As well as being fun; decent weather; a good route and another jolly good turnout, the May Allez Prestwich ride was somewhat cursed but it still turned out to be a winner.
Right from the get-go, as we crossed Bury New Road and ambled towards our first little incline up Heywoood Road, we were one down one person as Julie, out on her first ride with us, had to go home after about a mile as her lad had been locked out of the house. Bad start.We soldiered on only a mile or so further before we lost another. Paul wasn’t feeling it and decided to call it a day early in the ride.
The remaining group – Kieran, Rob, Josh, Steve, David, Nick and I – carried on towards Radcliffe, chatting and catching up with what had gone on since our last ride up Holme Moss. We were soon in Ainsworth where we were meeting Martin. We branched right to take the B6196 up towards Harwood and it was here that we experienced an Allez Prestwich first. Rob took the title for the first mechanical of Allez Prestwich. He did a sterling job of removing a dodgy link from his chain with a tool that would have baffled me. The whole Allez P gang did a our best impression of being supportive by standing around, staring and being of no use to Rob whatsoever. Good game, Rob. Good game.
Once we started off again my Garmin device decided to not work, as it couldn’t find a satellite. Massively ironic, as I’d spent part of the time Rob was fixing his chain by waxing lyrical about how my Garmin had never let me down (I think Steve had been having issues with his), but also hugely bad news when you consider this is supposed to tell me the route directions for today’s ride. In between my Garmin losing the satellite and eventually picking it up, I’d also decided it’d be a good idea to smash into a pothole (they are frickin’ everywhere!) and jar my finger against my handlebars. The Curse seemed to be our extra member for the duration of the ride.
It most certainly wasn’t all bad though, as the roads around here, potholes aside, are great riding. Full of little inclines and converse declines. We had a few sections where we could really get up some speed and everyone powered on and this was a fun part of the overall route, especially as we had the first real hill coming up in the shape of Lumb Carr Road which takes you up to Holcombe and near the distinctive Peel Tower. It’s one of my favourite little climbs around these parts but while easily doable for any moderately fit cyclist, it is testing as it climbs a couple of hundred feet in only half a mile, giving you a nice average gradient of around 6%. These kind of little climbs allow us mere mortals to “feel it” a little but Josh continues to do his best Nairo Quintana impression by never showing any sign of cracking on a hill other than verbally attesting to the fact he hates them.
The next three miles or so allowed us a break before the next section of climbs. Following Helmshore Road, in order to pick up the Grane Road around Haslingden, allowed us some steady freewheeling and flat efforts. As you look to your right you get some really nice views of the hills and fields and the like and you do start to get that nice feeling of being a little more out in the country. Not that much I know but I enjoyed it.
Just after the little village of Helmshore, the tree-lined Holcombe Road starts its gentle rise upwards for the start of our next section of climbing.
This eventually leads us onto the Grane Road which rises pretty close to 500ft, albeit over the course of a couple of miles, so the average gradient is a little more forgiving than the earlier slog up Holcombe Hill.
I think it’s safe to say that everyone enjoyed the rapid descent that marks the end of the Grane Road slog before turning onto Jacksons Heights Road and my favourite part of this particular route.
I wrote about this section, joining up Grane Road and Edgworth, of the route in my very first blog post and I was just as impressed my second time around. Here you definitely do feel more in the country. The wildness of the moors is something I always find quite beautiful around here. I know they can seem rugged and quite unforgiving but I’ll never get bored of the views up around here.
The terrain itself is cracking cycling territory with its cheeky little climbs, like the beginning of Broadhead Road, and it’s quad relieving descents, like the last mile before Edgworth, make for varied, undulating terrain which keeps you on your toes and helps keep the mind engaged and the rides interesting.
Unfortunately for me ‘The Curse’ struck again around halfway into this section, with the head-rearing of the now almost ubiquitous knee pain that accompany my longer rides. Fortunately for me, after my somewhat unusual request of painkillers halfway around a ride, David went one better and supplied me with voltarol pain relief gel. This was surely going to be an adequate place holder until I could get to the real medicine cupboard (the pub) in around 16 miles.
The descents continued on past Edgworth as we eased our way back into the towns of Bury’s outskirts, Tottington/Walshaw, and eventually hitting the big roundabout in Bury all the while selfishly taking up the road that really should always be reserved for the man in the transit. For this I must apologise profusely.
The rest of the ride was the usual canter back down Bury New Road which isn’t actually as bad as it sounds, as up to around Besses/Prestwich, the roads are pretty wide and boulevard-esque and you can usually get the legs spinning a little and the average speed stays pretty steady. However, what’s not as usual for this section of the ride, is that we were heading for another Allez Prestwich first: a pub meet after the ride.
After The Curse it’s nice to also have The Cure (not the back-combed,goth band). The voltarol could only do so much for my knee, so five of us retreated to The Parkfield Inn, Whitefield and enjoyed a couple of beers and chatted about the ride, future rides and generally just hung out. This was a nice addition to the usual rides because while we do chat, you obviously have various scenarios coming up on the road that often cut these conversations short. The pub allowed us all to sit down have a drink and have a good natter. Given the social aspect of the club this is something I’d love to see a repeat of.
Good rides, better company.
Ride Length: 38.2 Miles
Elevation: 2,654 ft climbed.
Strava Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/314786816