We Ride For Those Who Died

A post from me on a Saturday normally means I have been to a football match and am doing a write up. This week however that is not the case. I did not go to any football today, despite there being a number of games locally.

No, I am not self isolating, nor am I ill. Instead of going to football today, I went out on my bike. Today was the 3rd of the 10 days over which the Virtual UK Police Unity Tour is taking place. Normally the last weekend in July the UK Police Unity Tour takes places and we ride from various locations across the UK to the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire to raise funds for UK COPS.

To quote from their website,

Care of Police Survivors (COPS) is a charity that supports the families of police officers and staff who have lost their lives on duty.

Having been luck to have taken part in every UK Police Unity Tour since its inception in 2013, and also in the US Police Unity Tour on 4 occasions prior to that, I have been privileged to see the fantastic work that UK COPS do.

It is a Charity run by survivors (relatives of police officers killed in the line of duty), providing help and support to other survivors. It is a club no one want to be a member of, but sadly every year additional families become members whether as a result of criminal acts or accidents. No one deserves to die doing their job.

However, what is easy to forget are the families left behind following the death of a serving police officer. Those families said goodbye to their loved one as he set off for work, but never got to speak to them again.

Those widows or widowers , parents, children have to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. It is not an easy task when you have lost suddenly without warning your loved one.

UK COPS provide vital help and support to deal with the emotional turmoil, whether it be someone to listen, offer advice or provide more practical help.

Sadly in the last year or so, we have lost a number of officers killed as a result of criminal acts. PC Andrew Harper was killed in Thames Valley by thieves trying to steal a Quad Bike. He had only been married 4 weeks before his death. He & his partner had not even had their honeymoon.

Then more recently there was the murder of Sgt Matt Ratana who was shot whilst acting as Custody Sergeant at Croydon Police Station by a prisoner. He was heading towards retirement in 2 months time and had volunteered to work as a Custody Sergeant because he felt it was a safer role than being out on the streets. Again, he leaves behind a partner and a son.

As I said, normally we have rides from across the UK to the National Memorial Arboretum in July to coincide with the UK COPS annual Survivors’ Weekend. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Survivors’ Weekend was cancelled as was the Police Unity Tour. Instead the Organizing Committee agreed to my suggestion to run a Virtual Event with riders expected to complete 100 miles in a 10 day period whether out on the road ( as old fashioned cyclists like me have done), or using gym bikes, turbo trainers etc whether linked to Zwift or not. That is some form of computer game – or at least its what I say to wind up those who won’t venture out onto the road. Bloody soft southerners complaining its too cold or too wet to venture outside  on the road. Have they never heard of Rule 5 ? Every cyclist should remember that rule.


UK PUT

So, I headed out before work on Thursday and did 25.72 miles and after work, I did another 16.06 miles. Neither work in particularly good weather and both were at rush hour. Friday, I did another 28.42 miles before work and got a visit from the p*nct*re fairy for my troubles. That was 70 miles done, so today Saturday, I decided to sacrifice going to football to do another 30 mile ride to bring up the 100 miles. As it was such a nice day, that 30 mile ride turned into a 41 mile ride and would have been longer, but I had to return home to sort out the workmen repairing my house roof.

Today’s ride took me on a route I have ridden many times over the last 20 years, and one I used to ride most Sunday’s with my son when he was little. I only recently discovered that on the hill out of Stapleford Abbotts, there was a police officer George Gutteridge murdered in 1927. So today, I took a minute out of my ride to pay my respects to him.

So I have done 111 miles in the first 3 of the 10 days available for doing the Virtual UK Police Unity Tour. I think it may be too much of a challenge to me not to complete a total of 200 miles in this time.


If any of you kind folk wish to sponsor me, then follow the links below and donate online. Any amount will help this charity continue its fantastic work.

http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/PeterBennett2020




Hopping Around

Only three more games this week to write about. I had planned to go to games tomorrow ( Friday 11th ) and Saturday, but owing to a welcome change in plans I have ended my week of ground hopping early.

Barkingside 1 v 0 Hackney Wick FC – Eastern Counties League Div. 1 South Monday 7 September 2020

A very local game for me as I can walk to and from the ground. Its a regular venue for me as both Barkingside and also Ilford play here. Barkingside ironically used to play at Oakside which was the venue of last game I attended. Barkingside are a favourite club of mine for several reasons, apart from being so close to my home. The Chairman Jimmy is always so welcoming and puts a huge amount of effort into making people welcome. Also Barkingside often play on Monday nights or Friday night to avoid clashes with other games and to attract the ground hoppers.

