|Trans Pennine Trail|
Went on a training ride yesterday and also stayed overnight checking out the camping kit. No real problems found but will make a few changes to kit selection.
I went through Manchester centre and picked up the Trans Pennine Trail (Sustrans route 62) around Stockport, following it to the reservoirs along the Woodhead Road (A628) before rejoining the road to the Crowden Camp Site. This section is also shared with the Pennine Cycleway so I will be seeing this route again soon. Just before the first dam/reservoir at Hollingworth I noticed two touring cyclists a couple of minutes or so behind me. I expected them to pass me in a short while but we seemed to be going at the same pace so when I stopped to consult the map/GPS I waited for them to catch up and have a chat.
Jason and Graham were cycling the full length of the Trans Pennine Trail having started from Southport the day before. They hoped to climb the steep section of the route along the Woodhead Pass over the Pennines and stop at Penistone for the night but hadn't made the intended distance and were considering the Crowden Camp Site option. I said I might see them there but had to get a move on as my wife/daughter/mother in law were meeting me there in 45 mins and so I bid them farewell. They seemed nice and I hoped we would meet up later.
Got to the site with 15 mins to spare, had an ice cream, set up camp and was just getting some water for my noodles when the guys arrived. They had taken a different crossing over the reservoirs and ended up pushing their bikes up some steps and navigating a difficult stile. My route was much more bike friendly up to the A628 but then I had longer cycling with the 60+ MPH traffic along the road. Not too scary as I was happy to take the primary position when needed to stop potential idiots passing on left hand bends or very narrow sections. No doubt there were a number of comments made in the following traffic but none had to wait longer than a minute or two to pass and...do I care?
My wife and crew arrived after another hr or so having got caught in Manchester evening traffic. We had a lovely couple of hrs in the balmy evening weather - my little girl running and skipping around the campsite with Grandma chasing behind while my wife and I sat and let them get on with it. The guys meanwhile had set up their tents near mine and decided to buy a disposable BBQ and various tinned meat products from the camp shop as they did not have any cooking gear with them. They planned to camp nr pubs/chippies and of those there were none nearby. I did try and persuade my wife to drive 6 miles or so to the nearest pub/shop and back to pick up some beer for us but strangely she was reluctant. Graham managed to acquire two tins of Strongbow from a fellow camper and generously gave one to me (he doesn't drink apparently. Strongbow in particular or alcohol in general I'm not sure). We chatted for a while before heading for cover in our respective tents as the midgies were out in force.
The tent was fine, new sleeping mat great, lightweight sleeping bag warm enough (just) but will have to wear socks, tracksters, and long sleeve top, compressible pillow very comfy, Trangia stove great (as always), noodles for tea worked well and the dried milk for the cuppa adequate. Will take a cable lock rather than U-lock (more options to secure the bike), long matches as better than lighter for stove and I must, must remember to buy some midge repellent (they were awful).
One change to the bike set up. I found one of my SPD pedals was loose on it's bearings! I changed to flat pedals and multi-activity shoes just before the ride and found no problems and several tangible benefits. Being quicker off the bike on a tricky, loose, steep uphill section, far better when walking/pushing the bike on rocky terrain and lastly being able to wear the shoes comfortably while camping. I have decided to go with this set up rather than SPD pedals/shoes but will likely still take my trekking sandals to give my feet chance to breathe!!
I covered a fairly hilly, mixed surface 32 miles to the site with about 3 hrs cycling and felt great. The next morning I did a faster, mainly tarmac 30 miles back home in 2 and a half hrs. No stiffness, knee problems or...ahem...chafing issues. I even managed to get some free coffee and cake at the Bike Friday meeting in Manchester and bumped into Nigel who lives near me and blogs on cycling/triathlon stuff.
A great taster for things to come.