Waddington Road Ride (Metric Century A Month, 2012, Month #1)

I have set myself the challenge of doing at least one metric century bike ride (100 kms or 62 miles) every month of this year. The winter months are obviously the hardest ones. I think, barring accident or illness, that March to October should be okay, but January, February, November and December could be tricky.

I'd left it late in the month to get the January ride in. I'd scheduled this ride for last weekend, but postponed it due to extremely windy conditions. This weekend turned out to be cold, but I had a team of CycleChat forum members lined up to ride with me and motivate me to do the ride.

Our route – Hebden Bridge to Waddington, with an added loop through Cow Ark to increase the distance to more than my 100 km target:

(Once we got back to our outward route, we followed it in reverse back to Hebden Bridge)

The list of riders kept changing until about an hour before we began. In the end the riders were: (CyleChat member names) ColinJ (me!), potsy, I like Skol, oldfatfool, tubbycyclist and Edge705. We were supposed to meet Pennine-Paul, Globalti and aJay on the way.

I was about to leave home when I got a call from Edge705. His dad was bringing him over, but their Sat Nav had gone on the blink and they had gone up a whacking great hill instead of coming straight to the car park to meet us. We didn't establish exactly where they ended up, but I'm guessing it was either Heptonstall or Blackshaw Head, either of which would be a major navigational glitch!

I went to the car park and met the rest of the lads. Oldfatfool arrived shortly after me and Edge eventually turned up just a couple of minutes late.

As arranged, we met Pennine-Paul in Todmorden and headed over to Rose Grove where we found Globalti waiting for us. The roads were okay, ice and slushy patches in the gutters and on the pavements, but the carriageways themselves were clear.

Cold CycleChatters Rossendale Road Burnley

Cold CycleChatters Rossendale Road Burnley

(L-R: tubbycyclist, Pennine-Paul, I like Skol, potsy, Edge705, oldfatfool)

We set off down the Padiham Greenway and even that was ice-free, apart from one small patch. It's a fine use of public (& EU?) money, turning what was an horrible eye-sore of a derelict railway line into a valued local amenity. Globalti had earlier spoken to some of the locals who were out walking their dogs on the path, and they said how pleased they are with it. I was not surprised to hear that!

The Greenway is slightly uphill from Padiham to Rose Grove, rising 50 m in 2 km, so an average of 2.5%, with some undulations where the old embankment has been lowered to allow access to the Greenway from local streets. If I lived in the immediate area, I would use it for interval training. It has a perfectly smooth Tarmac surface, and the only traffic to worry about is other cyclists, and people walking with dogs and/or kids, but you can see them from a long way off and slow down before you get to them. You could do a hard 2 km effort up the drag followed by a very easy recovery back down again. Repeat that 10 times and you'd have got yourself a handy 40 km in with no danger from vehicles or potholes.

“And now, a brief word from ColinJ's sponsors – Arse!

I know you are desperate to read this, potsy, so I'll insert the gratuitous advertising here later when I have time! 😉

We took the scenic route out of Padiham, as planned. I'd been worried about the steep descent of the Old Roman Road, but it was clear except for one strip of slushy ice in the middle of the road, which was easily avoided. Unfortunately, that meant we had no excuse to avoid the climb on the way back. (Well, tubbycyclist found one later – he played the “Ooh, is that the time, I've got to be getting home” card and went back on the A671 instead!)

Globalti rode down the hill to a cafe in Whalley, while the rest of us called in at Spring Wood to see if aJay was there. He wasn't. (PS It turned out that a houseful of young children had kept him awake half the night, so he decided to rest instead!) We waited a while, and then rode down to meet Globalti. He'd managed to get half a coffee down in that time and gave the other half to me. I'd never noticed the cafe before. It is on the left side of the main road shortly after you turn right at the first mini-roundabout.

We rode up through Mitton and then Edge705 left us, since he had to be back by 13:30. The rest of us did an extra loop below Longridge Fell, up to Cow Ark and over to Waddington. It would have been better for my unfit legs to have headed straight there, but I wanted to get my 100+ kms in. The loop was hillier than I remembered – nice though.

Cold in them thar hills

Cold in them thar hills!

When we arrived at the Country Kitchen cafe, it was much busier than expected. In fact, there were people sitting at the tables outside, despite pretty cold conditions! Fortunately, a couple of tables became free indoors while we were ordering.

We had a good long stop, but eventually it was time for potsy to take the group photo outside, and for us then to be on our way.


(Thanks to potsy for the picture) L-R: Pennine-Paul, Globalti, Me (acting daft!), I like Skol, potsy, tubbycyclist, oldfatfool

We said goodbye to Globalti in Whalley, and tubbycyclist headed for home on the main road while we tackled the scenic route.

The nasty little Roman Road climb killed off what was left of my strength and put my back into spasm, and from that point on I was just counting down the miles to home. But you know how it is – it feels so good when you finally stop!

We regrouped at Rose Grove, but then I was immediately dropped again on the drag up to the climb on Rossendale Road.

Oldfatfool eventually went on and then Pennine-Paul and I like Skol, though potsy and I bumped into them again in Todmorden, before they headed home via Littleborough.

Potsy nursed me back to Hebden Bridge and we finally got in a few minutes before sunset. It was a good job that we'd set off at 09:00 rather than the usual 10:00 or we'd have had almost an hour of riding in very cold, dark conditions!

The ride split up a lot more than most of them do, but the lads couldn't spend too much time standing around waiting for me – it was too cold! We reckon it was about 3°C most of the day with a brief high of about 6°C. The sun tried to break though the low cloud for about 10 minutes and that was all we saw of it. The windchill on the descents had been pretty evil!

I'm used to being dropped on the climbs, but I was getting dropped every time there was even a 2% uphill drag, which was a bit demoralising! Still, it serves me right for effectively doing no exercise for 2 months but carrying on eating and drinking as if I were riding 150 miles a week.

I give myself 100% for effort, given how much it hurt me, 50% for performance given how slow even potsy managed to make me look ( 😉 ) and 0% for the effectiveness of my winter training programme. In a perverse way though, I enjoyed it!

The roads had been very effectively gritted – even the few very minor roads I'd been worried about. There were just 3 or 4 patches of slushy ice which could have caught an unwary rider out, but full marks to the councils for their ice prevention efforts. Not quite such high marks for their road maintenance efforts though – we went over a few rough roads, and encountered some pretty dodgy potholes.

Well, that's my 100 km ride for January done, folks (107 km, 67 miles in fact). Now I need to rest!

Thanks to my CycleChat riding pals for dragging me round the route today. Left to my own devices, I'd have stayed in bed!

MCAM 2012, ride #2 is planned to be the Mini-Northwest-Passage audax from Rochdale on February 18th.

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