One slight difference for this game was the need to ring Jimmy to get a reservation for the game because of the covid restrictions. imagine having to ring the chairman at Manchester United on a match day for a ticket?

So, after a stroll to the ground and after a temperature check etc, I wandered along to the Main Stand to take my seat for tonight’s Eastern Counties League Division 1 South game ( step 6 ). There was a much higher than usual crowd for the game. It was later announced as 155, compared to the usual 50-75. Part of the reason for the extra fans was the regular East London ground hoppers. Many of whom I had not spoken to since early in the year pre lockdown. It was good to catch up and learn that none had suffered physically owing to Covid.

Barkingside took the lead from a good header from a good free kick in the first half. That proved to be the difference between the two sides. The game itself was an entertaining affair, probably more so than one would expect from a step 6 game ( that’s the 10th tier of English football). The lack of further goals was no reflection on the entertainment value.

A few of noticeable events tonight were:

  • a) the relative quality of the pitch. It certainly looked far better than I remember. This may simply be because of the lack of use since early March, but I think that work has been done to improve the pitch.
  • b) parked up against the fence around the pitch was a scooter. Not something you expect to see at a football match.
  • c) In the second half, the Barkingside chairman Jimmy made a point of thanking those in the main stand for attending. A nice gesture that sums up the friendly nature of this club

A short walk home and I was in the house only 15 minutes after the final whistle

Good value for £6

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Waltham Forest 1 v 2 FC Stansted Essex Senior League Tuesday 8 September 2020

Tuesday night saw me make the short trip to Wadham Lodge Sports Centre to watch Waltham Forest host FC Stansted in the Essex Senior League. This is a step 5 league and at the same level in the pyramid as the Northern League in theory. In practice, the Northern League is much stronger as shown by the fact that the 2019/2020 FA Vase Final is between 2 Northern League sides. It is several years since an Essex Senior League side reached the semi finals of the FA Vase ( Bowers & Pitsea who lost to eventual winners Morpeth (from the northern League!)). I hadn’t been to Wadham Lodge since the start of last season. I’m not sure why as its not very far from my home.

Another lively and entertaining game tonight. Waltham Forest took the lead after 13 minutes from a penalty after a clear foul inside the area. Lots of protest from the Stansted players, but it was one of the simplest decisions the referee had to make.

After 34 minutes it was 1-1 with Stansted equalising after a goalmouth scramble.

The whole game was a rather feisty affair and it was credit to the referee that he never sent anyone off and only sin binned 1 player. Stansted in particular seemed to be very pumped up for it and seemed to want to argue everything. Their competitive spirit was rewarded in the 74th minute when they scored after a corner. It was a bit of a turn around as 4 minutes earlier Stansted could have been 2-1 down when Waltham Forest hit the post.

It was probably a fair reflection of the game and another entertaining game.

Admission £7

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Ilford FC 6 v 2 Redbridge FC Essex Senior League Wednesday 9 September 2020

So Wednesday and my 2nd visit in 48 hours to Cricklefields. This time to see Ilford play. Last week, you will recall I saw Ilford lose at home in the FA Cup to a side from a division below them, whereas on Saturday I saw Redbridge unlucky not to beat a Sawbridgeworth side who would probably have been promoted if it wasn’t for the lockdown last season. On this basis, you may have expected Redbridge to be favourites, but other ground hoppers who watched Redbridge in the FA Cup last week said they were very poor.

After only 18 minutes of tonight’s game, Ilford were 3-0 up. Its a while since Ilford were so dominant in a game. It was 1-0 after 5 minutes. After 16 minutes, it was 2-0 with a David Beckham –esq free kick. One of the best free kicks I will see this season. Two minutes later, Ilford had made it 3-0 after beating the offside trap and a well taken goal.

Shortly before half time Redbridge pulled one back from the penalty spot giving a slight chance of making a game of it in the second half.

The second half was dominated by Ilford with goals in the 70th and 72nd minutes to make it 5-1.
A few minutes later a Redbridge player launched into a foul mouthed rant at the referee accusing the referee of timewasting. The foul mouth rant was heard by everyone in the ground and should have resulted in an immediate red card for the foul mouthed yob. The referee chose to ignore completely the incident…or did he?


A minute or less later the ball was played forward by Ilford and the Redbridge foul mouthed yob challenged for the ball and was penalised by the referee with a straight red card for an elbow ( allegedly). Some may think the referee had in mind the foul mouthed rant when making his decision.

This was not the ned of it, because as he walked off the pitch and along the running track, the Redbridge player resorted to a further foul mouthed rant about the referee , the decision etc. I wonder if the yob realised that his rant was directly in front of both the ESL Chairman and Secretary? Could make for an interesting hearing if he is stupid enough to appeal his card.

