Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Cycle Commuting from Glossop to Manchester (and back)

So this might be tedious for some... however, it's important to recognise *why* people are so wedded to their cars, and why active transport is shunned in various parts of the UK. I can only really speak about where I live- so here you are: a bit about cycle commuting to Manchester from Glossop. (I'm thinking about writing another about cycling around Glossop in general, but that'll have to wait a couple of weeks)

 

Having recently been doing the whole cycle commuting to Manchester from Home thing (train strikes and the like), I wondered if it might be interesting to go back to my roots and write about it a bit like a fell race- blow by blow, what are the roads like, what am I looking for, etc. It might be of interest to someone else, and it might help people in their decisions about directions to commute etc. 

You never know, it might help us get some better cycle infrastructure. 


For reference, I was cycling in, mainly along the A57 on a road bike carrying my stuff for the day and a couple of HEFTY locks. There are 2 decent lights on the back of the bike and a bright flashy light on the front- they are on ALL the time. According to the computer I'm averaging about 25kmph in both directions, stopping at all the lights etc, so it takes about about hour door to door. 

From the door, the first thing is to get out of Glossop- and rather hack down the main street on the horrible road surface and all the lights, the preferred method of getting to Glossop Caravans is over Dinting Vale with all the speed bumps. It's relatively quiet at that time in the morning for cyclists, and a nice introduction to the roads. A bit of speed up down towards the junction where you turn left to get to the traffic lights, and then a right onto the A57 at the junction opposite Glossop Caravans. 

The road to Wooley Bridge roundabout is fairly decent under tyre, and the traffic isn't too bad until you get to within 300m of the roundabout. Currently there are temporary traffic lights which make it a bit of a mare, but filtering up to the lights is fine. Across the roundabout and up Woolley Bridge lane- either you're filtering up the outside of stationary traffic, ducking in to avoid the downward traffic when it comes, or you're being overtaken if the flow is steady. 

The traffic lights at Firbank are ok, people generally don't try to cut you up as you turn the corner (generally), and then it's Mottram moor. 

Right now, there are Gas works, so it's almost like having a cycle lane, which is fantastic. Otherwise, the options are 

a) filter up the outside of the inside lane of stationary traffic- which can be unsafe when the line filters up and you potentially have a lane of traffic passing you on both sides at the same time unless you do some decent filtering to the left of the left hand lane- (and then back out again once the traffic becomes stationary) or

b) go up the pavement. Not the Kosher choice, but sometimes the safest. 

If you're turning right at the top of Mottram, unless you're a pretty strong and confident cyclist, being able to filter in the right place to get into the right lane at the right time can be quite nerve racking. I hate to encourage people to use pavements on bikes, but sometimes the safest thing is to go up the pavement and cross at the lights to carry on up the road over to Staly. 

Filtering through the idling cars and trucks up to the top, with them then rushing past you only to get held up again at the crossroads brings you to the lights at Mottram post office, where there is a nice wide section for cars in a hurry (to get held up by the next bit of traffic) can pass you without close passing, and then a nice clear downhill stretch towards Hattersley roundabout. Unless you get someone who is *really* impatient and wants to far exceed the speed limit, generally cars don't tend to close pass you here. 

Left hand lane for the roundabout, and clear across to the second exit, and a nice downhill run towards Godley- a section that is generally ok under tyre, but there are some frightful holes and grates that you need to keep an eye out for as you'll get a hell of a shake if you run over them on a road bike. A couple of traffic islands where (hopefully) people will wait before they overtake as you'll be going at a decent speed, but watch out for those that are turning into Hattersley as they cut across you if they misread how fast you are going. This is a nice section where there aren't too many cars and then a flat (but fairly bumpy) ride into Hyde. 

I still can't really work out how to get through Hyde well. You can go left here, and then right at the main lights and straight down the road, you could go right, over the motorway and then right at the end of the road. There is a kind of bike/taxi/bus option that spits you out halfway through, but on a traffic light that doesn't seem to have any sensors so you have to use the pedestrian crossing to get the lights to work. None of them seem to be great options, and the road surface is pretty crap throughout. 

