Geoff R

Oct 162017
ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester - Cheshire and Shropshire YHA weekend

A helpfully blank signpost on a bridleway somewhere in Cheshire, young Tristram Shandy to the fore

A ride through Cheshire and Shropshire to Wilderhope Manor on Wenlock Edge and back

“…so long as a man rides his Hobby-Horse peaceably and quietly along the King’s highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him,–pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it?”
Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Navigating the fiendishly complex lanes through the oceans of Cheshire and Shropshire would try the patience of a saint, and we sadly couldn’t interest any of them in coming on the Centreville trip from Knutsford to Wilderhope YHA. Like iron filings drawn to a magnet the scabrous crew of eleven under Captain Holmes gathered; some, like Dan, John and Joe had got some extra miles in, arriving by bike with nerry a bead of sweat in sight. The usual faffing ensued, stowing kit, checking lashings and holding a wet finger up to assess the wind: tacking into a head wind for a day out of port, then a tail wind back, all in warm air being blown north from off Africa by Hurricane Ophelia. Anchors aweigh! Oh, wait a minute, Dan has gone off to get a coffee, now we can go. Except someone else has gone to the loo…then there is the tricky business of finding your way out of the car park.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester - Cheshire and Shropshire YHA weekend

Andy, Geoff, Pauline, Nigel, John, Nick, Dan, Joe, Tristram and Ken at the Knustsford start (photo by Mark Horrocks)

Nick had worked hard on a great route, kindly taking on the responsibility even though this was his first time in planning and navigating for a group, no easy task in unknown territory. The devil was in the detail, and unlike relatively simpler hilly areas, flatlands are a mesh of lanes not necessarily going where you want to go for long, like an unruly ball of string. Command is a lonely position, and after a few miles the unruly rabble of a crew were already chipping in with ‘helpful’ suggestions to fill in the gaps in Nick’s turn by turn list. We had local knowledge from Nigel, who had trained with Paul Sherwen and other pros here for three years in his youth, Mark offering to “Put it in his Garmin,” and I favoured my 40 year-old map which helpfully says “Here be dragons” anywhere an estate or new road has been built in the modern era. Ken, a usurper from Bury Clarion reckoned keeping the sun on our left was best, and I also pointed out that with the Pennines on our left and the Welsh hills on our right the lie of the land was a safety net. So in all we had six methods competing for credibility -what could possibly go wrong? Suffice it to say that if our wee boat with white blue and green sails had been adrift in the Pacific, cannibalism would eventually have ensued. Tristram would have been first to go, being young and tender.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester - Cheshire and Shropshire YHA weekend

What John? It’s rideable innit. John chuckling at where he finds himself

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester - Cheshire and Shropshire YHA weekend_Weaver Way

On the Weaver way

At least our confusion was happening on great roads, so all was well, as that was what we were there for. Off-road sections of bridleway led to the gravel Weaver way which meanders higgledy piggley  along the river with vast piles of rock salt beneath the winding gear of a still-working mine. Old salts on both side of the river then, with Mark and Pauline’s tandem proving tricky to sail over the numerous kissing gates. By hook, crook and assorted nav techniques, we finally got down to Audlem for lunch, Tristram breathing a sigh of relief – he’d seen people considering cooking methods. Human flesh tastes like chicken, apparently. Three bells and all was well, with half the group opting for the pub and the others for a local café, built in 1564, the year of Shakespeare’s birth, where the veggie breakfasts were enhanced with a local delicacy, the Staffordshire Oatcake, in this case filled with melted cheese –  a first for me and beating wormy ship’s biscuits any time.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester - Cheshire and Shropshire YHA weekend

Veggie breakfast with Staffordshire Oatcake – fantastic cycling food!


Major Ken, Geoff and Cap’n Nick with Mark and Pauline in the Priest’s House cafe, Audlem, built in 1564 – fortunately not the price of the food

Heading south, and in the words of the great Del Shannon we were “Searching, searching, follow the sun,” through hamlets whose names were forgotten seconds after passing them, with the exception of Great Bolas. Clearly, survivors of the Spanish Armada had made their way here, and after visiting goucho relatives in Aregntina their descendants had introduced the bolas method of capturing running cattle to Shropshire. Their rock and roll single of 1964 was unfortunately overshadowed by Gerry Lee Lewis’s song, otherwise we would now be singing “Great Bolas of Fire” instead. It would be late into the second day’s ride before our members would suffer the same condition, but that is jumping ahead.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester - Cheshire and Shropshire YHA weekend

Ken following the sun with Dan and John

The afternoon wore on, and tempers wore out, with full-blown mutiny brewing below decks as we imagined our hammocks swinging empty,  our evening rations uneaten and our grog unswilled. No navigation method was proving fault-free, and the Garmin was not taking us on roads as quite and narrow as planned. A seventh method then emerged, the smartphone with Poodle maps, and the record was ours! Each method had it’s faction of devotees, and a split was becoming inevitable.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester_Cheshire and Shropshire YHA trip

Fortunately it’s a physical impossibility for a tandem’s riders to loose eachother, short of a hacksaw or a very badly welded frame. Mark and Pauline with the Garmin

The elastic snapped as Nick flew off with half the group Saturday run style, following the Garmin, leaving others of us following the map shouting, cast adrift behind. Chaos stalked the decks of HMS Centreville. With 12 miles to go each group pressed on their different path. Tristram, like the poor cabin boy, was metaphorically if not literally eaten, as after turning back to find the others he missed them and was left chasing back on, unbeknownst to us, until he appeared bobbing on the waves behind, not waving but drowning. By the time he reached us he was on a right royal bonk. At the tender age of 24 it was his first ride of this length and he hadn’t eaten enough. I stopped with him  for 10 minutes and walked him up the next climb so the blood sugar could come through while he found an impressive number of adjectives to describe his state.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester - Cheshire and Shropshire YHA weekend- Wilderhope manor

A welcome sight for weary mariners – Wilderhope Manor YHA  (photo Pauline Cooper)

Wilderhope YHA, buit in the 1580’s, was finally gained after around 136km (84 miles )of riding since Knutsford, the last hilly section of which was the most beautiful. As the light bled out of the sky and veils of purple night drifted in, somehow Tristram didn’t seem to appreciate the poetry and grandeur of the fading day. The antiquated building made me want to enquire “Tristram, shandy?” at the bar, but he was looking a bit Sterne, so I left it, fitting though the setting was. All rifts were healed and all ranks made up over solid and liquid refreshment in the baronial setting of the dining hall, which sported what appeared to be a giant iron wheel hung from the ceiling. The rack on the wall must therefore have been for large leather bicycle pumps from the time of the Civil War, when the royalist owner had reputedly fled his roundhead captors on a solid wheeled Rudge and escaped by riding over a cliff on Wenlock Edge known to this day as Major’s leap. Was Ken, with his period beard and booming voice perchance the reincarnation of that very Major?


The lounge in Wilderhope YHA with a wall of massive oak beams, built to stay built (photo Pauline Cooper)

ABC Centreville Cycling Club manchester

Dan refreshed and ready for day 2. He’d like it to be known that is not his bike, his is titanium, out of shot. No offence John but it’s a whole different level of machine. (photo Pauline Cooper)

We were blessed with Mandy and Craig’s company, they’d been unable to ride but had turned up anyway. Craig surprisingly managed not to affront any families with small children, and thankfully his threat of snoring all night proved empty, and after a good night’s sleep under the massive oak roof beams at the top of a spiral staircase Sunday looked set fair for a tailwind all the way home. Hoorah! Raise the mainsail! A.E. Houseman’s poem seemed written for us:

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

Unfortunately for him the average cyclist’s idea of poetry is a tire spec sheet. A fast road along Wenlock Edge did indeed lead us over the Severn to the Wrekin. Nick’s excellent choice was to go via pretty Ironbridge, over the first cast iron bridge in the world. Iniated by “Iron-mad” John Wilkinson who designed the first accurate cylinder boring machine (that’s nothing, I’ve invented the first reader-boring machine) and was buried in an iron coffin; and built by Abraham Darby III in 1781, the bridge now points at a prominent pie shop which acted like catnip for Andy, he was in there like a shot. Andy was also doing his longest ever rides, and back to back at that, and was going well.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester - Cheshire and Shropshire YHA weekend

