The weather when I set off from the pub at the bottom of Macc Forest seemed fine. A bit cloudy, but nothing to worry about. Certainly ok weather for a solo ride for a few hours. I planned to do the usual route but extend it by a few miles and get some more climbing in. The best thing about this route is that the more road climbs you’re prepared to do, the more technical, rocky downhills you get to do. The few miles of climbing at the start of the route came and went, followed by a lovely downhill. Then the climb up the Cat and Fiddle road came and with it the weather started to get “interesting”. The wind on the tops was very strong and I was being blown off the road (to the left). I remember thinking, “I’ve got to come back this way, and I’m going to be blown into the traffic”. Ah well. I’ll be going downhill and therefore faster, therefore the wind won’t get me. Or something. The bridleway across the moor opposite the C&F was just brilliant. With a tailwind I was battering along it and I was slowing down only a little bit for walkers. Just a token quick squeeze of the brake lever get out of the way go on shift!… and I was suddenly grinning and at the other side of the moor and ready for the proper techy downhill.
Well the wind was just mad. This downhill at Cumberland Brook requires careful selection and execution of a line, and when being blown all over the place that’s just impossible and I was ending up riding all the telly-sized rocks instead of the toaster-sized ones. There was also a nice stream running down it.
Another road climb up to Flash, the highest village in the UK at 1518 feet. Nothing like the altitude we’re going to have to cope with in the Alps but kinda gettin there innit. By now I was getting tired and cold. I simply wasn’t ready for this weather – I hadn’t got enough food to fuel the amount of effort I was having to put in, I should have put my jacket on sooner BEFORE I got cold and I should have scrapped the idea of the extended loop. Anyway, I was here now so I just had to dig deep. A couple of hours later and I was on the home stretch. It was getting dark and I was on the moorland bridleway going back towards the C&F whilst being jetwashed by the weather and just wanting the wind to ease off JUST FOR A MINUTE. This entire route is about 35 miles (I think. I haven’t checked) but it was feeling like 100 at least. On the Cat and Fiddle road I was blown into the path of a car. He beeped, I “responded”. Then down, down, down into the forest, down the road to Macclesfield then through the town centre back to Kath’s where a Sunday roast was waiting. I had seconds.