We are being relocated to a new site next year, in Thornton near Fleetwood. Its not ideal but it could have been a lot worse (Warrington, Cheadle or somewhere else horrendous to get to with no chance of cycling there). I need to sort out a new commute route so I headed out there on the road bike today for a bit of a spin.
I had measured it at about 23 miles so it is another 5 miles on top of what I am doing to St Annes (think the Spesh is going to be too slow). I have a pretty good idea of the route all the way to Singleton and I have to say thought of riding across the quiet Fylde lanes of a sunny morning is something to look forward to.
I have no idea about anything beyond Singleton really. I took a drive out that way last week to get an idea of what the roads are like. I was warned that Amounderness Way would be a bit of a nightmare on a bike and I had to agree. Very fast, very narrow and very busy too. A very different route to the one I would drive was needed.
I printed out an O/S map of the area and a street map of the centre of Poulton which as it turned out was nowhere near detailed enough. D'oh. I had a pretty good ride out to Singleton, it was very warm if I stopped but there was a nice breeze when moving to cool things down a bit. The Fylde lanes were as lovely and quiet as they normally are but it will probably be quite exposed on a very windy day, particularly when the hedges die back over winter. When I arrived in Singleton I was averaging 17.5 which I was pretty pleased about as I wasn't pushing. I did think the section across the Fylde had the potential to be fast.
There are a choice of routes I could take, I went for the slightly shorter one on the larger roads. The roads were wide but had a few sets of traffic lights on which slow things down a bit then its through the centre of Poulton. There is a really faffy one way system in Poulton and I got lost in it totally. It has really narrow roads and if you don't know it its not always immediately obvious which roads go in which direction.
I kept cycling round and round trying to find the road I needed to be on, as I hadn't printed a detailed enough street map out this proved difficult. The O/S map reckoned there was a church right in the centre (and there is, I've heard people talk about it) and I kept looking for it as a landmark but could never see it! Eventually I got lucky and managed to find the road and get to the new site. 26 miles, I'd added three on by riding round the bliddy one way system! Still, I think I've got to know it better (probably not knowing me).
From there I decided to head to the beach, it was only about 2k away by the direct route, which I didn't take as I headed down to Bispham. I fancied an ice cream but by the time I got there I was hungry and couldn't resist some chips. I don't normally eat much on a ride so I hoped they wouldn't make me feel queasy. A bit of riding up and down the prom then I decided to head back to Singleton a different way. Apparently there is a route through Blackpool to Stanley Park then out to Staining. I found a leaflet on Lancashire councils website and printed the rather sketchy map out.
It started opposite North Pier so I headed down there, weaving in and out. My average speed had taken a hammering after all my getting lost and dodging people on the prom so I was just going with the flow. I found the start of the route then headed up Talbot Road aiming for the square. Missed the turn, faffed around Blackpools one way system (another one!). I got back on track, luckily traffic was reasonably light. Talbot square was completely dug up so I had to walk the bike round the narrow paths trying not to hit people with the bike.
Back on the road, still struggling to find my way. I had kind of expected some signage, possibly some ASL's or on road cycle lanes, anything to indicate this was a recommended route for cyclists. There was none of that, however there were a few right turns required at some large junctions which were less than entertaining. I finally saw my first cycle way sign at the entrance to Stanley Park. The Park was heaving but I expected that and it was also signposted.
Once I got out the other side I'd had enough of the "cycle route" and got on the main road back to Staining and Singleton. I rode along the other route I wanted to check out, it is slightly longer (0.3 of a mile) but has no traffic lights on it and will hopefully be quieter. Just got to hope its not a rat run in rush hour traffic.
Back into Singleton then across the busy road then on the lanes again. It was fast progress back towards Preston, I managed to pull my average speed up towards a more respectable 15 for a while. It had been steadily clouding up on the way back and it started raining as I left Roaseacre. It didn't last long, thankfully as I had forgotten to bring an extra layer. I was starting to get an attack of hot foot here, my shoes felt like they were too small, I'm sure all the running has made my feet bigger. As I crossed the M55 I was glad I wasn't driving it today, it was absolutely rammed. I got back home just in time for it to start lightly raining.
In the end it was 60 miles in 4:06, which may be a litte excessive during taper but I felt like I could have gone on all day. Apart from the hot foot, that was really annoying. It was also the longest ride I have done on the road bike, not surprising a few niggles would surface.