Saturday 31st March
The first stretch of the day was along Marine Drive in Stockport, it was bitter cold again this morning and the Northerly wind not only made this worse but was also a very strong headwind! Which looks to stay for most of the week. My legs were struggling to turn, feeling heavy and sore, but it was flat so this didn’t take too much perseverance.
5 miles down the road I met up with Arthur from Southport cycling club and Carole and David on their tandem. We cycled a few miles along the main road towards Preston but stuck to the cycle path. I went over a drain and hiss, the air was coming out of my front tyre! My hands were cold and not quite working so this took longer to fix than normal. When I had finished I noticed that the top flag pole and flag on my bike were missing. The others said that’s how it was when we met and they assumed it was deliberate. I panicked! I couldn’t cycle on the roads without a flag!
I called Margaret the lady who had come to my rescue and I stayed with last night and explained my route to her. Carol and David are pretty speedy on the tandem so they offered to go back and retrace my route and then catch up us! Margaret found my flag and then found the tandem. At this point the tandem had a puncture.
Meanwhile Arthur and I were trying to press on as quickly as possible as there was still a chance to meet the Ribble Valley Juniors in time who were going to cycle with me around Preston. I was really excited about this. Then, Arthur got a puncture and despite him boasting about having slime in his tyres, this puncture was too large! I couldn’t cycle on alone as I had no flag and wouldn’t have felt safe on the roads. I had to message Geoff and explain that to my disappointment there was no way I was going to make it in time and not to wait out in the cold. I was also supposed to meet a couple of others in Preston and I told them to cycle towards us.
Arthur and I were cold from standing around and we needed to wait for David and Carole so we decided to go to a cafe! To console myself I had a breakfast pancake, filled with bacon, scrambled egg and cheese. Delicious, but it didn’t make up for the fact that it was midday and we had only managed 15 miles!
Hassan and Terry joined us at the cafe and we said goodbye to Arthur. We had a group photo outside but this isn’t on my phone – please can whoever took it send it to me 🙂
We finally reached Preston nearly 2 hours late. We were back on another cycle path, the Guild Wheel, this is nicely surfaced but had a few inaccessible gates, so I had to get off a few times. My tyre again went flat but we pumped it up in the hope it would keep some air in and we could fix it later.
We all headed towards Blackpool and picked up Steve on another trike on the way. We stopped for a photo next to a windmill and carried on along the promenade towards Blackpool, one section of this was closed but it was only a detour along the road.
Cycling under a glitter ball marked our entry into Blackpool, we had a cup of tea and then cycled further along the promenade. The wide promenade had a squiggly path in a different paving, in a childlike manner I followed this squiggly path along the straight promenade.
We passed the rollercoasters, dodgems, big signs, bright lights and the excited visitors. Although it is a Saturday, it is cold and reasonably quiet for Blackpool. We reached the area of paving in front of Blackpool tower, this is known as the comedy carpet and set into the paving are jokes and catchphrases from comedians who have presumably played in Blackpool at some point.
This stretch of the coastal route was definitely the most different and fun so far, a stark contrast to the little coastal towns in Devon and Cornwall and the barren coastal landscape before I reached St Ives.
We continued towards Pilling my end point for the day, we said goodbye to the flag rescuers (David and Carole on the tandem) a couple of miles up the road and to Steve on the ICE trike a bit further on. Hassan and Terry delivered me to Pilling and we said quick goodbyes as they needed to get back to their car 20 miles away before dark. I should mention that they had driven from Macclesfield to come and ride with me for the day! I am so glad they did, everyone had been tremendous company on what was a day with a very difficult start. Thank you all for making such and effort! A great day in the end!
I had dinner in the local pub and checked into my Air BnB where I had the most amazing jacuzzi bath and was asleep by 9pm!
The North wind did make today more difficult but it is something I am going to have to endure for the next few days!