Hilly Waddington Cafe Ride

It was time for another CycleChat Sunday ride to the Country Kitchen cafe in Waddington, but this time we were going out on a much hillier and more scenic route to Spring Wood, Whalley. (Hebden Bridge, Slack, Widdop, Haggate, Brierfield, Fence, Black Hill, Sabden, Spring Wood.) From there we would follow the same route as the previous two editions of the ride.

Shaun (CycleChat: bromptonfb) had let us know that he couldn’t make it, so that left Steve (Steve H), Mike (SlowerThanASluggishSloth), Dave (potsy) and Gordon (OldnSlow). Ed (Svendo) would catch us up on the outward leg somewhere.

I met the lads in The Market Place car park, as usual. It was to be Gordon’s first ride with us and I could tell at a glance that his forum name was a relative one – he might be older than he used to be and slower than when he was young but he wasn’t that old and if his bike was anything to go by, he wasn’t going to be slow either. It was a Giant Once team bike, with Carbon Fibre (CF) everywhere – bars, cranks, seatpost, saddle – very nice!

We rode round to the turning circle where I stopped to put on my long-fingered gloves. I’d hoped that it would be warmer, but my fingers were getting cold in mitts after less than a mile. It didn’t really brighten up much all day. It wasn’t awful weather, just chilly and drizzly – disappointing!

It was a good ride out over the hills. As I’d anticipated, Gordon was whizzing up the hills as if they weren’t there. His bike was ridiculously light (12 pounds) and he only weighs 9 stone 1 pound so he doesn’t have a lot to hold him back. We’d regroup at the summits and carry on.

Let the jinxing begin! It turned out to be one of those rides. Every time I opened my mouth, I jinxed someone!

I mentioned that Ed was slow in catching us. I said that perhaps he’d had a problem – it turned out that he had – he’d punctured for the second time in two forum rides.

I was describing Shaun’s recent mountain bike accident where the front of his CF bike had snapped off. I said that I wouldn’t want a CF mountain bike because of its catastrophic failure mode. A couple of moments later, super-light Gordon on his super-light CF bike with CF this, CF that, CF the other, rode over a sleeping policeman and there was a loud CRACK! He had snapped the top of his extremely expensive CF seat post! He wasn’t a happy chappy …

Broken carbon fibre seat post
Broken carbon fibre seat post

Riding with Steve along the nice lane from Fence towards Padiham Heights, I described the problem I’d had with breaking a spoke on the Rochdale-Blackpool ride last year. Next thing – PING! Steve had broken a spoke! We took the broken spoke out and checked the wheel. It now had a wobble in it, but it was rideable. We had to adjust the rear brake not to rub, and Steve was a little nervous riding on it but it got him back to Hebden Bridge okay. That’s the advantage of having lots of spokes in a wheel. My rear Aksium had gone way out of true when I lost 1 spoke out of 24. Steve had only lost 1 out of 32.

While we were dealing with Steve’s broken spoke, Ed finally caught us up and told us about his flat tyre.

CycleChatters, Forest of Pendle lane
CycleChatters, Forest of Pendle lane

I decided it was only fair to jinx myself too, so I spent some time talking about the Crud mudguards on my bike, and later in the ride plonked the bike down on the back one and snapped the end of it off!

Gordon had said before the ride that he is used to being dropped, but that is probably by a peloton doing 25 mph up a 7% climb! We said goodbye to him when we turned right to descend Black Hill to Sabden. He was heading home standing up. Nice to meet you Gordon; sorry about your bike!

We called in at Spring Wood picnic centre, then dropped into Whalley and cycled round to Waddington via Bashall Town. We had the usual nice lunch at Country Kitchen before setting off on the return leg.

Impressed by what I could get up using the low climbing gears on my Basso, Dave had lowered the gearing on his bike in anticipation of this and hillier rides to come. He was definitely enjoying his new lowest gear and managed not only to climb the 20% section of The Old Roman Road, but did it significantly faster than me too! We both reckon we are getting fitter. This was a harder ride than the last Waddington outing but it only felt about the same in terms of tiredness.

When we got to Padiham, we tried a new route that I’d discovered – The Padiham Greenway. It is a cycleway built on the route of the old freight line through Padiham. It isn’t well-publicised so I’d only just found out about it and it seemed worth going to check it out.

To access it, we turned right along Station road and after a few hundred yards, left up a ramp by the railway bridge to get onto the cycleway. I was impressed! It wasn’t as if cyclists were marginalised here. It was a very well-made, wide path.

Padiham Greenway
Padiham Greenway

I was enthusing about what a good job had been done. Here was a cycle path that was actually good to ride on as an alternative to a busy main road, but then suddenly – it just stopped! It was as if they had run out of money and couldn’t finish it. (PS No, I’ve checked – it is because if the path had continued another few hundred metres we would have ended up on the railway line between Burnley and Accrington!)

A man out walking his dog suggested that we go up some steps on the left get to a little lane. The lane is what I’d planned on going down, but it didn’t seem to be connected to the cycle path. I walked my bike up to the gate at the top of the embankment and broke my rear mudguard trying to manhandle the bike through a small gap. Damn! Then we had some cyclo-cross to do to cross the field to the lane.

I reckon we might have had more luck going up the way the dog-walker went which was the opposite side of the former railway line.

Ha – I’m right – I’ve just checked the Google Maps satellite imagery. We could have got up to the Leeds-Liverpool canal and gone just 100 metres along the towpath and that would have brought us to the end of the lane that we had to do the cyclo-cross to reach.

This view shows the steps up both sides of the cutting and where the cycle path was laid. It was obviously taken after the old line was removed but before the tarmac cycle path was laid.

Molly Wood Lane was a bit depressing due to fly-tipping and dereliction and I’d feel slightly worried about riding down there alone. That’s a shame, because the main cycle path was well presented. It must have been a big relief to the families living either side of the disused railway line when it was replaced by the Greenway. There were quite a lot of people out walking with their children and dogs, but the path was wide enough for us all.

We emerged back onto the A646 at Rose Grove where we began the long drag up to the traffic lights on Manchester Road.

Definite signs of improvement! I found it easier than the last couple of rides and so did Dave.

In fact, it didn’t seem long before we got to Todmorden where we said goodbye to Ed and Mike. Mike had ridden over in the morning and was now riding back to Bolton and he has since told me that he got his first century ride in – 106 miles, in fact. Well done Mike!

I accompanied Steve and Dave back to their cars in Hedbden Bridge. Another good ride – 58 miles with nice people.

Next Sunday – A Flattish Seaside Century! 🙂

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