Me arriving at the Iron Bridge muttering about Iron-mad Wilkinson and iron coffins. The one-man map faction (photo Nick Holmes)

ABC Centreville Manchester Cycling Club_ Shropshire and Cheshire YHA weekend

The river Severn at Ironbridge

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Mancheste_ YHA weekend Shropshire and Cheshire

Dan, John, Nigel, Tristram, Geoff, Joe, Nick, Andy, Pauline and Mark at Ironbridge (photo by Ken)

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester_Cheshire and Shropshire YHA trip

Bonny spot…and pies! They’ve got pies! (photo Pauline Cooper)

We all scoffed something, before another split was averted after Nick again sprinted off taking a few with him the wrong way – but then all the roads are the right way if they as nice as the ones around the Wrekin. We had turned tragedy into comedy, with John riding into a ploughed field shouting “It’s definiteley this way!” My how the moles laughed, just before he squashed their heads. I personally led the group on what might have seemed to the uninitiated a pointless loop through a village and back to where we started, but they wouldn’t have forgiven me for missing out on the fascinating vernacular architecture.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester_Cheshire and Shropshire YHA trip

John and Dan heading for the Wrekin

It all seemed to flow more smoothly on the way back, we had accepted the shape and rythmn of the ride and the quaintness of our flaws (to err is human, to forgive divine), and it was a happy ship that flowed along the pan-flat land between hedgerows beneath an English sun, the wind at our backs. Nigel found us an unmade road marked Private, No Entry, which gave Joe a Roubaix-like puncture. Only the absentee landlord seemed concerned about privacy, the guys on the passing tractors gave us merry waves. Through Howle and Child’s Ercall we skirted the gouchos and decided on Market Drayton for lunch. We sadly ended up in a Witherspoons after two different locals told us there were no local cafés open – only to see a proper caff immediately on setting off (in the wrong direction of course, my bad.) A compass, by god, of course that is what I needed, that would have put the record out of sight at eight simultaneous navigation methods!


Puncture in Roubaix territory. The peasants fail to KEEP OUT!

Joe and John gave each other the eye, got on the front and upped the pace until we were flying like a tea clipper along the long quiet lane north from Audlem at a tasty 40kmph. The hammer was down but everybody stayed on fine – that’s the beauty of flat roads which enable a wider span of abilities to ride together, and we were looking after each other now, no more separate boats. By now we were riffing on eachother’s catchphrases for the weekend: Nick’s was “It’s just down here, then it’s dead straightforward.” Mine was “Past the river, then turn left,” which on the map it uncannily often was. Mark’s was “The Garmin says it’s this way.” Once we got back into Nigel’s old stamping ground in north Cheshire he added a cracker: “Let’s get on the main road and get it done.” Before promptly choosing the wrong main road and reverting to nice lanes, which were, to be fair, a real pleasure, taking us past a millionaires’ row “Probably all massively in debt,” onto a woodland path on the opposite side of the river Weaver to that we’d ridden the day before.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester_Cheshire and Shropshire YHA trip

Nigel remembering some great lines through Vale Royal and back to Knutsford – this one is on the west bank of the River Weaver

HMS Centreville sailed proudly back into dock after a 142km (88 miles) day only slightly the worse for wear, a few cannon holes in the side, a bit low on rations but with the tattered green, white and blue pennants still fluttering in the last rays of sunlight. Home is the sailor, home from the sea – except for Dan, Joe, John and Ken, who had a few miles yet to their respective homes, the poor buggers. Ken fixed a puncture, John finished off my biscuits, and Dan, despite a strong 12 hour TT under his belt this year narrowly averted the weekend’s second bonk. Hands were shaken, food was exchanged, and our record-breaking trip was over. Our hobby-horses had been well ridden and no-one was compelled to get up behind us. No-one got eaten.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester_Cheshire and Shropshire YHA trip

Dan (pre-bonking), Joe (fine) and John (very peckish). Just another 40km home boys!

Many thanks for organising it all, Captain Nick much appreciated!


Why not join Centreville and race or just ride with us – especially if you have a photographic memory of every junction of every lane in Cheshire, Shropshire and Mid-Wales….anyone…please, anyone?

Contact us




 October 16, 2017  Posted by at 11:19 pm Trips away 1 Response »
Oct 092017
Neil Swithenbank ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester The Rake Hill Climb 2017

Neil Swithenbank demonstrating how to look classy while on the limit – take note Mr Aru! (photo Nick Holmes)

Ben and Neil at the Rake Hill Climb 2017

Pain-fest fanciers Neil Swithenbank and Ben Whitehead lined up for ABC Centreville at the famous/infamous Rake Hill climb in Ramsbottom on Sunday. This 875m course ramps up to 22% and gives you a fair kicking if you attack it properly. Judging by the race-face contortions on show it could easily be doubled up with the Lancashire gurning championships. Despite having been used several times for the national hill climb championships and the Tour of Britain, (according to this nice post on the race ) it has longstanding record of 2.16.9 ridden by Jeff Wright in 1993.


Ben Whitehead in the hurt locker: “Shut up legs!” (photo nick Holmes)

Neil rode 3.15 this year, and Ben rode 3.17, beating his time from last year by 1 second. I’ll amend this post when the results are out to include the winners. Several Centreville members took the more sensible but less praiseworthy option of watching. Don’t tell Neil but the social group missed his ride despite arriving early, as our breakfasts were late due to a rush in the cafe – well what can you do? We were thinking of you Neil, honest. When you think about it, we were probably eating our breakfast just at the time you felt like up-chucking yours; funny that. We met Centreville legends Gordon and Margaret Perry, whose house was the unofficial club hut for years and who looked after and nurtured some very strong riders indeed as they headed for the chain gang on the East Lancs Road in the 80’s and 90’s. Then we had to leave before Ben rode, so as cheerleaders we were pretty damn duff, good job the green barmy army were at the top all afternoon!

Gordon and Margaret Perry_ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester The Rake Hill Climb 2017

Gordon Perry in the middle and Margaret on the right watched the Rake from outside the pub, with son Craig in the sunglasses


Neil Swithenbank_ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester The Rake Hill Climb 2017

Neil with the finish and Holcombe Tower in sight on the crowd-lined finale (photo Nick Holmes)

Ben Whitehead_ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester The Rake Hill Climb 2017

Ben prepping his proper climber’s legs before his start, with a nice thousand yard stare going on. Ah, the smell of liniment!

Ben Whitehead 3_ABC Centreville Cycling Club_The Rake Hill Climb 2017

It just looks like a track stand – Ben was still moving, I’m almost sure… (photo John Drake)

Results to follow when available.


Other Centreville Hill climb reports here

Why not come and suffer….I mean ride with Centreville. You are very welcome to race with us or just ride for fun – get in touch

 October 9, 2017  Posted by at 7:59 pm Events, Hill climbs 2 Responses »
Oct 012017
Louis Szymanski winning on Blackstondedge_ABC Centreville

Louis Szymanski adding to his fine series of wins this year

West pennine Hill climb on Blackstonedge, 1st October 2017

ABC Centreville had a good day at the office on Blackstonedge today at the West Pennine hill climb, with Louis Szymanski taking the win with a storming 7.41 and leading the club to the first team prize, backed up by new member Andy McLaughlin with 9.05 (including a 20 second penalty for a late start!) and Ben Whitehead with 9.12 which also gave him the first V40 prize. Also present in green blue and white were Neil Swithenbank (9.47), Gary Fleet (9.57), and Dave Grogan (10.28) all digging in well in the windy conditions which made the middle straight section harder, then helped on the main upper climb to the White House.

First woman was Charlotte Gorman riding for Team Lusso in 10.28, with local rider Cat Jessop riding for East Lancs only 10 seconds off the win with 10.38 . First Junior was a fast James Noonan in 8.16, and first juvenile was Francis Woodcock with an impressive 8.25 which put him 5th overall!

Neil and Ben will be representing the club on the Rake Hill Climb at Ramsbottom next week, a shorter, steeper effort which should suit them well.