After this, the player went into the changing room, got changed, came back out to near the main stand where he spoke to the league chairman and sat down quietly to watch the last few minutes of the game. Technically this is not allowed as a player sent off has to remain in the changing room and can’t return to the stands. A rather silly rule it seems to me. I can’t see the harm done by the player watching the game as opposed to being detained in the changing room like a prisoner in a cell.

After 83 minutes, Redbridge were 6-1 down and a minute later it was 6-2. That was the final score.

Another entertaining game and probably the best I have seen from Ilford in many years. What a contrast to a week ago.

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So, three enjoyable games in three nights and all for a total sum of less than £20. Great value for money.

That’s my lot for this week. Next week? I haven’t got as far as planning that yet, other than perhaps Barkingside on the Friday for the FA Vase tie



Glad To Be Back–Football Has Come Home

Football is back and on Wednesday night I went to watch my first competitive football match since mid March.

To be honest, it was actually the 2nd game I had seen.

Frenford 0 v 5 Coggleshall Town Pre Season Match 22 August 2020

The first was a one sided friendly game between Frenford FC and Coggleshall town FC which saw Frenford lose 5-0 to a side 2 divisions above them. That game marked the 1st game at Frenford’s redeveloped ground that admitted spectators. Even though Frenford are based in Ilford, it is the first time I have ever visited their ground. I did see them last season when they were ground sharing with Bowers & Pitsea whilst their ground was being redeveloped. Frenford have an interesting history. They started out as a boys club and now have a first team playing at step 6 of the Pyramid ( 10th Tier of English Football).

Frenford have a new 3G pitch on a ground that has apparently been turned through 90 degrees since they last played there. There are 2 seated stands there, but at present no other covered accommodation. When I went, I ended up cycling there ( not my original plan), but was allowed to take my bike into the ground and left it next to one of the stands. In the new Covid era, as well as paying, I had to give my name and phone number for contact tracing purposes. There appeared to be no refreshments in the ground, but I am not sure if you could have got them in the clubhouse. I expect this will change once the season proper starts.

As I said above, Frenford were outclassed by their visitors, but that is not surprising given their visitors are 2 levels above Frenford. There is little more to say really other than Frenford was a friendly club and one to visit again.

Ilford 1 v 3 Halstead Town FC FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round 2 September 2020

As the FA Cup is late starting this season, the FA have scrapped replays in the early rounds. This meant tonight’s tie would reach a conclusion.

After cycling to Frenford, tonight’s game was reached by pony – Shank’s Pony. Its only a mile from my home, so I walked to the game.

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For probably the first time since Ilford reformed, there was a queue to get into the ground. Indeed the attendance was well over 200 compared to their normal 50 or so.  There were several reasons for this, including quite a number of Halstead fans and people desperate for football after the lockdown. Indeed all the programmes had gone by the time I got there.

Into the main stand, and there were the usual groundhoppers there. It was good to catch up as I hadn’t seen them since February / early March time.

Tonight’s FA cup tie saw 9th tier Ilford hosting 10th tier Halstead. It was the first competitive game for both sides. Ilford started very strongly and hit the post in the 1st minute and were a goal ahead by the time 5 minutes had gone. It looked as though this was going to be a very one sided game. Unfortunately for Ilford, no one had told Halstead this.

After 34 minutes a blooper by the Ilford keeper allowed Halstead to score a simple goal. Its to be hoped no one recorded this incident to save the embarrassment of the keeper. Only 5 minutes later, Halstead were ahead. Could a cup shock be on the cards?

There were no more goals in the first half, but only 1 minute into the 2nd half, Halstead extended their lead and surely took the game out of Ilford’s reach.

There was no more scoring in the game and after a rather good cup tie, Halstead Town claimed victory and a place in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup. Ilford must be disappointed after letting victory be taken from them by lower ranked opposition.

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Redbridge FC 2 v 2 Saffron Walden Town FC Essex Senior League 5 September 2020

Today brought lots of choice in games to watch. There were pre season doule headers at Avely and at Barking and it was also the opening round of the Essex Senior League. I only decided on which game to attend as I returned from my late morning bike ride. After a quick 36 miles, it was 13:30 and therefore time was limited as to where to go. I decided to cycle over to Redbridge for their game. Mainly because it was near and I could cycle there so didn’t need to shower and change etc before going.

Redbridge play at Oakside Stadium in Barkingside and its fair to say it has been gradually deteriorating for a number of years now, but it was convenient and a competitive game was more appealing than a pre season double header with no doubt lots of substitutions etc.

