Today was the Tour de Manc, a 105 mile very hilly ride around all 10 metropolitan areas in Greater Manchester, most of it in the hills and countryside surrounding the city. It’s my first early(ish) season major test of fitness.
I’d arrived in the area the day before the event and had time for a quick ride before my dinner. I’d changed the pedals on the Roubaix over from the winter MTB Shimano XTR ones to my summer Look pedals (or so I thought!).
I’m rubbish at clipping in at the best of times but try as I might, it just would not work today. I had a quick look and realised I’d fitted Shimano road pedals and not Look ones! Doh! No wonder I could not clip in.
I did a quick Google and there was a good bike shop about a mile away so I called to check they could sort me out with some Shimano cleats. They could, so I rode up very carefully and was soon fixed. Phew! That could have been a sportive stopper if I’d discovered that at 7am on the start line tomorrow morning!
Anyway, the morning of the event arrived and I parked up and cycled the short distance to the event HQ at the David Lloyd sports centre. Registration was easy and I was soon ready for my ride.
I knew the route from last year so headed off to the start line to get away as early as possible as I know the ride is seriously hilly for the last 80-85 miles and it would not be a quick ride.
The first part of the route takes you through Prestwich, Salford, Old Trafford, Didsbury and onwards to Stockport and is pretty flat. As soon as you see the “Welcome to Stockport” sign the terrain starts to kick up and you know that’s the flat roads done for the day. That’s the reason I’m here though, so bring it on!
After Marple, we come to the closed road section on the very steep hill up Werneth Low. A total lung buster but very satisfying to complete. I even managed a smile for the photographer halfway up (I think!).
A small feed stop was at the top and I stopped to top up with water (it’s very hot today!) and admire the fab views over the whole of the Manchester area from the nearby stone wall.
Next, it was past the end of the M57 and onwards into the hills to the east of Oldham. A beautiful area to cycle in, very reminiscent of the Peak District in Derbyshire.
I stopped at the second feed stop at Carr House just before Diggle and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and homemade scones with jam and cream. Yum! Wish all feed stops on other sportives were as good as this one!
More hills followed before a lovely flowing descent into the Rochdale area and a diversion off last year’s route, right through the town centre and past the lovely Town Hall I’ve only ever seen on North West Tonight before.
As we came out of Rochdale it was the turn of the third feed stop at a primary school in Norden. A choice of hot pies and made to order sandwiches, with tea and coffee awaited us lucky riders. Got to love food stops like this!
It was the long climb up to Owd Betts, which overlooks the Manchester area from the north and provided stunning (if not a little hazy) views today. Followed by a quick diversion into Lancashire and up to near Rawtenstall, before heading back into Greater Manchester and Bury.
Th fourth and final feed stop at Belmont Sailing Club soon followed, with lots more delicious sandwiches and lots of tea and coffee, all done by some very friendly and encouraging event staff. Just what you need 75 miles and I don’t know how many 1000’s of feet of climbing into the ride.
Next, we traversed the back of Winter Hill with more climbing, before a fabulously long descent past Rivington and onwards to the final Metropolitan Area of the day – Wigan!
From there it was an easier ride back to event HQ, with another revision to last years route after Horwich (much better this year thanks).
The final sting in the tail was a long climb about 96 miles into the ride, just at the hottest point of the day. Not too bad after all and knowing it was pretty much all downhill after that helped a lot.
The final 10 miles or so saw a group of us egging each other on and having some banter along the way. Perfect ending to a perfect ride.
Back at the event HQ, I got a lovely medal and had a pint of the event beer, which is brewed locally and was VERY welcome after the hot, but very rewarding ride.
An absolutely flawless day out on a sportive. Great weather, lovely route, perfect organisation and the best food stops ever. Loved it!
Route: click here