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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Club days.

I'm a social guy. I talk quite a bit. No. Correction. My wife says I talk a lot. Yea right. I'll never match her. However. I'm not a natural loner. Maybe thats the right way to be. Are we not supposed to be herd animals? I've found though that many, many cyclists are loners. maybe thats one of the things that appeals to them. At one with their enviroment and all that. I enjoy both. I cycle alone. I cycle with my son and I also cycle with a club. Two clubs actually. Both CTC clubs. One in North Manchester. One in South manchester.
                  With one club I can ride to the meet. The other it's just not convenient, so I cheat and I throw the bike in the car for the twenty minute drive. Why two clubs? Well they are very different. One is in my opinion a bit slapdash and easy going. Now be aware I like organisation. I'm a bit OCD. Once  you get out on the road with this crowd. then the pace can be a bit fierce and hills appear to be attacked. I'm ok with the pace and as I'm a rubbish hill climber I plod uphill gulping like every breath will probably be my last. But I'm not that far back and I can easily enough catch them and even [due to my excess weight] pass them on the downhills.
                 I'm one of the oldest [and heaviest, don't tell me to lose weight, it's not going to happen] in this club so have to do battle with the fine young things. Because of the pace we tend to be back home early afternoon with 60 to 70 miles under the belt. Membership is small and dwindling as theolder members drop out due to the pace and new members find it is too much. Sometimes only two or three of us out or very rarely, up to 10. The club has a runs list but it is not always kept to and you can find yourself thinking the ride will be 50ish miles on fairly flight terain. Only once you arrive at the meet you find it's changed to 100 miles through hilly Yorkshire with some challenging climbs. I used to shrug and just do it. Now I turn off and do my own ride.
                  I don't do 100 mile plus bike rides. Are you mad?! No I don't want to feel like a wet rag, sprawled out on the couch for the rest of the night, past hunger, conversation, unable to sleep etc. I'm here for a nice life. After saying that I still enjoy riding with them and they are nice bunch of people.
                           So to the Southern club. They meet and chat for a while. The run on the list is strictly adhered to. We ride to the designated coffee stop. tea and toast is ordered. There can be up to about 18 of us so it takes a while. then it's a stroll out to the bikes. these bikes usually are stout touring machines with saddlebags attached. I'm always amazed at the size of the saddle/racktop bags carried. I wonder what is in there that one would need for a day out on a bike. especially the lovely summer Sundays we have been experiencing. I feel more secure with this crowd as I think if my bike were stolen on route they could probably kit me out with a new one form the contents of their saddlebags.
                          So fed and watered we head out. Oh. Whilst devouring the tea and toast a head count is taken and the lunch stop [usually a pub] is contacted and informed that a table will be required for so many riders. The pace to the lunch stop is. I would descibe as leisurely. Sometimes too leisurely depending on who is leading the ride. Yes they have a designated leader. I often find the pace too slow for my Northern cycling club acustomed legs and my brake blocks are often in use. There is however much chatting going on and this social side can make up for the lack of progress. The lunch stop is usually a country pub. Lunch is taken at tleisure before we remount and head for the aftenoon cake stop. I love it! It's more about the people this club rather than the all out riding. I'm a young-un with this club. Well it feels that way as there are many older than me. These rides as you can imagine can take all day and I'm often not home until after six.
                           I'm lucky to have the options of two many different clubs and I enjoy them both in different ways. They both contain nice people the I find a pleasure to be with. I'll be posting club ride pictures below.
You know my photography by now. Just snapshots. So don't expect much.

 Club rides reports.

It was a foggy [or is that misty] start for the six riders that gathered outside Wilkinson’s for the B ride. The destination was Barley in Lancashire. We decided on taking a different route this time turning right in Rawtenstall along Bacup road, then left to tackle the long climb up Burnley road where we were greeted by the first sunshine of the morning. Before descending to Burnley, we lost the company of Kevan and John who were out for a half-day ride.
 A well-deserved fast descent into Burnley followed, on past the football club and then an easy climb up towards Fence.
We were now in the Pendle lanes and riding in the shadow of Pendle hill on our left. As we approached our lunch stop we were surprised to meet the A team of Mike and Mark
So we were six again as settled down in the warm tea room.
With full stomachs we set off to climb out of Barley, through the quiet lanes, before we joined the main road into Whalley for our afternoon tea. The hall was quiet except for one lone cyclist tucking in. This turned out to be club member Tommy who was out for a short solo ride! We get around us cyclists.
Suitably refreshed we left Tommy in peace and set off on our usual route over Round hills. Once we entered Haslingden we met Nigel. Another member out on a solo jaunt. Now we are seven and there followed a brisk ride back into Bury.
A fine day in good company with a few surprises along the way. Plus the forecasted rain failed to make an appearance. Approximately sixty miles on the clock..

