Ironbridge and back via Jiggers Bank, Little Wenlock, The Wrekin, Wem and Whitchurch. Hills!

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I’m doing the Ride Staffs Sportive starting in Uttoxeter on Sunday so needed to get some more miles in the legs during the week. Friday looked the better for weather but it’s a bit close to Sunday so I opted to come out today (Thursday).

I’ve been avoiding cycling to Ironbridge so thought today was the day to do it. I planned a nice route down past the back of Lilleshall, through Shifnal to Ironbridge and then home via Little Wenlock and The Wrekin.

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The ride out was very hard work with a 15mph wind directly in my face. I plodded along and was soon descending into Ironbridge Gorge. I stopped at a lovely cafe right by the bridge itself for a coffee and scone.

After refreshments, I headed up Jiggers Bank, which is in the top 100 climbs in the UK book. Not quite sure what all the fuss is about as it as not too hard. Just drop to a low gear and grind it out. After that I headed off up into Little Wenlock. The ramp up into the village is very steep and a lot harder than Jiggers Bank.

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Onwards past the car park at the base of The Wrekin I was starting to wonder about extending my ride to Wem and Whitchurch as it was such a nice day. What the heck, I was enjoying the ride so far so the decision was not too hard!

In Wem I stopped at our sponsors pub to refill my water bottle, which thy very kindly added a dash of blackcurrant juice and some ice cubes. There is service for you!

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Approaching Whitchurch I resisted the urge to pop into Dearnford Lake and carried on straight past it. I did stop for a few minutes admiring the views over the lake at the lovely Brown Moss Nature Reserve though.

In Market Drayton I popped into our sponsors brewery tap for a quick pint of Shropshire Hop before carrying on to home.

78 miles ridden and over 3600ft of climbing. A great ride.

Route: click here

Cheshire Cat Sportive

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Today was the day I’d been preparing for. 111 miles and over 6000ft of climbing, My longest ride and my biggest elevation in a ride, both in the same ride! If I’m not ready for this now I never will be!

I got up early (5:50am but with the clocks going back an hour last night it was really 4:50am) and drove up to Crewe. The car parking was at South Cheshire College and I’d popped by yesterday to register, so as to speed things up this morning,

I thus rode the 1.5 miles or so to Queens Park where the event was due to start. I arrived and popped into the cafe for a pitstop and a cup of coffee to warm me up. I bumped into Jacko from the Raiders, who had ridden up to Crewe from Newport earlier!

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Once on the start line, they started letting riders go just after 8am. I was soon on my way and wending my way over towards the killer mile of Mow Cop, the first climb of the day.

We got stuck at the level crossings at the start of the climb but were soon on our way. I took it very steady but the going was tricky with so many cyclists everywhere, weaving every which way as they battled to stay on their bikes!

At the top we headed off up past the mast and down the other side of the hill onwards to our first feed stop at Biddulph Moor, at the top of the next hill. Here I filled up with supplies and had a very nice cheese sandwich. I also bumped into a couple of other Raiders for a quick chat. Interestingly enough, you could clearly see the Cheshire Plain from the car park and Jodrell Bank in the middle, very close to our next feed stop at Goostrey.

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On I plodded, down past Rudyard Lake next and then the climb of Gunn Hill. This was a long climb but not too steep so I just dropped to a low gear and ground it out. Enjoyed that!

Next it was down into Winkle and past the brewery before climbing the last major hill of the day just before Macclesfield. Then we dropped down onto the Cheshire Plain and the going got much easier, and faster!

In no time I was at the second feed stop in Goostrey and had a welcome cup of coffee. By this time things had warmed up considerably and I ditched by leg and arm warmers. Much better! On the way out of the feed station I went past Paul Evans from the Newport Club, who was just arriving.

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The next section took us through Northwich before heading round the far side to Weaverham, Just before the third and final feed stop at Cuddington, Paul caught up with me and we cycled together for the remainder of the ride, chatting away as we went. Great company!

The third feed stop was the nicest one with all the local volunteers very chatty and asking us all sorts of questions about the ride.

Then it was onwards into the lovely Delamere Forest. Really loved this part of the ride and was wondering to myself why I left it so long to come back to this beautiful place.

