Alan, like he did the day earlier, provides me a cycling escort, this time out of the city. He takes me past Lancaster University where he has a teaching post in music theory. I get to see a clever meeting room nestled in the forest, something that could fit in well at Pearson College.
It is a beautiful Saturday morning for a bicycle ride. There are far more cyclist on the road through the Bowland Forest than cars. Most are MAMILs. Middle aged men in Lycra. Much has been written about them recently and with Bradley Wiggins having won the Tour de France this summer, he has spawned many more. Packs of them pass me as I head to the Trough of Bowland. The few cyclists I am able to have a conversation with, all clad, indeed, in black Lycra shorts and flamboyant tight jerseys of the same material, tell me that this stretch of road is the best cycling in all of Britain. It is a curious combination of some of the best landscapes I have pedaled through so far. Something additional in this one is seeing hunting parties with their dogs, tweed clothing and men wearing colour coordinated ties. I cannot imagine walking in the mud and muck of these moorlands wearing a collared shirt and tie. But then again, I am not sure why men wear ties anyway.
Part of the landscape is like a lower altitude mixture of the Lake District and parts of Scotland.
After the trough of Bowland the landscape flattens out and I pick my way through lots of little towns and villages to the bridge that takes me over the Mersey to Runcorn.
Construction on the bridge has closed two lanes, and they allow cyclists on one of them. So I get to look up into the bridge structure from an unusual vantage point.
Stats – for Saturday 15 September 2012
Distance: 125 km
Time on Bike: 7 hours 20 min
Average Speed: 17.1 km/hr
Distance to Date: 9,087 km