Andy MacLaughlin 1_ABC Centreville cycling club_Weste Pennine Hill Climb

Andy McLaughlin climbing strongly in his first race for Centreville

Ben Whitehead_ABC Centreville cycling club_Weste Pennine Hill Climb

Ben Whitehead 3/4 in on his way to first V40

Neil Swithenbank_ABC Centreville_Weste Pennine Hill Climb

Ex-international and current busy dad Neil Swithenbank digging in

ABC Centreville Manchester Cycling Club hill climbing

Gary Fleet looks ahead to the windy straight section above the Moorcock

Dave Grogan_ABC Centreville_Weste Pennine Hill Climb

Dave Grogan has ridden this hill a few times both in and out of competition

Charlotte Garmon 1st woman_West Pennine Hill Climb

Charlotte Gorman, Team Lusso, pushing on for first place

Andy McLaughlin_ABC Centreville cycling club_West Pennine Hill Climb

Andy McLaughlin obviously didn’t try hard enough if he was this happy straight afterwards! He had the foresight to buy a bike in club colours even before joining

ABC Centreville cycling club_after Weste Pennine Hill Climb

Down the Red Lion afterwards. Too bad the sandwiches arrived as everyone was leaving…

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester_first v40 Ben Whitehead

Ben turns pro with his V40 prize – don’t spend it all at once

Thanks to John, Nick and Geoff for photos

Why not come and race or ride for fitness and pleasure with Centreville? Contact us here

 October 1, 2017  Posted by at 9:26 pm Events, Hill climbs 1 Response »
Sep 242017
ABC Cenrtreville Cycling Club Manchester- soila ride cafe

A plague of cyclists at the bakery cafe in Slaithwaite, or Slawitt as we should pronounce it

Trust Centreville to find the one cafe in all the world with the one teenager in all the world who has always been terrified of cyclists – and then crowd onto the same table as her en-masse. It’s that kind of nuanced sensitivity that makes us the fine club we are today. To be fair there was nowhere else to sit and her mum said it was OK. She didn’t look too sure herself, even when I did my best disarming Gruffalo “Grrrr” to break the ice, along with a few choice dad jokes. Apparently when the family was out for, say a nice day in the Dales, as a toddler she would suddenly begin shrieking for no apparent reason, until they finally realised it was the cyclists in their sunglasses and helmets “Looking like insect stormtroopers.” John thought that was cool. Personally, I think we aren’t just any old insects, locusts are closer to the mark, plague or otherwise. If you liken the contents of a café to a field of crops we can munch the lot in thirty minutes flat.

Hmmmm...insect stromtroopers, you can kind of see what she means

Hmmmm…insect stromtroopers, with John, Jo and Dan you can kind of see what she means. Scary stuff.

I think technically seven riders is too small a number to constitute a plague though we had a good try. Surprisingly the mum had been defending cyclists to her rabidly anti-cyclist friend, channeling media memes, who would like us banned or retrained, or worse. She pointed out to her that cars were much more dangerous than bikes, and most cyclists also drive, so they are already trained in the rules of the road. As Dan threw in, 2 pedestrians are killed by cyclists a year, whereas 5 people are killed by bees and far more by cars. If you want to get into it, have a look at this graphic on all causes of death, which shows that in 2010 as an example 808 car drivers or passengers died, and 153 pedestrians were killed by cars. Not to belittle any individual death, each one of which is an appalling tragedy, but a little perspective is in order. On the whole we are the good guys, reducing death and expense caused by medical decrepitude and doing considerable less harm to the environment while on our bikes than when driving our cars.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester_soical ride

Nice turn out nicely turned out. A Centreville Sunday social ride gathers in Littleborough ready to lay waste to the land.


Why not come and infest the South Pennines with Centreville? We are always happy to have new insect stormtroopers along and we’ll look after you – all abilities and genders very welcome. Get in touch

 September 24, 2017  Posted by at 8:01 pm 'B' Group, Club rides 2 Responses »
Sep 172017
ABC Centreville's Louis Szymanski wins alone at the Hadrian's Wall road race

Louis Szymanski wins alone at the Hadrian’s Wall Rock to Roll E/1/2 road race (photo Ellen Isherwood)

ABC Centreville’s Louis Szymanski won the Hadrian’s Wall Road Race from Bampton near Carlisle in a classy win over several elite riders, including second placed Dylan Byrne of VCUK  Velochampion Racing Team who Louis was able to ride away from on the last climb to the line to finish alone. This tops of a great season for Louis which has included wins in similarly good company and saw him turn first category. Louis is progressing well and is looking set to go far in the strong racing tradition of ABC Centreville, who have produced internationals and professionals. Go Louis, Go!

ABC Centreville's Louis Szymanski Hadrian's Wall Road Race

Louis and Dylan away together (photo Ellen Isherwood)

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Results here:

Photos by Ellen Isherwood

Why not come and race or just ride for fitness and company with Centreville? Contact us here

 September 17, 2017  Posted by at 9:06 pm Events, Road racing 1 Response »
Aug 032017

Goose Eye logo text in hills

One of the hardest sportives in the UK

The Goose Eye Grimpeur Sportive will give you a day to live long in the memory. With a saw-tooth profile of 3612m of climb over 200km, wild high spaces and lush river valleys, it is Beauty and the Beast in one dose of tough love. This why we get into cycling – to test ourselves, to do it all, see it all and share it all in good company. Fail, fail better, finish, come back and do a better time – that’s the Goose Eye.

The Goose Eye can be broken down into three chunks:

  1. From the start over the South Pennines to Gargrave, which has as much climb per mile as any event in the UK and virtually no flat roads at all
  2. From Gargrave over the Bowland fells to Chatburn, with rolling lanes and steady climbs
  3. From Chatburn to the finish with another series of steep, long, testing climbs over Pendle and the South Pennines

Section 1. From the start to Gargrave over the South Pennines

You’ll have a welcome 10k to warm up and wake up rolling through post-industrial, post-Saturday night Rochdale before getting to the first climb up Blackstonedge. Dan Evans has the record for the hill climb here at 7.10, but it might be an idea not to chase this today. Just enjoy the millstone grit Edge in the morning light, easy does it.

1 Goose Eye Sportive Blackstonedge ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Blackstondege in the early morning peace

3 Goose Eye Sportive Blackstonedge 4 ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Looking back over the Lancashire plain. When you see this again on the way back you will be in an altered state

4 Goose Eye Sportive Blackstonedge 3 ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The first hill top objective at 390m, where Anne lister of Shibden Hall turned back her girlfriend for fear of the scandal – no turning back for you

From Blackstonedge the fast descent of the A58 on the other side was used by the Tour de France. Lars Boom reached 82km an hour on the here, or you can freewheel it at 60 km/hr plus; either way Great House Lane will wake the legs up again. It’s a stiff little cobbled climb.

5 Goose Eye Sportive_Great House Lane_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

After some nice lanes in a classic South Pennines patchwork, Mill Bank is reached by a steep, twisty descent of Foxen Lane. This climb (the clue is in the name ‘bank’) will help you realise if you have made the right gear choice for the day – if you are already in your lowest gear, boy/girl will you have fun later! It’s a two part climb with Lower Mill Bank Road leading via a sharp left-then-right of junctions onto Birks lane. Take it steady, this is one of many, with the notorious Stocks Lane next….

6 Goose Eye Sportive_Mill Bank_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Mill Bank

After Sowerby village you’ll be heading down the steep, technical descent of Sykes Lane to Luddenden Foot. Watch out for locals driving up, and especially the sharp downhill left at the bottom immediately into a steep bank which will have you merrily crunching gears if aren’t ready for it. In this photo you can see Wainstalls on the horizon, the highest point on the Goose Eye:

9 Goose Eye Sportive_Sykes Lane_ABC Centreville Cyclin Club

Down Sykes Lane, with the day’s highest point on the horizon

After crossing the river Calder and turning into Luddenden Dean comes the notorious Stocks Lane to Wainstalls. Stocks lane is a tough climb in itself, which has been used for the national hill climb championships, but the climb continues past Wainstalls in a testing series of draggy steps up to the highest point on the route on Cold Edge Lane and the huge spaces of the Pennine moors.

10 Goose Eye Sportive_Stocks Lane 1_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Oh goody….

11a Goose Eye Sportive_Stocks Lane 2_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Nigel Bishop, GB international and 1989 Milk Race yellow jersey holder on the Stocks Lane hairpins

12 Goose Eye Sportive_Luddenden Dean_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Looking left near the top of Stocks lane across gorgeous Luddenden Dean

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Withens Rd above Wainstalls continues the climb up the moor

14 Goose Eye Sportive_Withens Rd 2_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Onto Cold Edge Lane. The name and the wind turbines tell you how high and exposed it is up here

15 Goose Eye Sportive_Cold edge Rd_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Cold Edge Lane takes you over the top with a huge sense of space. Now you know you are on a ride.

