Geoff R

Jan 012019
ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Manchester - South Pennines- Lakes tour

Andy crests Kirkstone pass as the Christmas dusk falls

A last minute impulse and a not altogether bad weather forecast on the Boxing Day club run led to the discussion of an impromptu mini-tour. Despite no notice at all Joaquin, Andy, Code N and myself could make it, Kendal Hostel had a room an we were on. A late night session loading routes into the GPS that were as beautiful, quiet and interesting as possible with options for the weather ensued; and an early morning start saw us braving the gloomy drizzle in Stavely. With the promise of it clearing later I opted to reverse the route and do Kirkstone last in the hope the cloud would lift, so we were off through the intricate and interesting lanes east towards Sedbergh, Code N whimpering in pain and crying “My eyes! My eyes!” Something to do with my new flashing day lights I believe.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Manchester - South Pennines- Lakes tour

A drunken sign. Very festive

ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Manchester - South Pennines- Lakes tour

Turning north at the base of the Howgills, still hidden by low cloud

ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Manchester - South Pennines- Lakes tour

Who’d have thought the valley carrying the M6 would have such a delightful little lane flanking the fells? Fantastic.

The clagg was still down at Tebay, where we stopped for a bite outside the pub and apologized to the landlord – he was an hour too soon for our lunch. Would the forecast sun turn up? A rolling B road took us to Orton, with some very beautiful vernacular architecture around a big enclosed green and fish pond, including Petty Hall, built in 1604 and looking fresher than we felt.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Manchester - South Pennines- Lakes tour

Petty Hall, Orton, built in 1604 with a modern extension built in the 1700’s….

Onwards and upwards to the moor on which Shap sits, where shards of light began to pierce the clouds – the plan was going to work. I hadn’t seen this road since we used to meet my grandfather here for family picnics in the 1970’s.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Manchester - South Pennines- Lakes tour

Andy and Code N on Hardendale Fell above Shap

Shap is a long thin and tiny market town, the name possibly meaning ‘pile of stones’. For us it was more a pile of chips as it boasts a fine chip shop at pains to tell us that everything it serves is ethical, sustainable and very good for you. It’s a good chip shop, but as we had made the mistake of stopping for breakfast at a motorway service station where chips and burgers were the only option, it was a pile of chips too many for me.

With half the distance done the sun was properly out and the eastern edge of the Lake District fells were emerging from the murk in all their splendor.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Manchester - South pennines_Lake District Tour

Looking west towards Haweswater

Quiet lanes took us to Pooley Bridge and onto the main road down the side of Ulswater. This road can be rammed in the summer, but this day the traffic was not heavy, the road was fast, and the lake beautiful. Code N and me took turns on the front, with Andy cunningly keeping his powder dry for the hill.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Manchester - South pennines_Lake District Tour

The mountains at the head of Ulswater, with Kirkstone Pass still some way off

Past Glenridding, base for walking Helvellyn, the going home rush hour started as the road begins snaking through the hills, with Kirkstone Pass hidden. From this side it is testing but not ridiculously steep, and pacing your way up will get you there – with this amount of traffic you don’t want to be wobbling across the road having overcooked the lower slopes. Andy decided to hit the front for the first time that day and surged off, climbing well. We were racing the dark, and descended the rutted top section in the dusk, before a lovely finish on small lanes to Stavely, to complete the 60 mile circuit – quite enough with the short days of the last gasp of the year.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Manchester - South pennines_Lake District Tour

A glimpse of Windermere from Kirkstone Pass. We dropped through Troutbeck

Joaquin met us at the agedly wonky Kendal Hostel in the evening and after a civilised self-cooked meal we recovered enough to drag ourselves next door to the Brewery Arts Centre bar, where Joaquin was able to experience English ‘humour’ and what passes for conversation in Centreville. He took it well. At least he took it better than Andy did when he found out the hostel had somehow forgotten our 7.30am breakfast order! Not a good start to a day aiming to include Hardknott and Wrynose passes….

