Friday 24th October was a big ‘life moment’ for my wife and I. After 4 years of renting – in which time we’d had: three different homes, one engagement, a wedding, a honeymoon and a 1st year anniversary trip to Cambodia – we’d finally got the keys to our first home purchase together.
Hoorah! All’s well in the world, the stresses of dealing with conveyancers, mortgage sales people and estate agents will soon be a distant memory and we can live happily ever after.
I carry my wife over the threshold (awww) and life is sweet, until…
“Laura, the handle has came off the bedroom window”.
“Laura, barely any of the handles work”.
“Laura there is a massive hole in the spare bedroom and the plaster is coming away in my hands”.
“There’s no hot water pressure at all upstairs”.
You get the idea. After a stressful day and a half of hard work (and 2 months of handling the purchase), coupled with making some pretty expensive decisions, my wife kindly sent me out on a ride to clear my head.
I thought it was a great opportunity to do my first reconnaissance mission for my newly formed cycling club in my new habitat. With all the intentions in the world of “just popping out for a quick 20 miles”, various decisions meant that I wound up doing 40. Not good on my recovering (read: never recovering) knee but a bloody good time anyway.
Off I went, skirting round the side of Heaton Park, heading North towards Whitefield before cutting off down towards Radcliffe. Having left my bottle on the side at home (doh!), I had a quick stop off at a newsagent for a bottle of water and an energy drink.
Onwards, towards Ainsworth/Tottington and things start getting a little hillier. Which, in my eyes, is a a good thing. I’d being around this general vicinity once before with friends, and was familiar with Ramsbottom/Helmshore area and the wonders of the Grane Road. I decided to use that as a loose target, as I kind of had an idea of where it went and how I’d get back.
Things started to get pretty ‘real’ at Lumb Carr Road up towards Holcombe. There’s a real nice, challenging little climb here and it really got the heart pumping and legs aching, especially as I’ve had little climbing recently. I made a mental note of this climb and thought it would be a nice one to get into some of the monthly rides.
After this, stood outside the ‘The Shoulder of Mutton’ pub at Holcombe, I’d kind of thought, should I do a u-ey and just head home or soldier on and complete Grane Road so I could explore more of the area. On it was. Good decision? I wasn’t sure. The weather changed a little (grey, wind picked up) and my energy really started to go and nature started to call as I passed through more hills, eventually toiling my way up Grane Road into the wind. There, like a beautiful Lancashire oasis, I saw signs for a cafe.
So I stopped, answered nature’s call (I know, too much info but if you gotta go…), got a nice espresso and slice of Victoria sponge. Thoroughly glad I’d remembered to pick that fiver up before I left, as I think this saved my bacon.
Feeling refreshed, I set back out and climbed the remainder of Grane Road until my next turn which, I believed, was going to be a nice downhill meander back down to somewhere around the Tottington area. Wrong. This was pretty undulating and there was a testing little hill pretty early on once I’d turned down Jackson Heights Road. A stream of 20+ kitted club members were coming the other way down the hill, so must have been a nice pick-me-up for them to see me, mouth gaping, slogging up the hill on my tod while nodding and mumbling “hi” at each and every one of them.
My knee started to get quite uncomfortable around this point, but I could see the silver lining in the fact that this whole section was the most beautiful part of the ride in terms of scenery. From wild Lancs moors, to little interspersed coppices, it really was quite lovely.
A short canter down through Tottington and back to the ‘comforting’ bosom of the bustling A56 that slices through my lovely new town.
Left with my head a little clearer and my knee a little sorer, I’d enjoyed my first ride from my new base and had at least a few ideas for my first Allez Prestwich ride.
Here’s a link to the strava route and a zoomed out image of the map/terrain.