Saturday, 15 June 2013

Chester to Slaidburn

81 miles total ascent 1646 metres max speed 45 mph.

Today marked halfway there.

Today was ...eventful.
It started off looking positive on the weather front, looking out of my window at 7am the sun was out, so I decided on shorts...then in rained so I changed into longs.
As I got on the bike the sun came out, I was soon overheating, then it rained....this was to be the pattern for the entire ride.
The wind was behind and across to start with, the ride took me through what o think was called Delaware forest. This bit was nice. Dark dense trees and damp roads.
Having ridden 25 ish miles on no breakfast I was starting to look for food. At that point the route became busy, heavy traffic . Then the inevitable idiot lorry driver passed to close and tried to cut me up just so he could get to a red light first. Then at the light he decided to.hurl abuse out of his window. I told him I didn't want to argue with him, he said he was trying to apologise! I told him to apologise then and stop swearing. Then some low life in a car hurled more abuse at me ...these type of  drivers are to my mind the lowest form of life on planet earth... anyway it's all on headcam so I'll upload it to the police.

Trying to stay alive and navigate and get these peasants out of my head I headed for a small town whose name escapes me ..Lynn??

Here the bakery looked good so I locked up the bikes and headed inside just as the heavens opened again. Unlike most places it seems this part of England is somewhat retarded. We weren't allowed to eat in the cafe so ended up under an arch with some people who spoke in forked up.
Just then the alarm on the bike lock went off and would not stop. I had the right combination but was not going to let me have my bike back!
I tried everything but the bikes werent going anywhere.
So, I asked an estate is traditional in such situations, for directions to a hardware store. All the while I was being soaked in a cold heavy downpour. I uttered some mild profanities, ans found the hardware store. The guy was happy to lend me his wirecutters and I cut the bikes free. The alarm would not stop however. Kev did try to drown it in a puddle, but it was my size 12 road shoe that finally killed it.
The strange speaking locals were looking and it was time to ride on out of town.
The rain just kept coming down and the traffic kept attacking as the route by passed Manchester through some of the least picturesque urban landscapes on earth. Blackburn is defiantly to be avoided like the plague...yuck.
Somewhere in all this urban hell kev and I got separated. I was a few miles down the route before I realised he wasn't behind anymore.
After an hour or so of trying to find each other re unification was successful and I decided cakes were in order. It was still tipping down and cold.
Onwards...over hill and dale and lots more hills. At the lights  some motorist decided to tell us which way to go. He
Meant well but ...well I wasn't lost and knew exactly where to go. He kept appearing at junctions ahead and telling me which way to take...which was the way I was going anyway...three times he did that and then finally he saw the GPS..I smiled and waved goodbye and disappeared into the rain, potholes and traffic of north west England.

At one point the route did a stupid long circle so I decided to take a short cut over a fence and down a steep embankment beside the bridge to the road underneath. That is the second such ..detour...on this trip.

The route was getting hillier and the rain showers heavier and colder, stinging my face. One got so bad I decided to take cover in a pub out on the middle of nowhere. The gods of cycling had provided log fire and tea with four sugars!
Two other cyclists were drowning here as well. They were drunk and had locked their bikes to the lamp post. Just as my lock had refused to surrender earlier, so did thiers! Bike chain lube was applied and eventually they were free to ride over the next hill to the next pub.
Still it rained, and several miles on I stopped to help a cyclist who had punctured both front and rear tyres on a lane in a bleak cold area. After much eh upping and ecky thumping he was done.
The road surfaces around here are absolutely appalling. Huge potholes, very uneven surfaces, loose shingle all adding up to hard going hills and some pretty iffy downhills.
Finally the hostel at Slaidburn appeared.
The shop was of course closed, so I decided to grab a hot shower and buy some tinned food from the sparse hostel shop. Two.tins of ravioli, one tin Heinz spaghetti followed by rice pudding and peaches, hardly cordon bleu but just the job as the rain kept falling Harder than ever outside.
I decided against the village pub. Kev however decided on the village pub.I think they have a fish for sale over there, but I'm happy here in my bunk warm, fed, dry and with no annoying motorists telling me how and where to ride a bike.
No wi fi ans no phone signal or payphone at this hostel ..once again the yha hasn't joined the 21st century.

Celeste ( my bike) is doing well. I'm heavy and the roads here are bad so she's taking a real pounding on some pretty wet conditions. I may need a new rear tyre soon because of the poor surfaces..especially the loose grit . I'll need new brake pads soon as well, I'd had new ones fitted for this trip but full brakes on some of the downhill have taken their toll.

The ride today was fun, challenging for many reasons, including the weather.

I want to say that these routes are really for experienced cyclists only. Please don't set off on them if you arnt fit, have a good bike, and you.know you can deal with the navigation, accommodation and meal requirements along the way and look after yourself. There is much more to cycle touring than just riding the bike and the biggest lesson to learn is to accept things as they happen and see the positives in each challenge...except the rain, lorry drivers and potholes which are all the work of the devil!!

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