Thursday, 22 December 2011


It was a beautiful day today for December. Not bad for July either. I managed to get up in time to get the new bike in order and fill myself with carbohydrate. I then set off by car to Ashton-in-Makerfield to meet up again with the Wigan Wheelers for one of their social runs, or rides. The weather ensured there was a decent turn out - 7 in all - and I think my presence reduced the average age a little.

Trusty steeds waiting outside saloon
Off we went through the back lanes around Warrington towards Northwich which seemed like miles away when I was told that was today's destination. I tagged along at the back while the septuagenarians all took turns to drop back alongside me to check that they weren't going too fast. I managed to stay with them and we eventually reached a roadside cafe near Northwich where we had a hearty all-day breakfast and a good chat.

Vulcan Village. One had gone early. I'm just a shadow.
Half an hour later we set off back through a different set of even more obscure lanes and tracks through villages I had never heard of. The miles went by quickly, being with good company, and we eventually arrived back at my car with 82.2 km on the clock which is just over 50 miles.

So, I've managed a significant target today, especially after managing 40 odd miles on Tuesday. I think I deserve a drink. I will not go out tonight. I will watch Spurs v Chelsea and hopefully will also see my fellow cycling legend and Manxman, Mark Cavendish, be crowned BBC Sport Personality of the Year. I will save myself for my Company Christmas do tomorrow when I will have an all-day session. Hopefully the usual suspects will be joined by various other self-employed ne'er-do-wells in the Pear Tree at High Noon. Do no forsake me Oh my Darran.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Uphill Relegation Battle

It was nice day on Sunday, relatively, that is. To be more accurate I should say it was good enough to go out for a nice bike ride. I didn't though - one of those cba days, or cbb to be more polite. We celebrated my mum's 89th birthday on the Saturday night and maybe I "enjoyed myself" a bit too much. I semi-promised I'd make an effort on Monday but that ended up as a wash out with persisting rain. I felt today (Tuesday) I needed to punish myself so I decided to visit the towns of the bottom three Premiership football clubs. I looked at the league table and found the bottom three were in fact Blackburn, Bolton and Wigan. It was spooky. What a slice of luck for them all to be within reach?

So off I went on the old bike. (cba fixing the new one on Sunday or Monday but will tomorrow). In Chorley I heard two chaps shouting across the road and felt like I had been transported to Eastern Europe for a second. I don't think they were speaking in the usual Chorley accent. Out of Chorley and into unchartered territory on the A674 toward Blackburn. All the small towns off this road were places I played cricket in the 80s and 90s. Withnell, Brinscall, White Coppice etc., and then Feniscowles where I was done over, good and proper, by some old codger sat on a bench as we all lay on the grass watching our teammates bat. I asked him what was the monument on the hill. He replied, "That's Darrin (Darwen) Cross. They say when tha' can see t' Cross tha' knows its going t' rain." "What if you can't see the Cross?" I asked - wide-eyed, innocent lamb to slaughter. All his birthdays came at once. "It's already bloody raining." Was his reply. Needless to say, all the others saw it coming and I was the butt of all jokes for weeks afterwards but I never let it get me down too much. I did hear some eerie familiar laughter as I passed the cricket ground though. The hill out of Blackburn went up and up forever and I enjoyed my drink break with over ripe banana after 21 miles. There was plenty of snow on the West Pennine Moors but none on the road, thankfully. The downhill bit into Bolton also went on forever but the road was very poor and I had to take it slowly.

It just so happened I passed through Hindley on the way back so I felt it was a good time to call in to the Wigan and Leigh Hospice to dedicate a "Light for a Life". This I had decided to do a couple of weeks ago on behalf of my mum as a "thank you" for what mums do for us, which is basically everything. It was good that I could tell her this on her birthday. Details on the website

All being well I will try and get out with the Wheelers on Thursday. Who will be in the bottom three then?