Arriving at the ground I was allowed to bring my bike inside and safely chain it up to railings near the clubhouse. Thank you Redbridge FC. I had to pass a temperature test and to scan in using the EvePass system. Interestingly, this said I was at West Essex not Redbridge. West Essex had played there on Wednesday night, so wonder if it was an old barcode. I am not sure how the system works if truth be told.

Once into the ground, the first think I noticed was the massive smartening up of the ground since my last visit. A new fence around the ground, new dug outs, the removal of the dilapidated covered stand opposite the main stand, the cleaning of the seats in the Main Stand and most significantly the work that had been done to the pitch. The ground now looks a lot more welcoming and I for one am more likely to attend at games here when it looks like this.

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Saffron Walden were top of the Essex Senior League last season when the season was abandoned, so they have to be one of the favourites this season. Redbridge finished mid table last season, so it was not unreasonable to expect an away win today.

woodford

As I wandered around the ground before the game, I had a lengthy chat with the Redbridge club secretary who approached me after noticing my UK Police Unity Tour cycling shirt. It was interesting to learn of the work the club officials have put in. Many clubs have similar hard working officials who never get the credit they deserve. I think its fair to say Redbridge know where they would like to go and deserve to succeed.

The game started, and it was easy to tell that Saffron Walden possessed the more skilfull side, but the work rate of the Redbridge side was fantastic and they made life uncomfortable for Saffron Walden. Indeed, Redbridge should have taken the lead after 29 minutes when they were awarded a penalty. Sadly it was a poorly taken one and the keeper dived to his right and saved it

https://youtu.be/0xBWyo0HOwU

Six minutes later, Saffron Walden were unlucky not to take the lead when they hit the post and the ball bounced away with the keeper well beaten. Half time came with the game still scoreless. Chances at both ends in a very enjoyable first half.

Seven minutes into the second half, and somewhat against the run of play, Redbridge took the lead with a breakaway goal. A shock on the cards?

The lead did not last long and after 59 minutes, Saffron Walden were level and it was no more than they deserved.

On 72 minutes, Redbridge had the ball in the back of the net only for it to be ruled out for offside. A correct decision in my opinion.

Three minutes later and another Redbridge goal ruled out, this time for a foul and correctly so again I think.

Two disallowed goals, a missed penalty and one that counted. Redbridge could have been 4-1 up!

On 81 minutes, Redbridge went 2-1 up and it seemed there was no way back for the visitors. That was so until the 94th minute when from an attacking set piece, Saffron Walden got an equaliser.

There was a total of 8 minutes of stoppage time played, and still time for more drama with the referee threatening to abandon the game as the ball went out of the ground and all the spare balls had been used, even the visitors warm up balls had been used. Eventually a ball was found and the last 2 minutes could be played out.

Imagine a game being abandoned in stoppage time owing to no match ball!

A very enjoyable 2-2 draw was the final result and if Redbridge keep up their battling performances, they will surprise a few people this season.

The game was fantastic value for the £5 admission fee and an afternoon I thoroughly enjoyed.

However, I can’t end this match report without a couple of negative comments.

1. The foul language used by some of the players, especially the Redbridge players make it a venue I would hesitate to suggest people bring their kids. Quite gratuitous foul language is not needed, and the referee should have dealt with it.

2. At half time the haranguing of the referee by a manager / coach again was not needed and again, the referee should have dealt with it firmly and sent the person concerned off. The referee is not there to be shouted at and abused

3. The language and behaviour of some of those from Saffron Walden sitting in the seats reserved for away officials casts a bad reflection upon Saffron Walden which is a lovely club. It is something the Saffron Walden officials need to clamp down up. Sitting in the officials seats, it suggests the persons were players from the club.

however, I am not going to let these three points ruin my afternoon and I will be back at Oakside again soon to watch Redbridge

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To Hull & Back

Lets start with an apology to Only Fools & Horses for stealing their title for this thread

So when I last blogged we were in Barnsley soaking wet and having got hopelessly lost in the woods on the way to Barnsley….sounds like a fairy story doesn’t it.

Well, Sunday morning we said goodbye to my parents and we continued on our merry way, heading towards Humberside. A lot of the morning on Sunday we were riding alongside the river Don, then met an ex police officer on an electric bike who knew the area well. He road with us on some back roads that were very poorly signposted. Thankfully he did join us as he kept us on the correct path.

After our guide left us, we rode for a number of miles along a canal causing annoyance to anglers who seemed to think the tow path was theirs for stowing the voluminous fishing gear and seemed rather unhappy that people were so audacious as to want to pass along the towpath!

So far, so flat. The ride was largely very flat up to this point. The surface varied from river paths, to tarmacadamed roads. nothing very challenging though.

