Keith, Dave Pipe and myself had cycled a recce of the proposed route at the beginning of the week. The lunch stop pub had been closed, and Keith mashed his gears and chain before the end. Oh! and the pub we diverted to in Chipping resulted in heads smacking a low beam for the second year on the run. We eventually got back to Runcorn well after 9pm. We had a beautiful day out, nevertheless.
Today we were lucky; the weather was still great. We had settled on two routes, one for the tandem and those who wished to go slower, and the longer one, which was never going to be actually brisk given the hills and the mixed ability of the group.
Keith, Steve and Steve, Paul and Tom and myself made up our long ride team, and it all worked out great! It was warm with beautiful views on Padiham Heights. We stopped for an investigation of the last Clarion Room in the country, and sat on the benches looking toward Yorkshire with the sun on our faces. After grinding around the orca-like hulk of Pendle we were soon hurtling down into picturesque Downham, used as a location for both Whistle Down The Wind and Born and Bred. We were soon cruising through Waddington where I'd booked the other group in at The Higher Buck. When we reached The Dog and Partridge at Hesketh Lane, it was a relief to find it open, and very popular. The welcome was warm, our table reserved, and the food and the waitress were very tasty. Tom would have liked more crust on his pie, but there were plenty of nice vegetables to fill up on.
Beacon Fell was a new destination for most, although the hot hazy day limited the full extent of the panoramic view available. I had worked out that we may run into the tandem group, and we did, on the Quiet Lane out of Chipping. They looked a bit overdressed to us; perhaps Dave and Liz had been trying to lighten their costume pannier! We eventually hauled ourselves up past the Wild Boar Park and whooshed down to Burholme Bridge. We stopped at Dunsop Bridge for a quick break and coffee. After Slaidburn it was hard work around the hairpin for the lardy lads, but it’s a lovely route back over the fell, and the descent is long and exhilarating to Holden. We broke our necks to reach the cream teas booked at The Calf's Head at Worston before the 5 o'clock cut-off. Most of the staff were fine, but the Cream Tea Queen was dour and sour, despite Steve Tan's friendly greeting. We sat in the garden, still in sunshine, knowing that we only had about five easy miles back to the car.
Everybody seemed to enjoy the day, and it was Paul's first Special Ride. 62 miles, and over 5,900 feet climbed according to Steve's gizmo. I thoroughly enjoyed the company and the pace never seemed an issue, despite three of us being fast, and three not so fast! Many thanks to Jim and Dave Pipe for being so accommodating in ensuring that the shorter ride could take place, and Keith for taking time off work twice, and providing the convenience of the big black van. Also, many thanks to Bryan Wade for putting information on the website at short notice.