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Richard (Cary) Gets the Wind Up

Richard describes his attempt at the Southport – Settle- Southport record

Record held by P Dolan in 5hrs 15mins and 13 sec. Record set in 1958

These sort of attempts are a serious undertaking and the outcome is rather binary – success or failure.

I had spent a lot of time planning, preparing, familiarising myself with the route, thinking about the best time to leave to avoid traffic, getting the bike ready, getting me ready and focussed on today as being ‘green’ for go.

The forecast came down to a cool day, with a strong easterly wind and occasional showers. All those happened.

The west coast is notorious for prevailing westerly winds and the thought of riding the last 50 miles into a blunt headwind was unappealing. However, riding 50 miles into an easterly wind for the overall uphill run to Settle, in North Yorkshire, did a lot of damage. Early miles into and out of Southport were uneventful and I found a steady pace, knowing that I would have to keep something in reserve for the hillier inland section.

Ken Beck had kindly taken the time to show me a neat little by-pass of Preston town centre to avoid the multitude of traffic lights; going via Tardy Gate, Lostock Hall and a neat little shimmy on some paths through Walton-le-Dale. Thereafter, the exposed carriageways around Clitheroe were tortuous. This was followed by the succession of hills from Gisburn to Long Preston and further lumps and bumps before arriving in Settle at around 1pm.

Aat this point I knew I had fallen too far behind the pace to get back within the current record of 5hours 14minutes – I would have had to have cracked along at a 25mph average. Even with a tailwind home, there were too many hills and technical bits to make this a reality. There were a couple of irritatingly long delays with traffic lights on the Skipton road, but I set for home to make the best of it. The wind behind now, and a net descent back towards Southport made things a little easier, although the traffic on the A59 was often unsettling.

However, the final nail was driven home when it started to rain quite heavily from around Clitheroe and for about 90minutes. Once I was wet I got painfully chilled right through, changing gear was very, very difficult and I was shivering and finding the bike difficult to handle. To be honest, I was just wanting it to end. But I had to get back to Southport, and poor Bill Lloyd who was waiting over an hour more than expected.

I finally made it back at about 4pm, about an hour adrift of the record. Shivering and almost incapable of anything, I had to get Bill to remove gloves, start the car for me to get the inside warm.

I can describe the ride as an adventure, an experience – report by Richard Cary


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