A new initiative was discussed at our last Committee Meeting and it was agreed to trial a 100 miles challenge ride, with a view to making it an annual event, if popular. The object was just to complete the 100 miles in a non-competitive and leisurely style; and so a relatively flat route was chosen, mostly to the south of Lancaster, apart from a warm-up climb from Caton over “Happy Valley” via Quernmore to 5-Lane Ends.
Early rain at 7am did not deter us as the forecast said it would be dry with sunny intervals for the rest of the day, and so it proved to be. 16 brave souls met at Millennium Bridge for an earlier than usual start at 8am. Gillie was planning to ride only as far as coffee, but was nursing a long-standing knee injury, so the left the group soon after Caton, not wanting to delay the pace. She later reported a successful loop back to her car at Halton via Galgate and the University.
15 of us continued to The Barn at Scorton for our first refreshment stop. Len and I, in good Hobbit style, had 2nd breakfasts of tasty bacon butties. We carried on in increasingly sunny weather with a delightfully cool breeze, as we skimmed the edge of Garstang before passing through Nateby on our way to Hambleton which was the crux of our “figure of eight” route. We briefly joined the main road over Shard Bridge, soon turning right into Wyre Country Park and a scenic off-road ride along the river’s edge through Skippool. We passed the atmospheric boat moorings with their decaying wooden piers on stilts that resemble Malaysian riverside villages.
Advantage was taken of the public loos at the Visitor Centre at Stannah, before we regained the tarmac roads, making a bee-line through Thornton to Cleveleys, where we joined the promenaders as we made our way southwards into a stiff breeze. Soon after passing Blackpool Tower we were led by former local lad Roy to “the finest ice cream in Blackpool” at Notarianni’s who have been serving the tourists and locals since 1928. Some of our group fancied a more beery lunch and went ahead of the main group to the Station Pub at St Anne’s, where we re-united for a leisurely lunch break, some having brought sandwiches, and others dining out.
Jim and Ian suggested a slight deviation from the planned route, heading initially north, then east, through Westby and Wray Green on our way to Kirkham. Our route then took us further east to Woodplumpton on the outskirts of Preston, then past Myerscough College and White Ash to St Michael’s on Wyre. We crossed the river here and stayed close to it as we briefly revisited Hambleton.
At this point Roy and Brian decided to head directly for home, having calculated that they would complete their hundred miles by taking the more direct route. The rest of us still needed to notch up a few more miles, so carried on via Staynall, Stalmine and Preesall to Knott End for a late afternoon tea break. It was now 5.30pm and the cafes were closed, but the Squash Club was happy to serve hot and cold drinks and some of us stocked up at the Co-op on edible fuel for the final push.
Suitably refreshed and with a welcome following wind we picked up the pace for the final leg back home, via Pilling and Cockerham. At Conder Green we split up, with some taking the cycle path and others taking Ashton Road back towards Lancaster, via Stodday and Aldcliffe.
Len and I arrived back in Bolton le Sands at 7.30pm, tired but elated at clocking up 106 miles. The pace-pushing at the end of the ride upped our average speed for the whole day to a very respectable 12.5 mph. All 15 of us achieved our goal of the “ton-up” and agreed that this should become an annual event.