Following a difficulty caused by a lack of signposting,in the Sykehouse Area, we ended up riding on the road and found a significant shortcut. After riding on flat open roads into a headwind, we joined the A614 towards Goole. By the time we arrived in Goole, we had ridden 35 miles that morning and hadn’t found a single place to stop for a coffee or tea. So as we entered Goole we stopped at a McDonalds for lunch. Not ideal, but its open, serves food and drink and is a place to recharge our phones etc.

Whilst in McDonalds, we went online and booked a room & breakfast at the Premier Inn at Hull West for that evening. We got a confirmation of the booking from Premier Inn confirming we had booked bed & breakfast.

We then carried on our ride towards Hull, Largely flat roads and to be honest it was a bit boring riding quiet flat roads with no traffic.We were getting to the stage of craving some rough trails or even hills.

The highlight of the ride was when we saw the Humber Bridge for the first time. Its a spectacular structure and even 30+ years old it is an engineering wonder. Whilst viewing the bridge from afar, we met a couple of lads doing the ride the opposite way, so shared stories and tips with them for a bit before we both made our ways to our respective hotels.

Eventually, as it was getting dark, we arrived out our hotel  near the Humber Bridge. You will remember this was the pre booked bed and breakfast at the Premier Inn at Hull West. As we checked in we were told we could not have breakfast the following morning because they had allowed all the tables in the restaurant to be booked by non residents taking advantage of the last day of the “Eat Out”scheme to get food half price! A clear breach of contract since they had 5 hours earlier confirmed a contract between us for them to provided bed & breakfast accommodation.. Oh and we had already paid for the bed and breakfast at full price. No Eat Out discount offered to us.

The receptionist at the hotel said it was our fault for not ringing up and booking a time slot for a table for breakfast. Now this is a case of victim blaming as there is no warning of the need to book breakfast timed slots, there is no way to do so when booking on the Premier Inn app and there is no way to contact the hotel as Premier Inn do not give out anything other than a national phone number for the chain’s call centre.

So either the hotel had already no tables left when we booked or they booked the tables after we had a contract with them for breakfast.

Not a problem, Premier Inn offer a 100% satisfaction policy which guarantees your money back if not satisfied. So we asked the hotel for a refund so we could go to a hotel where we could get bed and breakfast. The Premier Inn guarantee says to contact the hotel reception at the time of unhappiness to invoke the refund. However when we did this, the hotel called the police to claim we were threatening them. Yes, threatening them by following their own “refund” policy and asking for the refund. The police were duly embarrassed to be called out and accepted there was no crime being committed.

This is one for their lawyers. At the time of typing this, A formal letter before action has been served upon Whitbread, the owners of Premier Inn.

So Monday morning and we set off hungry for our 40 miles ride into Hull and then onto Hornsea and back to Hull. A little bit of trepidation as online and from people we spoke to en route, the route from Hull to Hornsea was said to be badly signed. Given how poor the signage had been on the rest of the route, this did not bode well at all. The reality proved to be the opposite ( apart from one blip). We road nearly all the way from Hull to Hornsea on the old railway line . The old stations still had a lot of the platforms left. The route being an old railway line was pancake flat.

Now about that blip…as we approached Hornsea, we came to a roundabout with 5 exits. We were coming on one. On two of the other exits were blue TPT signs pointing down different roads. There was also a road sign to the seafront pointing a different way. So that’s 3 different roads signposted. We chose one of them and road down to the seafront and found the Obelisk marking the finish of the route. we had photos taken there, then turned round to head off home and came upon the old Hornsea Railway Station and things to do with the railway line. We set off riding down the old railway line, despite it not being signposted for the TPT. This brought us out at that confusing roundabout on the road that was not signposted as part of the TPT!.

So we have 3 roads signposts and none of them were the correct route!

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The End of The Trail         

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The Many Tentacles of the TPT

    

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Various Views of Hornsea Station

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The Kind Folk of Humberside Erected A Sign for Me

The ride back to Hull followed the same route at the ride out to Hornsea and was only notable for me picking up the first p*nct*re of the ride. Not a problem whip out the punctured tube, get the thorn out of the tyre and put a brand new inner tube in. All sorted? No, turns out the brand new inner tube is defective, so time for another tube and on our way.

Back in Hull we had a ride around the docks and town centre, then tried to find somewhere to eat. This had to be somewhere we could watch our bikes. This is not an easy task on a bank holiday Monday that is also the last day of the Eat Out scheme. Eventually we hit upon Furley’s in Princes Quay where we had a great meal, sat out on the Quayside in the sunshine. The food and the service were excellent. Even better it was also half price under the Eat Out scheme. I can thoroughly recommend this bar and would definitely visit it again.