Ride 2

9.30 saw us setting off from Clappersgate near Ambleside, again opting to leave the mountains until later to allow the blustery weather to improve. Joaquin bounced up the hills, being younger, fitter and fresher, the complex of lanes taking us over small wooded lumps and passing near Tarn Hows before dropping into Coniston, where Andy was consoled for missing his full English with a take-away coffee. The main road south was unavoidable for a few miles, until a steep lane took us over the hill towards Broughton Mills.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Manchester - South pennines_Lake District Tour

One of those anonymous lanes on the way to a famous hill that surprises you with how hard it is…

ABC Centreville_December Lake District Tour

The Old Man of Coniston emerging from the mist

It was at the top of this hill with wide open views to the sea and beyond, beginning the descent to Broughton Mills, that Andy’s back tyre blew out and had him on the verge trying to avoid a heavy landing. Closer inspection showed a hole in the tyre, for which Code N fashioned a reinforcing boot patch out of the old innertube using stone age technology. A stone! He used it to cut it out, very resourceful.

Code N sorting Andy’s tyre for him, using a sharp rock, like you do.

It didn’t seem sensible to deal with steep mountain passes with rocky drop-offs on a bodged-up temporary fix, so we reluctantly turned back and headed on the fast road down to the bottom of Coniston, checking the tyre every now and then. It took a while for a suitable lunch stop to emerge, but The Red Lion at Lowick Bridge made up for the missed breakfast with it’s warm open wood fire and good food. Code N’s Cumberland sausage curled on a mountain of veg and yorkshire pudding was at least as big as some of the local fells, while me and Joaquin plumped for the 3 Bean Chili. Yum. Andy had half the menu.

A bloke walked through the door and did a double take. “Centreville? I used to be in Centreville!” The next minute he and Code N were hugging like the long-lost friends they were – it was Phil Doherty, they’d ridden a lot together back in the day. Phil had one eye and his method of descending was apparently to ask his companions to put on a rear light for him to follow. On one tour he had been battering everyone on the hills, so at the lunch stop they sneaked a large rock into his saddlebag. He didn’t noticed and continued to batter them on every hill! He looked in his boot for a spare folding tyre, and if he had had it, it would have been the icing on the cake.

Replete, we headed for Spark Bridge, and climbed with café legs over to Oxen Park and on to the lane which follows Dale Park Beck, just to the east of Grizedale. The wind had dropped and the sun was out. What a road! A long quiet wooded valley with lovely houses every now that seemed as natural as the trees themselves, it was the highlight of the trip for me, and we all agreed that it was no less enjoyable a ride than the passes would have been.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club - Lake District Tour

Over the head of the Dale Park valley in Grizedale Forest, heading for Esthwaite Water

ABC centreville Cycling Club_ Lake District Tour

What is life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare? Or eat an energy bar?

A swoop down to Esthwaite near Beatrix Potter’s cottage took us on to Hawkshead and the last testing climb of the day up Hawkshead Hill. Don’t tell anyone but I missed a turning at the bottom that would have saved us a bit of climbing. Never mind, they will never know. Reversing the morning’s lanes to Clappersgate, we arrived in the dusk. We’d made full use of the available light again, done two great routes with lots of new roads, and I felt like I’d been away for a week not just one night. And we’d left some unfinished business…are you on?


Why not ride or race with Centreville? Just get in touch

 January 1, 2019  Posted by at 11:18 pm Other, Trips away 2 Responses »
Nov 152018
ABC Centreville Cycling Club manchester - time trialling Dan Shackleton

Dan Schackleton

Reluctant to blow his own trumpet, I bent Dan’s arm over a number of weeks until it hurt almost as much as his feet in a 12 hour to tell us about his excellent time trial season in 2018. Many thanks to him for writing this to make me go away, it will hopefully inspire you to time trial and race as a team with ABC Centreville.

