AJoG – Day 2 – Hereford to Preston – 238km

https://www.routeyou.com/en-gb/route/view/6379077/race-cycle-route/ajog02-hereford-preston-v2

I tried to make an early start knowing this wold be a long day. The hotel had no breakfast facilities, so I had tea and biscuits in my room and assumed I’d get something out on the road.

The ride started out with a nice cycle path through Hereford, including a picturesque river crossing.

Hereford cycle path

Hereford cycle path

River Wye

River Wye

River Wye

The A4110 heading North was scenic, but hilly and my legs were struggling after the previous days 200k, especially with a light headwind. A country lane detour off the A road gave a good excuse for a stop and photo opportunity.

Eventually I joined the A49 heading towards Church Stretton (where I knew there was a Subway). I had previously planned to stop at a small tea room beyond Church Stretton, but a quick investigation the previous night told me that the tea room was closed on Sundays (perhaps a poor business model!). The A49 was busy, but smooth and I made good time, only to discover that the subway in Church Stretton had not yet opened! Fortunately, there was an attached Costa, so I could at least have a toastie.

A49

Then, back onto the A49 to Shrewsbury. Again, busy, but fast. On the way into Shrewsbury, I ducked into a Halfords to re-stock on inner tubes. Then, onto back roads and a cycle path which included a very picturesque river crossing where there were doing a Dragon Boat race.

The roads out of Shrewsbury slowly got quieter and quieter until I was cycling through deserted countryside in the sunshine.

Good rocks

Good rocks

Lanes

Lanes

Lanes

Distant mountains

Distant mountains

The only downside was that the country lanes were of vary variable quality, often covered in dired mud and stones. I was feeling tired and the miles were ticking by very slowly. I knew there was a pub up ahead somewhere, but I couldn’t see it on my map. It was at this point, having got some good speed up well surfaced road into Tallarn Green, that I saw the route detour off down a gravel track. A quick check on the cycle computer told me that the track re-joined the “main” road about a km ahead, so I stayed on the real road. Before I got to where the track re-joined, I came round a corner and spotted a nice looking pub with a beer garden (http://www.queensheadsarn.co.uk/) as I cycled past. After a seconds dithering, I decided that this would be as good a place as any to stop, there was even another bike resting against the fence.

Having ordered and enjoying sitting in the shade with the river running past, I noticed more and more cyclists turning up, until the beer garden was full of bikes. A Lynskey pretty much the same as mine had even been parked next to it!

Pub garden

Pub garden

LEJoGers

LEJoGers

Lynskey brother

Lynskey brother

I asked some of them where they’d come from, assuming it was a club ride out from a local city. However, it turned out they were doing Land End to John o Groats! They were doing it over 10 days (my LEJoG would have been 8) and had a van driving their luggage between locations, so they were impressed by my solo effort.

I was enjoying my sit down, but I was only just over half way and the afternoon was getting on, so reluctantly, I departed and set out into the afternoon heat.

Red brickwork

The roads were still quiet, with good views onto Welsh hills. While stopped to take a picture of some of these, a group of LEJoG cyclists passed me. I assumed I would not see them again, because of my grinding pace and the fact they were doing a shorter distance with no luggage, but after 20 or so km, while skirting Chester I saw them up ahead and managed to catch them up before they avoided a blast down the A54.

The road through Helsby and Frodsham was busy and rough, the highlight being I saw the LEJoG group being services with tea. The offered me a cup, but I was feeling good at this point and reckoned I’d keep putting in the miles. However, immediately after that I stopped to take a picture of “industry” across the Mersey.

The route into Runcorn and the Mersey crossing was a strange mix of winding cycle paths alongside dual carriageways, residential roads and roadworks. All slow, but not difficult.

Fortunately, as I had researched, the Silver Jubilee bridge was open to cyclists and pedestrians. There was a “cyclists dismount” sign, which I paid attention to long enough to take a few pictures, then ignored because everyone else was.

The ride from Runcorn to St Hellens was un-memorable and very urban. I stopped for a phone call, when suddenly a masked scrambler bike rider emerged from a side road and rode across the pavement towards me. I feared for some sort of Londonesque moped mugging, but they veered off into the traffic a long way off. Maybe he could smell me…

I passed a Subway in all this and thought about having a snack, but it was “only” 50km or so to Preston.

I had been looking forward to the cycle path along side the A570 and indeed it was a nice path (though into the wind). However, I was distracted by my GPS / satnav shutting down and refusing to re-start! How was I going to navigate the next 6 days? I tried taking out the SD card, which had previously caused problems, but to no avail. In the end, I save / re-set the activity, which seemed to do the trick. I had been planning to record the entire ride as a single activity, with “laps” for each day. This seemed to give it a wobbly, as can be seen from the fact the activity actually seemed to end at my lunch stop: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3847317604, not when the GPS shut down.

The ride from A570 to Preston started scenic, but got more and more urban. I had another mechanical problem on this stretch when my cleat came loose. I feared it was the pedal at first, but fortunately a quick tighten with an allen key sorted the problem. Strangely, while I was stopped on the verge, someone honked at me. Can’t quite see what the objection was, but people are weird.

After what seemed like an age, I reached the start of the cycle path into Preston that I’d been looking forward to. Unfortunately this optimism was misplaced as the path was really rough because of tree roots and actually had a fair number of hills! The ride through Preston to the hotel seemed to mainly involve dodging broken glass and navigating roadworks. It was with great relief that I rolled into the Ibis hotel at 7:30 hungry and tired.

The missed subway meant that I was happy to have a “Quadzilla” burger, followed by cheesecake and didn’t feel too full!!!

Day 3: https://cyclingcoder.wordpress.com/2019/07/08/ajog-day-3-preston-to-lockerbie-200km/

    • Richard Shaw
    • July 24th, 2019

    A great read, can’t wait until tomorrow for the next instalment. The only cycle adventure I planned was cancelled by my doctor. I ended up driving the luggage for my wife and son – and feeling very jealous fro 4 days.

  1. August 2nd, 2019
  2. August 2nd, 2019

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