Well I originally had no plans for doing this event on Sunday as we were supposed to be down in Liverpool but we figured out how to see everyone that we needed to see and still be able to get back to Lancaster so I could ride the Bowland Populaire with Andy.
I got back home at 1:30am on Sunday morning, I was up at 7:30 sorting my bike out, having breakfast, loading my drinks bottles with PSP22 and wrapping slices of malt loaf in cling film. Met Andy out at Caton and we signed on for the event which was being organised by the Lancaster branch of the CTC. There was about 40 odd people there of varying ages and abilities and riding all manor of bikes from carbon and titanium flying machines to the folding mini bikes. The Populaire is 110km of hilly terrain through the Trough of Bowland following the north lancashire cyclway.
The route took us up out of Caton towards the Kellets, into Wray, Little dale and over the fells before dropping down into Slaidburn, out to Chipping back over Harris End Fell and out through Quornmore and back to Caton. We set off well and were riding at the front of a large group, I’ve never ridden in a group before and it felt quite weird and nervy ( must be insane in a proper fast moving peleton ). Eventually we sepertaed from the group and we mostly rode on our own, we were going really well until I got my first puncture around Little dale. I couldn’t believe, never had one with my continental tires and now here I was trying to fix one in the middle of nowhere. Got it sorted and we continued over a very long and steep climb that saw us over looking the Gisburn Forest reservoir. The views were stunning and it was well worth the effort to get to see them. It was on the fast descent that I got my next puncture, I hit a large stone at about 40mph and the front tire just psssed the air out, made quite a noise. Right at the bottom of a hill so I pushed my bike to the top where Andy was graciously waiting for me. I had to use my second and last spare tube, after much cursing, and me wearing more oil than my bike we set off again. We made it to Slaidburn and got our cards stamped ( you had to go through checkpoints in certain times ) whilst having a well earned coffee and toated teacake for lunch.
Refreshed we set off ready to complete the last half of the ride, We’d got lees than two miles climbing up a nasty hill when my back tire punctured. I had no tubes, so I got the kit out, thankfully Andy came back ( he climbs much faster than me ) and gave me one of his tubes. Again I got another coating of oil. Much more swearing and then we were off again and thankfully that was the last one.
We got back to Caton in just under 5 hours of cycling time, was over 6 hours with puncture stops. My back and neck were a bit stiff, more from the bending over fixing the bike but I’d thoroughly enjoyed it. Don’t know what I would have done without Andy, so thanks mate. And then when I went to put the bike in the car I discovered a broken skewer on the front wheel, what a day. But it was great fun and great practice for the Terrier in a couple of weeks.
I went straight home and after scrubbing for ages to try and get all the oil out ordered two new tyres and a pair of new skewers.
I’d worked hard in the week before that with over 100 miles on the hills round and about and 20 odd miles of running. I’m feeling stronger and fitter all the time, which is maybe why Andy said to me at the end of the Populaire ” Your report card says : Climbing 9/10, Puncture repair 6/10″ – and hell I’ll take both of them scores as a compliment and improvement of where I was last year, hills and punctures kicked my arse.