Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ride Across Britain - Day 4

Day 4 was racecourse to racecourse, Ludlow to Haydock Park. While Ludlow is a sleepy little place in the middle of nowhere, Haydock is smack between Manchester and Liverpool. The weather forecast called for no rain, but I decided to carry my rain gear anyway. Unlike most people, who are riding road bikes with very limited storage space, I have my eoGear bag set, a small bag and a large bag that fit onto a modified dual bottle cage holder that attaches to the rear of the saddle. The bags are soft and compress down when not full.

The day starts with some climbing to skirt the Stiperstone hills. I realize that my GoPro camera is low on battery because it keeps turning off after a few seconds. Since I have a eWerk charger connected to my dynamo hub (another randonneuring feature of the bike), I have been charging two 2000ma cache batteries continuously. I remove the GoPro from its protective waterproof cover and attach it to the charger. Unfortunately I evidently failed to tighten the bolt back because when I get to the first rest stop I discover the bolt has fallen out. So no more video today.

The rest of the day is pretty flat ride across the Cheshire plain. The bad news is that there is a headwind/crosswind which makes the going slower than you would like. It's also quite chilly.

One of the features of RAB is that the route generally stays away from big towns and cities, so it is a bit strange to come to a main road crossing and see a sign for Manchester. Hard to believe that we've come so far north in just four days.

Then I saw this banner!

It belonged to Mr Gambatte, who had done the ride last year and loved it so much he was moved to created the banner and come out and support the riders. We chatted for a while and he loved the fact that I had come over from California to do the ride.

Shortly afterwards we cross the Manchester ship canal over an old creaky toll bridge (free to bikes!).

Then it was the run into Haydock Park. At which point my Garmin went haywire and started insisting I make as U-turn as I was off course. It had lost the course on a number of previous occasions and then later announced that it had found it again, but this insistence was unusual. In addition, it also coincided with a long stretch without any of the RAB directional signs, so I began to take it seriously. Since we were in a built up area with shops, I stopped and asked someone if we were on the right road for Haydock Park. The news wasn't convincing. The answer was yes, except if I was a car driver the answer was not really, because a car would have taken the left on the main road that we just crossed. Since that was a seriously busy road I decided to continue. After a while, a RAB sign appeared but then I got paranoid thinking it could be a tomorrow's sign leading away from the camp! Fortunately it wasn't and we eventually entered the racecourse through a back door entrance.

Haydock was indeed a much more impressive place than Ludlow, with a huge stand. The tents were across the finishing straight, which had been covered with a walkway to protect the course.

I just barely got to my tent before the shower that had been threatening for a while hit the site, so I stayed in my tent while it blew over, before heading to the shower. The next order of business was to see if Halfords could help me fix my GoPro. Fortunately my handlebar mount had a second plastic tightening bolt that didn't need to be adjusted ever, so I figured if I could get a fixed bolt I could replace the one I lost with that. And indeed Halfords found a suitable bolt, so I was back in business.

The catering facilities were to a very high standard, including actual linen tablecloths and servers dressed in fancy uniforms. The food was pretty good too! The bad news at the briefing was that the weather forecast for the next day was bad; steady rain in the morning, possibly clearing later in the day. There was even worse news about the base camp at Penrith. Evidently, the area had experienced biblical amounts of rain in the last couple of days and the site was currently a swamp. Oh well.

Elevation and Distance

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