As requested, a few words about the short version of North West Passage. This was my first tour of the easy route, having previously flogged round the long one or stayed safely at home. And it was good. Especially at a pace where we rarely, if ever, got out of breath. There was time to chat, and to enjoy the pleasant countryside. I might do that again.
Our group of about a dozen riders formed as the 9am massed start got broken up by various sets of lights. We trundled and never really considered trying to close the gap on the next group. Brian however decided that the pace was a touch too easy and took off at high speed toward Summit, not to be seen again. According to my trip computer we were about 5 minutes slower up Blacko than the VS fast lads doing the full route, but the cafe at Gisburn was still open and we made ourselves comfortable over tea and butties for quite a long time.
Vicar started the long route at 8am but realised the error of his ways at Settle and turned back, finding us about ready to leave the cafe. The next part of the route is the best, through Bolton by Bowland, East and West Bradford and on to Whalley, where the lanes meandered and the afternoon sun gave a pleasant warmth. Haslingden Moor dragged a bit into the wind but Owd Betts gave no problems and we were soon on the last leg through Rochdale (and not, as I've always experienced previously, on our last legs). Pies, peas & pints were enjoyed back at the Spring Inn while waiting for the hard men to finish.