It was then on to a few more smaller climbs near Kelsall before dropping down to the flats and the run into Nantwich and onwards to Crewe and the finishing line.

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At the finishing line we were presented with our medals and Paul and myself retired to the beer tent for a well deserved pint. We sat chatting for ages and by the time we got back to the car park, realised our cars were the last there!

A really great day out with a fab route. Absolutely loved that!

Route: click here

72 mile training ride out to Whitchurch, Wrenbury, Nantwich, Crewe and Madeley. Getting the miles in for the Cheshire Cat Sportive this Sunday. I think I’m ready!

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With the 108 mile, 6300 ft elevation change Cheshire Cat on Sunday I thought I better get out and get some steadyish miles into my legs mid week. Thursday looked the best day weather wise and also gives me a couple of days recovery time before Sunday.

I headed out on my usual route to Dearnford Lake and popped in for a coffee and cake. I then headed up through Whitchurch to Wrenbury and onwards to Nantwich and Crewe.

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Passing through Crewe, I rode along part of the Cheshire Cat route and noticed the road signs were out already (see picture above). Can’t wait for the challenge this Sunday.

After heading down to Wybunbury I decided to head over towards Madeley at the side of Stoke and I knew there were more hills out that way. A few more new roads for cycling on, which is always fun.

After Woore, I opted for yet another new road up to Norton In Hales and then onwards via Betton to Market Drayton, where I popped into the brewery tap for a quick pint.

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From there I did the usual club route climb up to Chipnall and then down the Newport road and cut back home via Sambrook and Howle.

A fab day’s riding and 72 miles in the bag. Very windy from the east today which was fun at times but nice and easy coming home as I had the wind behind me most of the way.

Route: click here

Jodrell Bank Classic Sportive

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My second Sportive of this year is the Jodrell Bank Classic from Team Torelli and starting at the same place as the Cheshire Mini Sportive last month – Poynton Leisure Centre.

As with last month, I stopped overnight in Macclesfield as registration opened at 7:30am and the start was at 8:30am. I arrived in plenty of time and registered and had a chat with fellow riders. As the weather was warmish I opted for Raiders summer kit with arm and leg warmers. A quick look around before the start revealed I was one of the only ones in summer kit. Do they all know something I don’t or are they all lightweights ;).

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I just want to add something about the routing of the ride here as it was originally a fab looking 85 mile circuit of Cheshire, looping round the entirety of Tatton Park (was looking forward to this bit as I used to ride round here 25 years ago) before heading down to Each Dennis and then back via the side of Congleton, Macclesfield and the Pott Shrigley climb. Two days before the event they changed the route due to road closures near Wilmslow and cut out the Tatton Park and extended some other bits. This left a 68 mile route, which I was a bit disappointed to be a fair bit shorter than the original 85 miles. As it turned out on the day the route deviated from the revised route in 5-6 places and I ended up back at the starting line with only 66.5 miles on the clock.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the ride…

I lined up at the start, literally on the front row and had our picture taken by the official photographer. We then got our numbers scanned and set off.

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There was a very strong wind from the west which was in our faces for most of the first 30 miles and was somewhat zapping on the legs. I still somehow managed to end up with an average speed of 17mph after 30 miles – how I did it I have no idea!

Shortly afterwards was the feed stop at Allostock near Knutsford. This was the same as last month and out of the back of a van in a lay by. Fuelled up I headed off again, doing pretty much a whole circuit of Jodrell Bank (can’t not do that on a Sportive with Jodrell Bank in it’s name!).

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Then the rain started… it was only light but the kind that gets you soaking quickly. I was prepared and whipped out my gilet so not an issue.

The route after this was gently up hill all the way back to Macclesfield and then coming into Bollington the gradient kicked up quite a bit and carried on like this up into Pott Shrigley. The climb was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting and was not an issue. This part of the ride was especially pretty as you were in the hills at the side of the Peak District.

We descended from the hills and pretty much were soon back at the start point as the last part of the route was curtailed by yet more road closures. A fab ride nonetheless.

I retired to the social room and had some flan, cake and coffee and a good natter with other riders.