By now you will be starting to get that Goose Eye feeling. On any ordinary day what you have ridden so far would be a respectable route in itself: this is not going to be an ordinary day. An exhilarating descent down Nab Water Lane and Hill House Edge Lane follows, with a great view across Bronte country and the series of steep-sided valleys you’ll be crossing towards Skipton.

After a small climb up Moorhouse Lane, the second cobbled climb on the Goose Eye Grimpeur soon rears up. As you climb Howarth Main Street You will again be following in the wheels of the Tour de France as you rattle up this stiff and unique hill, dodging tourists and fending off Bronte memorabilia sales people. Give it the full Emily, not the half Branwell.

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Several humans with slightly different agendas for the day on Howarth Main St

With no respite it is straight down and up what JP and Chrispy, cyclist friends who live at the bottom call “Vicious Dip” Tim Lane is an unsung but a tough little climb up to Oakworth. This is going to keep happening, so get used to it. Going at a sustainable pace is key to your day: overcook this first section to Gargrave and things will get ugly later and that’s not nice….

17 Goose Eye Sportive_Tim Lane_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Tim Lane – not well known but a hard dig

After Oakworth comes the climb after which this sportive is named, Game scar Lane, known to cyclists as Goose Eye, home to a a brewery taking its name form Goose Eye Brow at the top. It is pretty steep, with a blind corner – drivers meeting here in opposite directions can get a bit testy with eachother at is not a good spot to reverse or do a handbrake start. It isn’t a good spot for a cold start on a bike, come to think of it: there are three parts to this climb, all steep. Nice though, you’ll like it.

18 Goose Eye Sportive_Goose Eye-Game Scar Lane 1_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The first section of the Goose Eye climb whose real name is Game Scar Lane

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Approaching the blind bend on the Goose Eye climb

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See look – Dan’s smiling, nothing to it…

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Nigel at the top

The climb continues (quelle surprise) on Greensykes Rd then flattens out briefly, bringing you to a brow with a lovely view north across Lothersdale, with the Dales in the background before a very fast 16% descent to Cross Hills. As the small print says, the value of your investment can go down as well as up – in this case, hooray!

25 Goose Eye Sportive_Ellers Rd to Crosshills_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

England looking fantastic on the descent down Ellers Lane to Cross Hills

The village of Cross Hills feels like a city after the empty countryside you’ve been through, you’ll need to watch out for the correct turning left which takes you onto a long draggy climb back onto the moor on Lothersdale Rd and Babyhouse lane. Babyhouse; you might be liking that idea by now, someone to tuck you up nice and cozy and rock you to sleep. It ain’t happening, up you go!

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Nick on Lothersdale Rd, a long drag

29 Goose Eye Sportive_Lothersdale Rd 1_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Lothersdale Rd just keeps on going….and going

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The top is reached on the wonderfully named Babyhouse Lane

31 Goose Eye Sportive_Babyhouse Lane 2_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The descent of Babyhouse Lane and Moor Lane to the A59 crossing at Broughton is an extended treat

There will be a feed station at Broughton, just before the A59, after which a dog-leg right then left takes you on rolling Lanes to Gargrave, which has a pub and a café. The café used to be a famous cyclist’s meeting point, always piled up with bikes outside, until it changed hands. Now there are so many flowers outside there are fewer places to leave you’re bike, but they still sell the usual…

32 Goose Eye Sportive_Garstang pub stop_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Well if you think you have the time…..

Section 2. From Gargrave through Bowland to Chatburn

Turning left by the pub before the main road in Gargrave the easiest section of the Goose Eye Grimpeur takes you via Bank Newton. It lovely riding this, except for a couple of kilometers to Newsholme on the A689 which has some fast traffic to beware of. Then it’s back onto classic Lancashire lanes to Bolton By Bowland, then onto Grindleton (which has another feed station you will pass through again after a loop into the Bowland area). The climb up Easington Fell from Waddington on the B4678, Slaidburn Rd, is a long gentle gradient which kicks up a little at the end, leading to a fantastic descent with views north to the Bowland fells. Oh yes!

32 Goose Eye Sportive_Easington Fell climb_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Looking back down towards Waddington from the climb up Easington fell

33 Goose Eye Sportive_Slaidburn Rd descent_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Now that is what I call a nice road

You’ll love this descent towards the Hodder Valley, but make sure you keep an eye out for the left turn for Cow Ark near the bottom. This takes you onto a narrow lane which contours lumpily along and then over the western flank of Easington Fell. Even Google don’t know the name of this hidden gem of a road.

34 Goose Eye Sportive_Lanes to Cow Ark 1_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Buried deep in the heart of Lancashire…

35 Goose Eye Sportive_Lanes to Cow Ark 2_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

….a hidden gem of a road….

36 Goose Eye Sportive_Land to Cow Ark 3_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

……..which as well as being gorgeous……

37 Goose Eye Sportive_Descent to Whitewell_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

…..leads you to this ride down to Whitewells. Lush

A nice descent of Hall Hill to Whitewells on the river Hodder and a right turn takes you to the valley road, which rolls through succulent countryside to Dunsop Bridge and Slaidburn, both of which have cafés – often containing cyclists as this is one of the best cycling areas in the UK, and you might bump into messers Wiggins or Yates.

38 Goose Eye Sportive_Slaidburn church1_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Slaidburn church keeping an eye on how knackered you are yet. There is a café through the village by the river

39 Goose Eye Sportive_River Hodder Slaidburn_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The river Hodder looking mighty fine – is that coffee?

From Slaidburn you are heading back for a third time over Easington fell, this time over it’s eastern flank south towards Pendle. This is another lovely section over a high empty moorland plateau, starting with a short pull up from the Hodder on the B6478 then right onto Smalden Lane at the top. A series of shallow steps take you up onto the moor: take time to look around this huge space to the Yorkshire Three peaks on your left, and across the moors to Pendle in front and to the right. It is the land of curlews and lapwings up here, a delight on a good day and a slog on a bad one; but again it takes you on the Goose Eye to a cracking descent back down to Grindleton, where the feeding station can be re-vsited.

40 Goose Eye Sportive_Slaidburn climb B6478_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The climb up from Slaidburn on the B6478 – not too long this bit

41 Goose Eye Sportive_Easington fell to Pendle_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

God’s own country, looking across Harrop Fold to Easington fell and your objective, Pendle, in the distance

42 Goose Eye Sportive_view to 3 Peaks_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Looking back north to the Three Peaks

43 Goose Eye Sportive_Smallden Lane to Grindleton_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

One of a series of rises on Smalden lane

44 Goose Eye Sportive_Pendle from the Ribble_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The river Ribble near Grindleton with the big end of Pendle waiting

3. From Chatburn over Pendle, Widdop and Cragg to the finish

It has all been very civilised and maneageable on the loop round Bowland back to Grindleton, but things are about to get a wee bit testing again, and the various distractions and cop-out routes home are going to get more tempting, especially if you overcooked it on the first section – I told you not to! There is a shop and an ice-cream parlour at Chatburn – how much nicer than the hard slog through Downham (another nice pub!) and up to the big end of Pendle on Pendle Road and Barley Lane, which by this stage of the game is going to look bigger than it normally does to your tired eyes. You can make it to the finish if you pace it, keep well fed and hydrated and treat the route with respect – there are three big land masses to get over, including multiple incidental climbs.

45 Goose Eye Sportive_Hudsons Ices Chatburn_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Get thee behind me Satan! Oh ok, just a triple chocolate toffee cone with extra sauce then.

46 Goose Eye Sportive_Assheton Arms Downham_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The Assheton Arms at Downham full of people doing something sensible with their day

47 Goose Eye Sportive_Pendle Rd Climb_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The climb up Pendle Road which goes….up Pendle. Great views to your left here

48 Goose Eye Sportive_Barley Lane Climb_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Up Barley lane by Pendle big end looking suitably portentous and witchy.

49 Goose Eye Sportive_Barley_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

A touching memorial in Barley to riders in the Goose Eye Grimpeur whose legs were ripped off by this point, leaving only their bloodied torsos to struggle on.