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Then it was time to head to the train station, and back to London. The adventure over. We even arrived into Kings Cross early and headed our separate ways home.

The Stats

Sunday's Ride

Sunday’s Rid‘

Monday's Ride

Monday’s Ride

Monday's Stats

Monday’s Stats

So the 4 days of the ride started in Southport, went via Liverpool, Manchester, Stockport, Hyde, Glossop, Woodhead Pass Penistone, Sheffield ( by mistake), Barnsley, Doncaster, Goole and Hull and took in over 220 miles. Many of these were off road. Some hilly, some very flat, but all in all a good bit of fun.

TPT Stats

This was my first ever off road tour. It was great fun and I am surprised how easy the ride up to and over Woodhead Pass was. I learned I enjoyed the trails through Grenoside Woods, even if we shouldn’t have been near them.

Sadly, its back to reality today. My bike has been cleaned and lubed and  repairs made. Time to start planning my next trip…or it would be if Covid would disappear.

Thanks must  go to my long suffering ride companion Drew Jones for his help, encouragement and support not to mention his patience waiting for me on the more technical bits that I struggle to deal with.

The only downside is that 5 days away has seen me put on 5lbs in weight, despite all the riding!

Over The Hill

Yes, its time to admit it, I am over the Hill. At 50+ years I can safely say I am over the Hill.

I am of course referring to the Pennines and in particular The Woodhead Pass.

Saturday’s  bike ride was supposed to be a shirt but hilly 30 miles from Mottram in Hyde to Barnsley. It turned out to be a lot longer ride than that for reasons I will explain below.

So after leaving outer hotel  we rapidly picked up the Trans Pennine Trail  (TPT) and almost immef5lost it because of turns not being signposted  ( a common problem). We took the Road towards Glossop instead. And found the TPT again and started climbing up towards Woodhead Pass, firstly passing up and over a reservoir at Hadfield ( the first of many). It was spectacular by the amount of water flowing off the hills, causing a large fountain effect.

More climbing on rough surfaces led us to the main trail up to Woodhead. It was in the region of 8 miles of solid climbing to Woodhead Tunns. It was a steady gentle climb, but a climb all the same. Two noticeable things on reoute were the number of families out walking & riding together and the number of twichers ( bird watchers) we saw.

When we reached the remains of the old Woodhead Railway Station at the entrance to the sealed Woodhead Tunnels we were chatting to a couple of dog walkers who advised us the twitchers were hoping to see a rare vulture with a 9″ wingspan that had apparently been seen locally

What Times Is the Next Train From Woodhead?

Because the three tunnels are sealed off, it is necessary to go over the top of Woodhead Pass. Helpfully, there is a sign at the end of the railway platform directing you up a hill for the route. Once we had reached the top of the hill, we were on the busy A628 road. This was not the TPT. We knew it was about 2 miles on the road to where the TPT crosses the road, so like fools, we rode on the main road, which turned out to be not too busy or too steep and took us over the top.

We continued from there to Dunsford Bridge and found the old railway line which took us the last few miles into Penistone where we had lunch with my parents.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I was able to chat via text whilst having lunch,  with my friends in Ohio who celebrated their 28th Wedding Anniversary that day. An Great achievement given the started married life with me as Best Man.

Back on the bike. It was only a short ride from Penistone to our hotel in Wombwell. An early finish beckoned.

The rain began to pour as we took the TPT along the railway tracks and through woods along great forest trails following the TPT trail signs until I stopped to check where we were and discovered had gone a long way south and were neatly in Sheffield not Barnsley! So much for the TPT signs!

We joined the Main Road at this point and found ourselves on the Cotè d Oughtibridge which is a hill that hits a 20% gradient and is said to be one of the top ten climbs in Britain! Several other sheepish hills later and we found ourselves back on the TPT trail again for the last 2 miles to the hotel, but struggled to find our way because of missing or inaccurate signing.

Event we arrived at the hotel about 2 hours later than planned and soaking wet having done an extra 12 or so miles owing to our detour. Still it was nice to tick off another of the top climbs in the UK.

After checking g into the hotel, I met my mother who game me a bag and we walked to our rooms. They were opposite each other. We were in 107 and my parents were in room 106, so my mother said, and as I went into our room, my mother was swiping her card to go into 106. After a shower etc. we headed out for dinner. I knocked on 106 to get my parents. A young lady answered the door and said I was the 2nd person to mistakenly call there. The other was a lady.. yes, my mother had got the wrong room! The occupant said we were welcome.eto koin her, but she was heading out to a party with a bottle of champagne in her bag! An interesting proposition, but food appealed more.

