Road Ride – Bolton-by-Bowland

There was great weather today for a road ride I’d organised on behalf of PaulB off the CycleChat forum. He’d had a decent stab at caving his skull in back in January but is now on the mend and back out on his bike. Paul isn’t back to full strength so we arranged to meet him at Spring Wood picnic centre near Whalley to do a relatively flat 25 miles or so to Bolton-by-Bowland and back.

I was riding out from Hebden Bridge and most of the other participants met me here. They were Alun, Sysagent, aJohnson, dan_bo (riding his fixed-wheel bike!), colly, svendo and Arch.

We set off at about 10:00, straight up the Heptonstall Road. It was a bit of a shock to the system, but at least I knew it was coming – I think some of the other riders were caught out by encountering a steepish climb so early in the ride!

I had decided to be kind though, and took us up from the halfway junction via the easier alternative of Lee Wood Road.

We headed along the Widdop Road and met up with Frustruck who had caught the train to Brierfield and had set off in the opposite direction to us, knowing that he’d meet us along there somewhere.

I went bombing down the steep descent at Thursden and almost came a cropper on a patch of gravel as I braked towards the cattlegrid at the bottom! Some of the others looked nervous as they crossed it behind me.

Shortly after that, one of dan_bo’s tubes exploded! He reckoned that his wheel rims had overheated when he was braking down the 25% descent. I’m sure that he wouldn’t mind me mentioning that he is a very big lad, so his bike takes some slowing down. He was just so lucky that it didn’t happen until he got on the flat road at Thursden Pasture. I left dan_bo replacing his tube and rode up the steep little climb to the others who were waiting at the junction with the road above. Time for a little group photo!

CycleChatters at Thursden
CycleChatters at Thursden. L-R: Frustruck, colly, svendo, Alun, Sysagent, Arch, aJohnson

It wasn’t too long before dan_bo came up the hill to join us and we were back under way again.

Soon we were on the rapid descent through Brierfield leading to the bridge over the motorway. One of my bottles bounced out of its cage when I hit a bump at high speed. I felt it nestling up against my leg and managed to reach down and slide it back into place. It could have been really dodgy if it had got wedged in someone’s wheel or they had ridden over it. I saw some horrendous crashes in Ghent-Whevelgem (?) a few years ago when the same thing happened on a fast cobbled descent. Face-planting on cobbles at 40 mph… (Shudders)

I love the little lane from Fence round to Padiham Heights. Extensive views to the south over Burnley to hills and fields in the distance. To the north lies Pendle Hill.

We were running late so I phoned trio25 to tell her. She’d pass the message on.

We did a quick descent to Sabden and somehow resisted the temptation to climb the Nick o’Pendle. It was a hard decision, but we just didn’t have the time. 😉 Never mind, there will be other opportunities – if not before, then on Season of Mists in October.

We took the easy road round to Spring Wood picnic centre. There waiting for us were: trio25, Ali, Rammylad, PaulB & his bro-in-law Robert. I gathered the group together and took another group photo:

CycleChatters at Spring Wood
CycleChatters at Spring Wood. L-R: aJohnson, svendo, Rammylad, Arch, Robert (PaulB’s b-i-law), PaulB, Alun, trio25, Ali, Frustruck, colly (background fiddling with phone), dan_bo

We’d kept the Spring Wood crew waiting for a long time but at least it had been a sunny wait. Sorry everybody!

Sysagent said goodbye and headed home to watch some football match or other. Colly and dan_bo also had to be heading back and I described to them how simple the route was – follow this road to the traffic lights, bear left for Padiham, take the right turn in Padiham onto the A646 and stay on that road. Despite this, apparently they still somehow managed to get lost and add several extra hills and miles to their journey… 😉

There were quick bottle refills and ice creams for the rest of us and then we were back on the road.

I led our little peloton down to Whalley and like a complete fool I tried to actually obey the Highway Code and observe normal priority at the mini-roundabout – how stupid could I be! The woman who came hurtling round from my left without stopping or looking was very lucky not to end up with a blood-stained cyclist corpse draped across her car’s pristine paintwork. Just another entertaining skirmish in the ongoing motorists-cyclists war – we’ll call that one a draw…

We headed off to Waddington and as we approached the village, Arch asked how long it would be to our cafe stop. She’d found the hills early on a bit tough, being used to cycling in the flatlands of the Vale of York. Now PaulB and the other Spring Wooders had only just begun the ride so it wasn’t really time for them to stop. We came to a compromise – Arch said that she’d be perfectly happy to stop at Country Kitchen cafe in Waddington while we went off and did our Bolton-by-Bowland loop. We’d then have our stop at that cafe rather than Whalley Abbey as originally planned.

