Video: One hill of an effort as Calderdale pensioner takes on charity challenge
A Luddenden Foot pensioner has completed a remarkable 365 ascents of notorious Calder Valley hill in just one year.
Roger Haley, 75, overcame a bout of bronchitis to cycle up Cragg Road in Cragg Vale up to four times a day in a bid to raise cash for charity.
The veteran distance cyclist described his daily battle against the elements as “just like a round of golf”.
Roger, who is chairman of Halifax firm John Winter Ltd, was inspired to tackle the UK’s longest continuous gradient after watching professional riders compete on the stretch during last summer’s Tour de France.
He originally planned to complete 270 ascents by July - but eventually covered a total distance of 3,764 miles during his final figure of 365 climbs and descents.
His incredible feat means he has scaled the equivalent height of 353,320ft - about 670 miles.
A single trip up Cragg Road - a magnet for road cyclists since its exposure during the Tour’s Yorkshire leg- is an 8.38km ride with an ascent of 968ft.
“I averaged one a day, but sometimes it was three or four. In the first six months the weather was pretty good so I was well ahead - but I went to South Africa for a month in January and then had bronchitis and spent a while recovering, so I lost three months,” said Roger.
The most challenging day was earlier this spring, when Roger faced force-eight gales as he attempted to reach the top - but his favourite breakfast helped him overcome the tough conditions.
“I have baked beans in the cafe at Mytholmroyd every morning! The ride is just like a round of golf - all days are different, they are never the same,” he said.
Roger has raised over £3,000 for Hope Community Villages, a Halifax-based charity which provides homes for children in Kerala, India.
“Starting off and the first mile are the hardest parts as I have asthma and carry an inhaler. I’m okay after that. The road surface isn’t great and there are ice cream vans all over the place! They’re not timed climbs but it takes me about an hour (to ascend) or 50 minutes in decent weather - the wind makes so much difference,” he said.
Friends, family and representatives from the charity met Roger with a picnic and a champagne marquee at the summit on Friday as they toasted his achievement.
“It’s a local children’s charity and I know the money will all go where it needs to go,” he said.
Roger plans to relax after finishing his epic challenge with a day at Lords cricket ground watching England play Australia in the first Ashes test - but getting back on his bike won’t be far from his mind.
“I’m going to the Pyrenees in July for some distance cycling - I go every year and I will go for as long as I can, but the years are running out,” he said.
Roger thanked his support team, including Hope trustee Barrie Lewis, who has helped organise the rides.
“Barrie has been the main man really. It’s been a good experience - for charities I think you should do something a bit different,” added Roger.