The history of travel is something that us cyclists often disregard when setting off down the road on our bikes. As cyclists our relationship to travellers and explorers of the past, who set out on trade missions or pilgrimage to new lands, is not so far apart. We make the same journeys along the same roads as many of historic relatives, experiencing the same challenging landscape under the power of our own body’s ability. To see the world in this way is a natural and instinctive part of human existence and is what make cycling one of the most rewarding sports there is.
Mortimer Road, known to many as ‘The Strines,’ is an old trade route that originally linked Grindleford to Penistone. Located to the West of Sheffield city centre the Strines twists and turns through Bradfield Dale and its surrounding reservoirs, offering a number challenging climbs and stunning views along the way. As you turn off the A57 on to Mortimer Road you begin to gently climb across the barren moorland towards the Strines Inn. The apparent natural beauty of the area is overwhelming and you soon forget about the howling wind that often beats across the road, no matter what time of year it is. As you pass the historic Strines Inn, one of the oldest pubs in the area, you suddenly drop down a steep decent straight into a sharp right hand hairpin that throws you right back up into a climb. With the momentum of the corner and if you’re feeling strong you can push through in your big ring until the road flattens out.
Time to get a bit of feeling back in your legs as you pedal through the pine forest and out into open farmland, with the Dale Dike Reservoir glistening like a giant mirror in the bottom of the valley as you look down to the right. The road then suddenly drops you into another short descent and flings you round a series of sharp S-bends into a another incline, steep enough that its hard work but not steep enough to be a challenge to most people.
The road keeps going and going upwards, the trees and luscious green fields and start to disappear and a single silver birch tree hangs over the road in an otherwise empty landscape. Just as you start to find some rhythm to your climbing you suddenly pass into another wooded section and drop very quickly down a steep decent round a sharp corner, over a bridge and then are thrust upwards. The incline is steeper than any of the other climbs on this road and as you drop down through the gears the road seems to compensate by getting steeper and steeper. As you reach your bottom gear and fling the bike from side to side, trying to keep your effort going, the road snakes around the harsh landscape. A solitary farmhouse sits 2/3 of the way up, a marker that your nearly there. One final push up another steep ramp of over 10% and you finally reach the top, on a good day you could attempt to sprint this on a bad day with a headwind and you’ll be struggling to get over 8mph.
At the top the views are stunning, the small village of Bolsterstone sits high on the hills in front of you with the sun bouncing off the windows of the old stone houses. Behind you the Strines road undulates, with bits of tarmac popping out from the clumps of pine forest. You now have a choice, to continue on Mortimer Road as the tradesmen and explorers of the past once did or take the road to the right and drop down into High Bradfield, along a road which was used as part of the Grand Depart Yorkshire in the 2014 Tour de France. We’ll tell you now that the second of the two options is easier and we’ll leave the write up of the second part of Mortimer Road for another day.
Find full details of this road on Strava.