Day 8: Manchester to Lancaster

Posted: February 7, 2013 by Ben Weber in Cycling, English, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Lancashire, this is Lancashire

After saying goodbye to Matt and Becki, we soon had another opportunity to say goodbye to them as Natalia gained a puncture before we left the drive way. First puncture of the tour, though it didn’t take too long to change, and off we went. The thought of riding through the metropolitan Manchester area wasn’t particularly enticing for me, and I was looking forward to getting into the hills north of the city (though not before going through Bolton).

Kenworthy ParkIt was a nice surprise then that we ended up riding through the Kenworthy Wood area of the city – a nice woody area between Heald Green and Stretford. It made a change from the highways and roads we had been going along, with more of a muddy track with puddles, as well as a canal and river-side ride. Very pleasant. It just made life a little harder in that the cycle gates weren’t big enough to allow us to take our bikes with the panniers on through, so we had to carry them over barriers – pretty tough considering the weight of our bags. But still, just a minor inconvenience. Paulo got a puncture on his back tyre as well, though we saw this only at a shopping centre just after the park where we had stopped anyway to pick up supplies.

Through Bolton and the route we had planned and put onto the GPS from ridewithgps.com took us through some dodgy housing estates that weren’t particularly pleasant, so I was happy to escape them with no problems. I guess the time of the day meant that the areas were not very busy. And after Bolton we finally escaped the heavy traffic as we went over the first major hill towards Blackburn and into Lancashire – a nice moment for me as we had entered into the county where I had spent most of my life in England. The journey over the hill was lovely as well – quite dramatic on an overcast and cloudy day. It was not too steep either, just very long and constant. No problem, though we were all on lowest gear, inching up at around 8kph…!

Just over the top and into Blackburn and it started raining; rain that cleared up soon enough as we went onwards through the town and into the next hills before Lancaster. We ended up going along minor roads for a lot of the journey and the whole place was so beautiful, with the desolate winter atmosphere about it all. I know people say we are crazy doing this in winter, but it is still wonderful riding through it as it is so dramatic and picturesque – a different kind of beauty from the summer days.

We kept to these side roads for the next few hours, until it was getting dark. After our experiences going through the back roads behind Bodmin in the pitch black, we wanted to get somewhere with a bit more illumination. The route on the GPS would have taken us for longer along these roads, but I adjusted our course so we got to the heavy traffic of the A6 sooner rather than later. We got on the A6 after Garstang but before Lancaster University, so we still had a good 10km or so to go along it, but this soon went by on the smooth and flat surface, with no hills to speak of, and we got to my brother’s place in the town ahead of schedule… after 4 years or so without seeing him and his family it was great to catch up!

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