Challenging Course for Road Race Champs
Story posted February 21, 2010; by Larry Hickmott | Event Press Release |
As the snow continues to tumble from the sky during the worst winter for a long time, thoughts of summer and the British Cycling Road Race Championships are perhaps a bit premature but on Saturday, I visited the course for the biggest single day British race of the season to take a look at the course for the Men's and Women's championships.
The climb from the cattle grid after the climb out of Barley sees British Cycling president Brian Cookson (left) and Chris Boardman (in black) tackle one of the many challenges on the course.
There also in Roughlee was British Cycling’s President, Brian Cookson, and one of Britain’s all time great racing cyclists, Chris Boardman. They were joined by several club cyclists including local Paul Oldham who knows the roads so well he was able to give me a description of the course before we went round it for some photo opportunities.
The race start/finish is just before you enter the village of Barley (large carpark on the right) and after some twists and turns through the village, the road goes upwards. “It’s a gentle climb out of Barley, not too steep, but it is very long” says Hope RT’s Oldham who represented Great Britain at the World Cyclo-Cross Championships this year.
The road goes up the side of Pendle hill which was, like the surrounding hills, covered in snow which hopefully will be gone by the end of June! After the climbs flatten out and dip a bit, the race turns right over a cattle grid and then climbs a bit more, quite a tough climb says Paul. Then there is a tricky fast descent with a cattle grid before another climb through the trees.
Chris Boardman (left) and Brian Cookson (right) with Geoff Cowley, Managing Director from cottages4you, a race sponsor, prior to the ride on the course.
This climb, Paul explained, is used for local hill climbs which should give riders an idea of how tough it would need to be. “You then drop down a very technical descent under trees quite fast, that will be a little dicy” quips Paul, "over a bridge and then a short steep climb up to the main road where the riders turn right and right again and down into Roughlee.”
Through Roughlee, which like Barley, is another of Pendle’s picturesque villages, the riders will encounter lots of twists and turns, many of them sharp and on a road which Paul says is like a false flat all the way to the finish.
“There is a 90 degree junction just over a k out from the finish (see picture down the page)” added Paul.
“This will be one of the toughest courses I have ridden on the road” Paul went on to explain. “There is no flat road anywhere.” With the race being on quite narrow roads in sections, I put it to Paul that it may be very difficult to move up the bunch. “Yes” he replied, “but I think the climbs are so long, and it will be strung out, I don’t think it will be an issue. Following cars may have a problem.”
Brian Cookson welcomes the people to the Roughlee Village hall before a ride of the circuit.
After Paul and I had chatted about the course and photos were taken for the sponsor, Cottages4you in Roughlee, the riders got together for a ride around the course. We stopped first on a series of sharp bends through some white railings that line the road to get a group picture with Pendle hill in the background.
More photos followed until at one of the photo opps, the riders stopped and mindful I had to be in Manchester for a 3pm briefing (Gala dinner and awards) and it was almost 2pm, I asked Chris Boardman a quick question, what did the Yellow jersey in the Tour de France think of the course?
“It’s grippy” was his first reaction as riders around him tried to catch their breadth after the second climb. “It is twisty and turny and you are going to have to be in the first 30 or even 20 all day. If its gets strung out, it will break up early and it will be a right slog, a spectacular event. It is rains, it will be great to watch on television!”
“If doesn’t rain, it will be a fantastic day to come to Pendle to spend up here with a picnic.” Asked about the hills, Chris says “it isn’t the steepness, it’s the consistency. They come one after another after another – there is no flat so nobody gets time to regroup. It’s a climbers event but not because of a single climb where you ride away; it’s just the repetitive nature of it. It will be one of the grippiest for years …”
Chris Boardman celebrates a tough course for the nationals
Any riders wanting to visit the area, and it is a lovely place for a day out, the race will be going in a clockwise direction from Barley. Up the hill out of Barley (Barley Lane (there are two on Google maps but one is a footpath!)) ‘til you get to a cross roads and turn right over the cattle grid (Black Moss Road).
Climb up, a descent and then up again taking in Wheathead Lane which starts halfway along that top road. The course eventually gets to the A682 where the riders turn right and right again and then down Blacko Bar road to Roughlee again. Through the village and after a right at the cross roads outside of the villages, onto Barley and the finish.
The course is just less than an hour from Manchester.
Photos from the launch
Riders will come towards the camera here, past the house and turn right (to the left past the car in the picture) with around a kilometre to the finish.
The climb out of Barley near the top.
The second climb starts to bite.
The riders wil come towards the camera on the right hand section of road here. The lane on the left is a short cut that splits the course in two -- Stang Top Road.
As the riders wind their way through Barley, they go round this left hand bend and see Pendle hill. The lane on the right of the picture is a footpath (private road).
The first of a three or four (or so, I never counted them) cattle grids.
Looking down the start/finish road. The car park is on the left of this picture on the other side of the stone bridge.
The cattle grids are there for a reason -- to keep the sheep from escaping -- and this one thinks it owns the road.
The group ride the climb of Pendle Hill.
Another view of the start/finish. The car park is on the left.
Who do you think will be benefit from such a course? Will Emma Pooley finally get that British title in the road race and will Daniel Lloyd and Peter Kennaugh fight it out for the victory? Use the Comment box below to let us know your thoughts?