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Saturday, 19 February 2011

Riding on broken roads

Grapenhall cobbles image by Giles Perkins.
A North Cheshire Clarion "Hell of North Cheshire" scouting report.

This morning, instead of the normal North Cheshire Clarion Saturday ride, Giles Perkins and I headed off on to the pavĂ© and gravĂ© of North Cheshire to test out the route for our first themed, longer Saturday ride. The idea is to occasionally add an additional challenge to the Saturday rides and this one  will pay homage to Paris-Roubaix the day before the main event by riding a route which covers a range of unpaved roads.

The cobbled roads of Warrington have largely been tarmacked over now, but I counted four secteurs this morning (ranging from 10 to 250 metres in length). The Grapenhall cobbles pictured above are well known to North Cheshire Clarion Saturday riders from our 'D' route and are the most severe of the cobbles as they're round topped.

The real highlights of the route for me were the sections of unmade road before and after the cafe at Dunham Massey. Prior to the pit stop we travelled along the Transpennine trail, and it was great to be flying along at nearly 20mph on the unmade road with no worry about motorised traffic, although dog leads strung out across the trail and horses did warrant care.
Transpennine trail by Anthony Parks.
The sting in the tail of the route is Silver Lane, the longest unmade section on the whole ride (at least it felt that way). With the miles already in your legs and the need to continually pick a line between the potholes it really adds up, and gives you the beginnings of an idea of hard it must be to cross the line first in the Roubaix velodrome or at the Montepasch Strade Bianchi.

Silver Lane image by Brian Tuohey.

We'll be publishing the final route details and cue sheets in a few weeks. Hopefully we'll see loads of people at 09:30 at The Swan in Winwick on April the 9th for a celebration of The Hell of the North (Cheshire). Don't bring your carbon race wheels, and be prepared for a three-bucket bike wash when you get home.

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