Once through Hyde (good luck, whichever version you choose), it's the A57 onward, there is a downhill; minding out for cars coming out from side streets who don't see you, and an uphill with some traffic lights which are annoying if you get caught at, as it robs you of any momentum that you managed to maintain from the downhill- then it's a slalom into Denton. A number of traffic lights along with dense traffic and buses make this fairly interesting in terms of knowing which lane to use, which ones go off right, or left, and which are in fact parking bays with cars dotted along them. 

Straight through Denton, past the roundabout (with lights) and onto a bus lane- with a pitted surface for about 400m, after which, cars on your right swing into the (no longer) bus lane in order to turn left. Traffic lights at a cross roads, and the bus lane now continues up the ramp seemingly leading onto the motorway section just prior to Denton roundabout. Not a lot of signage here for bikes- but you're meant to continue on up the ramp, and just at the top, duck in left into the industrial estate, across the road and onto the pedestrian and cycle bridge across the M67. The only bit of dedicated cycle lane that we've actually come across thus far. 

Across the bridge and down the other side to filter straight back onto the main road- 3 lanes wide now as it's come off the M67 as well as the A57. If you filter straight back in where the cycle lane says to, it's not the safest place, so carry on along the inside of the left lane, looking out for people either coming out of, or going into the local roads. 

This whole section is fairly often clogged to hell with cars, so keeping up with them, and going faster than them is not a problem- but keeping an eye out for those indicating left- or, more importantly, NOT indicating left and then just manouvering is pretty important. 

Buzz along until you get to the next lights, across those and over, down the hill into Gorton, - a lot of vehicles use the right lane for turning right here, and can create a queue behind them, leading cars in the right lane to cut into the left lane with little warning- this happens twice along this section, so keep a weather eye out on your right. Through a couple of lights and your're onto the straight A57 direct into Manchester now. A speed limit of 40 mph means little to any vehicles hacking along here, it's probably one of the sections I feel least safe on, so it's head down and ride. 

No cycle lane to speak of, I certainly wouldn't cycle on the pavement- though as you get past the ring road to the Etihad and the velodrome, eventually a bus lane appears that gives some respite from speedsters and close overtakers. Continue on in past the Manchester Climbing Centre sign and the bus lane soon runs out. At the next lights there is a cycle lane- well.. for about 5 metres- and on the other side of the junction there is a continuation of the lane for about 5 metres, til it turns into a bus stop, and then disappears altogether as the road compresses you back into the full flow of 2 lane traffic with no warning- as you scuttle towards the roundabout at the o2 Apollo. 

Getting across this roundabout takes not a little bit of confidence and road sense. 

Personally, I turn left here and head on around to MMU, and after about 400 metres I actually get on to a cycle lane. Well- a strip of paint on the floor. If you are to carry straight on, it is the A6 and it dumps you in the middle of town- with nary a bike lane to be seen til you get there. 


Once in, the front wheel comes off, the saddle comes off, all extraneous bits- lights, light brackets etc come off, the bike gets locked to a solid post with 2 sodding great bike locks and then you have to find somewhere to have a shower and hopefully hang up your bike clothes to air while you work for the day- otherwise you're putting on sweaty, damp, smelly clothes at the end of the day. (the WORST place to work for clothes storage is the NHS, the best is an outdoors shop... while the shower situation is very much vice versa). 

Im not going to post a pic of my bike all locked up- so have one of Hobbes instead.

 Do a days work, hope your bike hasn't been nicked in the meantime (a heavy bike in both directions is better than no bike at the end of the day), and prepare for the commute home. 

The short amount of cycle way/murderstrip ends before I get to the roundabout at the O2 Apollo- again, a bit of a "necessary acceleration" to get onto and off of the roundabout in good time, and then the dual carriage way starts that basically doesn't finish until the M67. 

