Hawkstone 200 Audax.

What a day this turned out to be.
It didn’t start out too well as I had an email from Ray about not starting if there was snow on the ground. An inch and a bit later had me heading out to the start. M56 was closed around Daresbury luckily the Garmin Nuvi 250W had the rerouting in hand.
It took a bit of forcing mind you as it wanted to send me back to where I came off.

With this delay time was tight but it did get me there in the nick of time. Phil was there and that was about it. Others were setting off but not on the route but down the A50.
Now with no routesheet or map Phil and I opt to follow the Garmins but take it steady on the lanes. We haven’t much other choice.

64 had entered but only 32 rode. That would explain why we saw very few riders on the ride, 10 to 12 tops. Seamons I think had a chain gang down the A50 as when we reached one of the controls we were told a group had come through nearly an hour before us.

Following the proper route from the start the roads were clear with no ice to speak of. Jodrell Bank came into view so I stopped to take a picture. One of the few on the ride. Very few of us rode the full route.

Jodrell Bank in the snowDSCF3960.jpgDSCF3962.jpg Moi

I really like the Jodrell Bank picture  as we were riding for a fair few hours  through similar scenery. The snow didn’t dissapear until later. The next two pictures are of Phil closing on one of the few groups we saw on the road. In the morning everwhere looked like a Christmas card and it was really pleasant riding.

Once your seperated music starts coming into the equation, I had spinning class music bouncing around my head. Soulja Boy CrankThat, google it. I had thought ” This is a nice easy ride” only to find we had only done 20 miles. Only 105 to go.

Next stop is the “Red Rooster Cafe” another control point. Well worth a visit in IronBridge. Not a big place but well worth it if you can get a place. I had egg and baccon baguette. This was the halfway point and I needed filling up.

DSCF3966.jpgDSCF3968.jpg

A minute after taking the picture of the IronBridge there was a snow flurry a minute later sunshine. The next section takes up back around Upton Magna and it’s the first time Phil has seen the power station on the outskirts of IronBridge. It just looks so out of place.

There is another control point at Wroxeter  which required a trip to the visitor centre. This was livened up by sheep escaping onto the road by the farmer who hadn’t shut the gate.

I’ve got this saying “All roads lead to Wem” because for some reason they do. Every roadsign you seem to come across always seemed to have the same distance on it. The road to Wem is fairly open and the wind is starting to pick up.

Phil stopped at a cash machine here and then it was what seemed one of those straight roman roads to Prees Heath and the control at the Raven Cafe. A place that even welcomes bikers never mind cyclists. We were too late as it was closed so it was off to the garage to get a receipt instead.

After the stop it was a case of finding the non existant footbridge, Phil and I headed off to the roundabout looking for it even though the Garmins were pointing the other way. Then we saw a group of three riders going down a lane we hadn’t seen across the dual carriageway. It was a case of lifting the bike over the Armco to get to the other side.

Conditions slowly got a steadily worse but we had got on the back of the group of three. Then things took a turn for the worse, snow flurries.The overtrousers went on for the rest of the ride. It was really grim at times but it is not as if if you can call it quits when things get a bit tough. Then it let off a bit.

Crossing BoothLane at Middlewich Phil couldn’t get across the road and we split with the other group is sight of the finish. Not the end of the world but we came to a T junction at Jones’s Lane and Brereton Lane where so bright spark had reversed the Holmes Chapel sign. On the map it looks an insignificant juntion and with no waypoint on it and a 50/50 decision the tampered signswayed it. Right instead of left. It proved to be a bad move. Heading over the M6 instead of under it we had a couple of mile detour. Then had to endure a trip down an A road in driving rain with lorries going past at 60 mph.

Got to the finish about 15 minutes later than planned. There was some really good soup waiting for us at the finish, and a coal fire. Could have stayed there all night. 125 miles in 10 1/4 hours. Glad to have done it, it was 50/50 at the start but turned out OK. I mention to people that I went out for a ride at the weekend and the usual reply is how far did you go?. 125 miles, most don’t want to drive that far never mind spend over 10 hours in the saddle.
 

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