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July 21, 2021

UK's Toughest Group Ride - Calderdale

After 7 rides from yorkshire to exmoor, it was time to close out our summer of steep tour of the uk's toughest group rides in calderdale, west yorkshire. as our nutrition partners ote sports are based in the area, it was only fair to let them plan the route for the final ride of the summer.

and what a route they planned. it had everything. long climbs, short steep leg breakers, wide open vistas, lakes, reservoirs, and for the first time on our tour - cobbles.

The day began in in Brighouse, at the excellent Good Karma Coffee House. An early espresso in already baking hot temperatures gave us the caffeine kick we needed, after a tough ride in the Cotswoldsyesterday.

The ride was also a chance to bring together many of our partners for the event, with the OTE Sports squad taking part in the ride, as well as our skincare partners Veloskin riding the route with us.

The ride ahead was to be one of the toughest of the summer. Just over 100km with almost 2700m of elevation. With temperatures of over 20c at 9am, we had a hot day ahead of us.

As has become common on our group rides, the warm up lasted less than 1km before we hit the first ascent. Clifton Climb. 2.8km at almost 4%. Almost immediately the groups split slightly as riders found their rhythm, before we regrouped on the descent.

After a punishing early ascent of Swales Moor - 1.5km at over 10%, it was time to begin preparing for the one climb we had all feared ahead of the ride. Shibden Wall. A brutal, cobbled climb which was tackled in the Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire. Whilst the pros made the cobbles look flat, today, we all suffered in the heat.

The climb itself isn't pretty, doesn't have incredible mountain views to take you mind off the pain, nor does it have any sense of grandeur about it. It's just steep, cobbled, and very, very hard. Less than 1km long, it averages almost 15% and maxes out at over 20%, right on the sharp bend towards the top.

It was enough to bring more than one rider to dismount and walk. However there were also some impressive times, with Max from OTE going up in just over 5 minutes, and BoC Ops Manager John Bowman in just under 5.30.

Once we'd regrouped at the top of 'the wall' - it was time to head north into the moors, with several short but undulating ascents taking us up and over Warely Moor Reservoir. The descent of which was superb. New tarmac made the descent fast, flowing and super fun.

Once at the bottom it was time to head south back towards town, with a fairly long ascent of Cock Hill. Once over this, we had the longest and fastest descent of the day into the town of Hebden Bridge. A superb descent, with wide open views of the moors as we dropped back down to earth, and straight into another punishing climb.

A sharp left hander at the foot of the descent took us up Raw Lane. 1.72km at almost 10%, with max gradients over 15%. By now, bidons were getting low and the heat was simply baking hot. The OTE feed station being a welcome sight in the Mytholmroyd area of west Yorks, as we stocked up on water, electrolytes and Anytime Bars and Gels.

The 2nd half of the route was all about survival, with temperatures continuing to soar and bodies perspiring, we faced another 1300m of elevation in the final half of the ride.  

Finally, just after 2pm we arrived back at Good Karma Coffee House for iced lates and many, many bidons of water to begin the rehydration process. The salty jerseys on show from all riders showing just how hot the day was.

A final thank you to each and every rider for taking part in our Summer of Steep Group Rides. Each ride was special, each ride was hard, but everyone came together in the spirit we planned for these rides.

TOGETHER WE CLIMB.

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