300 riders gathered at the Galpharm Stadium for the annual Brian Robinson Challenge. This event has been running since 2007 (previously run as the Kirklees Sportive) and attracts riders from all across the country to take part. The aim of the ride is to provide a challenging but scenic route, which can be enjoyed by a rider in peak condition or someone new to cycling who wishes to complete the course.
The ride is named after Britain’s first Tour de France stage winner who still lives in nearby Mirfield and uses many of the roads he trained on. Brian was one of the first people to be honoured in the British Cycling Hall of Fame.
With a change of HQ this year to the Stadium Health and Fitness Centre (at the famous Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield), the route was slightly shorter at 75 miles, but considered harder by many as the 5 key climbs, including Holme Moss – a regular feature in many cycling events including the Tour of Britain and Leeds Classic over the years, now all follow each other within 25 miles, with only brief, fast descents to recover on.
Riders rolled away bathed in glorious sunshine, led by members of Huddersfield Star Wheelers and escorted by route marshals kindly provided by West Yorkshire Advanced Motorcyclists, a feature well liked by riders for their friendly and reassuring directions on route.
Those riders looking for a work out soon got their wish as a dozen or so riders were at the head of affairs on the long drag pass Scammonden Reservoir, normally a cyclists nightmare due the strong headwinds almost all year round, but today there was little wind and riders could make good time early on before the main climbs. Others chose to enjoy the good weather and make new friends, and a group of 60 riders enjoying making new friends as they made their way across the moors.
The first real climb of the day took riders over the Standedge from Delph, a good climb familiar to many commuters, which was quickly followed by a long descent (being careful to avoid the sheep that like to play in the road) into Marsden, where they faced a short steep climb before the equally steep descent into Meltham (as used in the Meltham 10K).
Meltham is the idea place to refuel/rest if needed before arguably the toughest climb on the route. The climb up Wessenden is brutal even with fresh legs, so steep that the road was once used for the “Murder Mile” race, were athletes raced up the hill (and if daft enough down it the week after). After the climb riders could recover on the long descent in to Holmfirth, home of Last of the Summer Wine, before beginning the long 3 mile climb to the foot of Holme Moss, a hard enough climb in its own right, made worst by the fact you can see Holme Moss rearing up in the distance. The climb split the remaining groups into ones and two, with riders cheered on by a good crowd at the summit.
With the worst of the climbs behind them, riders could enjoy the descent to Woodhead before the drag up the Woodhead Pass. The run in home took riders though Dunford Bridge, Denby Dale (famous for its Pies) before swinging back to home though Emley, Kirkheaton and Bradley, before finishing back at the Stadium.
This year’s profits will be supporting the Dave Rayner Fund and Yorkshire Air Ambulance and also Combat Stress, with the previous rides having so far donated over £21,000 to worthy causes.