This was a day I hadn’t really been looking forward to. Getting through the cities and towns of the northwest can be tricky. But in fact I loved it, Andrew was less keen on the cycling through the gritty towns as I was.
We did have our earliest start today, probably as we were both woken by 5am by the traffic noise. Nice old couple that run the site, but it has seen better days I feel.
First stop was Northwich (after an unplanned visit to Middlewich due to a missed turning). I wanted to get my bottom bracket replaced. The first shop (Grays) had closed down so I rang the other (Dave Hinde) to confirm that they could do it.
They are a specialist racing frame builder but kindly stole a bracket from one of their very expensive showroom bikes to fit to mine. Thanks guys, much appreciated.
Just as I was paying up my mate Red (Martin, and yes I realise that none of my friends appear to have proper names!) came with his Dad to say hi. He’d brought tea and chocolate with him which were very welcome. The choc kept us going chunk by chunk all morning. Red’s Dad runs a caravan park near Barcaldine and will be able to sort us out some camping nearby when we stop there. Thanks for coming to see us guys, it’s great that people are taking the time and trouble to wish us well.
After getting back on route we had a quick look at the top of the Anderton boat lift and headed into green leafy flat Cheshire lanes. Superb cycling country. The roads were very quiet too, it was good that we were here on a weekend. We crossed the Manchester Ship Canal by a wonderfully rickity looking bridge.
It wasn’t until Leigh that we encountered any built up areas. I thought Leigh seemed a nice enough town. Westhoughton was far less attractive. We only cycled the outskirts of Bolton.
Up to here I can’t see how you could improve on the route we took. Fast, smooth and quiet.
We had our first real proper hill since Bristol onto the moors above Bolton The contrast in scenery was stark from the morning. This was proper bleak moorland. Long climb through Belmont where I had the pleasure of overtaking a guy puffing away on his unladen racer.
We were pretty tired above Blackburn and took a few minutes to recover. We lunched in Glazebury before Leigh by the way. The drop down into the town was spoiled somewhat by stupid speed humps.
Blackburn was OK, a very cycle aware town with proper lanes and markings. The oneway system was a bit of a pain though. We didn’t dally and made our way to Whalley and the much further than expected stint to the Camping and Caravanning club site in Clitheroe. Proper clean facilities and a laundry. A laundry, bliss. I might have to go naked tomorrow as I need to wash everything I have!
Much needed rest day tomorrow. My neck and shoulders our causing me most discomfort but our bums will be grateful for a day off of the saddle.
Distance : 71.50 miles
Time cycling : 6h22m
Ascent : 1388 m
Average speed : 11.2 mph