Holme Moss is a bit of a classic around these parts, particularly because it usually requires a fairly long loop and another major climb to get back home again, but also because it is one of the highest roads in the area and at 524m will be the
highest 2nd highest (Buttertubs Pass is 526m!) point visited by the 2014 Tour de France during its stay in England. Never ridiculously steep, the climb puts its efforts into psyching you out by laying out the snaking finale in front of you with the majority of the climb still remaining. The Mont Ventoux’esque transmitter tower that sits at the summit of the climb is so unmistakably apparent it is impossible ignore what’s in store.
The Tour’s climb of Holme Moss will actually begin right down in Huddersfield at an elevation of around 70m. The majority of the climb follows the River Holme fairly gently up the valley then through Holmfirth before the climb’s first real kick at Holmbridge en route to Holme. (Are you getting the hang of the place names around here yet?) The profile shown starts with this ramp (maxing out at 12.5 %) in Holmbridge which, to be honest, caught me a little off-guard on my one and only ride up the climb, I was expecting the climb to be tough but not quite so soon!
There is however some time to get your breath back and take in the stunning views as the gradient eases once you leave the village of Holme as you slowly approach the all to obvious switchbacks above. Despite the amount of climbing already covered, the classic Holme Moss Hill Climb (run by Holme Valley Wheelers) course only starts as you cross the bridge and head up the final 2.2km which, by itself, has an average gradient of 9.3%. The current best time on Strava for this is 6 minutes 35 seconds achieved in last autumn’s hill climb (VAM of 1857 and relative power of 6.33 Watts/Kg). It’ll certainly be interesting to see the stats from the Tour’s passing should any of the riders be uploading their data to Strava.
The current Strava leaderboard for this segment
Make a day of it
(Please add you own route and café recommendations in the comments section.)
The Tour’s route will take the riders down the very fast descent to Woodhead Reservoir where they will immediately double back and head up one of the main cross-Pennine routes of Woodhead Pass and back into Yorkshire. Nowhere near as steep as Holme Moss (just 3%) but due to the amount of lorry traffic that uses the route and the west side’s narrow, twisty nature I would recommend finding another route. Will be a pleasant climb for the Tour with their closed roads though. You can fork left before the summit onto a quiet lane dropping down to Dunford Bridge.
The classic loop however is to cross back over Snake Pass, the start of which can be traversed round to by making a quick right-left onto the B6105 when you meet the Woodhead Pass Road. This is the closest thing we have to an Alpine style climb in the area and is a regular haunt of the British Cycling squad. A long (5.3km) and very consistent climb (6%) with the whole road laid out in front of you but with the wide road the traffic isn’t much of an issue. Do be careful heading down the other side towards Ladybower Reservoir. This is often narrow, dark and twisty and fairly busy with cars, stay safe! From here the loop is completed with a trip over Strines Moor with many options to choose from on very quiet lanes and plenty of lumps to finish you off on. There is also the option for a swift pint at the Strines Inn (built in 1275!)
Flickr slideshow requires Flash, how retro! If you want to see them then view them directly on Flickr.
Videos of Holme Moss
For those of you from outside of the UK then here is a real treat for you. Some proper, Yorkshire, live commentary on a motorbike ride up Holme Moss stopping to take in the view at the top: “Last time we wer up ere you couldn’t barely stand up in a strai’ line cause’t wind, it wer ‘orrendous.”