No cycle way, the pavement is pedestrian only, and the road is 40mph limit. So... pretty much anything goes if you have a combustion engine. The road is fairly free flowing with queues everytime you hit a traffic light. I can't be arsed to filter right to the front of every queue every time this happens, so slow I down and filter through at a speed that gets me close to the front of the queue as the lights change- and then filter back into the left side of the left lane... means I don't have to unclip and lose momentum. 

Most drivers are pretty courteous to you if you are to them, but some are just dicks, or on their phones. Pretty much be on guard for the entire time all along here. The uphill to the traffic lights at Gorton park is generally ok, but sometimes people like to squash you in- especially if they're racing to get through the lights. 

You then have the delights of the run in to the M67 which means you get overtaken a lot by plenty of traffic that then sits in 3 lanes of queues onto Denton roundabout. You have to filter through the traffic here, as the pavement is not a cycle lane until about 5 metres before the juction. Here you have a couple of options again:

a) join the cycle lane, which immediately becomes a pedestrian crossing where you have to cross 5 different crossings to get onto the road into Denton- each time you cross a road you have to wait for the next traffic lights to change. 

b) stay on the road, be aware, keep in the correct lane and use decent acceleration to get around the roundabout and onto the road into Denton- which soon becomes a very pitted bus lane for about 300metres. 

A little further up, it's still one way, and with cars coming up from behind you have to filter over into the right lane to turn right over the M67 and then directly left back onto the A57 through Denton that you came up this morning... except this time it's home time, everyone is rushing to wait at traffic lights, vans are pulling out all over the place, and all the cars in the parking spaces alongside the road are trying to have their doors ripped off by passing traffic- or trying to door YOU as you go past. 

Filter through 2 sets of lights, the down and up into Hyde, and then... well, as I say, I still can't work out the best way through. Either the left that takes you as if you want to go to Ashton, and then over the M67 and then left towards Godley- lots of impatient drivers trying to get to Ashton/on to the Motorway, or straight on through Hyde- with the associated high levels of local traffic. 

Either way, you eventually get onto the A57 with a load of people trying to get home with cars blocking up the road on either side, so close passes by landrovers, range rovers, audis and BMWs are now common place before you go through all the potholes that take you onto the long steady ramp up past Hattersley to Hattersley roundabout. 

Here there is about 20 metres of cycle lane that then encourages you to cross the 2 lane road as the roundabout turns into a motorway. It's either that or stay on the road and use the roundabout as it is meant to be used and cross the lanes as a "vehicle" onto the roundabout. As you get past the exit onto the motorway, you hit the backlog of traffic from Mottram, so filter around all of this and up the hill towards the lights. Some of the traffic is aware of you and pulls a little bit in to let you past. Others are oblivious and you have to wait til its clear to filter. 

Up to the traffic lights, and a speedy downhill to the Gun Inn, a left turn at Firbank- generally if you're in traffic at this point, it's fairly easy to keep up and cars behind you don't get impatient- but if you're at the head of a line of cars (going at EXACTLY the same speed) they all seem to want to pass you dangerously. So I tend to tuck in behind one or 2 cars on the way down. 

Always a queue to the roundabout at Wooley Bridge, careful on the right turn as its hard to see if there is someone on the right who is turning toward Hadfield, and then a blast home (well, towards Glossop Caravans) on a relatively wide road. 

Up the hill onto Dinting and then home- probably with a van close passing you over the speed bumps just for good measure.  

And that's pretty much it. No wonder it isn't a popular route for cycling on. If you're nervous on a bike, don't have decent acceleration and aren't happy to integrate into traffic that might just squish you with out even noticing it, there isn't a lot to entice you into active travel here.




Sunday, 26 June 2022

Kinder Trog 2022

 It's been a while since I raced around here. Well. Apart from the County Tops, it's been a while since I raced. A combination of apathy, seeking solitude in the hills and just not enjoying racing- (or rather the build up to it) has had me just doing my own thing. A good friend- Tim Ruck was organising the Kinder Trog this year and was asking around for volunteers to help marshal etc. unfortunately I could not guarantee being around for the weekend, so couldn't commit. However, I promised that if I *was* around then I'd race. 

