The weather yesterday didn't seem too promising, it was heavily overcast with 'sprinkles' forecast via the, *cough*, Met Office. After some thought I decided to risk it and I'm glad I did. Setting off I decided to avoid the major routes into the countryside and headed directly to Barrow Bridge. There's a short but quite unpleasant climb there, it starts off very steeply but if you use a large ring on the back it's actually not too bad. For the first time ever I got up there with little or no effort and I was really happy with it. I stopped at the top, looked at the clouds and decided to carry on.
Following Scout Road I hit Belmont Road and headed quickly into the village, it's changed a lot since I was last there with some serious building work ruining what was once a pretty little former mining town. I rode up and through Belmont Village and out the other side remembering well the ugly road that winds along towards Blackburn way. Looking to my right I could see what used to be a full reservior was completely drained, no idea what happened but it looked quite the sad sight.
Eventually I reached the turn which takes you towards Tockholes. At this point I realised I hadn't followed the road before, I used to deviate offroad towards Darwin moor but since I was on a road machine the chance of that happening was null. The road smoothed out and I could get some lovely speed along the undulating thoroughfare towards what I guessed would be Tockholes village. There were a lot of traffic calming measures as I passed through and I tried to strike up a conversation with a rather miserable looking fella. He just gave me a dirty look and continued to suck on his nicotine straw; great first impression! I left Tockholes as quickly as I entered it, scooting up a hill and over a motorway well away from the glaring eyes of doom! The roads were mostly quiet but eventually I found myself at a junction with absolutely no idea where I was.
Trusting my instincts I made a left turn and found myself a lovely downward trip. Over the downhill I heard a rattling, and thought the worst. Looking down I just managed to see my waterbottle cage work loose, detach itself and happily fly across the road. Bugger. Picking everything up I dug around my backpack for the allen keys I always bring with me; but annoyingly the correct size had been left home. So I glanced around and happened to see a guy with his wife going into a house. So I bounded up and told them my problem, the fella vanished and came back with a huge set of allen keys! The cage was soon retightened and I was given directions to Chorley. Many thanks whoever you were!
Getting back on the road I saw a cyclist just ahead of me at the top of a climb, so rather than just try to beat him I caught up and we ended up spending around 15 miles together. He was riding a rather lovely looking Peugeot bike, yellow/black with a lovely wheelset. Apparently it cost him 1100 10 years earlier and he'd spend a lot of time on it. He showed me how to get into Chorley and once we got there we said our farewells and split up. Now it got tricky, I have never seen so many bloody round-a-bouts in one town before - Chorley Council what are you doing?
I looked around and the only cycle lane I saw was on the pavement... Years of telling cyclists NOT to ride on the pavement and now they put cycle lanes on pavements; how silly! Anyway I decided traffic dodging at 3.30pm wasn't the best idea so I got onto the pavement and rode around the traffic until I got to a point which seemed safe. Off I shot, full of pep and vinegar towards Chorley town centre and this is where I started to meet yet more round-a-bouts. I hate them, hate them with a passion but instead of being the nancy I usually am I decided to take them on. Taking the left lane, in the middle of it so cars couldn't over take, I managed to work my way around this terribly designed road network. I thought Bolton was badly designed but this is a joke. Eventually I got clear, and started to make my way out of Chorley and towards Horwich. I passed a school and realised I knew where I was out of pure luck. This gave me some more strength and I climbed into Horwich and only Chorley New Road to make my way home.
I don't think I have ever gone so fast on a bike before, even on the flat. Must have been the most enjoyable ride ever. Not only did I cover 35 miles with no effort but I met 2 lovely people, had a run in with a bottle cage and it didn't rain once! Woo!