After dinner in the hotel pub/ restaurant we were joined by my friends from Barnsley for a convivial evening of alcohol. So much for a quiet early night.

A long day beckons again today as we continue towards Hornsea. Also my parents are heading home today, so its just the 2 of us for the next two days

The Beautiful Day …it didn’t last
Lunch With My Parents
Spot the Extra Detour we made

It’s Grim Up North

So, Friday saw us set off on our epic adventure or as some would say it, a bloody stupid trip.

Firstly, Southport is the costal resort for posh Scousers they tell me. It was obvious there was a strong Liverpool influence on the place, starting with the view from our hotel room….I mean, some Scouser had stolen the view

Someone Had Pinched the View

Then there was the hotels famous breakfast. Famous for coming in a cardboard box.

Actually for a takeaway breakfast box it wasn’t too bad.cereal, juice, flap jack, pain au chocolate. I’ve had worse.

A short ride from our hotel took us to the start of the Trans Pennine Trail. After the obligatory photos, it was time to set off and almost immediately we found the route closed for roadworks. This could be a long day!

The first few miles were on tarmacadam surfaces and relatively quick, until we turned onto trails and canal paths all the way into the Aintree area of Liverpool.

By the time we reached Aintree, Drew & I looked like we had ridden the Grand National Course on a very wet day.

After Aintree we joined up with the disused rail beds. These varied in quality between excellent and very good. The biggest issue was some interesting and missing signposts.

We had intended to stop every 20 or so miles for a cake stop. However after 20 miles the number of cars we saw were limited.

We did add a few miles on trying to circumnavigate Liverpool Airport We also found a pub that reminds me of a football club of a similar name

Last Orders?

We eventually stopped after 38 miles for a spot of fine dining at McDonald’s in Widnes. By this time we were so hungry anything tasted nice.

Back on our bikes and a strange afternoon of rain, huge flooded sections, missing sign posts, missed turns. At one point were were going through water deeper than the bottom bracket on the bike, and of course there was the mud.

The afternoon session proved a bit troublesome. I thought we were meeting my parents in 22 miles, turns out it was 32 miles away, but the surface was poor with lots of mud & water and lots of wrong turns due to missing or misleading signs.

We ended up meeting them about 2 hours later than planned. Sorry mum & dad! ( again!).

Never mind, it was only 11 miles from there to the hotel, but as Drew will attest it was almost all uphill and in deteriorating weather, especially the increasing wind.

It was a relief after 80.93 miles to reach our hotel, welcoming showers and lots of food and good company.

So today the enemy is a hill. I think its called the Pennines.

A hard day rounded off by cleaning bike in hotel room and replacing brake blocks on my bike. Thanks to my parents for tracking down replacement brake blocks, wet wipes to clean bike and oil to lube the chain.

A big shout out goes to Premier Inn who have a policy of allowing cyclists to store their bikes in the hotel bedroom. The staff at our hotel at Mottram near Hyde were excellent, friendly, welcoming etc

Oh I do Like to be Beside the Seaside

So, the adventure begins in the pouring rain. Today we travelled up to Liverpool and onto Southport where tomorrow we start the Trans Pennine Trail.

As ever, packing was a last minute affair. One pannier bag only & a rack top bag was all I needed to take for 5 days away. Travel light!

The problem was the 2 bags do not sit comfortably together on the bike. Damn, I should have checked that first.

Its a bit late 2 minutes before I set off. Still I will learn for next time or maybe not.

We headed on Merseyside train to Southport from Liverpool Central where we had a lovely chat with a passenger who had seen the Police Unity Tour kit. It is always good to speak the word about the UK Police Unity Tour ( see the page on my blog).

My parents have joined us in Southport and are going to drive support for the first two days. Its good to get to spend sometime with them after not seeing them for neatly seven months this year owing to the Covid-19 lockdown.

In keeping with the British summer tradition, its cold wet and miserable in Southport, but fortunately we are only here for the night, and the meal in the Dukes Folly Hotel was excellent & service again was excellent. A place I would eat at again. A nice hotel. Its a shame its only my parents staying there. We went up market instead & stayed at the Travelodge nearby for a wallet busting £30 for bed and breakfast for two. Yes, a total of £15 each for bed & breakfast and the bikes get to stay in our room for free.

Tomorrow the adventure begins. We set off from Southport towards Hornsea.

There will be a livetrack link (hopefully!) Posted on the Spennymoor Town London Branch twitter account each day which is @ spennymoortownl (remove the space). Following this and refreshing will show where we are upto with our ride.

