Unusually for me I started this ride at 8:30am, I am normally finishing my Peak Audax 200km rides at 8:30am, having cycled overnight. It was a good one hour drive to the 24hr petrol station at Turn Hill but the employees at the station were pleasant and took an interest in my ride when I confirmed with them that I was still able to park my car in their overflow carpark. Due to their location, cyclists are a common feature. In fact, along with the usual groups of club riders milling around there was also a time trial event taking place too.
As I was starting the route about halfway around, I headed north towards Dean Row and within 800 metres, I had an encounter with a flock of pheasants who had used the road as a meeting place. However, they were all gone by the time I got my camera out…. I guess they do not like photo shoots! I recognised some of the roads from previous Peak Audax rides and local rides I have completed with a cycling friend (Sarah) who lives in Market Drayton. Progression was steady but the nature of the roads forced a slowdown-speedup style of riding, see below.
My first mental checkpoint arrived, Audlem. The last time I passed through Audlem was when I completed Peak’s Newport 200 audax as a night ride, this time it was daytime and less busy! From here it was Alsager and my old stomping ground including hill training on Mow Cop.
This section was a typical ride through the Cheshire plains greeting groups of club riders. However, there is a (St Chad’s) Church tower in Wybunbury next to the pub (Swan Inn) with lovely stone figure carvings around the door.
Arriving at Dean Row petrol (24hr) station was another mental landmark, as it represented the turn for the Airport and Tatton Park. I had not been this close to the airport so I hoping to get a close up of the planes landing and taking off, instead I got the underpass!
Pushing on I did not see any deer as I passed Tatton park and the views were your usual Cheshire roads lined with hedges and open fields behind. However, I had to stop at St Boniface Church in the village before Bunbury as it caught my attention.
After a short stop at the Tilly’s Coffee Shop (very welcoming to cyclists) in Bunbury for a cup of tea and a slice of cake, I was ready for my chicken dinner. My wife had sent me a text message, saying that she had cooked the chicken but the dogs are plotting its downfall so I best be quick!
As I cycled the last forty miles back to Turn Hill and the car, I concluded that the last forty miles were the hardest. The constant up and down and the continual fight against the wind since leaving Dean Row made it feel like I had done 400km. I also realised that if you like looking at churches this was a great route, as I pasted a few more which caught my attention before I arrived back at the car. I had plenty of water and food so I chose not to go into Ellesmere town, rather I turned left for Wem and pushed on.
The Peak Audax 200km rides are great permanent routes which offer a variety of roads and places to see. However, after my third 200km ride, I have started to feel that they are very similar in nature. This could be due to the fact that they are all based in and around the Cheshire plains and that I have cycled in this area for a few years now. It could be that I have stopped looking as the area is familiar to me. But I will be doing some more of the Peak Audax 200km rides again next year as they make excellent training/ development rides.
What next: This is my last 200km ride for this season (2018) and I have no more Audax rides planned. Rather I am hoping to finishing the year completing a couple of group rides in Wales.
Organisor: Mike Wigley
Audax List: Audax Ride List