Bowland Forest Populaire: Wray 28th April 2019

This year’s edition of the Bowland Forest Populaire, a cyclotourist trial of just over 102kms [64 miles] was held on the final Sunday of April.

Once again the event was held in conjunction with the Wray Scarecrow Festival which provides a good venue for the event accommodating both the start and finish of the trial in the Wray Village Institute, good parking facilities and tea and cakes for riders on completing the ride.

There had been a certain amount of worry about the prospect of mixed weather patterns at the end of April this year, Saturday 27th proving to be especially inhospitable. However, Sunday April 28th turned out to be a day of almost ideal conditions for cycling.

The Bowland Forest Populaire is a tourist trial run under the auspices of Audax UK in conjunction with Cycling UK, the parent body of the promoting club CTC Lancaster & South Lakes. The rules of events in the category labelled ‘populaire’ provide for a generous time allowance and with restriction to ensure that the event is not as such a cycle race.

The course deliberately avoids busy main roads as much as possible. After the initial few miles the route leaves the A683 for Caton Green,, Caton, Quernmore, Harrisend Fell and Chipping where there was a checkpoint at the Cobble Corner Café. On leaving Chipping the route follows minor roads through Whitewell, Dunsop Bridge, Slaidburn, Tosside and Wiggleworth before a checkpoint just beyond Rathmell. The final 24kms passes through Eldroth and Mewith Head en route to the finish at Wray. It is a hilly route enjoying Audax’s bronze grimpeur status for the event’s  1,700 metres of climbing.

This year’s field included riders from local clubs from Lancaster, Preston & Kendal, and also cyclists from various parts of the country from as far afield as Bristol, York, Hertfordshire, Knutsford, Manchester and Leeds. One contingent was from the Stockport area: the SK6 Spinners, all five of whom completed the course well within the time limit. In all there were 50 riders starting the event and there was only one retirement.

CTC Lancaster & South Lakes has promoted Audax tourist trials every year since 1993 and, following from this year’s success, we hope to repeat this event again next year. As event organiser I would like to congratulate all of the riders who completed the course and also to thank the many loyal club members who helped both at the start and finish and at the marshalled checkpoints.

Mike Hutchinson  1st May 2019

Forest Tourist Trial: Sunday 29th April 2018

We had 53 entrants but only 50 started.

Riders came from various places - the extremes being two riders from the A5 Rangers CC [Northants]; an A & E doctor from Keswick; riders from Pilling and Leeds/Harrogate.  We were very well represented with no less than 11 of our regular riders plus a similar number of CUK/CTC members from Lancaster and South Lakes.

Until Chipping everything went well and, similarly, until Dunsop Bridge. 

Only 6 riders [+ me] got thrugh the crash site before the road closure.  After that a further 24 managed to get through via some off road riding  but after that the police were instructed to let nobody through, including cyclists.

Several riders opted for the Trough of Bowland but 8 riders attempted to re-route via Whitewell and Cow Ark.  For some, with local knowledge, the extra 12kms was hard but do-able.  However, three without a map had long conversations with me over the phone when they got well and truly lost.  The two from Northants finally made it after finding  Wiggleworth at about 4pm - but they didn't get back until after 7pm.

All safely gathered in - but a bit of a nighmare scenario.

I kept the check at Wray open until 6.30pm - only the duo from A5 Rangers didn't make it. We had quite a long chat on the phone and they were quite enthusiastic about the event and want to come back next year. [There is a family connection in Scorton - and apparently they were returning there for a fine lamb roast].

Well done everyone and thanks for the good turnout and for Anne, Pauline, Dave and Ray for their help.

Mike Hutchinson

Bowland Forest Tourist Trial: Sunday 23rd April 2017.

In conjunction with the Wray Scarecrow Festival, Lancaster CTC organised a cycling trial covering over 100kms of the Forest of Bowland.

The start and finish was at the Village Institute in Wray. By the 09:00 start there had been 48 registered to ride the event. The weather was kind and Sunday proved to be one of the finest spring days so far in 2017.

With 3 non starters 45 riders were involved in the event with riders from Peak Audax and Manchester, Eden Valley Cumbria, Settle Wheelers, Kendal & District Cycling Scene, Harrogate, Preston, Leyland and St Annes as well as local Lancaster CTC regulars. Ages ranged from 12 years to the septuagenarians. But then this was a tourist trial and not a race.

This was a hilly event based in the main on minor roads and with a total of over 1,600 metres of climbing. The outward journey went through Claughton, Caton Green and Quernmore Cross Roads before Five Lane Ends and the first check, at 22kms, an information point, just before The Fleece. 

The first major climbs were over Harrisend Fell and the road from Oakencloiugh en route to Bleasdale and Chipping.

Here, at 50 kms, there was a marshaled checkpoint outside of the handily positioned Cobbled Corner Café. Several riders took advantage of the opportunity here for food and drink.

By now the field was split over several minutes and they left in small groups heading towards the Inn at Whitewell, Dunsop Bridge and Slaidburn. From here there was a serious climb up towards Tosside and Wigglesworth where they turned to Rathmell and the final marshaled check at 80kms just before the A65.

The return leg took the riders through Eldroth, Mewith Head and along Mewith Lane en route to the finish.

All 45 riders completed the course between 1.30pm and 5.15pm. At the Village Institute the catering there was most welcomed. All successful competitors also received “goody bags” courtesy of Cycling UK.

It is hoped to repeat the event next year.