Feeling somewhat better than late I decided I'd play out last night. I packed my gear, 2 spare inner tubes, levers, the overly weighty multi-tool and a couple bottles of water. The plan was to do a leisurely ride around Bolton, taking in road past the television mast and then a trip around Anglezarke reservoir.
Hitting Longshaw Ford Lane, a nasty climb when you're unfit, I bump into a rather happy looking fellow, who rather than want to have a chat just stood there, arms folded looking like he'd be sh*gged by one of the local sheep. I try to raise a smile from him as I ride past but nothing, just blank, monkey faced stare. Hell I had my Lycra shorts on; surely I looked funny enough to warrant a smirk. Getting to the top of this hill, with barely a struggle I swung right and scooted along Scout Road to experience the view. I got myself some new glasses a few days ago so it was nice to actually see the view and not squint at it. It was lovely; I could see each individual tree and the ugly wind turbines which littered the Ramsbottom skyline.
Taking the corner at the legal 20mph (I’m a good boy), I start to speed up (now I’m a bad boy) and hit 28 into the annoying bloody headwind. Interestingly even at 28mph there are cars screaming past me in this 20mph zone, and this isn’t exactly a wide road. Not only did the council see fit to fit cat eyes in the road but they also added them on each side, exactly where your average cyclist would be pedalling... I grumble to myself but realise Belmont Road is clear from the right and I can hit the 50mph zone with no slow down. This bit is awesome!
Belmont Road can be great but it can also be a complete sod. 9 times out of 10 you’re riding into a headwind, I’d be lucky to get an average of 15mph along it, even though it’s relatively flat. My average along there with no headwind is around 20mph, so when I’m moving slowly it’s somewhat frustrating. Eventually it dips and I head into Belmont village, before taking a left onto Rivington Road. This is where I always struggle and tonight was no exception. Dropping to low gear I climb up, having to stop regularly for some blithering idiots who decide to not have their kids on a leash. Getting past those and I hit the main climb, a pretty short, undulating rise to what I consider to be the best downhill in the local area. The pain’s worth it as always and I zoom down the 30mph zone at a very good boyish 34mph. Part way down there’s a sharp right turn; SHEEP! There’s sheep on the road! Now normally I’d get off and usher the sheep into the field but since I’m banned from being near sheep I dodge through 3 of them whilst the others scatter. Behind me there’s a toot of a horn, not sure if it’s directed at me or the sheep but I take no notice and start to make a dangerous decent.
This decent is fun, you can easily hit 40 with no effort but I try not to. A good few years ago a local painter, who’s an avid cyclist, was going down that road at around 6am. He lost control and hit the wall at the bottom, flying over it and smashing his head on a tree. Luckily for him a gentleman made a change to his route that morning and saw his bike cracked into the wall – he rang the ambulance and had him airlifted out. He’s fine now but after the accident he actually lost his memory completely, and when it returned he’d lost his nerve. When I reach the corner where he crashed I’m very aware of the terrible road surface, which annoyingly doesn’t improve as you work your way around and into Rivington Village.
Rather than take my normal route back into said village I make a right turn down what is quite a fun, windy road. I recall going down there on the MTB back in the 90s, hitting a huge lump of metal and having to walk home since the tyre was shredded. I glance down at my pump...and it’s gone...crap. Did I leave it at home? Had it fallen off? I wasn’t going to ride all the way back just to check for a pump so I decide to take a risk and carry on with the ride. I’m glad I did! Passing by Anglezarke I decide to go a little easier, relax and enjoy what was a lovely evening (can I sound any gayer?). My Bunneh sense tingled and I glance behind, coming up fast on me was another cyclist. I greet her as she comes past and then I double take...’her’. She moves in front and I can’t complain, not a bad view at all! I ponder the idea of speeding up but to be honest I’d probably get my arse kicked and I’d just look like the vast majority of ego-based men in the world. I keep at my original pace and we hit a nice little downhill which swings into a slight uphill. I start gain ground on her and I get to chatting. Anyone who knows me will know that I have this innate ability to talk even when out of breath, climbing the steepest hills in the world!
Seems she rides out at that time in the evening as it’s nicer than being in the hot sun. Can’t argue with that, I love the evenings in summer, it’s a wonderful part of the day. Not only do you get some amazing sunsets but that tinge of warmth alongside that coming of the night breeze is perfect. We stick together for quite some distance but I didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable so I wish her a safe ride and I swing left towards Rivington village. I kind of hope to see her again, but in all honesty I probably talked to death...
Now I start to plan which way now, I check the watch, 20:12; I have time! I pick up the pace and make my way into Horwich via Leverpark Avenue. My old school is down here, Rivington and Blackrod, school itself was okay but I hated every aspect of education as a kid. The road surface is terrible, there have been some attempts at improving it but quite frankly the council really needs to pull its finger out!
I don’t like the Horwich side of Chorley New Road, it’s infested with pubs and where there are pubs there are idiots. The roads are quiet though so I crank it up a notch and belt down at an average of around 18mph. The road’s been improved a little but the access to the Middlebrooke cycle way is a joke, huge potholes make it very unattractive as an option. I continue along the New Road and decide to go torment family up Breightmet. I’m sure they’ll be enthusiastic to see a sweaty, lycraclad, skinhead knock on their door! Getting into Bolton town centre it’s lovely and quiet, the clubs and pubs are open but there’s few about, they’re all probably still at home, preening themselves and getting drunk before heading out. I head towards Bury Road and make my way along it towards my Uncle’s home – on the left hand side this fat lump of lard waddles out, looks at me and drops an empty can right in the cycle lane... I look at him as I approach and he doesn’t even react; I call him a ‘brain-dead dickhead’ knowing full well if he did understand he’d never catch me with that gut. Sure enough, nothing. Just across the road there’s a bin, did his small brain not put 2+2 together? I’m guessing not. I’m sure he’s still in bed now, trying to see his own penis beneath his bulbous belly...
I get to my uncles; I have a drink(water), get moaned at and then make my way home. I decide to take in the town centre again and it’s changed somewhat. Now it is littered with drunks, women in very, very short skirts and more bouncers than your average David Beckham party! Bolton now has more pubs/club than most little towns; you can in effect walk down one road, have a drink at each pub and be absolutely bladdered before you’re even half way! Oh well so long as no one gets hurt and they’re happy, so be it!
The ride home is uneventful, but pleasant and I get in at around 9pm. 2 hour ride, no idea on distance, but I really enjoyed it. My head’s given me a break this weekend and I hope it improves! I’m still taking the 30mg of Citalopram which help stem the obsessive thought processes, but it can be hard sometimes – it can be next to impossible to go out and I don’t know what I’m afraid of...