After a fast twisting descent to Barley, which has a toilet by the car park on the left, you turn left and follow the river to Roughlee, where the steep bank of Pasture Lane takes you over to Barrowford and a dog-leg left then right onto the B6247 to the town of Colne. Signposted for Coldwell Activity Centre, Bridge Street leads you onto the steep climb of Knotts St, which then keeps climbing onto the moor towards the splendidly testing Widdop and on towards Hebden Bridge. There are no shops or facilities in this 20km section which takes you up high into the weather (if there is any) so again you need to make sure you have enough to eat, drink and keep warm with you – it’s not a good section to bonk on.

54 Goose Eye Sportive_Knotts Lane climb Colne_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Steep Knotts Lane lifts you quickly out of the small industrial town of Colne

55 Goose Eye Sportive_Approaching Widdop 1_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The approach to the steep climb up Widdop. On a day when you hadn’t already done a lot of climbs already you might be relishing it

56 Goose Eye Sportive_approaching Widdop 2_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

A steep twisty descent to the base of the Widdop climb will text your brakes – nice though, innit?

57 Goose Eye Sportive_Widdop first ramp_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The first and steepest section of the Widdop climb which goes up in steps. Are you enjoying yourself yet?

58 Goose Eye Sportive_Widdop climb 1_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Jago on the middle of the climb – it’s his local loop, so he’s used to it.

59 Goose Eye Sportive_Boulsworth Hill from Widdop_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Boulsworth Hill on your left as you climb. There’s a small chance you won’t have the energy left to enjoy it.

60 Goose Eye Sportive_Widdop top_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

That ‘top of Widdop’ feeling

61 Goose Eye Sportive_Widdop descent_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Get ready to enjoy one of the UK’s finest roads – 9 miles of stunning Pennine Landscape

62 Goose Eye Sportive_Widdop reservoirABC Centreville manchester

Widdop reservoir

63 Goose Eye Sportive_Widdop reservoire_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The grit-stone outcrops here were scene to some ground-breaking climbing exploits in the 1960s. What do you mean “I don’t give a s**t, just tell me how far is it to the finish”?

64 Goose Eye Sportive_Ridehalgh lane Blake Dean climb_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The dip down and climb up at Blake dean – not too bad

65 Goose Eye Sportive_Widdop rd warning_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Nice spot of dialect spelling. No duck-related crashes please.

66 Goose Eye Sportive_Widdop Rd_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Skirting the lovely Hardcastle Crags

At the end of this fantastic road a fast wooded descent bi-passing Heptonstall takes you down to some traffic lights, where a left via the turning circle takes you through Hebden Bridge, which is full of café and shops, and Mytholmroyd, which has a Co-op on the left. You are going to make it now, there is just one climb left to get over: it just happens to be Cragg Vale, which is reputed to be the longest continuous climb in the country, with 958ft in 5.5 miles. Now, there is a possibility that your ickle pickle legs will be a ickle pickle bit tired now, but be re-asssured, it is not steep, just long. We won’t talk about the typical cross-headwind here, I’m sure it will be a tail wind when you do it. Winners in the various hill climb events up here might do around 14 minutes, which is quicker than the Tour de France, which used the bottom as a feed station. During the Tour bunting stretched alll the way to the top, and you can still see rider’s names sprayed on the road. Not that I’m saying your head will be down or anything….but by all that’s holy, what twisted sadist decided to put this nightmare at the end of….come on, hold it together, you can do this.

Goose Eaye Grimpeur Sportive_Cragg Vale_Centreville Cycling Club

World Road Race Champion Mandy Bishop and Taeko from Japan ‘enjoying’ Cragg vale

67 Goose Eye Sportive_Cragg-last climb on Blackstonedge Rd_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Jago on the way up – look, he’s smiling. Note the Tour de France graffiti on the road behind him


68 Goose Eye Sportive_Blackstonedge reservoir_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Blackstonedge Reservoir marks the top of the Cragg road – sunsets look amazing reflected in it, if you are out that long

69 Goose Eye Sportive_A58 Whitehouse_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

The White House on the A58 again on top of what was the first climb of the day

Unbelievably there are no more climbs left, you’ve just got to keep your concentration down the fast descent of Blackstonedge, the whole Lancashire plain laid out before you with views to the Welsh hills if it is clear. Yes, it’s true, a few weary kilometers back to the HQ and finally a day to remember will be over. Well you’ve done it you’ve got to the end of one of the toughest web-posts….I mean one of the toughest sportives in the UK. What do you think? See you on the day?

70 Goose Eye Sportive_Down Blackstonedge_ABC Centreville Cycling Club

We will soon be landing in Littleborough, please keep clipped in until your bicycle comes to a stop, we’d like to thank you for flying with Goose Eye Airways.

Geoff Read


Route on Ride with GPS where you can also download cue-sheets and GPX files

Facebook event page with discussion

Goose Eye Grimpeur main website

 August 3, 2017  Posted by at 11:08 am Events, Sportives 9 Responses »
Jul 272017
Afrika kit Appeal 1

Will these boys be on the UCI racing circuit in a few years time when they have grown into their kit?

Centrville’s John Taylor has kindly organised a club donation of cycling clothing to the Africa Kit Appeal which collects kit for young racing cyclists in Africa:

“Our mission is to provide the kids of our supported African countries with the cycling apparel they need, not only will this enable the current cyclists to fulfil their full potential, dreams & ambitions but we hope we can also introduce some new faces into the world of cycling, a world that we love.”

Matt Brammeier, four time Irish national road race and once Irish trial champion, is a professional cyclist currently riding for Aqua Blue Sport, who has ridden for also ridden fro HTC, Pharma Quick-step and MTN-Qhubeka. According to the website, “For years the amount of spare and leftover kit Matt has accumulated by the end of the season has bugged him. Not because of the space it takes in his wardrobe, but because of the thousands of up and coming cyclists that need it so much more than he does. As soon as he learned of the Adrien Niyonshuti cycling academy in Rwanda, the idea smacked him right in the face. So now here he is, trying to empty your clogged up wardrobes, draws and garages and give a little inspiration to these young kids that ironically inspire him so much.”

Matt Brammieir

Matt Brammieir riding for Omega Phrma-Quick Step in his Irish champion’s jersey

Centreville are pleased to have supported this in a small way. It will be interesting to see what will develop if the obstacles to participation can be overcome, in what is an expensive sport relative to running. African nations have come to dominate distance running – will the Tour one day be raced by far more nations that are currently represented? It will make for an even more competitive and compelling race to watch.

Africa Kit Appeal

The rainbow jersey will be more truly a World Championship when more nations can participate fully

If you have some spare cycling kit of any kind (NB not bigger than medium size) the next collection is in October 2017. “We accept all good quality cycling kit in sizes Medium, Small and Extra Small; cycling shoes; sunglasses, helmets, and leg warmers, arm warmers etc.” Centreville will be using the Liverpool collection point at Quinns Cycles in Liverpool, but other collection points are around this and other countries.


Another way of supporting cycling in Africa is of course the Qhubeka charity, which aims to enable individuals and communities to access bicycles for transport to facilitate education, health and trade in poor communities. The name will be familiar from the MTN-Qhubeka (now Dimension Data) professional cycling team, which famously has Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings as members.

Qhubeka bike in use

In poor and remote communities bicycles are essential workhorses, making a big difference to life. Photo: Qhubeka website

Stage win

Edvald Bosen-Hagen gives the Qhubeka five-fingered salute as he wins a stage in the 2017 Tour de France

The bicycle is an amazing machine which we are lucky enough to ride for fun, but it can also make a huge practical difference, as well as being one of the cleanest, most efficient and cheapest modes of transport. The Dimension Data Team’s website explains how a bicycle changes lives in Africa:

  • Riding a bicycle increases a person’s carrying capacity by 5x
  • Over the same period of time, a person riding a bicycle can travel 4x the distance as someone walking
  • For every 16km travelled, a bicycle saves 3 hours of valuable time

For more information or to make a donation visit the Dimension Data Team’s website

Geoff Read

 July 27, 2017  Posted by at 9:18 am community and ideas, Events, Other No Responses »
Jun 272017
ABC Centreville Manchester Cycling Club

Paul Basson riding at 25mph plus

Going Under the Hour

“I decided to have another crack at time trialling this year (my last time trial was in 1992!) and so entered a few early season time trials on my road bike with clip on bars.

