The CycleChat ‘Flattish Seaside Century’!

A group of us wanted to get a long flattish ride in and Shaun (CycleChat: bromptonfb) had come up with the idea of riding to the seaside and back, taking in the flatlands of the Wyre and Fylde districts. I came up with a few suggestions and finally we came up with a route that ‘ticked all the right boxes'.

It was a figure-of-8 route covering 101 miles. We'd start from Spring Wood, Whalley, ride round the ‘lumpy' north side of Longridge Fell then begin a gloriously easy section almost 70 miles in length. We'd make our way to Elswick for our first stop at Bond's for ice creams. From there we'd ride down to Lytham, then head north as close to the sea as we could get, through Lytham St Annes, Blackpool and Cleveleys to Fleetwood where we would catch the ferry across the Wyre to Knott End. A meandering route along mainly quiet roads would take us to Scorton and from there onto more undulating roads to Longridge and back to Whalley via Ribchester and Old Langho.

Map on Bikely.

Whalley Fleetwood flattish century route profile
Whalley Fleetwood flattish century route profile

Well, there was bad news even before we'd started – Shaun was ill! He had picked up some sort of nasty tummy bug which had kept him awake all night. He couldn't ride. Bummer – you missed a good ‘un Shaun!

But then the good news … it was a chilly, overcast start to the day but after less than 2 hours, the sun appeared and we had fantastic conditions all day.

Kevin (tubbycyclist) picked me up in Hebden Bridge and drove us to the start at Spring Wood where John (Rammylad) had turned up unannounced. Also there were Alun, Dave (potsy), Gordon (OldnSlow), Steve (Skudupnorth) and Paul (Pennine-Paul), along with a newcomer to my rides – Craig (It was Craig wasn't it? italiafirenze). Another newbie, Andy, met us on the road along Longridge Fell (Ajay. Again, sorry if it wasn't ‘Andy' – I'm beginning to struggle with remembering the names of all the CycleChat members that I've met now – it's well over 50.)

I liked the stop at Bonds of Elswick. The ice cream was tasty and reasonably priced. Apparently, it gets very busy in the summer, which doesn't surprise me. The sunshine had brought out quite a few people yesterday, including other cyclists.

Ice creams at Bonds of Elswick
Ice creams at Bonds of Elswick
(One of Dave's photos. L-R: Dave, Andy, John (kneeling), Craig, Alun, Colin (me!), Gordon, Paul, Steve (kneeling), Kevin)

Even though I had plotted the route, I found my sense of direction being challenged by the numerous twists and turns that we made. I don't think I'd have enjoyed the route half as much if I didn't have a GPS to help me navigate. In that respect I had able backup from Kevin which helped whenever I was at the rear of the group as we approached a junction.

As soon as we got to the coast, we encountered a fairly strong cross-headwind in the form of a sea-breeze. Some of that part of the ride was done on Blackpool's new promenade which is still under construction. It should be really nice when it is finished, apart from the piles of dog crap lying around – thanks a lot those selfish, stupid dog owners in Blackpool! A nice place for families to walk about but some of you still let your dogs leave steaming piles for kids to run through – fantastic!

Cyclists on the new promenade, Blackpool
Cyclists on the new promenade, Blackpool (Another of Dave's photos.)

It was a bit of a faff making it through Blackpool, with tram tracks to dodge, crowds meandering about and diversions to follow.

We saw that we were tight for time. We had been riding slowly so far but we were keen to catch the 15:00 ferry at Fleetwood so we skipped the promenade north of Blackpool and rode as quickly as we could to get there in time. We had that sea-breeze to contend with all the way to Fleetwood but made it with 5 minutes to spare!

Getting onto the ferry proved a slightly dodgy experience! They kindly shifted the ferry and put a ramp up to us but I reckon that carrying bikes down concrete steps would actually be safer than trying to walk down a 45 degree metal ramp when wearing cycling shoes. Craig ended up sliding down into the arms of a burly young ferryman – ‘Hello, sailor!'

It made an interesting change to catch that ferry. The alternative would have been a long detour on busy roads to get to the first bridge over the Wyre, many miles inland.

Fleetwood to Knott End ferry - the Wyre Rose
Fleetwood to Knott End ferry – the Wyre Rose (Dave's photo.)

Whe we got off the ferry, I thought my GPS was playing up because it was showing an alititude of -5 metres! Then I looked around. It was low tide and we were actually below the normal sea level. The lampost on the slipway had barnacles on it to about 5 metres above my head. The Garmin was telling the truth!

The cafe at Knott End is just at the end of the slipway, on the right and it was really good. We were able to sit in the sunshine at some tables in the garden at the rear of the building where we could catch some rays and keep an eye on our bikes. The food was nice.

Eventually, it was time to set off again. We still had that lovely sunshine. What became increasingly obvious was the difference in speed between the faster riders and the slower ones, and also that we weren't going to get back in daylight. Gordon didn't have lights. It made sense for him to go on, and John knew the way. Andy needed to get back to Lancaster and Craig would eventually be heading back in the direction of Blackpool. They decided to say their goodbyes and be on their way, while the remaining 6 of us settled in to a speed that we could cope with.

I paid the price for not changing my rear tyre on Saturday evening. I'd pinched the wheels off my Basso and changed the cassette over so I could ride my Cannondale. I'm not fit enough to ride it on the big hills, but it was ideally suited today's ‘flattish' ride. When I'd been working on the wheel, I noticed that the rear tyre had a big flat worn on it. It was obvious that most of the rubber was gone where it contacts the road. I tried to get another few rides out of it, but a sharp object managed to penetrate the tyre. Serves me right. I'll bin the tyre now.

The repair job taught me another lesson – I'm now too long-sighted to work close-up without glasses! I couldn't focus on the hole in my tyre to see if anything was still in there and had to borrow Alun's specs for the job. (PS I have now added a cheap pair from the local market to my tool kit!)

Steve was riding his Boardman fixed and had already done an extra 33 miles to get to the start so he made the wise decision to leave us after Scorton and head home on the A6.

The sun was getting low in the sky as we hit the hills again on the run back to Whalley. We were getting tired and were counting down the miles, or kms in my case. A sign saying ‘Whalley 3 miles' was a welcome sight. What wasn't quite so welcome was another sign a mile or so down the road also saying ‘Whalley 3 miles'!

We made it back about 30 minutes after dark. I clocked it at 163 km, or 101.5 miles.

You know what – I'm not sure I can cope with Dave beating me up all the hills and seeming fresh as a daisy afterwards! I must get more miles in.

A special thanks to Kevin for the lift. I couldn't have coped with riding an extra 43 miles yesterday to and from Spring Wood.

Special congratulations to Paul who not only did by far his longest ride ever, he did it fixed-wheel, and coughing and spluttering all the way after a week with a bad chest infection. Great effort! PS And to Stevewhose 148 miles was a massive PB in distance, was also on fixed, and beats my PB by 6 or 7 miles.

That was probably one of the best CycleChat forum rides so far. A fairly challenging distance, but over (largely) relaxing terrain, great weather and fantastic company, and on my best bike. I loved it!

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