The day has dawned and I’m totally ready for this! It will be the most elevation I’ve ever climbed in one day but I know if I pace myself I can do it!
As is usual with Sportives, I always wake up way too early – this time at 4:45am (did not need to be up until 6:30am as the event is only about 3 miles away from the hotel!).
I arrived and registered, had the obligatory pre-Sportive coffee and headed for the start line. After a quick ride briefing we were on our way.
The first part of the ride headed down through Salford, then Trafford and onwards into Stockport. I was amused that as soon as I had gone past the ‘Welcome to Salford’ signs, the next place on the right was a Prison. Talk about stereotyping Salfordian’s!
After Stockport the gradient started to kick up quite a bit and would not relent for the remainder of the ride. After Marple was the closed road of Cowlishaw Road and the killer hill of the ride. Wow, that was a steep one!
At the top of Werneth Low was the first feed stop and I got off my bike to enjoy the panoramic views over Manchester, while chatting to one of the local Thameside Countryside Wardens about the local area and history. Really interesting it was too.
The route then headed up through Stalybridge and up into the hills to the east of Oldham. Some fab countryside out this way and an area I’ve not really explored before. On the way was the second feed stop where I had a nice sandwich and a welcome coffee.
Just after Rochdale was the third feed stop at a local bowling club. As I’m a veggie I was allowed to help myself to the extensive bowling club buffet and not the meat and potato pie the other cyclists had. I was waited on by these lovely old ladies who kept insisting I try their cake. What fab hospitality :).
The route then headed off uphill to Owd Betts at the side of Scout Moor and a familiar spot from my geocaching days. The route split here and I kept on the 100 mile route as planned.
Next was a brief incursion into Lancashire and Haslingden. Then up past Wayoh and Entwhistle reservoirs – fond memories of our geocaching exploits round here too.
At Belmont sailing club we had the 4th and final feed stop and were wonderfully looked after by these lovely ladies.
Next it was over the back of Winter Hill and down past Rivington and into Wigan, the 10th and final metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester we are visiting on this ride.
After Wigan we still had two big climbs to do – one at 86 miles and one at 95 miles. Which sadist put this route together ;).
All too soon we were coasting downhill into Bury and then onwards to the finish line. At the finish we were warmly welcomed by the event staff and presented with our fab medals.
I then relaxed at event HQ for a while and sampled a pint of Full Manc, a beer specially brewed for the event by a local brewery. Very nice it was too.
A fab day and I felt surprisingly good at the end.
Route: click here