I soon remembered how painful time trials are but i did enjoy the pure, simple effort of riding to your limit over a set distance and decided to jump in full bore again.

From April I built up the training and acquired the necessary time trial bike and kit in stages. Entering a series of 10 mile TTs on Rainford and a few open events got me down from my first time of 25 mins 10 seconds for 10 miles in April, to 22 mins 39 seconds by mid June, which surprised me! Both were on the same Rainford course.

The main goal for me was to go under the hour for a 25 mile TT, so I looked through the Cycling time trial website and entered the East Lancs Road Club 25 on the J2/9 course through Chelford. The ride took on a poignant significance for me when a family friend called Gracie, 6 years old, died on the Monday after a 3 year battle with cancer. I didn’t feel like doing the ride but then decided to dedicate ride to her, to honour her passing in my own small way.

I had to go under the hour and felt under pressure to do so.

Clubmate Danny Shackelton was also racing and we met briefly at the entrance to the race HQ as I set off to the start to warm up. Danny mentioned he had had too much beer the night before, but he still always rides like a demon.

Lining up next to Jodrell Bank,  starting off as number 38 I made sure not to set of too quickly and settled into a good but hard pace around 25 to 26 mph average, and sought to ride to a planned target of 25.5 mph average, if I could sustain that pace!

On the second lap the pain began to grow as I upped the effort and fought with the wind and a tractor that blocked me for a good half mile, costing some time.

With 3 miles to go I went full bore and as I came to the finish I knew I was going to do it, crossing the line with cramping legs and a bursting chest in 58:55. Job done… and a great feeling.

Danny was 14th overall with 57:27 making him 9th vet, and I was 25th overall with 58:55 making me 17th vet, out of 107 starters. A good day in the centreville colours and more to come!!

My under the hour ride is dedicated to the memory of Gracie…xxx”

Paul Basson

Why not race or ride for pleasure with Centreville? Get in touch

 June 27, 2017  Posted by at 9:07 pm Events, TT No Responses »
Jun 272017

ABC Centrville trackie Jon Taylor with an update on his experiences returning to racing on the track at Manchester Velodrome:

“After a few years away from the track I regained my accreditation and  decided to have a go at track racing in the Friday night Manchester Regional Track League (MRTL) for the 2016/17 season, which ran from October through April.

With my race number nervously  pinned on I joined the first Friday event as a group 2 rider in the first race of the evening, a 1000 metre, 4 lap sprint which had finished before I had got my head in gear: what an introduction! I didn’t suffer in vain and was offered help and support from more seasoned racers, young and old – it’s great comradeship within the sanctum of the ‘D’.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester track racing

There’s something about pinning a number to your Centreville Jersey

It became apparent that group 2 was a little optimistic and managed to get myself relegated (voluntarily of course!) to group 1, where I hoped I would at least be competitive. With a selection of gear ratios and a skin suit I got set again for Group 1, and quickly found myself finishing safely in the bunch in each of the 6 races through the evening.

With the  Centreville colours being recognised again, and half a point here and a point there, and with my name being broadcast over the PA system and on the giant scoreboard, I had found my level and the points started to role in……..ish! Although competing well in the scratch, priemes, kilo and ‘unknown distance’ races (very odd)  I found my track legs most in the elimination race and the points race or ‘Belgian Crowd Pleaser’ as its also known amongst us trackies.

With a heady 9.5 points gathered over my first season on the MRTL I will now begin my track training sessions again for the 2017/18 campaign from October. However the highlight was a Manchester Wheeler suggesting that the Centreville kit was the best around. Job done.”

If you’d like to join Jon and try some track riding ready for the October to April Season, why not get in touch?

 June 27, 2017  Posted by at 8:36 pm Events, Track races No Responses »
Jun 222017
ABC Centreville Cycling Club manchester - Louis Szymanski wins Belmont Hill Climb

Louis going full gas at Belmont

Belmont Hill Climb 2017

Centreville’s Louis Szymanski blasted up the course to win the Belmont Hill Climb on 21st June 2017, in 9 minutes 53 seconds – more than half a minute in front of second placed David Powell of Horwich CC, with Team ASL Bolton’s David Stammers third in 10.31. East Lanc’s Karen Bailey was first woman in 14.07.

Louis has hit a fine vein of form this season, with a series of wins under his belt, and we are looking forward to seeing how far this very talented young rider can go….

If you’d like to race or ride for fun with Centreville new members are very welcome, just get in touch



 June 22, 2017  Posted by at 9:11 pm Events, Hill climbs No Responses »
Jun 112017

ABC Centreville’s in-form rider Louis Szymanski was only denied the win by a strong new course record from JLT-Condor professional James Gullen which beat Chris Boardman’s previous mark. Louis writes:

Despite the promise of heavy rain from the forecast, reasonably favourable conditions greeted the competitors for the Saddleworth Mountain Time Trial on the night of Wednesday 17th May. The event name is fairly accurate and the course has to be one of the hilliest around, going twice over the moor, once from Greenfield over the Isle of Skye road and returning from Meltham up Wessenden Head. Having done the event the previous year I knew what to expect and tried to make a measured effort on the first half of the course, keeping a bit in the tank for an arguably much tougher return leg.


The plan seemed to work ok and I finished in 48.05, over a minute quicker than last year. This was good enough for second on the night with James Gullen winning the event with a 45 minute ride, taking time off Chris Boardman’s course record from the event’s previous incarnation as the Oldham Century TT. A free pint and excellent spread back at the HQ capped off an excellent, well organised event; many thanks to Saddleworth Clarion for putting it on!


Why not come and race or ride for fun with ABC Centreville? All abilities welcome: contact us


 June 11, 2017  Posted by at 3:34 pm Events, Hill climbs, Other, TT No Responses »
Jun 052017

Ben whitehead ABC Centreville criterium

ABC Centreville’s classy vet road-racer Ben Whitehead writes on his strong showing so far in the 2017 spring season:

“This year I decided to have a later start to the season as far as road races go, with one of my main targets being the League of Veteran racing Cyclists (LVRC) National Road Race in mid June.

My season started with the 56th edition of the Eddie Soens Memoprial Road Race on a closed circuit at Aintree in March. This is always a popular event and with 160 riders it can make for a nerve racking 2hrs or so! Myself, Dan Shackleton and Paul Basson road it this year, along with overall winner Ed Clancy and junior world cyclo-cross and Paris-Roubaix winner Tom Piddock! We all got round in one piece so that was a result in itself, with the added benefit of some quality fast miles in the legs.

Ben Whitehead ABC Centreville Eddie Soens race

Ben (2nd L) at the Edddie Soens Memorial Road Race

I try and do weekly circuit races to use as racing and training in one, and they are great for leg speed; but unfortunately it’s generally a case of having my legs ripped off by lads in their 20’s which ain’t easy when in your 40’s!

My first road race proper of 2017 was West Pennine Road Race at beginning of May on the short but undulating Bashal Eves circuit which covered over 50miles at a brisk average speed. Myself and Steve Whittington competed in the event and both had a good solid race, finishing in what was left of the main bunch in 21st and 26th places respectively.

Ben Whitehead ABC Centreville West pennine Road Race

Ben dishing out the pain on the Bashall Eaves circuit at the West Pennine Road Race

The weekend after I competed in the Cockermouth Road Race  (Elite/1/2 catagory). This was a 75 mile road race in the Lake District on a tough hilly course with over 5000ft of climbing, despite which the average speed was a quick 24mph. The race was won by Elite rider James Gullen who was using the race as preperation for the RAS stage race in Ireland which he also went on the win! I finished in the second group on the road in 27th place. Considering almost all the top 20 finishers were either elite riders or 1st cat I was fairly happy with my race and it was still early days in my programme.

Next it was the East Lancs Road Race on the big Bashall Eves circuit. It’s always a tough race there, as the circuit breaks the field down, covering 55 lumpy miles on heavy roads at an average of 24mph. Myself , Louis and Steve Whittington competed in the event and all three of us were proud to be racing together in the Centreville colours! Louis tried to go it alone with solo attacks in the final stages of the race but it was a very strong field, and with a high pace it was very hard to stay away. The race came down to a sprint finish with what was left of the main bunch. I finished in 22nd, Louis in 27th and Steve was 44th. It was a tough race but it put great miles in the legs!

