Here we take a look at some of the climbs that feature on the Skylark Sportive. Set in the heart of the South Pennines, the Skylark was always bound to include lots of ups and downs. Here’s our selection of the major ups on the routes and our rating of their difficulty for length, steepness and technical challenge (tight corners, exposure to weather & road surface)
Shore New Road – 2.5km at 10%
A remarkable climb. Not exceptionally long, but narrow and with most of the steepest sections coming on the tight corners. A ridge section near the bottom is a highlight, with views on all sides. Very difficult to establish a rhythm given the constant changes of gradient, direction and exposure to the wind. Distracting views too!
Cragg Vale – 8.1km at 4%.
This beautiful climb is, at over 8km, the longest continuous road climb in England. Not especially steep, its challenge lies in its length and the fact that it faces into the prevailing winds. The scenic changes from river valley at the bottom to bleak heather moor at the top are breathtaking. And, thanks to one of the highest reservoirs in the UK, waves often break over the road at the summit on windy days.
Where: 100km route @ 72km The Routes
Ripponden Bank – 1.2km at 9.5%.
Less than 1.5km long, but at a steady 9.5% gradient throughout, Ripponden Bank has got some sting to it. It also featured in the 2014 Tour de France route and was one of the best places to watch the race, close to the hub of Ripponden. This village is well worth exploring and contains a couple of the best pubs and restaurants in the district.
Where: 100km route @ 90km | 50km route @ 40km |The Routes
Ripponden Road, Denshaw – 1.9km at 5.8%.
At the extreme Western end of the route, this climb is on the wide, exposed but quiet A672. At an average grade of just under 6% it’s not a daunting prospect. However, it’s preceded by the steady climb out of Delph and although it pretty much tops out after less than 2km, the climbing actually goes on in fits and starts for at least as far again. If the wind is from the North and East it suddenly becomes a serious slog. Happily, the views opening up on the left hand side are immense, taking in most of the old county of Lancashire almost to the coast. And a tailwind makes it a fun blast!
Where: 100km & 50km routes @ 20km | The Routes