Day 9—Mellor to Acton Bridge

Today felt like a rest day in the Tour de France. You still cycle, but it’s really an easy day where the main thing is to turn your legs over and (in our case) try not to arrive too early at the accommodation. Rob explained this to us in our briefing today, and indeed the tone was set by having a later-than-usual breakfast (08:00) and by having the time to clean our bikes a bit and to take a little more care about pumping the tyres up and so on. Indeed, Carl had time to leg it over to Halfords (his wife was visiting, and she had a car) to buy a new Garmin. His old one had finally packed up.

So we set off quite late, and as you can see from the map at the end, after some lumpiness at the beginning the rest of the day was quite flat, except for the very end of the ride, when we approached Acton Bridge. As I was cycling along it struck me how many churches I had passed, and I decided to take pictures of as many as I could (without becoming obsessional about it). As you can see below, there were quite a few. And as I have said in a previous blog, if you were a historian whose specialist subject is (say) church architecture and how it differs as you go from north to south in the UK, then a three-week Bike Adventures JOGLE or LEJOG would be the way to do it.

Coffee was at just 16.8 miles, at the Rivington Village Green Tea Room. I have been there before, and very good it is. I had a sort of curranty slice, which was very nice, and a cup of coffee, before setting off again fairly slowly. As we ate, John heard that his fund-raising efforts for the HoneyPot Children’s Charity were to be publicised with an interview that evening, which is fantastic news. As I type, he and Jamie (his son) have already raised £72,200. Amazing!

And I should mention that Les and Carl are raising money in memory of their friends Dickie and Baxi, and that Denise is supporting Cancer Research UK (I don’t have the link to hand, but will find it). Good luck to them all.

We had arranged to have lunch at a place just after Bents Garden Centre, near Glazebury (31.7 miles). The route there from the Village Green Tea Room was slightly lumpy, and there was a short hill around the 20-mile mark where I fell into conversation with a gentleman who was riding a brand-new blue Pinarello Dogma F. This is one of the bikes to end all bikes. It was released last year, and the man, who works at (or owns) a bicycle shop in Ormskirk, explained carefully that he bought it at last year’s price. This means it must have cost about £12k. I was pleased that he was puffing almost as much as I was going up the hill, so I don’t yet feel the need to invest in such a machine myself!

The Pinarello is immediately behind Rob’s head

The guy stopped with me at the top of the hill where Rob had parked the van, but after discussing his machine with other members of the group he disappeared.

On we went down the hill for lunch, at the excellent Halls Victorian Sweetshop and Tea Room. I was feeling a bit gastrically challenged, so didn’t have anything to eat, and indeed as I write, at 21:49, I still feel a bit ropey. I hope I’m alright tomorrow!

Anyway, the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. I went slowly enough that I arrived at a respectable 4:30 pm, and it was nice to ride slowly enough to look around me properly. That poem by William Henry Davies, of which everyone knows the first two lines, occurred to me:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

I had never, until now, read the whole of the poem and (speaking as a scientist and not a poet) I must say that there is something of the schoolboy about it, with its repetition and its relentless iambic tetramers. Oh well—I expect I am in a minority (maybe of one). Reading about Davies has at least inspired me to read his autobiography, Diary of a Super-tramp, which looks pretty interesting, even if it did inspire the name of the eponymous prog-rock turned pop music combo (think The Logical Song and Dreamer).

Moving on! Eventually, after a short climb, I arrived at the Wall Hill Farm Guest House and went to my room. Rob had already kindly put my bags inside. We were to have dinner in a nearby restaurant, but it was closed (Covid) and the gang went off instead to the Hanging Gate while I nursed my stomach. Better tomorrow I hope!

Here are my stats:

Today’s route

We travelled just 53.1 miles, and ascended 2,946 feet, so this was a feeble effort compared with yesterday. My weighted average power was 111 Watts, my average speed was 12.3 mph, and my maximum speed was 35.0 mph. And I only used 1,409 calories today. It’s tougher tomorrow, so I hope I have a good breakfast!

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