Think Flanders and then think make it harder: that's Ronde van Oost Lancashire, a ride that was born out of one man's frustration about not being able to ride the classic Flanders sportive one year, so he made his own version of it.
On Saturday, 3rd April, somewhere between 60 and 70 hardened northeners gathered for the start of Alan Dorrington's Ronde van Oost Lancashire (RVOL). With rain forecast the ride had all the hallmarks of a classic Belgian ride.
I set off in a group with Al himself, Dave Haygarth and one or two more familiar cyclo-cross faces. Almost immediately we were climbing with Dave, setting a high tempo up at the front. That was the order of the day. 50 tough miles ensued with cobbled wall after wall in our path. The pass across the top of the Pennine Way greeted us with stunning views across the countryside, followed by a descent into Hebden Bridge so steep that it hurts your neck to look up!
What goes down must come up, and the cobbled ascent out of Hebden was so severe that riders were literally sprawled all over the stones, struggling to get up it.
In the final few miles there was no let up and the scenery evolved from luscious green countryside to urban backstreets, harking back to the developing industrial era of the nineteen hundreds. Ultra-steep cobbles ensued and we were done; smoked! 1700m climbing in 50miles over three and a half hours.
The final preparation from our ride next weekend in Hell. Ta, Ben.
Thank you to Alan Dorrington (his blog is here) for organising a tough, well thought out route (for free), and thank you to the those who manned the free cake stand. You can read a full write up with more images in next month's Cycling Active magazine.
Garmin Data can be found at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/77150365.