Sat 31 Mar Ride: Affetside by Affetside

2018 Mar – Standard: Affetside by Affetside – Sat 31 Mar **9am**

Distance: 40 miles
Elevation: 3,100ft
Moving time: Approx 3.25 hours – 3.5 hours // Total Time approx 3.75 – 4 Hours.(very approximate dependent on rider pace and general stops – allows for brief stops/traffic.)
Start: 09:00 at St Mary’s Flower Park, Prestwich
Post Ride: Approx around 12:30 ish. Parkfield Inn, Whitefield

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New Recruits. (Allez Prestwich Ride #2 – Breightmet/Ainsworth/Tottington)

Nice View

If you’re a follower of the blog, you’ll remember that when writing my 2014 retrospective I’d said the minimum goal I’d like to achieve was to get at least one person that I hadn’t previously met out on a ride.

Well, I am pleased to say that this, somewhat unambitious goal,was accomplished on the very first monthly ride of 2015 (only the second ride so far in the club’s short history).  Not only did we get one new recruit but there were two, hoorah! I’m mightily impressed that we managed to get a couple of new people out at this time of year, as truth be told I held very little hope in tempting people out in the wilds of the British winter.

As for the ride – On 24th January, my friend Rich and I headed out to meet our new compadres: Josh and Simon. We met at the front of St Mary’s Flower Park on Bury New Road and made our introductions.

Off we headed up Bury New Road – it’s unfortunate that most routes start this way – but we were soon branching off onto the quieter roads that lead up through Radcliffe towards Ainsworth/Breightmet. It was nice to chat as we rode, it’s one of the things I’d been looking forward to; to chat with new folk while taking in the local surrounds on the ol’ pushbike.  We took turns to switch around in our mini group, all making sure we chatted with one another. It didn’t take long for Josh to ask me, “Will there be many hills?”. I smirked and said “Yes, a few, sorry”.  Josh been a mere 20 years old, a cyclist who cycles around 25+ miles per day for his job, was never going to have any issues up the hills was he? No. He’s either not too bad at them or he’s got a great poker face.

The gang. Craig not pictured, my bike is my stand in.
The gang. Craig not pictured, my bike is my stand in.

That being said, we all managed quite well. Especially considering this was a mere few weeks since the Christmas splurge. Simon, bless him, was also attempting the age old hangover cure of exercise to try rid himself of the cobwebs of the night before. He did a bloody good job of it as well. While not the hilliest route you’re ever going to do – around 1,600ft in 21.6 miles – there’s enough short, ‘punchy’ hills in this part of the world, as you head north and slightly east up into the Lancashire hills, to keep even the fittest cyclist on their toes.  Nowhere was this illustrated better but at the two Harwood Road climbs around Tottington. The first way, heading up towards Tottington from the Harwood golf course is short but has some really steep sections, my Garmin didn’t seem to budge much from around 13% in what seemed like years. In reality it was yards but it is a tester. The other way, as you come off the high street in Tottington to head back up Harwood Road to double back on yourself, starts of like Paris-Roubaix with the quality of the road surface. This makes a pretty steep little hill all the more unpleasant.

For all the aforementioned ‘unpleasantness’ (I secretly love the punishment), the views up around Harwood -in fact all around this area of the North West –  are what really make it such a pleasure to ride around here. Just cop a load of this view from the top of Harwood Road after you pass the golf course.

Nice View
Stunning views.

After the hills came the descents and the flat parts. We cruised along at a steady pace, chinwagging as we went and before you knew it we’d clocked up 21 miles and our ride was complete.

There’s something I love about sharing a ride with people generally, your own little piece of history that only those on the ride share. When riding with people you’ve never met, in just a couple of short hours, it’s like you’ve built a little bond with someone and makes you feel as you’ve known the people much longer than you have; that’s not quite the same as just going down the pub. Maybe it’s down to the fact that you’re asking each other if you’re okay, waiting for people who might be struggling, looking out for each other on the road that makes it this way. Whatever it is, it’s just another thing I love about cycling – meeting new people and sharing the ride with someone.

You can see a link to the Strava GPS map here .

New Home, New Area & New Club or Allez Prestwich Reccy #1 (Sunday 26th October)

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.

CoffeeCakeGraneRoadSo 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.