Getting there was a breeze- literally. A bike ride over the top of Chunal into a stonking headwind which certainly set my legs up for the race. The strong breeze from the South was going to be a feature of the day, and I was getting a taste of it early. 

Locked the bike up, standard entry forms, kit check and get changed and then loiter around chatting with various characters from the fell running world whom I hadn't seen in quite a while (yes Daz, Si- you are indeed characters) and a bit of a jog down the road and back as a nod to "warming up". 

Soon enough we were summoned to the line by Ian Warhurst and his feedbacky megaphone for race direction and start, and off we went down the hill, past the school and around the corner for the ascent onto Lantern Pike. It's a long bloody way up there, isn't it? The fast lads were off at the front, chatting away as if it was an easy day out up the hill, some guy in a rather sartorially snazzy hat was well off the front of them as well, so I settled into a pace that would (hopefully) see me through the 25 or so kilometres of the race. 

The route is a bit different now from when I last ran it- it used to head down into Dimpus Clough after Edale Cross- but that has been changed to going around the rim of the cloughs, with an ascent of South Head afterwards to make up the ascent. How comparable the times would be is a matter for debate- but the main thing that was going to make the times different this year was the Southerly that we'd be running into for most of the day. 

The climb up to Lantern Pike went on, it's a fairly pleasant run with a bit of walking thrown in here and there to make best progress, and then a quick descent off the other side- where I started to have a little bit of foot trouble. Nothing that has ever happened before, but a sharp shooting pain was going down the inside of my left foot everytime it hit the ground.... not so good. My brain starts going through the different things down there that it might be... tarsal tunnel... tib post, flexor dig long, artery, vein, medial plantar nerve, flex hallucis long.... are my shoes too tight and restricting the nerve? are they too loose and the tendon is complaining at me for doing too much work? 

I'll just carry on running, see what happens and if I need to stop to do something with my shoes, I'll do it later. 

Down the steep bit, where Kirsty and Ron were cycling up from the gate into the face of a pile of runners (good on you), and then down across the field, where I was mainly still trying to figure out if my foot was hurting or not. It seemed not, so, Onward. 

Over past the farm onto the road, and a quick drink from the lovely people who were providing refreshments, over the road I'd cycled up this morning and up the long drag from Chunal to Kinder. The wind was ripping down from our right, and the soft underfoot soon gave way to paved rock slabs. Great. I took in a gel, knowing that there is a fair amount of up to go, and then it was going to be a headwind all the way along Kinder. Plod away, run all the way up the hill. As I got to Mill Hill, I couls see Ben Tetler not too far ahead of me, seemingly going through a bit of a bad patch (it didn't last long and I soon lost sight of him), and on the climb up to Kinder Corner a guy in a Pennine vest (James?) overtook me. 

Bash through the wind and the tourists along to Kinder Downfall and another checkpoint, and then south into the teeth of it down past the mountain bikers- who certainly should not have been there- to Red Brook. Coming around the corner I lost my footing and crash rolled over some rocks skinning my right arm and wrenching my shoulder in the process. 

It's not my legs- that's not going to stop me. 

Standard.

Onward down towards Kinder Low trig, trying to keep my wits about me so as not to fall over again. (I think my record is 5 times on Kinder during a race- and had no intention of beating that on this race). The runners ahead of me were taking quite a low line round the edge of the trig and I wondered if this was a new line, so followed them... for a short while, before realising that we were pretty much on the track for the 3 knolls and going in a direction that would take us to Kinderlow End. Not where we needed to be, so I hung a right and battered up a fairly indistinct trod to come out pretty much bang opposite the trig and on the line that I wanted to be on. 

Off down the hill, and the runners that were several hundred yards ahead of me just 10 mins prior were now behind me. Probably not for long, admittedly- they were much faster runners than me, but whatever. 