Really enjoyed that, despite the bad weather.

Finally, during the ride, two funny things happened to me:

I spotted a group of riders in perfect formation and all with the same kit on up ahead. As I approached and tagged on the back for a lift to rest my legs, I was they were the new Storey Women’s Racing Team. They were not going that fast so after a few moments I pulled out to pass them. That’s when I spotted the car in front of them with photographer leaning out of the window getting shots of them. I now know this is a brand new team only announced the day before, so presumably they were out getting publicity shots. I hope I did not ruin these by photo-bombing the shoot!

then…

I was stopped by the side of the road having a gel when two ladies from the Team Torelli Pro Team cycled past (the team who run this event). They shouted over a friendly hello and I tried to reply but with a mouth full of gel I made a noice like Chewbacca from Star Wars. How embarrassing! They almost did a a double take and I got some funny looks off them when we got back to the finish line and I bumped into them in the social room.

Route: click here

 

 

A steady and chatty ride to Dearnford Lake for cake with Nicole

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I’ve been meaning to get out on a ride with Nicole ever since we went to Gran Canaria and today was the day we’d both got time to do it.

I’d got the football in Altrincham at 3pm so we arranged to meet in Childs Ercall (half way between our respective houses) at 8:30am so we could ride ride without having to rush. Don’t want to go too fast today anyway as I’ve got the long Jodrell Bank Classic Sportive in the morning.

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I was going to drive down to Childs Ercall just in case time was short but rode down instead. As I arrived at the agreed meeting point Nicole arrived from her direction. Talk about perfect timing!

We had a fab ride out to Dearnford catching up with news and having a good old natter. We arrived at Dearnford just after 9:30am (never been here so early!) and it was virtually deserted.

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We ordered our coffee and cake and went outside but the wind was making it a bit cold so ended up inside. Much better!

After the coffee stop we headed off on my normal ride back to Drayton via Calverhall and then cut down past the Market Drayton Golf Club back to Childs Ercall, where we parted company.

I ended up at the football in Altrincham in plenty of time and had a fab morning ride which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Route: click here

New bike time – Pinarello Dogma F8

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I’ve been thinking about getting another bike for a while. Ever since Gran Canaria in fact!

Hench, one of the Raiders got a new Dogma F8 a few weeks ago and keeps telling me how good it is and encouraging me to get one. The more I looked into it the more I liked the idea so got in contact as I know he can get me a good deal on one.

I decided on one with the Sram Red Etap totally wireless gears that a lot of the pro’s use. I specified a few other things that I like on it and Si at Nova Cycles liaised to get it built to order.

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Today I got a lift down to Newport and picked up my new bike. It looks amazing in the flesh and even better than in the pictures I had seen (which looked fab anyway).

I’d normally wait to ride such a bike on better roads in the summer but could not resist test riding it home. There was a nasty headwind that stopped me really seeing how fast it could go but it felt amazing to ride and I have absolutely no doubt on it’s capabilities come the better weather.

Route: click here

A ride out to Dearnford and then exploring the lanes of South Cheshire

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Today was forecast to be up to 17 degrees and sunny all day so I opted for full summer kit and my favourite Cycology bits. Was absolutely glorious and totally warm when riding. Makes a HUGE change from the tons of winter kit I have been wearing!

I was planning my usual Dearnford Lake 55 mile ride and so pulled up for the obligatory cake and coffee, sitting outside by the lake in the sun.

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We’ve been looking at a development property near Marbury in Cheshire and it was not too far away. With such a lovely day it was an easy decision to change the rest of the ride and head up that way for a look and then to explore some new lanes afterwards.

I was soon up through Whitchurch and at the new property. Fab views from here to the north, literally overlooking the Peckforton hills and Beeston Castle.

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I then planned to head off to Wrenbury and then Sound Heath and see where I went from there. I ended up to the NW of Nantwich before cutting through Nantwich to Crewe and then back home via Wybunbury, Audlem, Norton In Hales and Market Drayton.

A really fun day out on the bike, beautiful weather and quite a few new lanes explored. Best fun I’ve had on the bike since Gran Canaria!

Route: click here