I’d had a long weekend in Wales with friends and so had not cycled since last Wednesday and was getting serious withdrawal symptoms. Time to rectify that with a nice long ride with a few hills thrown in for good measure!
I’d planned a 100 miler with about 6000ft of climbing to Ashbourne in Derbyshire from home but on the day the winds were from the West and pretty strong and I realised my planned ride would be a nightmare all the way home as the route is basically East / West and riding up hills against a strong wind is not too much fun!
So, in came Plan B: a ride to my hometown of Altrincham in Cheshire, which is a nice North / South route and should make the strong wind easier to deal with. If I have time I could also call in at the Manchester Airport Viewing Park and come back via the hills at the side of Stoke, to get the necessary elevation in (the parts of Cheshire I am passing through are pretty flat).
I rode out on my usual route to Altrincham via Market Drayton, Audlem, Nantwich, Middlewich, Knutsford and Tatton Park. On the way, I stopped for a coffee after about 32 miles at the excellent Hopley House farm shop cafe. I resisted a piece of their excellent cake as I did not want to spoil my lunch at the foodie heaven that is Altrincham Market.
I was soon cycling through the lovely Tatton Park, down the Tatton Mile (fond memories of this from when I was younger and lived in the area – aged 17 and just passed my driving test: how fast can you go down the straight mile – you get the idea!), through Ashley and into Hale and Altrincham.
I headed straight for the market and chained my bike up to the railings outside so I could go in for lunch. As I was doing so I got chatting to this guy who asked me if I was having a nice ride and where had I set out for. He was amazed when I said “North Shropshire, 10 miles south of Market Drayton”. I got chatting about coming from Alty but moving out to the countryside in 2005 and that it was *only* a 54 mile ride from home to Alty.
Lunch was excellent as usual with smashed avocado and poached egg on rye toast and lots of chilli oil mixed in. I opted for a pint from one of the other stalls to wash it all down with. Lovely!
After I had finished I did not hang around as I’d set off late as it was and wanted to try and get home before it got dark. I did have time to quickly pop into the Manchester Airport Viewing Area though, so cycled down past my beloved Altrincham FC on Moss Lane, past our old house in Hale and onwards to the airport, where I took a quick selfie and headed off on my way.
The route home took me down to Jodrell Bank, where I normally pick up the reverse of my Jodrell Bank route from home (an 82 mile ride in itself!). This time though, I opted for the normal second half of my Jodrell Bank route as it takes you down the hills at the west side of Stoke on Trent and will give my legs a workout.
The hills were as much fun as usual but by the time I had nearly done them it was starting to go dark and I realised I did not have time to pop in for a quick pint at the Swan With Two Necks on the A53 like I usually do on this route.
Instead, I pressed on and was soon whizzing down Shay Lane, all the climbing behind me and a rapidly darkening road in front. Luckily my lights are on my bike all the time this time of year and fully charged so it was not a problem.
I arrived home with 113 miles on the clock (5 miles longer than I was expecting as the hilly route back from Jodrell Bank is a bit longer than the normal route I take to there). 4323ft of elevation too, mainly in the last 30 miles, which is not too shabby. All good sportive training.
A great day out on the bike and the cycling itch that I had after a weekend of no cycling had been well and truly scratched!
I’ll probably go for a leisurely 42 mile cafe ride to Dearnford Lake on Friday before the South Downs 100 Sportive on Sunday. Perfect!
Route: click here