Last week I did a practice mini cycle tour between two Watford away matches oop t’north…
Tues 1st Oct: Train up from London to Blackburn with the bike, checked into Chimneys Guesthouse, met Jon, Ady, Mike and Al (who drove up from Watford) for a pre-match beer, then onto Ewood Park, Blackburn 1 – 0 Watford, d’oh!
Weds 2nd Oct: Cycled south to Darwen, got a bit lost, had to push the bike up a hill through a wood, asked directions from a Man City fan, then chained the bike to a gate and walked/ran up to Darwen Tower on top of the moor. Back on the bike and cycled north to Clitheroe, checked into Brooklyn Guesthouse, rode a lovely 30 mile loop of the Ribble Valley (http://www.cycle-route.com/routes/Ribble_Valley_Circular-Cycle-Route-1124.html), went to a local pub and watched Champions League footy with some Manc lads one of whom was getting married nearby the next day.
Thurs 3rd Oct: Took a stroll around Clitheroe Castle, overnight slow puncture so found a bike shop to get a new tyre and inner tube, cycled south and randomly decided to visit Accrington Stanley’s stadium where I was welcomed in for a photo by the pitch, brilliant! Then cycled east from Lancs into Yorks and the Garmin went a bit mad so took me on a big detour up a long hill into the pouring rain, but I eventually found my way to Hebden Bridge Hostel to dry off. Pub 3 course dinner for £5 known as the Teatime Trembler! Cinema to see The Way Way Back, great stuff by Sam Rockwell.
Fri 4th Oct: Full English brekkie in retro local cafe, then set off for a very hilly 45 mile cycle (http://www.cycle-route.com/routes/Gisburn_to_Hebden_Bridge_Hilly_Pennine_Loop-Cycle-Route-4818.html) and after lunch the weather closed in so that I couldn’t see more than 20m ahead down the road at times! Stopped for an afternoon break at the Green Dragon Cafe, Coldwell Activity Centre, where staff and customers alike were very friendly and when I mention my Brazil plans a very kind woman (oops, forgot to ask her name) gave me £2 which is my first charity donation received, thanks! Later refuelled with another Trembler plus a few pints and got entertained by some Rapper Sword Dancers in the pub.
Sat 5th Oct: Sunrise stroll around Hebden Bridge then I conquered the very steep ascent out of town, worst part was near the top when two yapping dogs chased me up the road – I think the Tour De France should be sent up this hardcore hill next year (it’s not on the route though). Cycled along the Upper Calder Valley then down to Sowerby Bridge and up a shockingly even steeper hill than the last one, I had to stop and push the bike, annoying. Continued east and an hour later I was in Huddersfield and reached the John Smith’s Stadium. Locked the bike up at a local sports centre where I went for a swim and a shower, then grabbed a burger and back to the ground, met Jon, Ady and Mike (who drove up from Watford again!) for a pre-match beer, Huddersfield 1 – 2 Watford, get in there! Raced to the train station and headed back to London.
A great trip, this cycle touring thing’s not so tough, well it is when you’re only doing 4 days rather than 5 months!