A while back my dad came up to visit and was taken along with his camper van down a white road. It was one of those experiences where the road didn’t allow you to turn back and you are committed and it was a case of just keeping going. It sounded horrendous to drive. I didn’t know the road, so having only a short amount of time but wanting to get out I thought that I’d do some exploring. Sure enough, it was pretty much an unpaved surface with gravel sections, pot holes, subsidence and broken tarmac. A bit like my old commute to work in Manchester.
Still good ride. Managed to link up a nice little hour-long loop using some roads that are becoming familiar. The sun shone, it was warm, there wasn’t much traffic, but god damn it was windy riding back to Formby across the moss. Proper grind into the wind and having to resist the urge to drop down the gears. Home just in time for tea too.
I really like point to point rides, but ending up miles from home at the end of the ride is generally not a good outcome. Consequently most of my P2P rides have been on supported trips like the Chamonix to Zermatt or have involved riding self supported with all my own kit like the Trans Cambrian Trail. Having the option of a lift home in the car is a new variation on me. It is however the option that let me ride up to Bury, crossing for the first time in my life Rivington on a bike. The rider names from the Commonwealth Games road race in 2002 are still painted on the road over to Belmont.
Having ridden east and north, I decided that it was time to head south and try and find the path to Hightown the next settlement down the coast from Formby towards Liverpool. I knew it existed, I’d spotted the cyclepath sign whilst out driving with the kids. I could remember exactly where it was, but it looked clear enough on google maps. I was wrong. It wasn’t the right path and a white road became a double track which became a single track and the next thing I’m at the perimeter of the Altcar Ranges with the Army shooting at things.
I skirted the red flagged area, but the bath turned literally to sand which is not ride-able over any distance on a road bke with 23mm slicks so it was hike-a-bike until I eventually found the path I was looking for. Once into Hightown another white road descended into track as I headed for Little Crosby but from there it was all on the black top. I ended up in some of the less glamorous parts of Merseyside which I decided (based on the number of boarded up houses and funny looks from the locals), was not the place to be on a road bike, in disco slippers wearing lycra. A swift exit followed, back to the tranquility and relative wealth of rural Lancashire for the rest of the ride.
Over 50 miles on a bike. I’ve not done that in a long time, but I did manage it today and actually felt good the whole ride. Even managed to set a new PB on one of the final stretches to home. Strava is good for letting you know when you think that you’ve had a good ride and match this agains past rides on the same roads. Stepping up the mileage seems to be working. More hill work during the week this week and perhaps a trip to the seaside in County Durham.
It was windy out there, but I just seemed to find a tempo that worked for me and pressed on (had achy knees on a couple of occasions). Stopped on Marine drive and took a photo across the Ribble Estuary – you can see Blackpool Tower…
Decided to head south and pick up the disused railway line that turns out to be the Trans Pennine Trail that you can join from the road between Sefton and Maghull. It would be fair to say that the surfaced section didn’t last long before it became smooth trail and then Singletrack.
Came back onto tarmac and headed across to Ormskirk, picking up the quiet A59 and heading up towards Preston. Ended up passing Martin Mere having explored a few route options that descended into private gravel roads.
Chuffing windy ride all in all – really suffered on the final push across the moss to Birksdale. Saw loads of chain gangs out during the ride.
Last night I mapped out a near 50 mile route in Strava for this morning. Then discovered that unless you have a Garmin computer, you can’t do much with it. So in the end, rode out this morning with the concept of a route in my head and managed about half of it and came in 18 miles short.
I had wanted to get to Chorley with the option in future of heading to Rivington, but was fundamentally screwed when I went the wrong way out of Ormskirk. My route took me back over some roads I’d ridden previously in reverse. I’d found it hard to follow routes here previously and it’s clear that Google Maps has a few errors around here:
Other tarmac roads just turned into gravelled roads which caused some amusement. 23mm slicks on dusty dirt roads gave some interesting handling and miraculously no punctures.
Still the headwind on the final coastal route home was horrendous so I was glad to get home with a few miles left in my legs.