              Sailors and cyclists. We are governed by the weather. We check it all the time. Saturday I was forced off my local ride by the miserable weather so was champing at the bit for a ride out with the club on the Sunday. But the forecast was changing by the hour. Who wants to be stuck out in the wilds of Lancashire in the wind and rain miles from home? Not this wimp. So it’s going to be up early on Sunday morning to have a final check before a decision is made whether to venture forth. Luckily we have an extra hour in bed this Sunday thanks to the clocks going back, so I’m not really up that early.
        Well it’s looking good, so off I trot suitably dressed for a cold day on the bike. The riders on the rock [sounds like a song] totalled seven. A decent turnout for a ride at this time of year in cool weather. The original plan was to head for Hurst Green but evidently there is nowhere for lunch there anymore so we decide to head for Clitheroe. Kevan informed us that there was an untried, to some of us, new café within a bike shop in Clitheroe. News to me but, why not. We set off at a decent pace up Walmersley road until we had the traditional stop and regroup at Edenfield.
        The climb continued up to Haslingden  and Rising Bridge where we were entertained by the sight of a fun run in progress though some of the participants did not seem to having much fun. We even spotted a guy doing the run in flip-flops. Some hard people over there. Down the exhilarating run into a sleepy Accrington before the climb out towards the A59 and then left to descend into Whalley for a comfort stop. 
      Jim entertained a couple of local ladies clipping the council flowerpots by sliding off his bike on a wet metal grid to fall gracefully at their feet. They were not amused, neither was he but then again their carefully placed bag of rubbish broke his fall. No harm done to rider or bike. Off we trot. It’s an easy enough run into Clitheroe and we end up at the Green Jersey Bike shop. It’s a bike shop at the front with a decent café at the back. I have to say it was really good. Baked beans or two eggs on toast for £3 and a cup of tea for a £1. Brilliant! Cafes are getting expensive these days and this place is a breath of fresh air. Recommended. I’ll be back.
            We retrace our steps to Whalley then Billington. Langho and Wilpshire
Before turning left toward Whitebirk and then the inevitable climb up over Roundhills. It’s not a bad climb but does go on a bit. We decide to head for tea and cake. Well you would after that climb except for Alan who heads for home. Nice and warm in the Church hut with a pot of tea in front of us time for a bit of talking nonsense, like you do. Eric ends up splashing out 50p on a DVD of that superb comedy “The Plank”. Amazing what you come home with on a bike ride. We are eventually coaxed out into the cool of a rapidly darkening afternoon to head back over Edenfield for a direct run into Bury and home before we need to switch our bike lights on. Only just.
        I was not so lucky as lights were needed for the six miles down to Prestwich.
  A good day in good company and a new café to add to the list. It only gets better.  A nice short run for Bury CTC with 50 miles on the clock.

              It’s cold, it’s foggy. Sunday morning lie in sounds like a good idea. However guilt wins the day and I head off, to hopefully, if they are not all having a lie in,  meet a few like minded, or crazy, take your pick, CTC riders outside Wilkinsons. The forecast is for the sun to put in an appearance at eleven am so, maybe, just maybe, it will be a good riding day. There is nobody about when I arrive, but for once I’m early so we shall see. I’m already working out a solo ride in my head when Kevan turns up. A few more trickle in and eventually we are six. It’s good to see Nick out on his Fixie.
               Time to discuss where we are going. The runs list is not cast in stone and most are not too bothered about riding out to Rivington, It’s not really far enough for a full day so other options are kicked around. Agreement is reached to head out through Bolton towards Eccleston, to a new to me, café called the Bispham café. “Bispham! I cry, too far for me”. “No is the chorus it’s not at Bispham!”  “Oh, ok then.”  An easy pace out of Bury along Bolton/Bury road. Peaceful enough until we hear a bit of a commotion behind us. Steve is ranting at some driver who thought it was perfectly reasonable to almost slice Steve’s leg off when he tried to overtake at a pinch point. Ahh…  The joys of sharing the road.
               We roll through a quiet Bolton centre and hit the canal path out of town. This is where yours truly decides to have a puncture. Amid much cursing the offending item is removed and patched [too tight to use up a new inner tube]. The culprit is glass, probably hidden under the new carpet of leaves. We are not delayed for long. I’m an expert with punctures. Eight already this year and now two this week. The rest of the run is uneventful, thank goodness. Still cold though and this low mist is staying with us. A nice run through some quiet country lanes leads us to our lunch stop. It’s a busy place and there is a queue at the door. A good menu to be perused as we queue and the prices are reasonable. It actually does not take long to be served, even after Nick totally confusing the girl behind the counter as she goes through the menu for him. Again! At one point she tore up her order paper and started anew. Come on Nick!
                Funnily enough the place starts to empty as we go to sit down. Funny that. Nothing I said.  Kevan has nabbed a table in the window. Even though it sports a reserved sticker. Never mind. The lunch is pretty good and the service very pleasant.  Be nice to linger a while.  We reluctantly trail out into the continuing mist.  That eleven o’clock sun has failed to turn up. It does not help that Steve has been told on the phone that it is lovely in Bury.
                 So it’s back through the lanes and onto familiar roads to wend out way at a good pace to Rivington chapel for afternoon tea.  It’s here that the Sun makes an appearance. Either that or it has been here all along while we were shivering in the wrong part of Lancashire. No queues in the tearooms today, which gives us more time to chat and take the Mickey out of each other. Has to be done I’m afraid. I am not going to mention Nick’s hat. Though I did take a picture.
                Usual route down from Rivington. The motorbikes are out in force and there are many potholes on that stretch down to Horwich to avoid. The main roads are pretty quiet and make good time. Once more we hit Bolton Centre and climb swiftly out towards Bury where I turn off to run through Radcliffe and into Prestwich. Dark now, so lights are fired up for the last couple of miles. Mileage back to Bury for the club would be 60ish but a pretty flat nice run. A bit more sun would be nice but whatever. Still a good day out.

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