Saturday 27th May 2017
The Met Office-issued yellow warning of rain and predictions of overcast conditions for the day came as some relief to this pale-skinned cyclist. I packed my newly delivered club windproof to help when the inevitable downpour arrived, stuffed arm warmers and knee warmers in my pocket and kept the mudguards in their alotted position on the bike.
Heading for the cobbles one of Garstang's less-evolved citizens felt the need to yell words of disparagement at me: he had singularly failed to pass me by heading the wrong way round a roundabout and had continued to fail to pass me down the High Street, despite trying to embrace my rear mudguard with his near side front wing. Honestly, if you're in such a rush on a Saturday morning, maybe buy an alarm clock and get up five minutes earlier...
The B2s had opted to follow the official route which paid tribute to today's penultimate stage of the Giro by starting with the gently undulating roads to Cockerham and Overton before the feed station and then concluding with a couple of notable climbs. As Dumoulin, Nibali and Quintana battled for podium placings on Monte Grappa and Foza, we would fight for supremacy up to Knots Wood and Quernmore.
A substantial turnout saw us swiftly split into two groups. The B2.1s vanished swiftly into the distance. The B2.2s were not significantly slower. The wind was our friend as we progressed towards Glasson and Lancaster at speeds close to the upper-end of the officially-declared limits. From Lancaster we cycled towards the laughably named Oxcliffe Hill, described on
http://www.wetroads.co.uk/tidal.htm as 'A surfaced minor road which runs along just below the high water mark and goes under at most high tides. Oddly, it is not marked as being tidal by the OS 1:50 000. The Golden Ball pub is accessible only by this road: its car park is submerged by higher tides. The spring high tide level is marked on the car park wall at about car roof height, so if parking and going for a long walk check tides first! The pub has some interesting photos of the area in flood conditions. If driving on the road when it is submerged, take care not to run off the tarmac onto soft mud alongside.'
The tide was out so my recently stripped, washed, rebuilt and serviced bike had little to worry about. So, we continued to Sunderland Point. One or two of our number considered this a silly idea and remained in Overton while the rest of the group eagerly pedalled towards the village beyond.
I noted that the road was covered with a fine silt. And that the marshes were beginning to surround us and even to loom the best part of a metre (about half a fathom for those still on shillings) over the sides of the road. A passing motorist advised us that the tide was coming in and that we should get a move on. By this point, my previously sparkling bike was resembling Stijn Devolder's after a particularly damp Spring Classic. As my front wheel sank several centimetres (or 9 barleycorns) into the silt, my bike-handling skills were sorely tested.
We sped through Middleton and Heysham along the prom to Morecambe, a town much influenced by Erics. Messrs Gill and Ravilious had contributed much to the Midland Hotel. Mr Bartholomew, who later took the town's name as his own, inspired singing of "Bring Me Sunshine" as we passed his statue.
And the sunshine came. Miriam and I opted for shade at the Shore Café. The rest of the group opted for sunshine. My now scarlet arms suggest I could have done more. I'll not be voting the Shore Café as my preference for the year: instant coffee is an abomination unto the Lord.
As we left Hest Bank we immediately began climbing. "Café legs" was the alleged cause of my sudden demotion to the back of the peloton. I have to disagree. Gradient was the problem. But the views were fine. The breeze balmy. The company good. Lenticular clouds hung over the fells.
The shade of the Lune cycle path to Caton kept us cool as the yellow warning of rain seemed increasingly premature. We climbed to Quernmore, descended to Scorton. And the clouds rapidly gathered.
Arriving at the edges of the Garstang metropolitan area, the clouds began to fall. Their descent was gradual enough to suggest a speedy return would lead to drier results than the donning of extra layers.
We bade each other farewell and with that another successful B2 ride was complete. Next week, you're being led by me. I suppose I could do with identifying exactly where to begin the ride.