I was watching the weather forecasts Saturday night but none of them could agree what Sunday was going to be like. I’ve missed a few rides and had a riding itch that needed to be scratched. So decision made, I was going to chance the rain.
Up and out early for the run up to the meeting point at Wilko’s on The Rock. I was trundling through Prestwich when I was hailed by another cyclist. Mike Tattersal was meeting Bury Clarion at the same place for their day out. Mike is two thirds of my weight and probably double my fitness so it was a fast paced ride [for me] to Bury centre. Once there I joined Eric, Mark, John and Steve to chat and put the world to rights before the off.
We were soon stretching the legs up Rochdale Old Road puffing our way up to Fairfield Hospital, through Bamford and riding over the top of Rochdale in the direction of Newhey. The climb out of Newhey is one of my dreaded hills. To me it seems to go on forever and I’m glad when it is out of the way. The others don’t seem to bother that much. Which makes it worse. Once over the top we descend to the crossroads where John turns off for a lone ride over to Uppermill, Ashton and a loop back to Bury via Daisy Nook. It’s Fathers Day and lucky man, he has the dad thing to do. I’ve got out of it till later.
The rest of us continue on climbing up the A640 which is nice and quiet at the moment and after passing Nont Sarah’s pub take a steep right turn to follow the Sustrans cycle way through quiet lanes before the steep drop into Marsden. We settle down at a new to me café in Marsden and I am impressed at how good the prices are. Most traditional cycling café stops are now getting a bit twee, car centric and prices inevitably zoom upwards. This place is a nice change with happy staff and a good atmosphere.
Suitably refreshed [Eric has had his gallon of tea] we opt for the steep climb out of Marsden to cut off a bit of the A62. It’s still a good climb on the main drag but ok if you just get your head down and pedal steadily away. We soon drop down into Delph for a cake stop. Well I have a fat cake anyway. Marks does not join us, instead opting to carry on, so we are now down to three.
We tackle the steep road out of Delph. I’m pushed out of line by a car driver who decides he is more important than me, so I have to stop and wait before I begin the climb. Does not do him much good though, as he is now trapped behind Eric and Steve for a while before he can zoom off. Notice I’m always at the back.
Usual run along a busy Milnrow road towards Rochdale centre and we retrace out outward journey through Bamford towards Bury. I veer off down Queens Park Road to ride home through Bowlee and Simister. The anticipated rain makes an appearance as I hit Prestwich but I manage to get home before it can soak me.
A fine day and about 60 miles on the clock. Good stuff.
With the ‘A’ group leaving at 8.30 for a northerly ride, surprisingly only five riders turned up for the’ B’ ride to Haworth on a bright warm day. This included a visitor from Australia over here visiting family for a couple of weeks. He was riding a very nice Colnago which he had brought over with him.
Our outward route was through Jericho and Rochdale to just before Littleborough where we forked left to climb the quiet road through Calderbrook and onto the crumbling descent, which is closed to motor traffic, to the Todmordern road. It was at Todmorden that our Aussie friend took his leave of us whilst we proceeded to Hebden Bridge. We paused in the square near the massive sundial (which was not set to British Summer Time so was an hour ‘slow’) to consider a café stop. The thought of climbing Cock Hill with ‘café legs’ ensured that we decided to carry on and wait for a café at Haworth.
So the ascent began which is a beautiful climb out of the valley through woods and then onto open moorland after passing through the small village of Peckett Well. The hard work was rewarded with a fast descent to the traditional regrouping point at Oxenhope outside what were once public toilets. Alas like so many others they have long since been closed.
We continued into Haworth by way of a sharp climb and rode to the base of the famous cobbled main street of the village. It was here that John decided to turn and continue with his promise to ride into Keighley, whilst the others climbed the cobbles and made a café stop where apparently Steve was chatted up!. After Keighley John rode on through Steeton, Glusburn and Cowling to Colne. It was here in the town centre that he coincidentally met up with the other three and we resumed riding as a foursome.
After having to brake hard to avoid the not unusual situation of an oncoming car attempting to turn in front of us we rode on through Nelson and made a refreshment stop at a garage near the old Nelson Wheelers headquarters at Brierfield. We did this as we were into the hottest part of the day and the dreaded Burnley summit climb loomed ahead. It was halfway up here that John reluctantly had to stop for a breather and eat a half melted Snickers bars. The others had kindly waited at the summit but were given free rein to proceed to the new café in Edenfield, which they intended to call at, and not hang back waiting any longer.
At the end of the day it was a very rewarding day’s cycling with almost 70 miles covered.
Four members showed up on a cold and uncertain day weather wise. The B ride destination was Rufford and the Owd Barn Country Store and Tearoom. After a dry start through Bolton and the cycle paths which took us alongside railway lines and a couple of golf courses, we reached the outskirts of Horwich. By this time we got rain and Eric had caped up for the first time of many. April showers and a mixture of cold and warmth made sure of that. Kev delicately observed that Eric’s rain jacket had been on and off more times than a bridegroom’s condom. We in thermal jackets were OK. We rode on past what was once the Camelot theme park and through Heskin Green on to the lanes around Mawdesley.