Ben Whitehead

Ben Whithead’s results so far in 2017 demonstrate his progress using structured training and racing towards later goals:
4/3 Eddie Soens 61st
18/3 Lancs Uni Crit E/1/2
11/4 Tameside Crit 10th
25/4 Tameside Crit 9th
2/5 Tameside Crit 14th
7/5 West Pennine RR 21st
9/5 Tameside Crit 16th
11/5 CDPP Nelson Crit 9th
14/5 Cockermouth RR 27th
16/5 Tameside Crit 16th
21/5 ELRC RR 21st
23/5 Tameside Crit 9th
30/5 Tameside Crit 8th

So, we’re into June and with another good 3-4 months of road races left and then on to the hill climb season, there is lots to look forward to!”

Ben Whitehead

Why not come and ride or race with Centreville? Contact us

 June 5, 2017  Posted by at 8:41 pm Events, Road racing No Responses »
May 172017

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester road racing TLI Oulton Park

TLI  National Circuit Championships: 14th May Oulton Park

Paul Basson writes:

Race day, but with a difference. Its not often you get to race on an established motor racing circuit that you see on TV, so this race was one both myself and Steve Whittington were looking forward to.

The weather was good with a bit of wind blowing round the circuit ,which could be seen rippling the flags and pennants dotted round the track. Everything looked polished and pristine at the modern facilities and race stands, with a variety of promotional cycling brands strategically placed and cyclists zipping by warming up ready for their races.( Whilst warming up I even said hello to one of the cycling heroes from my youth: Steve ‘The Pocket Rocket ‘ Joughin – showing my age here)

Myself and Steve Whittington were off at 2:30pm in the category A race. Steve, looking cool in his shades at the sign on area, pulled out his race licence only to find it was his 2015 one, but with a few winks and smiles he charmed the ladies into allowing him to start! My name was not on the start sheet, but that was quickly sorted out, so we were both cleared to race! Phew, disaster averted (turns out they had entered me into the previous race!)

ABC Centreville Manchester Cycling Club National Circuit Championshiop road race

Steve skinned up and Paul with his race pout on. Note to kit designer: loose the contrasting stitching in the groin area

Steve elected to go full skin suit for the race ( no messing about ) and was well up for the win with a game plan we had discussed to go for, and we duly set about warming up on the rollers and then doing a few laps adjacent to the circuit.

Seeing two guys being put into ambulances with broken collarbones from a finish line crash didn’t phase us in the warm up, but Steve detecting a slightly loose headset on his bike required a quick zip back to his car to adjust before the race start.

ABC Centreville Manchester Cycling Club National Circuit Championships

Paul Basson moving up

The going was steady from the off and built up to a quick pace with a few attacks going early on and staying out for a lap or so before being reeled in. We both kept near the front of the bunch without putting our noses in the wind and moved easily around the bunch (old Centreville race nous never leaves you).

ABC Centreville Manchester cycling club National Circuit Championships

Steve Whittington lights the afterburners

The race was 1 hour plus 5 laps, and with 3 laps to go the pace really hotted up with riders chancing their arm. With a lap to go a strong attack went on the right which I should have gone with but hesitated. Steve was third from the front and went with another strong attack which  should have stuck and been the race winning move but not quite. Entering the fast downhill and in the last corner Steve was in second position but having burned his matches a bit with the previous attack didn’t have the legs to take the win and we both finished in the upper part of the bunch in the sprint finish.

A good afternoon’s racing and with some course knowledge stored away maybe – just maybe – a Centreville win next year!


Why not come and race or ride for fitness with us? Hope to see you: contact Centreville

 May 17, 2017  Posted by at 5:34 pm Events, Road racing 2 Responses »
May 152017
ABC Centreville Cycling Club Mancshester Dan Shackleton sub 20minute 10 TT

Dan in the zone – you know the one, it’s red and it hurts: 30mph for 20 minutes  (photo Kimroy Photography)

City Road Club (Hull) 10 mile TT (V718) – Saturday 13th May 2017

In search of a fast 10 mile time, Dan Shackleton made the trip over the Pennines on Saturday 13th May to take part in the City Road Club (Hull) 10 mile time trial (for riders with a time slower than 21:30 from the last three seasons).

Due to the V718 course being noted as one of the fastest in the country (essentially it is the A63 dual carriageway continuing on from the end of the M62 near Hull) it is notoriously difficult to get a ride. There was a full field of 150 riders plus 13 reserves, with riders travelling from far and wide in an attempt to get a fast time.

Panic struck the field during the week before as it was announced that there would be roadworks on the A63 and the event would have to be moved to a much slower course, mainly on local B roads. Fortunately, there was a last minute reprieve (something to do with a contractual dispute over tarmac).

Following earlier rainfall, the roads were slightly damp with a South-Westerly wind, not ideal conditions for this course which starts on the slip-road at South Cave. Nevertheless, some fairly rapid times were achieved, with 6 riders managing to achieve an average speed of over 30mph and beat the 20 minute mark.

The winner was Eoin Whelan of Seven Springs CC (Loughrea, Ireland) with a time of 18:39. Dan Shackleton’s 19:59 was good enough for 6th place on the day.


N.B. the photo is from a different event.

 May 15, 2017  Posted by at 8:41 pm Events, TT 1 Response »
May 082017
ABC Centreville Manchester Cycling Club Bashall Eaves circuit

Steve Whittington – Centreville down to (and including) his socks

West Pennine Road Race – 7th May 2017

Steve Whittington writes about another useful road race outing, despite Louis Szymanski being unable to start with a tendon problem:

“60 riders lined up for 14 laps of the small 3.9 mile Bashall Eves circuit in glorious sunshine, and from the moment the flag dropped, it was eyeballs out as the attacks started immediately!!  With very little wind, the first of 5 laps played out at almost 27mph average speed.

ABC Centreville Manchester Cycling Club road racing Bashall Eaves

The bunch in the Lancashire sunshine – is there any other kind?

No elite teams were there to control affairs, so race tactics were quite unpredictable, with some attacks being reeled in straight away, and the occasional attack of a couple of riders managing to stay away for a lap or two.  Both Ben Whitehead and myself had a few attempts at getting away, and on one occasion, both of us ended up in a three man break-away, but that only lasted a couple of lung busting kilometres before we were reeled in.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester road racing Bashall Eaves

Ben Whitehead (R) in non-Centreville socks shocker. Ben would have stayed away with the right socks: fact.

After 13 laps, and with no structured chase being formed, two riders were ahead by around 50 seconds.  Those hoping their strategy of sitting in for a sprint victory would pay off had seemingly been cheated and the peleton settled on sprinting for 3rd place.  On the final slog up to the finish I simply didn’t have the legs to contest a sprint and was content to try and just hold any wheel I could, eventually crossing the line completely exhausted with Ben a few places ahead of me in a stretched out bunch.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester Ben Whitehead at Bashall Eaves

Ben mixing it with some younger legs and gaps appearing in the bunch

Ed Hopper of Maxxis 4 Racing Team took a convincingly strong victory in a very fast race covering 54 miles in just over 2 hours.  Ben Whitehead finished in 22nd place and myself in 26th place.”

Why not come and race or ride with ABC Centreville? Get in touch

 May 8, 2017  Posted by at 9:17 pm Events, Road racing No Responses »
May 082017
tt photo

ABC Centreville’s very strong vet Dan Shackleton heads for a fast time and high finish (photo Martin Holden Images)

Dukinfield CC 50 on Chelford course (J4/16) – Saturday 6th May 2017

The Dukinfield Cyclists’ Club 50 mile time trial is traditionally the first 50 miler of the year on Cheshire roads. It is an event steeped in history, having been held every year since 1928. This year was the 90th running of the event.

ABC Centreville’s very own Rick Clough won the event in 2001 and 2003.

For the first time in over 30 years, the event was oversubscribed, which seems to be following the trend for many time trials in Cheshire so far this year.

Conditions for the evening start (first rider was off at 16:00) weren’t perfect with a headwind up towards Chelford Island as well as the infamous Twemlow Lane to negotiate three times.

The winner on the day was Charles Taylor of Team Bottrill with a time of 1:45:58 (28.311 mph average) – he also won the event in 2016, with a slightly quicker 1:44:51.

Riding his first ever 50 mile effort against the clock, Dan Shackleton was ABC Centreville’s only entrant, finishing 12th overall from 100 finishers with a time of 1:57:29 (25.536 mph average).


