Saturday 20th October 2018
It would be true to say that the publication of my proposed route for today’s B2 ride was greeted with less positivity than some other routes.
Looking back through the archives, this was the 11th hilliest route I have ridden with the B2s and featured 500 metres less climbing than some others. Sometimes though, it’s not so much the amount as the degree that should be considered.
We started a little late as I had got as far as the motorway this morning before realising that my gloves were still at home. The sight of eight intrepid riders, including newcomer Ian, was pleasing, especially considering how many B2s had discovered a need to wash their hair, clean the oven or visit distant relatives when the route was announced.
Under blue skies we headed towards Chipping. Butt Hill warmed up the legs and nobody commented on its gradient. Greater climbs lay ahead. Approaching Chipping we took Startifants Lane to enjoy the autumnal colour. A hairpin concealed the ramp of Fish House Lane. Those who knew about this arrived prepared in a low gear. Some made swift progress up the climb. An exclamation behind me suggested at least one rider was surprised. As I turned at the top to take pictures, I noticed Dave Corless on the ground. Not only had he, for possibly the first time in his life (he may not have mentioned this before, but Mr C is in his 70s) used his front derailleur to engage his 31-tooth chainring, but also he had snapped his chain. Fortunately, Ian Gibson had brought a chain tool and in less time than it takes Jon Snow to read the news we were off again.
We rolled pleasantly through Chipping, round the north side of Longridge Fell and on past Bashall into Clitheroe. Sarah Jane and Ian had already let us know that they would be doing their own thing from there. We said our farewells and headed through the town centre. Leaving Lancashire’s Cement Town, we spotted the A/B1s who had lost their captain.
Pendleton introduced us to the lower slopes of Pendle Hill. After a short distance, a right turn at a t-junction brought us to the Sabden road which would lead us over the Nick O’ Pendle. As the faster group rushed passed us, some even able to speak, several B2s took their time to admire the vistas of the Ribble Valley and the Castle Cement factory, also giving the lighter climbers the opportunity to get their breath back and to ready their cameras. Some did some modelling work for the Kay’s catalogue. I would comment on their stile but it wouldn’t be very punny.
Phil Morgan appeared, having apparently lost his group.
We plummeted into Sabden, belatedly noticed the right turn towards Whalley and prepared to fuel up at the Café Autisan which was serving splendid chocolate fudge cake. Some had suggested that Whalley Nab on café legs was a silly idea. I might suggest that it’s a heck of a lot less silly to get to Wilpshire on the bus than on a bicycle.
I may have undersold the Nab. My previous ascents have come after stupid amounts of cobbled climbing on the Ronde van Oost Lancashire (an excellent ride, I have so far resisted introducing it to the B2s as an RC’s Choice Park and Ride) and so, in my memory, I found it tough because my legs had already been bled dry. The OS Map is not entirely honest about Whalley Nab either— only one arrow graces its depiction of the road. An unassuming left turn, looking remarkably like somebody’s driveway, precedes a hairpin and a steep ramp. I could not tell you quite how steep the ramp is because the gradient reading on my Garmin just went haywire, bouncing between 15 and 48%. Karen seemed to stop, go back and try again— understandable, since when I stopped there was no way I was going to restart without assistance which I eventually found in the shape of somebody’s downward sloping drive. Peter, Bill, Karen and I regrouped just short of where the Strava segment finishes. As we watched a rather lovely looking Karmann Ghia completely failing to cope with the road, Karen offered to head back down and look for Tim and Dave. Before we had the chance to look aghast, she had descended for a second helping. We never saw our backmarkers again. We hope you made it home safely.
The road levelled off. The scenery was stunning. Another ramp appeared. As the ride coordinator dragged his now wrecked legs up that ramp, I asked the rest of the B2s whether they still fancied the climb of Mellor Knoll to Ramsgreave. To my immense disappointment, every one of them did.
My offer of an escape route via Ribchester was eventually accepted. Due to a navigational cock-up we then headed towards Little Harwood. Let’s just say that if Blackburn does indeed have attractive parts, the dual carriageway we found ourselves on wasn’t that part.
The gentle slopes of Longridge Fell from Ribchester came as blessed relief after the day’s previous climbs. I vetoed every further suggestion of a turning that could involve climbing (yes, Karen, I’m thinking of you with your claim that Chapel Hill is flat...)
Karen left us at the top of Lydiate Lane. The remaining three of us returned back at base after four and a half hours of riding, 54 miles fitter, roughly 1200 metres stronger and in desperate need of beer. It was a grand day out.