I’d forgotten that there are a couple of steep undulations on the road to B-b-B. They aren’t really long enough to be called hills but they can sap your strength if you are feeling tired.

It was looking really lovely in the Ribble Valley today. I didn’t take as many photos as I’d have liked because we didn’t have a lot of time to keep stopping, but here’s a nice one of Pendle Hill taken from Sawley:

Pendle Hill from Sawley
Pendle Hill from Sawley

We reached Bolton-by-Bowland and then did a short hilly loop which brought us back round to the village. Oh – I forgot to mention that I’d noticed an interloper among us! A rider with dark hair had appeared from somewhere. Turns out that he’d encountered us out on the road miles back and had asked if it was okay to tag along. (His name is Iain and he has since made an appearance on CycleChat to thank us for the company.)

If you are reading this – Hi Iain! Keep your eyes open for future CC rides and come along on any that catch your fancy!

A quick toilet stop at B-b-B and then we set off back to Waddington where we found Arch waiting for us. By now we had worked up big appetites so we ordered our food and drinks and commandeered the tables in front of the cafe and sat out in the sunshine. It wasn’t a long wait for our orders to arrive. Country Kitchen is a popular cafe for walkers and cyclists so it can be busy at times, but we were late enough for things to have quietened down from the lunchtime rush.

I think we spent about 40 minutes at Waddington. I had a nice toasted cheese and onion sandwich and was tempted to buy my second ice cream of the day but I resisted. I don’t really watch what I eat on rides but I am trying to lose weight and three treats on one ride would be a bit too much.

Ali and trio25 stayed behind because they were going home by a different route. The rest of us set off back towards Whalley.

We called back in at Spring Wood, refilled bottles again and said goodbye to Rammylad, PaulB and Robert.

That left myself, Arch, aJohnson, Alun and svendo. We had decided to take the scenic route round to Padiham to avoid a long stretch of busy A-road. It does involve a steep climb on the Old Roman Road but is now my favoured route to Padiham.

Arch was starting to feel her earlier efforts on the steep hills so our average speed was dropping. In the end we thought it better for aJ and svendo to go on by without us. They are better climbers and there was still a fair bit of climbing to do. Funnily enough though, we caught up with them a bit later on. aJ’s legs were starting to hurt and he decided to ride with us while svendo rode back to Rochdale alone.

I was becoming aware of how late it was getting and I wanted Arch to get back to Hebden Bridge in time for her train at 19:32. If she missed it, there would be an hour to wait until the next one. That would mean her getting home after 22:00. I was sure that it was possible to get to the station in time but we had to speed up to make sure that we managed it.

We made what speed we could up the false flat through Holme Chapel to Cliviger Gorge and then made up time on the quick run down to Todmorden where we said goodbye to aJ. He rode over the climb to Bacup where his mum picked him up.

We made steady progress down the valley to Hebden Bridge where Arch and I said a quick goodbye to Alun and rode on to the station. We got there at about 19:28 and the train arrived on time a few minutes later – phew!

So… it was one of my best-attended forum rides ever. The scenery had been great most of the day, the sun had been shining and the company had been super. PaulB was looking well and is clearly making a good recovery from his injuries. I’m getting fitter too. That was a really good day out! (I totalled 123 km or 72.8 miles.)

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5 Responses to “Road Ride – Bolton-by-Bowland”

  1. Shame I missed it, it sounds like a great ride. I’m still debating riding spring into the Dales.

    I need a quick and relatively hill free route from the A6 through Manchester to Hebden bridge to get my total mileage for the day down.

  2. Great report Colin!inspiring.

  3. @redbikes – I can’t help you with the first part of that route but the last bit I can. Get someone else to tell you a good way to ride to Ashton-under-Lyne. Take the B6194 through Oldham to Shaw. Join the A633 for an easy ride to Newhey, pass under the M62, turn right at Milnrow onto the B6225 and follow that round Hollingworth Lake into Littleborough. Take the A6033 to Todmorden, then the A646 to Hebden Bridge.

    @Andy – you know where to find us when you and your bike are ready! 😉

  4. Great ride! But I think another ice-cream was needed!

  5. It’s okay for you fit young uns! 😉

    I still want to be “Slimmer and Fitter” but at the moment it is more like “Slimmer OR Fitter”! Still that is better than “Fatter and Unfitter”!

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