Strava made me do it, yep that pesky app again. It gives you virtual badges for riding your bike, I like riding my bike and I'm never one to turn down a badge so last april I decided to give the gran fondo a go, 130k in 24hours or 80 miles in real money, I figured road riding would be cheating and I'd just fitted this spangly new 1x10 gear setup to my cross bike so....
Lunch time start due to parental duties, started with my usual offroad commute it was nice and dry, a lovely day, singletrack through the trees, mmm. Picked up a puncture at salford crescent ho hum, not a great start but tbh that was the last bike problem I had. Briefly into manchester then took the bridgewater canal out, flat and a bit boring but pleasant enough and easy to clock up the miles i was after. Jumped onto route 55 at monton and took this through to hindley with some detours due to the bus expressway/debacle works. A brief period of navigational drift but I was soon back on track and rode up skirting wigan and through Haigh hall parks. 2.5hours and >30 miles in I necked a few fig rolls and kept on. Onto the canal until red rock then a nice detour down the old railway line (i think) back onto the canal at adlington right through to Chorley, rsisting the urge to call up to freds for ice cream. Saw a few booze cruise/party boats on the canal, nice day for it. Took the road upto to white coppice, there was a cricket match on and the cafe was open so called in for cake and a water refill. Few clouds about but nothing serious, still nice and warm.
Back offroad again as I rode through the woods to brinscall then over to roddlesworth and around the reservoirs there. Tow paths, dirt roads, NCN routes, tarmac and some of the less gnarly trails suit cross bikes down to the ground. Fast and not too bumpy. Climbed up to tockholes, no cafe stop this time, down the road a little then up the switchbacks, this bike really likes climbing, seated up steep hills your just in a perfect position, weight perfectly balanced on the back wheel. Around the moor top trail passed darwen tower screamed down the dirt road and along the ginnels to white hall, brilliant. Climbed up through the cemetary and eventually back onto the road to cadshaw then down the farm track to the Duck and that long long climb upto crowthorn res. The trasck round holcombe has to be taken a bit easier on skinny tyres but I coped with that and the steep drop down to the hare and hounds. Was flagging a bit now and needed a caffeine hit.
Found my way onto ncn 6 and blasted down through totty, a nice easy spin and fairly picturesque in parts, lots of walkers normally but it was getting on and was fairly quiet now. I used the quiet route to cut through bury, another navigational moment but just followed my nose around elton res, a nice bit of riding (that I'd probably struggle to find again) and I eventually popped back out onto the bolton bury canal. I spun along there for a while unsure of where to head next, I'd pretty much bagged the 80 miles I was after, hmm what about an offroad century....? I descended from the canal and headed back into radcliffe to pick up route 6 all the way to philips park eager to get some more fun miles in. Did some of the trails there then back up through giants seat and the canal heading towards home, thinking "is this 100 doable?" only one way to find out, unfortunately I tried, and failed, to find an old short cut, ended up pushing through unrideable grass/brambles. Back on track I went through seven acres and the golf course upto bradshaw, called at morrisons petrol station for another caffeine shot and water. Up through bradshaw and along the edge of the jumbles, upto turton tower. I was over 90 miles now and it was dark, my head torch and tiredness weren't going to cope very well so through the golf course, last drop, into dunscar, up to horrocks fold and figured I needed a little livener on the way home so up scout road and did the carpark->smithills descent, weeeee. It was all downhill from there.
9hours, 101 miles, I was quite happy with that - didn't fell too beat up next day either, cool!