Learn to ride a bike and do the TPT
Six years ago I learned to ride a bike at the ripe old age of forty eight. The challenge of the TPT sounded like a suitable test of my skills. So, after enlisting the essential and much appreciated support of my wife, also a cyclist, but not mad enough to take the challenge , we booked the B&B’s, bought the maps and set out one Saturday morning in May.
Southport seemed like something from the sixty’s sea side towns of my youth. A quick cup of tea in Maccadee’s, a few photos and I was off, leaving a worried wife to meet me somewhere down the line later that day. The light drizzle was quite pleasant and soon the miles were ticking over and Aintree arrived with the first route mistake. I almost joined the horses racing around the track! Back on the right course, (get it?), the scenery soon improved with a long beautiful cutting through some interesting geology, which, unfortunately I did not have time to explore further. The miles ticked by and after risking the broken glass, etc, around Speak the thatched houses of Hale were a delight. I called it a day after 32 miles at Widnes and met up with my support team (my wife and estate car) for the return to our digs, with a good meal and a few pints to celebrate a good first day.
Day 2 (Sunday) started with a puncture, the glass made its mark after all. Soon on my way leaving my wife to the delights of a Trafford Centre shopping day, while I peddled on through wonderful countryside, punctuated by small lanes through estates and ending with an exciting few moments through Stockport, navigating very busy roads and heavy traffic. The last part of the day proved difficult, as navigating through, the many paths of Reddish Vale Country Park was a challenge I didn’t need after 40 plus miles. No-one seemed to know where the visitor centre was and even my wife’s sat’ nav’ had trouble finding it. More signage please. The “digs” in Sale proved very pleasant with loads to do in the vicinity, with a good choice of pubs and eateries.
Monday started well, but proved the most challenging day of the whole trip. Navigation problems, mechanical gremlins and the long climb up to the Woodhead tunnel entrance meant that I only managed 24 miles. A frustrating days riding with another puncture and a malfunctioning valve on a new tube, tested my patience and resolve, I was a very tired rider that evening, worried that the whole thing was beyond me.
Refreshed after a good night’s rest and encouragement from my support team, I made the ascent to the top of the pass. A glorious start that could not fail to inspire the most exhausted traveller, and with the promise of some downhill, my mood brightened with the sunshine. The next 30 odd miles can only be described as superb. Good surfaces, simple navigation through Don Trail and Dove Valley Trail. A wonderful day’s riding that reinvigorated and rejuvenated tired heart and legs. I intend to return here for many more, shorter, rides. The day ended with a nice surprise, with my wife walking from the B+B to meet me. Brill!
An early start straight from the digs, at Mexborough, set me on my way to Selby. An interesting town that looks like it would be worth more investigation. The day went quickly with interesting, varied riding through lanes, riverside tracks and a long straight canal section. Unfortunately when looking for a lunch break, all the pubs were closed and the small isolated villages didn’t really cater for breaks.
Starting off again from Selby, next to the bridge, there was a short closed section. I found my way through an allotment and back onto the riverside route after asking locals for help. The one thing that sticks in my mind is how helpful people were and getting lost is almost worth it because you meet such nice people. Maybe, if the signage and maps were adequate the journey would be less interesting. Thanks to everyone who helped redirect me and maybe we’ll meet again some day.
Selby to North Ferriby today and you secretly know you’ve done it, but dare not say so. The temptation is to relax, but there is plenty of good riding left yet. Strong, in your face winds, and long straight road riding through huge fields is not the most interesting riding and was, to be honest, a bit of a slog, but every mile counts, so just get your head down, and keep going.
Last day – you know you’ve done it; you could carry the bike from here. The incredible spectacle of Humber Bridge is a worthy climax to most challenges, but sadly on this trip, it’s just a way point. From here, Hull and a railway line about 15 miles long, stands in the way of completion. Hull was another difficult section with very heavy traffic and a noticeable change in people’s friendliness and attitude. .Maybe I was getting used to the quiet and isolation of the ride. I negotiated the hassle of Hull and returned to the tranquillity of the railway line. All was well again. It seemed longer than 15 miles but suddenly you’re there! The line ends and a little more poor signage at the island reminding you to keep alert. Then you arrive a the 60’s holiday town again, with about 30 people in pristine “whites” all playing bowls on one small green ,slot machine arcades and closed chip shops!
A wonderful welcome champagne, balloons, etc) from my ‘support team’, more photos and a pint in the pub. Then back to the digs. It’s done! We cycled across England. 215 official miles, about 230 with diversions. What next? “Remind me how far it is from Lands End to John O’Groats?” Maybe not a good time for that question, didn’t go down well with the support team.
On reflection brilliant! Fantastic scenery, great riding. We’ll hopefully be back to enjoy some parts, at a more leisurely pace. If you’re thinking of doing this ride, get decent maps. Don’t rely on signs and dedicated C2C maps. But then again, don’t be afraid to get lost, it’s worth it, as it gives you the opportunity to meet the locals. Thanks again to Amanda, my “support team“, without whom it would have been impossible and worthless… And finally to my bike, which also did a wonderful job.
Cheers and good luck to all who do the Trans Pennine Trail.
Pat and Bryan’s story has helped our Partners right across the Trans Pennine Trail network to see how changes can make the route more accessible. Take a look at what they've helped to accomplish.