The South Fylde cycling group have taken on a big challenge to raise money for the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Over two days, the group underwent a 130 mile figure of eight trek around Lancashire, starting in Poulton le Fylde.
With hazy sunshine threatening some really nice weather, the hardy veterans of several charity rides gathered at the Masonic Hall in Poulton le Fylde. All were regaled in their new sky blue tops and making last minute checks on clothes, nourishment and equipment. Publicity officer Glenn O’ Brien was opening a book on how far South Fylde group chairman Ian Ward would get before his first puncture. Glenn was reminded that he was there to take some photographs and he duly obliged before the riders embarked on journey.
Setting forth at the start of the first section of the first day was Ian Ward, with group secretary Dave Barr and group charity steward Dave McKee. Keen cyclists John Parkinson, David Kenworthy and Chris O’ Brien made up the team for the first day, with Robert Ward and Glenn O’ Brien in the support car. Group vice chairman John-Robbie Porter was there to wave everyone away and Helen Barr was in the second car tracking the team’s progress on GPS. Alas, organizer Tom Cutler was unable to ride this year after an accident but he did appear at different points to offer moral support.
Climbing the hill through Mains Lane was no problem to fresh limbs and strong lungs and all looked well as the support car passed them at the corner with Shard Road. Had the support car set off half a minute later from Poulton they would have been able to witness the first puncture of the day. Oblivious to the situation, they sped off across Shard Bridge into the verdant lanes ‘over Wyre’ and suffered some anxious time waiting at the first planned stop at The Stork public house at Condor Green. Was this delay caused by ‘king of the puncture’ Ian Ward, one wondered. Well no, on this occasion it was David Kenworthy. Fortunately, being accustomed to a puncture or two himself, David had a ready supply of inner-tubes and after some careful work they were on their way again and arrived at the Stork still fighting fit.
Bolstered by some rest, bananas and soft drinks, the team set off again; this time along the cycle path through Lancaster to the popular beauty spot known as the Crook o’ Lune. Here they rested again amidst the lush countryside beside the meandering River Lune. Then they were off again through sun-drenched farmland below the Trough of Bowland, heading for the village of Scorton – and lunch.
Sandwiches, baguettes and salad were enjoyed by all at the Barn in Scorton, where everyone took a well-deserved breather before setting off on the final leg of the journey back to Poulton.
Only one person had any worries at this point in the proceedings and again it was a puncture! Again it was David Kenworthy, was he after Ian Ward’s crown? David finished his lunch a tad faster than anyone else and was off to the bike shed to fix his second burst of the day, picked up on his approach to the village. Producing yet another spare inner tube David set to with some vigour to replace its defective predecessor. Completing the task in good time David was able to take his place in the photo shoot before the team set off for home.
Passing through Garstang, Nateby and Out Rawcliffe in good time, everyone crossed Shard Bridge in good spirits and navigated past the Shard/Mains Lane corner without further mishap, ending the day at the Elk at Poulton, where Glenn had been fortifying himself with a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. Travelling around in a car is such hard work! Driver Robert, whose driving duties included driving brother Ian home, had to settle for a glass of coke.
On the following morning the sun dawned on a bonny day for cycling. Bright blue skies were tempered by a sea breeze to keep the riders cool on their second outing of the weekend. Seven team members were at the starting point outside St Annes Palace. From the previous day were Dave McKee, Ian Ward and John Parkinson. Joining the team for the second day was Bob Avery, with his friend Ian Howarth, along with Craeg Williams and his partner Paula Parker. Robert was ready with the support car and Glenn was ready with his cameras.
The inevitable photo shoot ensued and away went the blue jerseys to wend their way through Warton and Freckleton toward Preston Docks, picking Dave Barr up at Saltcoats. Nearby, David Kenworthy waved everyone by but was unable to add to his list of punctures due to other pressing business. Nonetheless, the new team members made their mark and Craeg was soon dispensing encouragement to all, a service he provided for the whole day, particularly on the last stretch. With nothing amiss the team arrived at the first stop at Preston Dock Side in fine fettle for a quick rest.
Fully refreshed by more bananas and sundry drinks our team launched into the second phase which took them through Preston and out onto the road to Penwortham via the Preston Tram Bridge. This structure, which was built in 1803, served as an economical alternative to an aqueduct to join the north and south banks of the Ribble. From here the team pushed on to the second stop at Dunkirk Hall, Leyland via Lostock Hall. No time was wasted at this stop as lunch was looming at Croston.
Through this section our riders enjoy local roads weaving their way through green meadows and arable fields and best of all, fresh air – none of the choking traffic filled main roads here. So warm was it that Ian Howarth decided it was time to remove a layer of clothing which led to the mistaken belief that he had been left behind. Quickly retracing their route proved that Ian must be up there with the rest of the team, where the offending item of clothing proved that Ian had been there all the time, not realising that he was the errant rider. However, lunch time was spent at the very picturesque site at Twin Lakes Café, beside Croston railway station.
Here our hardy cyclists filled up on ‘solid’ nourishment – barm cakes filled with eggs, bacon and sausages; toast covered with lashings of baked beans, tea, coffee and energy drinks; it was all there. How they put it all away and then ride off is anyone’s guess. Your correspondent would be asleep five minutes afterwards. Ride off they did though. Alas, they were to quickly join the A59 to Southport proceeding via Rufford, Burscough, and Bescar. Shortly after leaving Croston in the car, Glenn had the bright idea of taking a detour via Green Lane to cut off a corner of main road driving. Very shortly Robert found himself driving through sun drenched bandit country! The road surface was laced with undulations that rendered the ride akin to a windy day in Morcambe Bay. However, cut off the corner it did and the support team found themselves way ahead on the road to Southport, where rendezvous was achieved with the team at the Clevelands Café in Lord Street.
After more refreshments and a plan for the trip home, the team made their way round to the Masonic Hall for yet another photo call before the return leg to Preston via Tarleton and Hutton. The sun was really beating down by this time and the going was hot rather than tough. The miles were beginning to tell however and Craeg’s motivational skills began to come into their own. The docks at Preston were a welcome sight for the last stop of the day and copious quantities of liquid refreshment were required. With everyone psyched up for the last lap our intrepid team set forth.
The ride home via Freckleton and Warton took a little longer that the outward leg earlier in the day but all returned to The Palace with another great achievement under their belts.
Last year’s ‘Tour le Halls’ bike ride raised over £1,100 and the group are hoping to do just as well this year.