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You Might As Well Go To Carlisle

Derek, Will, Pete, & Terry

Derek, Will, Pete, & Terry

That’s how Terry Seanor’s wife responded when he told her the route of Friday’s 200K Audax – Knott End, Bolton-le-Sands, Caton, Quernmore, Leyland, Billinge, home. Not that Terry is any stranger to long-distance rides – in 2011, he was the oldest finisher in the Mons – Chimay – Mons Dragon Audax in Belgium, the 2015 edition of which Friday’s ride was a warm-up for the club members travelling to Belgium on 1st May. Also along to show the others how it’s done was Derek Unsworth, who in 1999 with wife Yvonne, successfully finished the Paris – Brest – Paris 1200K in under 90 hrs, joining a highly select group of club members who have completed this gruelling event.

Assembling at the Plough with Terry and Derek, were regular Audaxers Pete Gawthorne, the current Audax champion; Super Randonneur Will White, and Simon Kirwan, plus Brian Wharton, another Super Randonneur, who rode as far as Roots cafe on the Fylde, before giving his legs a rest after a strenuous night of rock ‘n’ roll jiving and lindy-hopping.

Pete had devised a cunning route which took the group across the Fylde to Knott End, then through Lancaster to Hest Bank near Bolton-le-Sands, where lunch was taken at the Shore cafe right on the beach. Hest Bank has two claims to fame: it is the start point for the Cross Bay Walk across the Kent Channel in Morecambe Bay, and it was the scene of the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster, when at least 21 Chinese cockle pickers were drowned by an incoming tide on sand flats at Warton Sands.

Pausing at the level-crossing on the West Coast main line to allow the Glasgow-bound express to hurtle through, the group headed along scenic coastal roads and then along the bike path to Caton, where a turn south was made, and the road skirted the western edge of the Forest of Bowland for the hilliest section of the route, at which point Pete Leonard and friend Steve provided a welcome wheel to speed us on our way.

Afternoon tea was taken at the Shed in Leyland, further along we got a wave from another club legend Jackie Low, winner of the Tour of the Lakes, and team-mate of Bill Bradley in the Merseyside team for the 1959 Tour of Britain Milk Race. Swift progress was made down the A49 to Billinge, the furthest point south, before the route turned north-west again for the return to Southport, the sun blazing merrily overhead all the while. The weather was considerably better than forecast, and we arrived back in daylight, a real bonus after a long day on the bike.

Apart from an anxious moment approaching Billinge, when a couple of walkers happily waved a reversing car into the road directly in front of Derek, the ride was completed without incident, with no punctures or mechanicals. So Carlisle will be left for another day, but the Audaxers will be ready for Mons!


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