2018 Time Trial Season Review

Having exceeded my own expectations in 2017 – my first season time trialling in nearly 25 years – I had hoped to see improvements, admittedly marginal, in 2018. I didn’t really set myself any targets, only to try and improve – note to self – need to set some performance targets for 2019!

The season started towards the end of February, with the usual early season SPOCO time trials. However, the “Beast from the East” put paid to a number of events, mainly due to icy conditions on the roads. Roadworks also had an impact. Of the events that weren’t cancelled, my early season form was a bit hit and miss.Results for these early events were similar to those from 2017, with times and placings more or less in line with what I achieved last year. By the end of March, I was getting pretty frustrated, having followed a smart-trainer based training plan since January, I was hoping for better performances. A week’s holiday in Mallorca at Easter with the family (and my bike) saw me ride nearly 700 km’s and gave me renewed optimism.

Unfortunately, my first TT back after Mallorca was a bit of a disaster! A 10 on the Rainford by-pass – I did a 22:49 for 18th place – it was pretty frustrating as my course PB is nearly 1½ minutes quicker. The event HQ was the other side of the dual-carriageway and I was held up by cars (who were following riders who had finished riding slowly back towards the HQ). A fallen rider at the end of Intake Lane also caused traffic to back up and delay things further (to be honest, every time I’ve done a TT where there has been a fallen rider, my head kind-of falls off and I lose focus – even though I’ve never felt it necessary to stop as, in all occasions to date, the rider was being attended to – although the unwritten rules of cycling etiquette still nag away at me).

ABC Centreville Manchester - time trialling -Dan Schaclketon

The day after the Rainford disaster was a 15 mile TT on what was supposed to be the V728 (the 15 mile variant of the incredibly quick V718 10 mile TT course near Hull). Unfortunately, a TRO forced the event onto an alternative [slower] course, although I was quite pleased with my 33:21 for 13th place, which showed that my form was slowly improving.
A double-header weekend in May saw me improve my 25 mile TT PB from 52:54 to 52:19 (South Pennine RC – A25/11) on the Saturday and then to 52:04 the following day (Sportzmad event on the very quick R25/3H course in Wales, although, by all accounts, it was a slow day!).


A fair amount of my TT’ing is done on Cheshire “J” courses – one of my aims was to improve my overall placing in the season long M&DTTA points series (I was 7th overall last year). The courses aren’t particularly quick and the road surfaces leave a lot to be desired. However, I managed to improve my average 25 mile TT times down from long 57’s in 2017 to short 56’s this year, with my best being a 55:12. It’s difficult to do a super-quick 10 mile TT (or other distance for that matter) on Cheshire unless you’re super-human – there are too many variables, particularly weather conditions and traffic. In my opinion, Cheshire is getting too busy for TT’s to be held on Saturday afternoons – the courses are all single carriageway and are generally laps of a given circuit (usually including part of the A50). Chelford Island is notorious – it’s a small roundabout with 5 roads joining it, I’m lucky if I manage not to get held up at some point during a TT.


In June, I rode the VTTA National 50 mile TT championship on the L5012 course based on the A66 between Keswick and Cockermouth past Bassenthwaite Lake. It was 2 laps of a reasonably quick (and relatively lumpy) course – it is also one of the most picturesque TT courses (though there’s not much opportunity to appreciate the views). It was another event where a fellow TT’er came a cropper (it wasn’t until after the event that I found out he had been knocked-off by a car – it happened outside the HQ and again I wasn’t sure whether the event would be stopped or not as I was held up in both directions by police diverting traffic around the stricken rider and the ambulance that had been despatched for him). I finished with a 1:55:43.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club time trialling - Dan Shackleton

The Joy of the 100

My first 100 of the year was the M&DTTA event which was reduced on the day to approximately 91 miles due to emergency roadworks on part of the course. Apparently, some riders turned up to sign on and they promptly signed-off again once they found out the event was not the full distance…

