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Steve Tonge
Cycling Correspondent
11:54 AM 22nd July 2020

Crossing The Border: Half-way There!

We continue with Steve Tonge as he completes his ten-day, thousand mile cycling challenge

Day 5: Cleveleys and Blackpool

I was up nice and early for another ride north at 6am, this time using the A6 through Chorley then Walton-le-Dale before a short detour by Deepdale and once again using the A6 to Broughton. Being early, the roads were reasonably quiet, and once I turned off in Barton I was on the delightful Lancashire lanes through Inskip, Elswick and Singleton.

Clifton Windmill
Clifton Windmill
I reached the coast way up at Cleveleys and followed the promenade south, stopping for a breakfast barm and latte at the Old Bispham Tram Station Cafe, which is one of my regular pit stops! All fed and hydrated again I continued along the empty promenade all the way down to South Shore Tram Depot.

Preston Docks
Preston Docks
I then headed inland towards Preston New Road to pick up the lanes through Wrea Green, Kirkham and Clifton. I hopped on the Guild Wheel trail to take me down the Preston Docks and along the Ribble as far as Penwortham. Another short stop at the Riverside Cafe gave me the energy boost for the last 35 miles through Midge Hall, Eccleston, Standish & Wigan. Another great day on the bike, avoiding bad weather and I am now halfway there!

Day 6: Yorkshire Dales via Clitheroe

This route was hastily put together the night before, as the original plan was for me to head south and my wife was going to drive to Stafford to meet for car journey home! Torrential rain was forecast heading from the south, so I decided on an even earlier start of 5am and head north to try to stay ahead of the weather front and stay dry for as long as I could.

My spirits were at their lowest this morning sadly. I felt tired and had zero energy; I was really concerned that putting a ride with a lot of hills in was going to be my undoing! On the plus side, my trusty Cannondale Synapse had been such a reliable bike so far: no punctures, no squeaks nor clicks, just wonderfully comfortable and 100% dependable.

Early morning, Clitheroe
Early morning, Clitheroe
I started on the A666 but detoured in town to take the nicer route out of Bolton via Bromley Cross before once again joining the “Devils Highway” over the hill to Darwen. A wonderfully fast 3-mile descent into Blackburn was very enjoyable, as I’ve not had that experience on any of the rides so far. I knew I was going to pay big time as I was soon looking at a 20% hill looming skywards just off Barbara Castle Way - Shear Brow in Blackburn is renowned for its steep slope, so it was lowest gear, head down & see how we go! I was elated to get to top without feeling the need to stop and that climb completely changed my mood and mindset for what lay ahead.

I was soon speeding nicely towards Whalley and Clitheroe on almost deserted roads as it was still only 6.30am. A quick photo stop by Clitheroe Castle and on up the beautiful Ribble Valley towards Sawley where I crossed the river and headed up to Bolton-by-Bowland. From here it was a gentle climb towards Wigglesworth, crossing the Lancashire - Yorkshire border along the way. As I pedalled through Rathmell my phone was pinging: my wife was concerned about how I was coping with the weather. Back home the heavy rain had been falling for an hour or so, but thankfully as I had cycled north I was still under bright skies. But I could see the black “blanket of doom” looming behind me, but for now at least it was a long way away!

The climb out of Giggleswick
The climb out of Giggleswick
As I rode through the deserted streets of Giggleswick the world appeared to be still asleep, as there wasn’t a soul to be seen! Another steep climb was despatched with relative ease and I spent the next hour criss-crossing the A65 using the quieter traffic-free lanes to pick up the B6480 to take me west towards Lancaster. A wonderful road to cycle on, I made great progress through Bentham, Wray and down to Caton, where I called at the Co-Op for water. I then picked up the Lune Cycleway passing over the Crook of Lune, but only stayed on for another mile or so before heading over the hill to Slyne and to my intended pit stop in Bolton-le-Sands and the lovely pie shop next to the canal (I had not had one their homemade delicacies for years!).

I ate my pie and had coffee on a bench beside the canal. I watched the approaching black clouds that were clearly depositing lots of the wet stuff - I was about to get soaked! I put my Goretex waterproof on and whilst my pedal along the front at Morecambe was still enjoyable, the rain was getting heavier!

I planned to head to Sunderland Point and do a few loops around those exposed headlands before meeting up with my wife just south of Lancaster. The wind has also picked up, so I changed my route and used the cycle paths back to Lancaster and Glasson Docks which afforded me some shelter from the elements. I was in trouble with the ride distance though now, so I had to put a few loops around Glasson & Upper Thurnham to get the 100 miles in, but I did it despite being utterly soaked! My wife had hot soup and crusty bread ready for me and some dry clothes for the journey down the M6 home. This turned out to be one of the best rides of the ten and my last solo ride, as the final four I had arranged for a friend to join me!

In the Yorkshire Dales, close to Giggleswick
In the Yorkshire Dales, close to Giggleswick