Down on the flags past Swines Back to the next checkpoint where I very nearly sprained both ankles in quick succession- but didn't, and a quick left, and then a right onto the flags (AGAIN!) over towards and past Brown Knoll. The blood on my arm had congealed pretty well by this point and there would be an excellent picture to be had later, but my concern now was when to have my 3rd and final gel. I was now with a group of runners who were *definitely* faster than me, it was very runnable and I was getting pretty damn tired... and there were 2 significant slopes to contend with. 

Toward South Head I let the others go, figuring that the main aim of today is finishing- competitive spirit? Nah mate. The final gel goes down and the concentration on getting up South Head and wondering if I have enough energy for the last few kilometres starts to play on my mind. I see Dan (he of the Spaniels) as I start the climb and dig in as much as I can on the way up, making my way toward Zoe's Cowbell and the pair of windblown marshals at the top of the hill. 

Dropping off the other side, in years gone by I'd have dropped like a stone- but I haven't the miles in my legs this year and descending doesn't come quite so easily if the eccentric strength isn't there, so I made my way down as fast as possible, making "old man" noises. A short run over to the gate and then onward down the Pennine Bridleway saw Rich Seipp marshalling and taking photos just before the road crossing and another lovely half a glass of water. 

Thanks for the photo, Rich

Now the climb to Big Stone, which is pretty damn up all the way. It's fairly innocuous to begin with, but there is no let up in the gradient. Onwards and upwards, and just before we hit the steep climb to the top, ahead of us is the guy who was leading the race, not looking good. He seemed to be weaving a bit, as if with heat exhaustion. As we caught up, we checked to make sure he was ok. He was very lucid, and had sprained his ankle pretty badly earlier on, hence the weaving, but was generally ok. 

Onward up to the checkpoint at Big Stone where we saw Carl sheltering from the wind, and then the final section of the race. Along New Allotments, where Josh finally overtook me, and then down to Phoside where my right hip *really* started to complain about going downhill, so I took it a bit easier. No point in breaking myself just on a random local race. 

Down through phoside and across the fields, a final descent into Hayfield, and I have to shout the guy in front of me back from crossing the road into Hayfield proper- yeah, so I lost out on a place, but that's a shit way to gain a place- he was running faster than me anyway. 

Cross the bridge and into the field for a jog into the finish line. 

Tim was fumbling with his camera and there was no-one else around, so I stopped before the finish funnel for him to get organised for a decent finish photo. 

Not a set up picture in any way, shape or form

A short wander around in a daze and figured I'd better sort my arm out- so went to wash it out in the sink. Thanks to the random person that happened to have iodine in her bag- but I was in quite enough pain as it was. The congealed blood came off ok, and there were no bits of Kinder residing in my arm, so that was good. A change into biking gear, chat to a few more finishers and make my way, painfully slowly back over the hill to home. 

2:17ish for the race, which isn't too bad. I was hoping for closer to the 2 hour mark, but I'd need to learn how to run better again for that to happen!

Thanks to Tim and Pennine for putting on a great race. Shame to see so few women racing. I presume its a post pandemic thing?

Friday, 17 June 2022

Reflections on riding to Wales (and back)

 This has been in the offing for quite a while. I think it was about 2 years ago that I thought about riding across from Glossop to Llanbedr- (although the actual plan was to continue onward on the next day down to Fishguard, which, in retrospect, might have been a little ambitious). 

The plan was to do it in the speediest way possible- so on roads and cycle paths, rather than make it hard for myself by trying to do it on gravel and offroad. 

The initial idea was to go across to Llanbedr (the one just south of Harlech- a place of childhood holidays and a family cottage) with a few clothes in a bikepacking bag, and then perhaps come back a day later. This time around, the parents were up in Wales for a week, Lynne wasn't able to come down until a few days later, so it seemed like a perfect time to saddle up and try the route out. (with the added bonus that Lynne could being some more clothes and a whole load of revision for me in the van a few days later). 


The initial route was planned (a long time ago) on a website called ridewithgps. Since then, I have started to use Komoot with some success. So I pretty much plugged in the start and finish locations and pretty much went with what it spat out, not really knowing quite what the route was going to be. 

