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First double century!

pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 2,120
edited July 2019 in Road general
Well, with plenty of centuries under my belt I fancied a bit of a longer challenge. I had done nearly 160 miles before but fancied riding the NCN Regional Route 70 which passes close by our town. Including riding to and from the 176 mile route that would be a 180 mile ride. Been thinking about it since winter, so got a plan together and waited for some descent weather. Yesterday was that day.

So it started with a plan, which was basically miles. And then some more miles. And then some back to back days with long miles. All it really takes is base fitness and a nutrition/ fluids plan and you should be able to go all day. So I have been knocking out about 150-200 miles a week for the last few months and including longer rides in that - usually doing at least one 80 mile plus ride, as the weather has improved more like one century a week. I usually get about three days riding in an average week.

So here is route 70, the Cheshire Cycleway;


I live in Congleton on the eastern side of the map, which is a few miles west of the Peak District. As you can see on the map there are a couple of options around Macclesfield, one which takes in some hills and the other which avoids them. As this was probably going to be the only time I ever ride the full route 70, the hills option had to be one. Doing the route anti-clockwise also made most sense - do the hills with 10miles in the legs rather than 160!

So the plan. First of all look at where I could plan stops for food/ drinks and decide what pace I could sustain. I’ve done 100miles at 19mph average before, but been pretty goosed at the finish as that is really pushing it all the way for me solo. With that in mind I thought the sensible thing would be to pick a sustainable heart rate (don’t use power) and Zone 2 seemed to be the one to go for which is about 125-130bpm for me. I would see what speed that would come out with, but guessed at roughly 16mph.

I chose 3 cafe stops and looked at replenishment option between incase I started to run low on energy. Plenty of village shops and petrol stations across Cheshire meant I shouldn’t ever be too far from somewhere I could top up if required. I didn’t want to carry shed loads of food, so just took two Naked bars, which are fruit packed as emergency supplies and three sachets of Bulk Powders Complete Energy drink mix - Bulk Powders are my go to supplier as they sell big bags, with only pure ingredients which works out at 20p per bidon. I decant a spoonful (enough for a 500ml bidon) into a small resealable plastic bag which I can carry in a jersey pocket. They work out about the size of an energy gel sachet. 3 of these should do me for route 70 - my second bidon was filled with plain water.

So, pub dinner the night before with lamb shank and loads of veg after a tomato and red pepper soup starter. Sparkling water and a J2O to drink. More water when I got home. Bike and kit all sorted out during the day before. Nothing new in terms of clothing or nutrition - a really big ride is not the time to try out anything new.

Alarm set for 05:00. I wanted to be on the road for 06:00 to make my first cafe stop 42 miles in at the Barnshaw Smithy in Mobberley. Porridge for breakfast with a teaspoon of local honey, which is standard bike breakfast for me. Cup of tea and 2/3 pint of beetroot juice plus a glass of water. All set for the off. It was blue skies outside and the sun was well on the way up, but it was only eight degrees C! I didn’t want to carry too much kit, for obvious reasons, so I went with summer kit plus arm warmers and a really thin Rapha gilet which packs down really small. It was chilly all the way to cafe stop 1, which the forecast had predicted.

Steady start, just twizzling away at the pedals keeping the heart rate at 130 or below. Feels really easy and the temptation is to just go a bit faster as it is ‘too easy’, but the plan was to still be able to do this 12 hours later, so discipline was the name of the game. The roads were wonderfully peaceful, the morning sun beautiful and the quietness something else all together. I saw lots of wildlife such as hares sitting around in the road - they obviously know when rush hour starts and act accordingly!

I had to accept that my heart rate was going to go above 130 when I started climbing in the Peak District - plenty of the climbs are into double digit gradients, so my plan was to drop to bottom gear and just go easy. I still hit 154bpm even doing that.

With the hills behind me I relaxed back into my sustainable pace and made good progress towards Mobberley. The cafe opens at 08:30, so I had planned to get there soon after, which worked out perfectly. Single scrambled eggs on toast, tea and a top up of the bidons and I was under way again. Cafe stop two was the famous Nets on the Wirral, just south of Neston. This is the rather nice Barnshaw Smithy;


I am familiar with all the roads out to Mickle Trafford, but have never ventured into Ellesmere Port before, so that bit was new to me. From Stoak the route joins the towpath on the Shropshire Union canal. Not ideal as many towpaths are in a pretty bad state of repair and even if not are pretty lumpy. Relief in so much as I was leaving it again at Ellesmere Port, traversing of which is not really memorable and not somewhere I would probably choose for a bike ride.

Once out the other side you make your way to join the Wirral Way, a disused railway line which had some really pretty elements to it, but again is trail rather than tarmac so not ideal on a road bike but passable. You certainly want to make sure there have been a couple of dry days or it would be a quagmire.