On arrival at the café, which was full of cyclists and old folks (probably no older than us) out for a Sunday morning drive, we managed to find a free table only to be told that it was reserved. The four of us he had no choice but to sit near the door on a table not much bigger than a bicycle wheel. The usual banter and observational comedy kept our minds off the draught as we consumed our beans and egg on toast which was of a high quality.
On leaving the café the weather prospects looked bright as we rode through the wonderful narrow lanes of this area. However storm clouds were looming as we got near Wrightington. The rain kept off through Coppull Moor and all the way to Rivington where a stop was made for a brew. John rode on and paid the price. From Horwich to home it was heavy rain all the way with only the last two miles in the dry. Still, it is April and it did not in any way spoil an enjoyable day’s cycling of almost 60 miles.
Only the hardy few turned out but we decided that the Staff of Life was in the same direction as the previous week so instead we headed for Rufford.
After picking our way around Bolton centre we chose the Middlebrook Way as a pleasant and traffic free route out of town. Taking the path across the golf course an out of control dog nearly caused mayhem but the owner obviously didn't care.
We stopped for elevenses at Haigh Hall and then navigated country lanes to the very popular destination of Owd Barn Farm where we met some local cyclists known to us from the Kirkpatrick Macmillan Rally in Scotland.
A quick call in at Delph Diving Club saw us briefly meet up with Tommy Handley who was out on a car assisted ride. The usual route through Coppull and Adlington brought us to the Chapel House tea rooms at Rivington and after Horwich we retraced our outward route back to Bury with some 65 miles covered on a cold but dry day.
With a hard overnight frost and a light snowfall on Sunday morning it was a hardened group of six riders who set out on Sunday’s club run to Catforth.
We warmed up on the climb to Ainsworth before a swift descent to Bradshaw before leaving the urban sprawl behind as we climbed to Belmont. Taking the Delph reservoir road we had to take care as it is not gritted because there is no access for cars. The descent to Abbey Village and Riley Green is a long one and the cold conditions and wind chill added to the exhilaration. Approaching Preston along London Road we turned off through Avenham Park and the detritus along the banks of the Ribble was mute testimony to the level of the floodwater during the winter storms.
At Strand Road we saw a train on the Ribble Steam Railway which follows the river bank to the old Preston Docks which is now largely a Marina flanked by industrial units. Here there is a bridge over the water and rail as well as road traffic crosses and Steve B managed to get his front wheel down the gap at the side of the rail resulting in an instantaneous fall with a heavy landing. At first it seemed that Steve had escaped with just bruising and dented pride but it soon became obvious that he had sustained an injury which needed hospital attention. A local man offered to take Steve to the Preston Royal Hospital where it was found that he had broken his collar bone, his arm is in a sling but no operation was required. We wish Steve a speedy recovery.
The five of us continued to the Roots café. This has always been popular with cyclist and today was no exception, so many bikes were outside that it proved difficult to find anywhere to park our steeds. All day Breakfast was our preferred choice followed by copious amounts of tea and coffee.
Retracing our route to Avenham Park we took the “Guild Wheel” walking and cycle route which is threatened with being engulfed under housing development. After Bamber Bridge with followed the path through Cuerden Valley Park and skirted around Chorley before stopping at the Chapel House Tea Rooms at Rivington. When we emerged the sun and the temperature were dropping and we chose the line of least resistance through Bolton and back to Bury with some 70 miles covered, not a bad mileage on one of the coldest Sundays of the season.
Fine conditions ensured a large turnout from local clubs for the Charlie Westlake and Walter Pilkington memorial reliability rides of 100km and 50km respectively. Bury Clarion and East Lancs Road Club were well represented in this scaled down version of the early season Sportive which is no more.
The large group set off together from the Barista café bar on the Rock but fortunately the climb up to Ainsworth split them up and soon the more leisurely riders had seen the last of the main group for the rest of the day. Our ‘A’ riders were with them.
It soon turned into a Bury CTC ‘B’ club run of four at the back and a stop was made at the Tockholes café for a brew. John considered it too early for a stop having had a lack of miles in recent weeks and so continued solo. After climbing from Lower Darwen and Guide, there was a cold wind over the Roundhills and that remained for the rest of the 50km ride through Haslingden, Ewood Bridge, Edenfield and up to the finish at Owd Betts. The penalty for riding on alone was a lonely pint for John. Just as he was setting off for home, the other three CTC riders arrived. Having geared up to leave he stuck to that decision. On the descent back to Edenfield the first of the 100km riders were spotted on the climb up to the finish.
A very enjoyable ride in a welcome break between all the recent bad weather.
All participants are encouraged to make a contribution to Bury Hospice or Cancer Research UK.