We were hoping for some good weather this week as four of us take a trip across the Pennines on a 3 day mini cycle tour along the Way of the Roses (WOTR). This new Coast to Coast route joins the red rose of Lancashire with the white rose of Yorkshire in a 170 mile route inaugurated in September 2010. It runs south of the other C2C routes along an west-east line between Morecambe in Lancashire and Bridlington in Yorkshire. Last year we rode the northerly C2C route, Hadrian's Cycle Way. On that route, at the end of the first day we we're still on the west coast with more of the Solway coast to do on the morning of day two. It was a very enjoyable and interesting 'Roman' themed ride. There were the usual strange Sustrans detours but on the whole a great route.
We're anticipating a nice (leisurely) few days on the Way of the Roses. This isn't going to be a daftdash like some folk. We've planned to do it over 3 days, but because Morecambe is relatively near home, we've decided to make it more interesting by adding 35 miles to day one in order to ride to the start. I figured that after we'd cycled to the station, waited for the train and ridden from the station, there wouldn't be much difference in time and by riding there we get to have a brew and some cake overlooking Morecambe bay at the Cafe de Lune. The others went along with the suggestion but I suspect it may come back to bite me by the time we reach Settle and the bigger hills. This might come either from Puffing Billy, who is in denial about needing to be fit for the trip, having hardly ridden a bike since last year's C2C outing, or Crasher Sid who's been training just a bit too hard and is carrying the wounds of her latest crash to the start (she managed to hold out until the second day before crashing last time).
Tracklogs for the route are ready for downloading to the GPS. I just need to get a few bits together for my saddlebag and give the tourer the once over and we're good to go.
Green ways in France - the traffic free parcours velo. Like most European countries, France is actively adding traffic free routes for recreational cycling called Voies Verte. We tried a number on our recent tour. My favourite was the Voie Verte de la Moselotte, which starts in Remiremont and ends in Cornimont-La Bresse. It's part of the Voie Verte des Hautes Vosges utilising an old railway track taking you past steep sided gorges, wood mills, granite quarries and old settlements with weaving mills. It's very quiet, very beautiful and best of all it climbs gently into the heart of the high Vosges mountains.
A picture might be a step too far, rather like a medical journal. I'm disappointed this week, having got into shape after daily touring miles in the last weeks, to end up with a bad leg. Whilst cycling along the Canal du Marne au Rhine, I was stung near my ankle by something going in the opposite direction. It must have objected to being stopped in its tracks, so to speak. The sting was big enough to be removed with fingers suggesting it was a big blighter, whatever it was.
Normally, I don't react badly to stings and bites and everything was alright for a few days - just some mild irritation and localised swelling as might be expected. A week later however and my ankle is raging with an infection, making riding difficult and not advised. Good job I'm not on the TdF - I wouldn't pass doping rules now!
In the two miles of the A666 I cycle on of a morning's commute, you can see over 40 marked up potholes identified for repair by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.
Those are only the holes earmarked for fixing, there are plenty more that didn't make the cut. Scale that up to borough or county level and you can easily understand why potholes are big news and why Blackburn is fated to always be remembered for its 4000 holes.
Some potholes get marked more than once because of the way this council goes about its repairs. In marked contrast to neighbouring Lancashire, who seem to visit a reported pothole within a couple of days with material and fill in the hole, Blackburn uses a two-step process.
Firstly someone surveys the problem and if they decide it is a hazard or worth fixing, marks the limit of the repair with white paint. Later someone comes along with tarmac to fill the hole.
This process often breaks down as it can be months between reporting a hole and it eventually getting repaired. Sometimes the markings just disappear through weather and wear and tear.
This pothole has been marked twice:
First in February
and now in March.
In contrast, this is one of Cumbria
County Council's marked up holes:
Some local roads are breaking up so badly they're beyond repair - they are either a continuous series of patches or the metalling of the road is just falling apart.
The only solution is to properly re-surface but that's likely to happen in only the most severe cases given the current economic climate.
Avoiding potholes on a cycle whilst riding on roads with motorised traffic is not easy, when you can see them - in the dark it's even worse.
A fireman from Nelson fell foul of a pothole at night and is lucky to be alive. Here's hoping things improve soon before more people are injured on the road.
When planning cycling tours, I've often wondered how difficult it would be to carry all the gear needed for camping. It seems someone has the answer - a camping trailer. Not what you might call a lightweight solution.