Leaving the Wirral Way, Route 70 does a loop around Parkgate, which is a quite picturesque little town on the Dee Estuary. I was ready for lunch and had spied a few suitable locations in Parkgate but thought I would continue on to Nets Cafe as planned, which is not far south down the coast. A slight turn off route took me to the cafe which already had a large number of cyclists enjoying the perfect blue skies and sunshine.

Baked potato with cheese and beans, a slice of coffee and walnut cake and another tea were ordered and consumed in fairly quick time. Bidons replenished again to some strange looks when I took a small plastic bag full of white powder out of my jersey pocket and promptly emptied it into a bidon. I should have licked a little finger, dipped it in the powder, dabbed it on my tongue and then rubbed it into my gums - that would of got them spitting their tea out!!! Not the most picturesque view, but this was from my picnic table at Nets;


So 94 miles done and onwards at 130bpm. Average speed dropped to just below 15mph after the hills but was slowly climbing back towards 16mph after a few hours on the flat. The next leg took me towards and then through Chester. It was back on the Shropshire Union Canal tow path once more and omg it was horrendous - the surface was all broken tarmac and dirt until quite close to Chester. Lord knows how it can be part of a national cycle route in such a bad state of repair. Speed dropped away significantly, and then even more so going into Chester which of course is packed with people and route 70 is particularly badly signed there. I did do a couple of small loops trying to find it again, all at walking pace. It was a relief to emerge on the east side of the city and to eventually leave the towpath.

Back onto roads I know heading towards Beeston Castle. I had studied the route and thought ‘what a demoraliser’ - Beeston is about 25 miles to home. On route 70, you turn west again and head into Wales upon reaching Beeston! The route takes you to Tilston and then does a loop, I don’t know why, maybe it is just to take in the mill at Stretton? It’s only a 3 mile loop, but it was nice to get it out the way as it just makes you ask ‘why?’

Out to Shocklach, then over the Welsh border briefly via Threapwood and then I’m heading for cafe number 3 in Malpas. The Old Fire Station is quite nice and a large cappuccino and a tea cake very welcome. One more top up of the bidons, which ran dry a couple of miles before the town. Here is a picture off the internet as my photo was overexposed in the sun;

anonymous pic hosting

The final stop did me the world of good - I felt really rejuvenated and started to push on a little as I knew I could easily make the 40miles to home. I upped the pace a little and allowed the heart rate to hit mid 140s. All very uneventful until literally 8 miles from home - there is an unmade road around the back of Alsager which forms part of route 70. It was rutted, holed and I was again at walking pace - a mountain bike would have been more appropriate. I gingerly tiptoed through the holes and over the stones, wincing at the horrible sounds coming from my tyres pinging over largish stones. And then the inevitable, a pinch flat. :(

No problem I thought, two tubes, a patch kit and three CO2 inflators were all on board. I removed the tyre, pulled out the old tube and soon had the new one in, then disaster - my inflator head valve was stuck shut! I could not for the life of me get it to budge - I have since freed it up this morning with mole grips and a big spanner! I spent some 20 minutes trying in vain until I called home and explained to my son where I was and he came out with my track pump! All in some 40 minutes delayed.

Back up and running I got to the point where I had joined route 70 and thought, well, I’m feeling strong, this might be the only opportunity I get to do a double century, so replenished bottles again at a garage and added on a 20 mile loop up to Chelford and back home. Had to nip round the block as I was 0.2 mile short as I approached home, and did another quarter of a mile just to make sure Strava didn’t come up with slightly less mileage than my Garmin (getting paranoid or what!)

So there it is, my first double century and although a little tight today, nothing too bad.




  • Well done mate, excellent effort. When you left Nets you could have stayed on the path through Deeside and Chester to Christleton which would have avoided the Shropshire Canal part.
  • slowmartslowmart Posts: 4,409
    Excellent effort and write up which made an enjoyable read.
    “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring”

    Desmond Tutu
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Well done. Now go for the 400. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Nice write up. And yes you definitely missed a trick by not following the Greenway. Continue on from Nets out onto the road and go right past the firing range. Through Deeside industrial estate and you can either take the path by the side of the Dee or come inland the river path is my favourite though. Takes you all the way to Chester or you can cut across the Saltney bridge and go through Kinnerton etc.
  • Well done, that's some ride. Great write up.
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 2,120
    The reason I didn’t follow the Greenway, which I know well, is that it is not on Regional Route 70, the completion of which was the point of the ride!

  • Pilot Pete wrote:
    The reason I didn’t follow the Greenway, which I know well, is that it is not on Regional Route 70, the completion of which was the point of the ride!


    Sorry, just trying to help as you made a point of how bad the canal was, won't bother again.
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 2,120
    No offence meant, please don’t take it as such, I was merely pointing out that the Greenway was not part of the designated route which I was doing, but you are right, I will not be following that part of route 70 again across Chester and will stick to the Greenway. 8)

  • homers_doublehomers_double Posts: 7,838
    Nice ride and a good write up Pete.
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • AlejandrosdogAlejandrosdog Posts: 1,975
    nicely done. a proper double century too not one of those metric ones.
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