When working on the gravel side of things, I'm always very skeptical because the routes don't tend to take into account minor things like the fact a number of rights of way are in fact footpaths- and also the fact that a number of theorectially ridable routes are very much NOT. Road riding is a very different matter. The route it sends you on is pretty much going to be rideable, no matter what. So I went with it. 

And I'm off!

The only minor problem was the weather forecast. A steady SouthWesterly, all day from about 16mph, gusting to 32mph. That's a headwind- every mile of the way. No respite, no shelter, just hard work throughout. After the reiver where I basically hid behind Matt for 9 hours because of the headwind, I thought I should probably just harden up and get on with it. So that ended up being the plan. 

Big saddlebag on, food in pouch and lights on, I left the house at some ungodly time in the morning, following a very decent double espresso. It was about 5am, by my memory. The wind was already pretty strong, but not ridiculous and good progress was made. Soon enough I was beyond normal territory, (I tend to ride in the Peak district, not Cheshire), and new places were being visited. The M6 was passed in what seemed like a ridiculously short amount of time, Wilmslow, Alderley Edge- all the footballers houses etc, and I ploughed on into the wind. 

Across the Cheshire plain it was *technically* all downhill, if ever so slightly, so decent time was made. In fact the first 100km was done almost as fast as I've ever ridden that distance in the past- just over 4 hours- which- into a headwind, is pretty decent. The minor issue was that the first 100km had about 1000m of ascent in it- not a lot. But the subsequent 50km had another 1000m of ascent, and the 40k after that had *another*1000m of ascent. All into an increasing headwind. 

You could tell when you reached Wales....

Thus far I had been very impressed with the Komoot route finding. I wove my way through the Cheshire lanes, only occasionally having to venture onto main roads. All the way to Chester was pretty much a delight. Once at Chester I think I must have played around with the route a bit- I was on the the Chester Millenium way for a while, but ended up going through an industrial estate for a while as well. 

I'd pretty much got to Chester for 9am- (the reason I remember that is because I was thinking that technically I could have done Chester Parkrun!), but there were still no places to stop for food or drink. Well, there was a Greggs and a McDonalds, but I have *some* standards. So on I ploughed. From this point on, things would get a little more challenging, but the roads would steadily get steeper (and if it had not been for the weather- more pretty). 

The main things I now remember are the beautiful narrow country lanes, the steadily climbing hills into a headwind and going past a number of places where I raced in 2015- Moel Famau and Moel Hebog being the main ones. After the ridiculous (or so I thought at the time) climb over Hebog, the steady descent took me into Ruthin where I was *finally* able to stop for a coffee and a sausage roll. Oh the bliss! A HUGE danish pastry was also purchased for eating further along the way, and the cafe kindly refilled my water bottles. 

From Ruthin there is a bit of a flat(er) section and some undulating bits (read "not flat") and a section where I was joined for a short spell by a local who was out for a short ride in the wind. We parted ways just after the A5 where he was going to turn around and enjoy the fruits of the tailwind on the way home, and I was about to start a very long, very draggy uphill section onto some of the bleakest bits of road I've seen in a while. 

Ruthin food stop!


I have no idea how far it was, but all you need to know is that it felt like it went on upwards forever. Not at a huge gradient, but against the wind, you don't need a huge gradient to make it hard. This is one of those hills where you think you can see the top, and every time you think youve got there, more of it appears. There is no overarching massive hill above you which tells you how much more of it there is to go- just an ever onward ribbon of tarmac that inexolerably climbs across the moor and out of sight. I was overtaken by a few cars on the way up, and one of them broke down at the top and by the time I finally made it up there, he was being towed off by his mates. 

Finally the downhill came, and I stopped off in Llan Festiniog for a very very well earned sharing (yeah right) size packet of Doritos, some lucozade and a refill of water. From here it was a fairly simple cruise down through to Maentrog and beyond and then a quite frankly ridiculous 20% climb onto the back road. After 180km there was no way my legs were going to do that and I got off and walked. 

