Saturday 23rd September 2017
A gentle warmup through Leyland to Whittle-le-Woods in cool autumnal sunshine preceded the climb to Top o'th'Lane where an obliging farmer had, since I rode the road on Tuesday night and found it covered in agricultural muck, added a grippy layer of hedge clippings.
Nobody mentioned the Puncture Fairy's name. We survived.
Riley Green Switch Road was swiftly despatched on our way towards Tockholes. The cloud closed in, making the West Pennine Moors feel more desolate than usual. Bill, Sec and Chris failed to restrain their competitive urges on the five-mile climb. Phil and I discussed group pace discipline in between gulps of oxygen.
As is our wont, we bulkier riders made good use of momentum on the short descent to Belmont. The A675 here is apparently the 6th most dangerous stretch of road in the country— I don't know whether the average speed cameras have recently made a difference but we continued without incident.
A right turn in Belmont brought us to the climb to Hordern Stoops. The skies lightened a little, gifting us fine views of, er, Chorley. We decided to skip the originally planned loop to White Coppice— I wanted to retain some leg strength for tomorrow's 25-mile TT and, besides, I could almost smell the sausage and bacon at the café stop.
From the Rivington Tea Room (good barms, but approximately six slices of bacon less generous than Slaidburn's offering last week) we proceeded on a more gently undulating tour of West Lancashire. Sec offered up an extra little four mile loop through narrow tree-lined lanes at pretty much the exact same time as every Range Rover driver in Mawdesley decided to run an errand.
Our average speed continued to climb as we polished off the roads of Croston and Bretherton on the way to Moss Side, still reassuringly less violent than its Mancunian namesake. Sec left us, feeling the call of home, hereabouts. A short loop around Ulnes Walton and Runshaw Moor brought us back to Worden Park, having successfully stuck together as a group for almost all of the post-café miles.