Manchester to Blackpool - June 2019
Ride Leader Andrew reports……
It’s strange what a little time and reflection does to your memories.
If I'd been organised (and sober) enough to write this on the Saturday after the ride I'd have gone on about the unrelenting rain, the tough hills, the monstrous wind, everything being "epic" but that I'd enjoyed it.
A few days later it doesn't seem so bad; drizzle from time to time before McDonald's and a bit of rain afterwards although I still remember the wind in the same way and the ride was very enjoyable.
We set off almost bang on midnight for the schlep towards Salford along some really crap cycle lanes. We also made our first and second crossings of the River Irwell.
The shortened off-road section came and went quickly (two more Irwell crossings) and the hill up to Prestwich was barely noticed by the group.
We continued our convoy to Bury and stopped, as we always do, to remember Alan S.
Layers were adjusted for the climbing that was about to begin; Bury to Tottington is a gradual grind before the road steepens for a short time and then descends. This was the first stretch without street lights.
The safety warning about the tricky bend in the dip was heeded (at least everyone made it round) as was the advice to "let it rip" on the following dip and we regrouped in Edgworth. The Rose and Crown was closed, unlike last year.
The climb up towards the Grane Road stretched the group out but it didn't matter; the wait at the top wasn't long and it was still comfortably warm. As a further bonus, compared to last year, we could see the poles that guide the snow ploughs and the line in the centre of the road at the same time. We could also see up and down rather than feeling it.
The descent towards Blackburn and McD's is lovely (at 02.30; lots of fast traffic during the day). It always seems to repay the effort taken to get to the top so we were a cheery group when we arrived. My morale was also boosted because we were earlier than last year. And it wasn't raining.
I'd said to a few people that setting off again would be unpleasant but I hadn't anticipated the rain starting with a vengeance. Despite my earlier comments about memories softening, it was a downer. Still, the Fridays being the Fridays, we cursed quietly and got on with it. Then I took a wrong turn and we had to back track. I'd like to say that was the first time I've gone wrong there but……….
Back on track there was the drag through what was left of Blackburn and then the fabulous descent to Ribchester. I stopped on the bridge over the Ribble to look back at the line of lights coming down the hill. It was a great sight.
I always think of the climb from Ribchester to Longridge as being particularly cruel. There are lots of false summits and the last rise is the steepest.
At least there's a bench to sit on at the top.
Back together again and in daylight we tackled the lanes pretty much as a peloton before we hopped on to the A6 for a few miles. West of Garstang it's incredibly flat and we made good progress before the boring drag into Fleetwood.
A slightly early arrival at Frankie's and Bronnie's for breakfast was both a surprise and relief to Bronnie; given the weather, she'd been expecting a text in the middle of the night saying "We're not coming".
She clearly doesn't know the Fridays.
Unlike last year, we didn't sit outside but, like last year, tea, coffee and food arrived quickly and with good humour. It was also delicious although I have to admit that, after riding through the night, my standards may lessen slightly. In those circumstances, I'll probably eat anything. Except andouillette, obvsiously. Joking aside, I did enjoy it and they do try very hard.
Then came the final stretch which meant going back outside into a freshening wind and the roughest few miles that I've experienced on a FNRttC.
That part of the memory hasn't softened; it was gruesome. I must check on Strava to see if my highest heart rate coincided with being flicked sideways by the wind as I passed a gap in the sea wall. The sand blasting in to my face (and mouth and ears) just compounded the misery.
Thankfully the cross wind relented as we turned round Rossall Point and it became a cross/tailwind speeding progress towards Blackpool and Wetherspoons after photographs under the tower.
The pub was very busy but we managed to get enough seats for everyone and the over-riding sentiments seemed to be:-
"Thank goodness that's over."
"Let's do it again next year."
"More beer ?"
The responses were:- Yes; YES; YES.
In retrospect, I think this was one of the most miserable Manchester based FNRttC and yet one of the best. The weather wasn't great (really Sherlock?) but, wind along the Prom aside, it wasn't epic.
What was epic though was the spirit of the group; no surprise with a Fridays ride but still........ it's humbling and uplifting.
Thanks to everyone for checking your bikes over; no punctures or mechanicals. Marvellous.
Particular thanks to bazzer for TEC duties and the way-markers en route. I've said it before but a group that can look after itself really helps the ride leader.
Further thanks for making the effort to come to Manchester for the ride.
Hope to see you next year.
You've read the report, now watch the video shot by one of the Fridays. Josh: