Richard Handley was the unsung hero of Rapha Condor JLT's Tour of Korea campaign. He was instrumental in the defence of his teammate Mike Cuming's yellow jersey in the 2013 race. Hailing from Lancashire, roughly twenty miles south of Wigan. His 90 mile route enters into the hidden gem that is the West Pennine Moors.
"This is one of my favourite rides, it is fairly long and hilly so I only do it a couple times a year, out of season, just to chill out and ride my bike." The Moors is a 90 square-mile area of wild, unspoilt countryside that is a perfect contrast to the nearby industrial towns of Bolton, Burnley and Rochdale.
Passing numerous reservoirs, historic villages and dense woodland, the first spectacular view comes after twenty miles as you pass near to the village of Darwen. Two impressive climbs follow; the first out of the Rossendale Valley and a second five mile ascent of the Long Causeway, an ascent that opens up views of the Upper Calder Valley a region that inspired writers Ted Hughes and Emily Bronte.
At the bottom of the Calder valley lie the bohemian streets of Hebden Bridge, an ideal place to stop and grab a well earned cake or some light lunch before tackling the next major ascent, a six mile climb out of the valley through picturesque heather moorland. From Hebden Bridge the loop heads back from West Yorkshire borders toward Rochdale and across the West Pennine Moors to Wigan.
Matchmoor Lane Climb
Length: 2.10 miles
Elevation gain: 640 ft
Climb begins on Church Street after the mini roundabout and continues left onto George's Lane out of Horwich and onto very rural Matchmoor Lane.
Length: 5.7 miles
Elevation: 841 ft
Beginning when you turn off the Burnley Road onto Mount Lane toward Mereclough, after the the Long Causeway levels out continue climbing passing a white public house, The Sportmans Arms. The climb finishes at the junction with Eastwood Road.
Length: 5.7 miles
Elevation gain: 939ft
The climb begins after passing through the village of Mytholmroyd as the road bears right on Cragg Road. The climb passes the villages of Cragg and Cragg Vale. The finish is at the T-junction joining the A58 next to the expansive reservoir
Cafe Stop: Saker Organic Bakery - "try the Peppermint Brownie"
30 Marketing Street
Lunch Stop: Mooch Cafe Bar - "laid back cafe, good for lunches, salads and vegetarian/vegan friendly"
24 Market Street