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#ColdDarkRides - James Ward

Our fifth "Cold Dark Rides" takes on the unfamiliar fringes of Lancashire and Yorkshire in the Dales and the Forest of Bowland. These roads are characterised by the same beauty and savagery as The Lakes, but are often quieter and less well known. James catches the eye with a willingness to ride in (and on) any conditions, to capture beautiful images and for his brightly coloured Ribble. The brief for some of our favourite local riders, brands and photographers was basic: give us 5 photos and descriptions of the places you love to ride and a bit of blurb on yourself. Over the coming months we'll be sharing their secret climbs, epic rides and favourite spots here in the Road Gauge and on Instagram.

James is Yorkshire through and through (but rides a Lancastrian bike). He’s only been riding 4 years but has ticked off over 60,000 miles in his quest for the perfect café stop. He’s a lightweight climber that’s always searching for a hill to climb to tick off the hard to reach goal of 1,000,000ft of climbing in 2017 *GULP*. Despite nearly constantly being on the bike, he does apparently have a job as an accountant. Here are James' #ColdDarkRides

Being a Yorkshireman, I did try and convince the Cold Dark North that there aren’t any amazing climbs in Lancashire or Cumbria but they weren’t having any of it. So in order to avoid another War of the Roses (Which the Reds won, Ed), I decided to look at the climbs that help you escape Lancashire and come to God's Own Country.

Malham Cove || 3.3km, average 6.1% (peaking at 25%+)

First up has to be Malham Cove; at 2 miles long and an average 6% gradient it’s a pretty punishing climb.

Rising out of Malham village you’re greeted by the stunning limestone cove made famous by the Harry Potter films. You need the amazing view to distract you from the pain of the second half of the climb when the gradient is at it’s worst. Once you crest the top you’re greeted with an amazing view over the moors into Lancashire and Yorkshire. A real toughie with stunning views.

High Hill Lane || 4.4km, average 5% (again peaking over 25%)

This climb is a little deceptive on Strava; they say it’s 2.7 miles at 5% but the bottom is definitely over 25%, Ouch!

It’s a bit of a quirky climb in that you start climbing on cobbles before switching back to the tarmac. A shake up of the legs before a searing of the lungs.

Once at the top you have a perfect view of the Lancashire you left behind and the long descent ahead of you taking you down to Yorkshire. Watch out for the evil false flats along the way.

Langcliffe Scar || 2km, average 8.4%

This is the quieter and slightly less savage version of High Hill Lane and takes you high up onto the moors above the town of Settle. The steep switchbacks towards the bottom of the climb are fantastic and lead out onto a long drag towards the top.

It’s a beautifully quiet road and in winter looks amazing in the snow.

Waddington Fell || 4km, average 6.3%

So this one is technically in Lancashire but it’s well worth a mention.

Realistically the climbing starts in Clitheroe and continues for nearly 2.5 miles. It’s a nice climb that lets you get into a rhythm and just spin your way up to the top to views of the Forest of Bowland.

It’s a stand out climb that takes you from the industrial town into the middle of nowhere in such a small amount of time.

Park Rash || 2.2km, average 10.7%

Brutal. Unforgiving. The hardest climb in the UK (Ahem, bold. Ed). Park Rash is back inside Yorkshire but I couldn’t write about climbs without giving this one it’s worth mention.

The switchbacks of 33% at the start of the climb are enough to break anyone but if you make it through those you still have nearly a mile of climbing left to go. It’s a narrow and twisty climb that starts after a very popular cyclist café called Zarina’s and doesn’t give way until you’re over 800ft further up the valley.

This is on the Tour de Yorkshire next year and the vibe is going to be electric up here! Get there early and bring your strongest legs. And be very careful if you're going down it first without having seen the switchbacks to know when they're coming!

You can find James out on the Yorkshire Lanes pretty much every day and in all conditions. Check out his Instagram to satisfy any needs for stunning scenery and fluro bikes.

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