Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Where there are no whales

What a wonderful day to go for a lovely ride into the hills - the sun was shining bright, not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was already rising as I set off south/southwest without having much of a destination in mind other than to get further than Marple.

I set off on a route that I rode with Amy last year or the year before through Denton and Bredbury and along what is possibly the worst cycle lane I have seen in my history of riding a bike - it had to be only 6 inches wide and was on a very busy road with an industrial estate on either side of the road. Not pleasant to ride along at all.

Once onto the busy A560 between Bredbury and Woodley I managed to miss my turning due to the influx of traffic coming in the opposite direction (I didn't even get to see the road I wanted!), so I had to carry on a little further and made a right turn onto George Lane, which would make a later turning not necessary as I then went straight across the cross-roads onto Barrack Hill, Otterspool Rd and then Dooley Lane.At this point I did exactly what happened when I rode it with Amy and took a right turn instead of the left. I'm blaming the climb up to the junction for addling my brain! Anyway, rather than turning round like a numpty, I decided to carry on this way and took a left at the very next junction to Hazel Grove. At this point I gave up on Marple and thought I'd head to Lyme Park down the road in Disley, although I wasn't sure if the cafe/restaurant would be open seeing as it's a National Trust site where the buildings are closed for periods of the year.

So, off I set up the climb for approx 4 miles to the gates of Lyme Park and promptly changed my mind and continued on as the road dipped down a little to New Mills and beyond stood Furness Vale. Not much further was the roundabout on the A6 that was to be my final deciding point: carry on along the A6 to Chapel-en-le-Frith, Dove Holes and Buxton or get onto the A5004 to Whaley Bridge, Fernilee and Buxton? I opted for the A5004 as it was a little less busy than the A6 which was looking very much like an uber busy multi-laned motorway never mind a dual carriageway!

It was a spur of the moment decision (literally) as I swooped right at the roundabout and headed off up the hill. Once I got to Whaley Bridge I was disturbed by a loud rumbling sensation - my stomach reminded me that I needed to eat something. I asked in the local bike shop (The Bike Factory) where any cafes were, only to be told that it's half day on Wednesdays so may be better off going to Tesco on the canal bank.

After a Cheese n Onion sarnie and an OJ from Tesco I decided I'd head back along the canal; something I haven't ridden along for a couple of years, and when I did last time I was on my mtb which I no longer have. The first section was along a freshly gravelled path through Bugsworth Basin before becoming the old tracks that need to be repaired. Once through Fernilee and alongside Strines Rd I was back at Marple and the lock flight where I'd damaged the mtb on a previous ride out this way.
The first section of locks has a tarmac road to ride down before crossing the road or squishing the bike through a very narrow tunnel (and I mean narrow!!!). Once on the other side and alongside the memorial park, the locks continue and the tracks now become rutted, gravelly and pot-holed. Not fun to ride down, never mind when there're boats going through the locks and dogs running around off the leash. Once past these lot of locks and across yet another road or through another skinny tunnel and the locks come thick and fast. At this point, I developed a following of teenagers on mtbs who thought they'd be clever and either try to whizz past me at warp speed or tail me closely, making silly little comments thinking I wouldn't be able to make it down the locks on my roadie as the tracks were crap with a few steps to drop down. At this point I was beginning to wonder if I could get down them safely anyway as the pathways were getting worse, but I persevered, balanced myself perfectly and slowly dropped down the locks hearing the odd yelp as a muppet came off or skidded.

So much for their 'ability' and their hardtail mtbs. My classic steel roadie handled it all better than them! Their jeers and taunts carried on as a cobbled humpback bridge loomed into view. One of the muppets flew past me thinking they'd show me how to get over it, only for me to laugh my head off as I sailed past them as they bobbed about all over the place. My final bit of revenge came about as I neared Hydebank Farm as I knew the canal went into another long tunnel and a big climb carrying the bike was ahead of me as the track left the canal side and reared it's ugly head at a 45 degree angle straight up to the road outside the farm. I leapt off Everest, hoicked her up on my shoulder and began to climb the stairs; as I neared the top I heard squealing brakes and more yelps as it soon dawned on them that they'd have to carry their tanks up a bugger of a hill if they wanted to keep up with me. Sadly, for me, they doubled back and I was left to my own devices.

The section of the canal for the next 4 miles was the worst I've seen in ages with huge chunks missing in sections with sheer drops to the valley floor below and in several places mud so deep it covered my tyres and rims. It certainly made for interesting riding and tested my bike handling skills!

I left the canal at Hyde as I knew the tracks would only get worse. Besides I wanted to ride onroad again. A sting through Dukinfield, Guide Bridge, Snipe and Droylsden and I was at my moms hungry for the roast chicken we were having for tea. Yum.

Stats - view route
Glorious, hot 24C, sunny, not a cloud in sight.
Maximum speed: 34.3mph
Average speed: 13.7mph
Miles: 39.93
Climbed: 761ft

Climbs of note -
Stockport Rd (A6017): 66ft in 0.15miles with max of 17%
Dooley Lane (A627): 59ft in 0.11miles with max of 20%


  1. You're finally riding in an area I know. I love the quite country lanes around there, never touch those 'A' roads mind.

    Bouncing a road bike down steps and racing MTBs through deep mud? Poor Everest!

  2. She's a tough cookie, she can handle it better than I can.

    It is lovely out your way, but as I don't own a gps device (can't afford one on my meagre income) and I don't have a map that covers there, it was simply a case of memorising the route. Hard enough remembering A roads never mind the lovely little roads.