck but I bet for many you will be off and pushing.
Rishworth and the Ripponden Valley provide the next test with some cheeky steep little digs before you head to the more rural location of Cragg Vale. The climb out of the village is long but the terrain is kind, appreciate this moment as Todmorden provides a true challenge of climbing and mental toughness. The pain begins as you descend the packhorse trail from Withens Gate to simply turn around and head back up the cobbled wall. The pattern of cobbles continues as you pick off a few climbs that feature on the Mary Towneley Loop.
As you leave Todmorden the route heads to its most rural location. Hugging the hills above Walsden along Long Causeway is followed by the climb of Flower Scar Road. Flower Scar Road offers a reward in the form of a long descent to Cornholme before climbing up one of the steepest roads in Calderdale, Pudsey Road. To add disappointment, this climb does not qualify as an off road climb.
At the summit of Pudsey Road 156km have been ridden and there are still plenty of hills on offer. The challenge continues as you begin the climb of Widdop Reservoir to Gorple Gate, referred to by locals with a less affectionate name. Don’t let this climb confuse you the terrain over the dam wall and beyond is easy before the climb ramps up on loose terrain.
Welcome to the Calder Valley between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, this section of the route is tough climbing one side of the valley and then the other. You eventually escape after doing battle with Duke Street and London Road as you head on to tackle the Ragley Collection. The Ragley Collection is made up of 3 climbs situated North West of Hebden Bridge. The long climb up the woodland is the easy one of the three with the climb to Popples and Hepstonstall having more of a sting in the tail. The Ragley climbs traverse nicely into Hardcastle Crags as the end of this epic mountain bike ride is near. The Calderdale Big Dog ends descending the same climb you and your bike first completed hours, maybe a day before.
Realistically not many people are going to attempt this ride in one go, think that is best left for the extreme and crazy few of the mountain bike community. However the route could be ridden over a number of days or simply pick a section and enjoy what Calderdale has to offer.