After Sundays washout the sun decided to make an appearance on Monday so a quick change of plans and I was out and riding, coffee and stove stashed in the Carradice, camera charged, legs warming up.
Figuring that the trans pennine trail would be wet and muddy after yesterday’s rain I headed out along the canal, surprisingly dry where the puddles usually are so I switched at Broadheath and had the trail to myself, the sun darting in and out of the clouds kept the temperature at a reasonable 18c making for perfect riding conditions.
Arriving at our usual bench I was pleased to see it unoccupied, first brew of the day then, and a fig roll just to confirm my dislike of these horrible little things, the rest went to the ducks.
Pointless lane was ridden with great pleasure, then out towards Great Budworth and the ice cream factory, I’d been thinking about a cup of tea and one of their amazing pork pies but was disappointed to be there too early, never mind onwards to the River Weaver.
I had a spot in mind for early lunch, Dutton Locks, picnic tables and peace and quiet, the jet boil was soon in action, warming up my now favourite John West tuna and rice (with an Indian twist) the hot water then straight into the cup for a brew. I took my time here, reading the information boards, grabbing a copy of Towpath Talk (the UKs No1 read for all towpath users) for Paul because I know he’s gonna read every single one of the 136 pages! and enjoying the solitude.
Contemplating my return it occurred to me that I had spied an over grown track last summer that had piqued my interest, however it was raining and dark last time I rode past so never followed it up.
Today was bright and sunny, no excuses, signposted as Restricted Byway, it started off as a shady leaf covered double track, heading upwards towards the light, the greens intensity increasing as the track narrowed. Underneath was dry and dusty, again surprising given the weekends weather, steeper now and loose enough to spin out the three inch tyres traction, which caught me out resulting in a knee/bar end altercation, it is still throbbing now.
Maybe four hundred yards in length?, this satisfying find eventually opens out into a double track to show off a perfect example of grass up the middle before joining a tarmac lane, there’s something very familiar about this last section, I have a vague memory of Nick answering a desperate call of nature one time along here.
And then it was gone, not even half a mile, but another glorious and new to me piece of track that ticks all of my boxes, so nice that I turned and descended back down it so I could ride up it again.
I started heading home not quite the same way, deliberately picking different lanes, and looking for future examples of restricted byways and avoiding the canal tow path now as the strava gangs will be rushing along from their day in the office, desperately trying to regain that strava section record.
To top off my day nicely I realise that this has been my longest ride of the year, only 55 miles but given this years events I’m quite pleased with that, wonder how well I’ll sleep tonight!
Words and pictures – Steve Makin.