The road that went up forever.
The back road was a delight, with a couple of gates to get through, but no cars, just sheep and other wildlife to watch, and pretty soon, I was there. Llanbedr. 10 hours deep, a bit tired, but well. No punctures and no real problems, apart from a headwind!

That's what it looked like

 

And a few days to relax before I did the whole thing in reverse. 

The way home

Again, I was up early in the morning, but this time, it was a beautiful clear day- and NO headwind. Fabulous. The route was mainly the same as the one on the way out, but with a couple of minor detours- the main one being into Queensferry, which, initially was a bit of a bummer, but ended up being rather fabulous as I cruised along the Sustrans link with Chester, which was a true delight. 

A much nicer day than when I came over previously!

The main thing that I noticed through the day was the quietness of the roads- ok, so it was Thursday morning, but looking at the A-roads and the motorways that I wasn't on, they were still busy... the small backroads that took me across Wales to Ruthin were blissfully quiet, and without a headwind- were a beautiful way to travel. 

Quiet roads

Ruthin was the stop off of choice- mainly because there was a bit of a stonker of a hill directly afterward, so it made sense to have a bacon sandwich and a double espresso prior to that (and to pick up a bit of brownie as a well done for later in the day). 

Ruthin food stop! I could make a habit of this...
 

To be honest, the hill wasn't all that bad- certainly not as insane as the 20%er at the end of the day on my way TO Llanbedr. Although I won't say I made short work of it, it was quite fun to get up it. (Always amusing when you think you're out of gas on a hill, wondering how far it is to go having just done a *really* steep bit and you pass a house called "halfway house".... oh great). 

Coffee stop with Lynne. (yes these photos are out of order)

Up and over and the roads steadily got less hilly- though there was a steady incline pretty much all the way back to Glossop. No freewheeling here! Had to stop at a random garage in Wilmslow area to pick up some more water and a Coke- the heat was really beginning to get to me... that and slowly becoming more and more saddle sore as well. 
Go to Wales see a Dragon guarding a grit bin...
 

Perhaps that was the worst part of the whole thing- getting saddle sore. I wonder if it was because I didn't really have a chance to wash my shorts properly- or maybe just the heat of the day? Or maybe the two combined? Who knows- but it's never happened before. Mind you- neither has riding 2 200km days within a week of each other... that might have had something to do with it. 

That lovely Sustrans route. Everything a bike route should be?

I eventually staggered through the door just over 9 hours after I left Llanbedr, quite hot and ready to have a shower and some more proper food! 

The main things about my long rides in this past week have been just how good the roads have been (ok, there were some pretty crappy bits of tarmac in places), but by and large, it has been decent under-wheel. (Having 700x32 gatorskin hardshells might have something to do with it as well). 

Stumbling in through the door.

When you leave at 5am on the way out to Cheshire, don't expect anywhere to be open for coffee for a good few hours! It wasn't until Ruthin that I found a coffee shop that was actually open, and to be honest, I really didn't pass many coffee shops in Cheshire, so it didn't matter about the time of morning. Lots of posh houses, lots of hairdressers, precious few coffee places. 

It would be interesting to do this again but in different shorts. I have some old Rapha shorts that have ALWAYS been comfortable. I was in Endura shorts this time around, and I wonder if that had a bearing on how sore I was on the way back. 

And that was the route home.

Otherwise- the kit was great. The Fairlight Secan keeps on rolling, the Giro shoes keep on turning (Though I have to say, although they are "ok" whenn walking, they are not what I would call "good" for walking in... a bit of a gripe when it comes to "touring" or "bikepacking" shoes.... something that will, no doubt be extrapolated on in a future blog). 

The Stolen Goat socks - the only cycling socks that I've ever bought were marvellous, and the Camelbak dirt bottles- made so that crap doesn't get on the mouthpieces continue to be excellent. 

Just need to do some more long rides now. (though it might be prudent to wait til sitting on a saddle is a little more comfortable).