Party Party Preston

This weekend I went up to Preston and decided to take my bike again. On Friday, Betty and I went out for a ride in the pouring rain. We headed up to Garstang to eat scones (pronounced the proper way), and on the way we tried to take a nice scenic route but didn’t really know where we were going so rejoined the main road about a mile after we’d turned off. We ended up covered in manure, soaking wet and sheltering from some apocalyptic rain. Then we rode back the whole way on the main road, no niceties for us. 33 mile jaunt, good chat, excellent scones.

On Sunday Betty invited me to ride with her club, Ribble Valley CC. I met them in a carpark in north Preston (who would have thought my life would come to this?) and after a few rounds of applause for the awesome achievements of some of the club elders (all called Peter) we set out. Everyone was very friendly and no one seemed to mind me screeching the names of all the animals I saw, like the city dweller I have so shamefully become (seriously though, miniature donkeys and WILD BOAR – I defy you not to be impressed). The roads to the east of Preston have a few rolling hills, with a nice ascent/descend north of Chipping. After 17 miles we stopped at a WI hall for tea and cake and I had possibly the nicest Victoria Sponge I’ve ever had. A muggy day, it started to rain at this point, but I wasn’t bothered as I’d decided that I’d head back to town for an afternoon of city-based frolics. I asked one of the club members for directions, made a loose mental note and set off on my own.

Here began a catalogue of errors:

– I’d been told to head back the way I came and follow the road to Chipping, where I’d see a turning to Preston. I managed to miss all signs for/around Chipping so blundered blindly on.
– I came across a sportive and was so engrossed in saying hello to everyone that it seemed quite natural to me that I joined in on the long route. I seem to have some sort of problem when it comes to signposted routes as I will follow them even if I know they’re not right. The first time I found myself on a cycle superhighway I ended up miles in the wrong direction as I just assumed that it would take me where I wanted to go. The same, it seems, is true for sportives that I’m not actually taking part in.
– I started chatting to one of the riders on the sportive and when he asked where I was from I – and I don’t know why I did this – said I was from Preston. This meant that when I realised I was lost I couldn’t admit it and had to sprint up a hill and wait until there was enough of a gap before I could hide behind a wall and wait for him to go by and leave me to re-navigate myself.
– I realised that I was lost, heading in the wrong direction, and that things had got hilly. I began to wish that I had a map or some sort of other navigational device on me, completely forgetting that I had a garmin right in front of me. I am an idiot.
– I saw a sign to Longridge and had a vague recollection of this being the right way, so followed the sign. Inexplicably the sign saying “Longridge 6 miles” was then followed by a 25 minute ride before I finally saw “Longridge 5 miles”, leading me to think that I must have taken another wrong turn, but who knows by this point. In any event, I think I went the hilly way.
– Finally I saw a sign to Preston, hooray! I celebrated by stopping to put my ipod in, just as a man walked past with two whippets and I was overcome by the urge to say something (I really like whippets) but couldn’t think of anything to say and just shouted WHIPPETS at him and his startled looking dogs, and had to ride away as quickly as possible, headphones trailing in the wind.

All in all, it was a 17 mile ride out, with a shortcut that resulted in a 28 mile return trip, which even for my pisspoor navigational skills is quite some achievement.
Beautiful scenery though, when it wasn’t raining horizontally into my face.


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