 May 8, 2017  Posted by at 7:13 am Events, TT 4 Responses »
May 072017
ABC Centreville Cycling club Manchester in Luddenden Dean

Nick and Jim on the only easy way up Luddenden Dean – top secret!

As Wordsworth wrote in his great long-form poem, The Prelude, “Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be on a bike was very heaven.” We wandered, but far from being lonely as the madding clouds, it was another ABC Centreville social ride, and as readers of these well thumbed web-pages will know, that means wheel-fueled bliss on routes that delight the eye, ravish the senses and knacker your legs up with their high climb to mile rate; all in the company of a mongrel group with the consistency and class of an Aldi remainder bin. But then who doesn’t love an Aldi remainder bin?

ABC Centreville social ride in Luddenden Ed

Newby Ed contemplates getting his racing Ed on with Centreville – see what I did there?

Luddenden Dean is a gem of place to ride, run or walk in, as beautiful as anything in the Yorkshire Dales. It does, however, have some notoriously steep lanes, like cobbled Old lane, which Cycling Weekly describes as “… a truly terrifying mixture of slippy, skewiff cobbles and a stupidly steep incline; it demands a flat-out effort just to avoid falling over. Like the most famous cobbles of Europe, it’s exciting to ride in the same way that sprinting on a set of rollers is exciting to ride.” Halifax Lane and Luddenden Bank is also up there on the ‘pig of a climb’ list,  along with Stocks lane, both having Hill Climb events on them that have been used for the national championship race. Yeah, we didn’t do any of them.

ABC Centreville social B ride in Luddenden 2017 2

Ah, civilised, a nice gentle unmade lane threading the sites of old water-powered mills in the valley bottom

The well graded and eminently rideable unmade lane that sneaks up by the river at least gets you to the bottom of another of Luddenden’s piggy climbs un-harmed, though the climb up Banks Lane from the bridge below Jerusalem Farm up the east side of the valley sets the record straight with it’s gradient and cobbled section. It gets you, albeit slightly the worse for wear, to the magic of Saltonstall Lane, which contours the valley past the home of Richard Saltonstall Lord Mayor of London in 1597. I read that in a guide to the Calderdale way, so it must be true.

ABC Centreville cycling club South Pernnines Luddenden Dea

The glorious Saltonstall/Heys/Low Lane

Once round the head of Luddenden Dean a sneakily steep few metres kicks you round on to another unmade lane which takes you back on the other side of the valley, again rideable on a road bike. Can’t beat a bit of rough stuff in my opinion, although there was muttering from the delicate roadie sensibilities in the ranks. Inspired by recent political events (who’d have though it, turkeys actually do vote for Christmas) I simply screamed “Back you dogs, down I tell ye!” which did the trick. Let’s make Centreville great again.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club social ride above Cragg Vale Jack

Newby no.2 Jack gets off the main roads on a lane above Cragg Vale. Yes sir, this is how we roll

Through Midgely and down the steep descent to Mytholmroyd, there was only a half Cragg between us and Craggies café, though Ed and Jack (soon to be gracing an A ride) used their young legs to good effect, put the hammer down and did a full Cragg and were pleased to do a PB. Mel, Jim, Norman, and Andy were therefore first in the caff, with Nick helping me with a gun-shot-loud rear blowout which was unrepairable: smart-arse off-roader gets punished straight away. I walked the bike up through the fields to Blazing Saddles and bought a new tyre. There are worse places to have a blowout, but then in heaven a bike shop is always there when you need it.


ABC Centreville social B ride Littleborough 2017

Andy, Jim, Ed, Norman, Nick, Jack and Mel back at the ‘Boro looking blissed out.

 May 7, 2017  Posted by at 3:46 pm 'B' Group, Club rides 3 Responses »
May 022017
ABC Centreville Cycling Club at East lancs 10

Vet Dan Shackleton riding to 10th overall (photo Ellen Isherwood)

East Lancs RC 10 on Chelford course (J2/1) – Saturday 29th April 2017

Three ABC Centreville veterans rode the East Lancs RC open 10 mile time trial on Saturday 29th April. Steve Whittington, Dan Shackleton and Jon Dance (yet another veteran making a comeback after a number of years away from racing).

It was another fine day, but the stiff South Easterly wind made a slog of the return leg from Booths Hall Island all the way to the finish via Chelford Island.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester Steve Whittington at East Lancs 10

Vet Steve Whittington on his way to 14th overall (photo Ellen Isherwood)

The overall winner was Mark Nulty (Glossop Kinder Velo CC) with a time of 21:17. Dan Shackleton’s 22:13 was good enough for 10th fastest overall, Steve Whittington recorded a 22:30 for 14th place, whilst Jon Dance returned with a 22:46 to finish the day in 21st place from 103 finishers.


Would you like to come and race with Centreville? Get in touch

 May 2, 2017  Posted by at 10:07 pm Events, TT 2 Responses »
Apr 302017
Toni ABC Centreville Cycling Club_Florence Grand Fondo

There are easier ways of nipping out for some Chanel No 5 for the missus Tony  – Littleborough Co-op not good enough for you?

Tony Atkinson writes:

‘My Life in Tuscany after my adventures with Mr Trump last month in Lucca when they closed all the roads because he was visting? Well this month I have joined a cycling club in Lucca, called La Bagarre. These guys are pretty good on very expensive bikes but I have managed to do everything they have thrown at me and I have done the climbs in reasonable time. Anyway they asked me if I’d like to do a Grand Fondo in Florence. I have read about these and basically it is a race. So I said that I would but before I needed to have my bike checked out. So one of the guys took me to the shop and the lad in the shop looked at my back cassette in horror because the lowest gear was only 25 and said that even Cipollini had a 30. So I said change it then and he replied we only have 11 speed back cassette. But eventually found a second hand 10 speed. The tape on my carbon handle bars needed changing and when he took the old tape off I could not believe the amount of corrosion, it was like powder.

TONY Cippolini ABC Centreville

Super Mario has still got it, even after retirement. Quite what he’s got… that’s a skin suit

Anyway on the Sunday we set off in the team car like they have in The Tour de France and arrived in Florence. They would not let me officially enter the Fondo because I did not have a form from a doctor but because I said I had come a long way from Manchester I could enter the start with the team but would not be given a time. (See picture. I’m the one in red on The Black Surosa)

At the start I felt nervous alongside 3500 Italians all on very expensive Pinarello bikes and pushing for a good place. The race got underway and thankfully for me it was a controlled start for about 2K around the narrow streets of Florence. You think Italians are mad in cars, on bikes I found it even more intimidating. Eventually things settled down and I gained some places on the first climb only to loose ten times as many on the descent. Every climb was the same. But I was feeling good and a keeping with a bunch on the flat.
Then after about 70K my phone rings, “Tony, where are you”. “I don’t know, somewhere in Italy I think and I’ve just done a big climb”. The phone goes dead. Then it occurred to me that they must have finished and I have still got to do 60k. That would take even Cipollini at least 2 hours. The phone rings again but I can’t hear what they are saying and I thought well there’s nothing I can do but carry on. The phone keeps ringing. I ignore it.

Toni ABC Centreville Cycling Club_Florence Grand Fondo 2

Tony giving a few years to these Italian young guns – wait a minute, that’s Greipel on the right…

Pedalling like I’ve never done in my life trying to hold on to the back of a group, thinking it’s ok for those in front I’m at least 40 years older than them. Keep going and try to ignore the pain. It sounds stupid but I was looking forward to the next climb to almost have a rest because the group will split. Then the descent. Why can’t I go like they do? Phone rings again. “Leave me alone I think, almost crying”
Then a sign 30k, 15k, and at last1k. That 1k was equivalent to 100k. At long last I have finished and the phone goes again, to which I can now respond, “Tony where are you?”. “I am coming to the car park”

I arrive at the car park to find most of the team have gone home and there is just one car left with my bag at the side. I said that I was sorry for keeping them waiting and Dario looks at me having glanced at my computer on my handle bars.
“Tony, you have done 132k. You did the long course. We did the 70k course, did no one tell you? ”’

Brilliant Tony, but wear Centreville strip next time, it makes you go faster, that’s a real alternative fact…..

Event website for the Grand Fondo Firenze is here

 April 30, 2017  Posted by at 5:42 pm Abroad, Events, Sportives 1 Response »