Rain was forecast. But it is ‘all about the descent’ as I repeated during this short ride with some steep climbs. Firstly I lead the small group of six down Blea Tarn Road (the first good descent!) and up Proctor Moss Road. The countryside was soggy but green and there were moments of warming sunshine as we passed Welby Crag and descended to Lower Green Bank and turned for Abbeystead. Now everyone remembers the thigh burning climb out of Abbeystead but they forget the earlier bone jarring descent into Abbeystead on the seriously damaged Strait Lane. It gets exciting as you realise a vehicle might be backing out onto the road towards the narrow point of the bridge. The culvert works on the Marshaw Road at Well Brook Clough meant there was an off-putting ‘road closed’ sign on our route for the Trough, but it was the first one of two that we ignored. And indeed, the road was open all the way as we wound our way up to the cattle grid at the top of Trough Scar. The wonderful descent into the Trough itself was spoilt by the slicks of water draining from high to lower ground across the rather greasy road surface. But it was still good going as we rattle through Sykes Farm onto the switchback above the Marshaw-Wyre to arrive in Dunsop.
There were lots of cyclists going the other way on an Audax but there was room in the cafe for all of us to sit around a big table where a couple of the group that Chipping was too close to make a good leg before lunch. So we went to Newton and enjoyed the views across the Hodder valley. Crossing the river presented us with that steep road leading to Waddington Fell, but we turned off right before it got too much and followed the single track road that gains height through a series of ever steepening sections up to Brownsholme Heights where the trig point told us we’d made it to the top. Some of us had wobbled our way up the last stretch of this single track road as a surprising number of vehicles came down it. After what is a long and rewarding descent into Cow Ark alongside Hagg Clough on a much improved road surface, we discovered the reason for the traffic; the road down to Whitewell was closed for top dressing. John woke up the two dozing road men and they said we could ride on it provided we went slowly. It was a noisy descent as gravel spun of the wheels (Geoff got some stuck in his excessively narrow Italian forks).
At Chipping we met up with two riders who’d arrived late at Dunsop (Nick who’d missed us at the start and Mike who had ridden from Preston) but chosen the Wild Boar Park road (that lacks a decent descent…). Most of us set off for home after lots of beans, and enjoyed some brief but whizzy descents across the two tributaries of the Brock River at Bleasdale. We slogged up and then cruised down Delph Lane and wound round the corner at Oakenclough onto the fellside road overlooking the Wyre valley and the sea. The descent was good but caution approaching the rain dampened cattle grid took a few mph off the final section. We all stopped for a gaze across to the sea before the big descent to Lordshouse Brook that gives enough impetus to float almost all way up the other side. Then the last big descent of the day towards the Old Forge and we were nearly home. There was some rain and putting on of coats. But then it was too warm so we had to stop and take them off again in Galgate. Only 47 miles of up and down but my Garmin said my maximum speed was 39.34 mph! I kept both hands on the bars going downhill.