This could turn into yet another “I’m getting myself back on the bike” post but for the sake of variety I’ll try and steer it down another course.
Last year I did the Ronde van Oost Lancashire, Alan “Crossjunkie” Dorrington’s 50 mile road ride round the hills and cobbles of East Lancashire. I hung on to the bunch (social pace my arse) for the first 30 miles but due to a lack of fitness and poor nutrition, a poach egg isn’t going to keep you going for four hours, I spiralled into a monochrome world of hurt and could only be saved by a steak and mushroom slice and a can of fizzy Vimto from the Coop.
This year would be different.
1) I knew the route.
2) I was going to cycle four times a week for a month in the run up to it to get the old legs working.
3) I’d bought a wedgie bag and bottle cage so I wouldn’t have to wear a Camelbak.
4) I had Haribo… lots of it.
But, all of this careful forward planning was kyboshed by a double bout of what is medically known as “baby puking up bug” that took out the whole family for a month. So now I had a dilemma. I wasn’t going to try and fail on the Ronde again but I had all of the paperwork approved and signed for a day out on the bike. What should I do?
A plan was hatched with my mate Neil to go for a ride somewhere different. We decided on Ramsbottom and the Scout Moor wind farm because a) It was only a few miles away so more time on the bike and less in the car and b) We both wanted to touch a wind turbine. Then the plan got mentioned on a Singletrack thread about turbines and before too long our quiet pootle had developed into something a bit bigger.
So, on Saturday morning about 12 of us headed away from The Rose and Crown in Rammy. The plan was to do The Rake, Peel Tower, Irwell Vale, Scout Moor, Cragg Quarry, Rooley Moor Road, Ashworth Reservoir and Nangreaves and end up in the pub. The weather forecasts varied from tropical to biblical with a bit of everything in between.
The Rake and Holcombe hill were dispatched with some ease but then it began to rain. Waterproofs on we set off down th’ill at a fair old pace. Half the group decided on a technical wet rooty option but I was more than happy bouncing down the track at 30mph, so a few of us carried on that way to Irwell Vale. After that we regrouped headed through Edenfield to The Coal Road and the climb to the turbines. One of the bunch with a bit of local knowledge lead us on an off road detour that cut out the “crap road climb” then it was time for Haribo and a cheeky alfresco wee before a tail wind assisted climb to Scout Moor. At the wee/sweetie stop I had the first of what would be several crap-falls™ where the left spd wouldn’t release. I must have looked a proper div when I pulled up to the road junction, stopped, swore, wobbled and capsized. At home I discovered that the pedal was full of a compacted clay-like substance.
The turbine field was an odd place made all the stranger by the gloomy weather and the moaning noise emitted by the blades and gearboxes high above our heads. After another stop we set off across a brief section of bog into Cragg Quarry… and I have to say it was a bit of a disappointment. Neighbouring Lee Quarry is great fun but this was just a bit too stop-starty for my liking and if felt that I never really got going. Some of the big berms and drops where great but the twiddly nonsense that linked them was a bit dull. Each to their own and all that, but I’d rather be moving at speed than huffing and puffing over several million 4 ft lumps.
After this we plummeted down a couple of miles of tracks back to Edenfield, which was much more to my liking, then it was back to Ramsbottom via a rocky stream bed, a housing estate, a park and another spd crap-fall™ in the middle of the town centre. I managed to pull my shoe out just in time so I didn’t end up sprawled across the pavement, but it was close.
The ride finished where it had started four hours earlier but the weather had gone from April to July so a very pleasant hour was spent sat outside the pub in the sun eating chips and shouting encouragement at roadies as they attempted The Rake.
Not bad a bad morning. Not bad at all.