With Paul soon leaving for warmer coasts, what would he like to do best of all before leaving? Thats right, beat us mere mortals up around The Mary Townley Loop. A circuit he has trained on, raced on and has a great knowledge and fond memories of.
I met Paul along with Mick Collins and Jimmy Dyson 3RT at Callis Bridge. An 8am start meant we could use the best of the daylight although the mercury remained sub-zero all day.
Peter had had this idea many months ago but today injury meant he couldn't join us on Pauls sufferfest. I was riding Peters spare MTB, having not done much trail riding I hoped Paul wouldnt bash me up too badly.
From Callis Bridge we climbed up toward Stoodley Pike and quickly found that the flavour of the day would be frozen snow. Micks MONSTER tyres made mince meat of the ice, and both Jimmy and Pauls off-roading skills left me feeling quiet inadequate. Unfazed we pressed on enjoying the winter sunshine.
We were soon over the most technical section as we zoomed over ancient pack-horse routes enjoying all that Lady Mary had strived for, a full circular bridleway for horse-riders, cyclists and walkers alike.
The ice made riding tough with the rough and tumble only denting pride not our spirits. Rooley Moor road with its cotton famine cobbles lead us into a headwind and the deepest of the snow which was difficult to negotiate.
We descended to Waterfoot to enjoy hot coffees but needing more sustenance we pressed on through the series of countless gates to top out on Deerplay Moor to descend to Holme Chapel where we enjoyed beer and butties at The Ram. From here we parted company with Jimmy to tackle the Widdop section.
I personally really enjoyed this, more uphill and less technical, and a little bit less snow bound section. Limestone Hushings looked like artic tundra and resorvoirs like glassy frozen lakes.
At Widdop we decided to be sensible and cut a little off the Orthodox route to avoid a technical descent in the fading light. We parted company at the bottom of Mytholm Steeps to the canal and home.
A BRILLIANT day Paul. Hope you enjoyed your wish! In your own words "We will miss you when youve gone!"