Not content with almost 4 hours of pain the previous weekend, the following weekend was the RTTC National 100 mile championship – my first national event since I rode the GHS 10 back in 1986 as a schoolboy! The course was 4 laps of the Keswick and Cockermouth course that I’d ridden in the 50 a few weeks earlier. I finished with a time of 3:57:19 and 27th overall. A big thank you to clubmate Nigel Bishop who sorted B&B the night before at his dad’s place and also provided much needed assistance during the event handing me up bottles and telling me I wasn’t drinking enough (he even had time to ride over Whinlatter!).

The Saturday after saw me ride the BDCA 50 mile TT on the A50 dual-carriageway based course at Etwall. Roadworks higher up the A50 necessitated a course change that involved 3 laps and lots of roundabouts. My time of 1:48:27 was only a few seconds outside my PB and good enough for 6th place on the day.

Twelve Hours

After a complete week off the bike in early August (camping/beer drinking with family and friends) I had the WCTTCA 12 hour TT. The camping holiday wasn’t the ideal preparation! The WCTTCA is a well-organised, well-marshalled event starting and finishing in Wrexham. My mate Jo had volunteered to help me on the day to pass up bottles and food. It’s definitely not a fast course and temporary traffic lights on the 22 mile lap day circuit (which stopped me 3 times) certainly didn’t help. However, apart from 7 hours of severe foot pain, the event was enjoyable (as far as a 12 hour time trial can be considered enjoyable). My distance of 261.82 miles gave me 6th place on the day and was also good enough to become the NLTTA 12 hour champion (I later found out that I had also won the NLTTA long distance BAR championship).


The BBAR (British Best All Rounder) competition is a national event aimed at finding the time-trialists who can claim to be the best over a range of distances. To qualify, men must compete in at least one 50 mile event, one 100 mile event and one 12 hour. The best performances at each distance is taken and the average of the three speeds calculated to give an average overall speed. Back in the 1980’s, the coverage of the domestic time trial scene, and the BBAR in particular, seemed to take up as much space in the comic as the reporting on road racing (both domestic and continental). The BBAR was something I’d read about but never entertained any idea of doing until last year. Indeed, when I told Nigel of my plan, he said that his father in law, Barry Jones, had once told him: “you’re not a proper cyclist until you’ve done a 12 hour…”

In 2017, I managed to finish 39th overall in the national BAR competition with an average speed of 25.1mph. This year I was 30th overall with 24.9mph (although, to be fair, a number of events were cancelled due to roadworks which meant that some riders may not have been able to achieve all the qualifying distances or ride some of the faster courses).

ABC Centreville Cycling Club time trialling Dan Shackleton

On reflection

On reflection, I definitely had a better season than 2017, although it wasn’t until the second half of the season that I realised I had improved. Some tweaks to my TT position helped, as did an improvement in power output. In the M&DTTA season long points series, I finished 4th overall and 1st veteran in the 40 to 49 year old category. I was also 3rd overall in the M&DTTA BAR. My best open TT result was 3rd overall (which was in my last TT of the season, the Stretford Wheelers 25 on Cheshire towards the end of September).

Although I’ve not yet set any performance targets for 2019, things that I do intend doing are:

  • Only racing once at weekends – it takes a toll both from a recovery perspective but also from a lifestyle/time perspective, especially when you consider the additional travelling. There was one weekend when I did 3 races (2 x 10’s on the Saturday and a 30 on the Sunday).
  • Sort my feet out – I suffer with severe pain in the soles of my feet during longer distance events, especially when it is warmer (typically events over 3 hours in duration – during the 12 hour, my feet were in agony for around 7 hours).
  • Not get too hung-up on times and placings in events where traffic causes delays – it’s inevitable when time trialling on the open road.
  • Volunteer to marshall at a couple of events – the sport is run by volunteers and it can be a challenge for event organisers to recruit enough willing volunteers to help on the day of an event.
  • Try and communicate with my clubmates a bit more! I reckon ABC Centreville could win team prizes at some of the open time trials…

