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#ColdDarkRides - Katie Kookaburra

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

#ColdDarkRides are here to inspire your winter planning and give you an insight into the roads that our friends in the Cold Dark North love to call their favourites.

The brief for some of our favourite local riders, brands and photographers remains the same: 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.

Cycling YouTuber Katie Kookaburra is a lover of all climbs. She says it’s not a decent ride if there aren’t metres of elevation gained so what better person to call in to share her favourite climbing spots in the Cold Dark North.

We've known Katie since way back when and even rode LEJOG with her in 2018. We've loved watching her recent videos documenting some of the best roads in the North. Don't forget to subscribe, like and comment... (That's what they say, isn't it? - Ed)

Hardknott Pass || 2.2km @13.3%

Let’s get stuck in right at the brutal end of the climbing spectrum. This beast of a climb with sections hitting 33% had me avoiding the Lakes for three years haha. I tried THREE times over three years to get up this beast but had to stop every time. It was my nemesis climb and the only climb that defeated me. I decided at end of last year I would finally conquer those brutal switchbacks and get to the top without stopping. I finally did it. To put it into perspective if you haven’t given this one a go, there are two mega steep sections of around 25-30% at the very start and towards the end. But it is so steep that the middle sections still of a decent 15% are made to feel flat. Enjoy :)

This was the moment I finally got up it after three long years:

Doveys (aka Sky Road - Holmfirth Road) || 6.3km @5.4%

Ahhhh I couldn’t write about my favourite climbs and not include my favourite ever climb. It’s actually in the Peaks with its real segment name, Sky Road - Holmfirth Road A635. It's well worth a spin if you’re around this way. It’s stunning and the first climb I ever did in the UK after I started cycling in 2014. It’s a lovely steady gradient all the way up and goes from a little village of Greenfield, through some forestry area, then you get the belting views of Dovestones Reservoir. Then it opens out into the beautiful Saddleworth moorlands. Cracking. Also, I liked it enough to Everest on recently. I wasn’t fed up of it even after 28 reps so must be good eh?

Watch the Everesting here:

Park Rash || 2km @10.2%

It might be a bit generic as it’s such a famous climb but it’s a cracker too. Unforgivingly steep but the views you get leading up to it are phenomenal. I do prefer the Dales to the Lakes (sorry, Tobes - No apology needed, Ed) and this is one reason why. To be fair even just getting to bottom of this brute involves a really steep climb. I just think of that as a little warm up before the big ‘un. The climb itself… steep, one cracking switchback and actually always a lot longer than I remember. So definitely save some power in the legs for after the switchback because it goes on. And on. And on.

This ride was bloody brutal, with Park Rash in the middle!

Great Dunn Fell || 7.3km @8.5%

In my opinion this is the ultimate climb in the UK. It’s long, it’s steep and it leads to literally nowhere. It’s been classed as the UK’s Mont Ventoux. I first did this on a 300km audax and think I must have been very lucky as the weather was clear and sunny, even at the top at 848m it was only a tad windy. I’ve since done it maybe three times and every time since the weather at the top is insane. It has its own microclimate up there. Also at the top of this was where I had my scariest day on a bike.

On All Points North (a 1000km self-supported event) it hit winds of 50mph and my bike was literally being blown in the air when being pushed. I had to call for a lift down. But for the sole reason that there is nothing else like this in England, it’s worth a visit. Just take extra layers for the chilly and potentially gale force winds on the descent.

Watch my misery riding up this brute in 50mph winds!

Ashworth Valley || 3.8km @5%

This one is a little out of the way… and is actually in good ol’ Rochdale. But it’s a proper hidden gem of climb that you gradient-lovers need to know about. It’s basically a cut through between two main roads but… it’s bloody stunning with sections of around 20%. There is also a designated toad crossing and a field full of llamas just to get some lesser seen wildlife on the climb. 

I also rode this climb 26 times for a Rapha charity event. Watch it here:

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