You might be guessing where I’m spending the week end from the picture. Today I have broken new ground. I have ridden the longest stage, 52 miles, I have climbed the steepest hill, and in one day I have crossed three counties: Lancashire, Manchester and West Yorkshire.
The ride out of Preston was slow and tiring, the A6 was mostly uphill and I struggled to get to 8 Mph. Luckily after the first 15 miles the table turned somewhat and a gentle incline got me into Manchester just past lunch time.
On the way out of Manchester I stopped once or twice to check I was going in the right direction and I noticed that the gutter was peppered with little gas canisters of the type you get in tyre repair kits. It however reminded me of an article I saw on the Guardian in the summer and I started wondering if the laughing gas craze had taken hold here in the north too. Shirley later told me that I had not been through one of the more salubrious part of town.
One our and a half later I was in Greenfield meeting Andrew who was going to ride the last 10 hilly miles with me.
The road to Greenfield was easy and eventually, after leaving the urban sprawl of Greater Manchester, it gets quite scenic. I did not take many picture during the day, a mixture of time consciousness and tiredness saw to that, but I stopped near a bridg as I thought I could not leave the autumn leaves on the river unmarked.
I met Andrew before the pub and we only stopped for a few minutes before we faced the slope. I have to say that it was trying. Only thanks to the psychological boost of company, and the physical boost of an isotonic gel, I managed to get to the top. Reward for this, other than the implicit self patting on the shoulder was the pint of Guinness on the way down and a lovely evening with Shirley and Andrew.
I think I might learn a lot from these very seasoned travellers. They have convinced me that the chair is not a necessity but I might have persuaded them that the tent peg mallet and it’s 120 grams (Shirley weighted it) might be acceptable.
Andrew tried to lift the back of my bike in one of the pauses during the ascent and suggested I swapp the panniers putting the small ones at the back and the large ones at the front. Will try that and I hope it will improve the condition of the long suffering back tyre as well as providing me more easy access space.
Shirley will have a look at the rest of the stuff I have and I suspect, mercilessly, condemn some of my items. Still anything that makes climbing hills, or more critically for when I get to Africa, riding on unpaved roads, easy has to be a good thing.
Tomorrow is a rest day so the only think I’ll do is to add some pictures to this post, on Monday is due south on some of the route taken by the Tour de France (I think). Probably heading into the Peak District with the next social call looming towards the end of the week.