Panorama of Room
My Nemesis

Why Does It Always Rain On Me

So this coming weekend I am supposed to be cycling the Trans Pennine Trail. I have hopefully sorted out my Mountain Bike, fitting a rear pannier rack to carry my luggage and even fitting new slicker tyres. So you may think all is set for the off.

Sadly, since I sorted out my bike, it has either been very windy or very wet and I have not been out on my bike to check all the modifications are ok. Its the middle of August, and football matches are being postponed because of wind and rain….yep welcome to the British summer.

I suppose its all my fault. we have had fantastic weather since lockdown started in March and it only breaks when I am planning a cycling holiday! I know the solution to the rain is to put on my cycling rain jacket. Every time I put that on when out riding, the rain stops and I am left wet from the boil in the bag effect of the jacket.

I am due to travel up to Southport on Thursday afternoon courtesy of Avanti West Coast, and Mersey Rail preceded by a bike ride to Euston Station. Then a night in hotel in Southport before an early start on Friday and riding circa 75-80 miles off road that day. Its a long distance to ride on a mountain bike in a day, especially off road. Still they say no pain no gain. However, I am not sure what the gain will be, but I do know what the pain will be!

PACKING

Travel Documents

The biggest task at the moment is trying to remember where I put all the train tickets and bike reservations for the journeys up and back. It seemed a good idea to book the tickets in advance and I know I put them somewhere safe, but where was it?

Then there is the hotel reservation for the first night. Its the only accommodation booked so far. Hopefully we won’t have problems finding accommodation for the other 3 nights! If no room at the inn, we will have to keep on cycling until we find somewhere to stay. I am relying on www.booking.com to save me

Power Leads

The Next task is to remember to take all the plugs / charging leads I will need. That includes the following leads:

  1. one for the GPS device on my bike
  2. one for my watch
  3. one for my bike front light
  4. one for my bike rear light ( will be riding home from Euston in dark on Monday night
  5. one for my bike camera
  6. one for my mobile phone

It is quite scary how many different leads I need to take, and that is with me travelling light, or attempting to. How dependant I am on powered devices these days is scary.

Medication & Toiletries

Need to remember these, which also includes glasses, contact lenses as well as 5 days medication. I am relying on the hotels/ bed & breakfasts  we stay at to have shower gel and towels, so won’t be taking these, but will need deodorant, toothpaste & toothbrush. At least I don’t need shampoo or a hairbrush – and haven’t for well over 25 years.

Clothing

This is where I can try to be clever. My cycling shoes have recessed cleats and are easy to walk in , so I am not going to take another pair of shoes, but will take flip flops.

Similarly, I will have a long sleeved cycling top that i can wear on an evening if it gets chilly when in pub or restaurant.

I have a couple of pairs of baggy cycling shorts which have a padded removable liner so i will remove that and wear the shorts on an evening with underwear and a lightweight t shirt. We will be cycling to / from Euston station to/ from our homes at either end of the trip, so will travel on the train in cycling clothes.

This then just leaves the cycling kit to sort out and that will include waterproof shoe covering, spare socks and probably a couple of cycling tops. Then of course, gloves, helmet, cap under helmet, glasses etc.

The most important items of course are the water bottles and the snack bars. anyone into cycling knows its all about the cake!

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I hope the wind eases off overnight so I can take the bike for a test ride in the morning. I have a café stop arranged for 0800 in the morning with my ride companion. So hopefully I can get some miles in before that meeting.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

With apologies to U2

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes
And make it go away
How long?
How long must we sing this song?
How long, how long?
‘Cause tonight, we can be as one
Tonight

Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won’t heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday, Sunday, Bloody Sunday (alright)


For broken bottles, read broken motor vehicle parts

For children’s feet read bike wheels


Now, you start to get an idea of my Sunday morning bike ride. Just out for a short 25 mile ride, when after 15 miles, on a roundabout, I hit a piece of metal in the road. With the benefit of later examination, it looks like the track rod from a motor vehicle.

Somehow that metal rod caught up in the rear mechanisam of my bike, destroying that and then wrapped itself round the back of the rear cassette on the bike, damaging the cassette.

Then to rub salt into the wound,  my rear bike light fell off and was smashed by a vehicle following me.

I was left with a 4 mile walk home, in road bike shoes which have protruding cleats on them and are difficult to walk in. As a result, I need new cleats on those shoes as well.
A Sundat ride that is likely to end up costing me in the region of £300 if not more to replace all the damage.


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Trying to source the relevant rear derailleur is proving more difficult than it looks.

The good news is I got back home in time for the Sunday dinner and bottles of wine my neighbour had cooked for me. A most pleasant afternoon to make up for a miserable morning.

I suppose I should be grateful I was uninjured  even if the bike wasn’t so lucky.