Sunday, 17 February 2013

February route planning

A trip planned to visit an old uni friend in Bolton spurred me on to plan a ride for The Rough Stuff saturday riders this weekend. Now, I dont really know Bolton all that well, so with the help of OS maps, Sustrans website and the spurious Cycle Bolton leaflet I came up with a general route that looked ok.
Thank goodness we did a test run the week before. We battled the cold heavy rain and soon discovered that the original route was not exactly suitable...

this was one of many sets of steps that we came across after consulting Cycle Bolton leaflet! I think it needs a hefty rewrite. 

Stephen & I arent strangers to a good bit of off-road riding and the original route left us both feeling like we'd had completed a big challenge after only 17 miles. Mind you the heavy rain did mean we were riding a bit faster than usual.

Back to the drawing board and after moving Google maps' little man down some streets we hadn't test ridden, I was mainly confident in my final plan.

Saturday morning arrived - over the tops it was foggy, but dropping down in to Bolton the sun broke out & what a lovely day. Eight riders came along for the leisurely ride.
We had a morning brew at Smithhills Open Farm before hitting the bridleway across the tops which looks down over the town centre and across to the Pennines over the other side of Bury.  The contrast in the weather from the week before was dramatic.

Rainy Bolton.

Sunny Bolton

After 2 miles of off road uphill, there is some fun smooth downhill through the picturebox area of Barrow Bridge - the area is incredibly pretty, however the fact that we've gathered speed on the road means none of us stopped to take any photos.  Then through a park where I saw a lady practising her unicycling skills!

We skirted part of Doffcocker Lodge then on to High Rid Reservoir which was a good mile of rough uneven cobbles. Stephen complained bitterly of his saddle sore & other people mentioned knees & concerns for other parts of the anatomy. We made it to the end of the cobbles all in one piece each.

Leaving Doffcocker Lodge

After a long wait to cross the busy Chorley Rd we free-wheeled down to Route 80 which runs alongside the football pitches where Bolton train, some golf courses and the railway & leads into Bolton centre via Queen's Park.
Route 80

After lunch we hit probably every cobbled street in sight back to the farm. Everyone agreed it was the RSF ride with THE most cobbles on!
After such a successful ride, something had to go wrong - we managed to lock the carkeys in the car. This resulted in a 60 mile trip to collect the spare key.

Really looking forward to plotting my next route. The feeling you get when the ride is a success & everyone has had a great time is brilliant!

The rest of February riding has also been highly enjoyable - a trip with panniers loaded with wine & cake over Hud Rake to my school friend's was brilliant - I managed that hill like it was a piece of cake in my work shoes & dress too. Stunning views towards the plain of Manchester all glistening far off & below made the hill well worth while. I'm hoping to go walking up to The Halo above that road one evening after work soon.

I also discovered how hard it is to ride my 60s road bike through the snow last week. After 8 miles of dry cycling to work, the last two miles had snow left over from the day before - narrow tyres make for very poor traction going up hill. It was good fun as that section is off road on a nice smooth cycle path. And my mudguardless bike was FILTHY when we got to work.

The rest of Feb is looking like there will be more riding fun, so fingers crossed for this good weather to continue.