Key 2018 season results

Personal Bests:

25 mile TT – 52:19
12 hour TT – 261.82 miles

Best Open TT Result:

3rd – Stretford Wheelers 25 mile TT (J2/9 – 22.09.18)

Awards/Season Long Competitions:

National BBAR – 30th
NLTTA 12 Hour – 1st
NLTTA Long Distance BAR – 1st
M&DTTA BAR – 3rd
M&DTTA Points Competition – 4th (1st Vet 40-49)

Many thanks Dan, all reports welcome! Thanks to Raymond Bracewell for his top photos too.


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 November 15, 2018  Posted by at 5:16 pm Member profiles, TT No Responses »
Nov 062018
ABC Centreville Cycling Clubb Manchester -Lincolnshire wolds

Rob, Andy, Jo, Geoff, Dan and Nick, with Steve behind the camera

Day 1

On the first friday of November Steve Whittington and Dan Shackleton rode the 210km (130 miles) from Manchester over the Pennines to the excellent Viking Centre at Claxby on the north-eastern edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds near Market Raisen. We had the sole use of the hostel, which Nigel Bishop had kindly found for us – he and Mandy Bishop were planning to come until they got a better offer from Rouleur magazine for Mandy to speak at their event in London. Oooooh swanky pants! It’s hard to see how anyone could prefer an expenses-paid trip to stay in a London hotel, be wined and dined and get their due respect as world champion, when they could be kept awake by a bunch of sweaty, half-cut cyclists coughing and snoring all night. There is no understanding some people.

Rob Taylor arrived early having also cycled there, in his case 50-odd miles with a tearing tailwind from Rotherham, and the rest of us arrived by vehicle with only the legs for two rides. Getting myself sorted in the spotless and well-heated hostel later that evening I received a somewhat pitiful text from the rest who were holed up in a pub (or pubs) in Market Raisen and needed lifts home as Andy, the designated driver, had refreshment taken and there were no taxis for 20 miles. Shocker.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester South Pennines_trips away

Steve and Dan on the old railway track heading from Bardsey to Lincoln

Day 2

I’d plotted a 130km / 80 mile triangular route down through the best of the Lincolnshire Wolds to Horncastle into the head wind, across to Lincoln with a cross-wind, then back to Claxby, hopefully with a tail wind. It was straight up a stiff climb onto the Wolds, which confirmed the parlous state of my lungs, legs and other essentials after a 2 month enforced lay-off, something I had in common with Jo – we’d be riding on memory. The Wolds are very open and rolling, with many of the roads being straight ahead for a mile or so, but we were lucky with the weather and some of the views across the plain to our right as we headed south were extensive. It is a relatively empty part of the country, with few villages and fewer pubs and cafés, so it is just as well we were including Horncastle, a well appointed market town with a Roman past that received it’s charter in the 1200’s and whose football team plays on (really) The Wong.  After some fruitless faffing going the Wong way a local directed us to the School House café, a lovely big room with really good food and cakes. I emerged refreshed and somewhat re-energised, and we left the home of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, the first president of the Royal Society Joseph Banks, and 1908 Olympic gold and silver medalist runner Harold A. Wilson, with my lungs sounding a little less like the lead singer of heavy metal band Saxon, Peter ‘Biff’ Bifford, another Horncastle notable.

ABC Centereville Cycling Club Manchester South Pennines - Lincolnshire Water Rail Way

Andy rides beneath one of the sculptures along the Water Rail Way to Lincoln

Nice lanes took us to Bardsey and the shallow valley of the river Witham where we joined the traffic free tarmac of the Water Rail Way, a sculpture trail which was quiet and enabled us to ride at normal speed, with water on both sides, passing boats and sculptures beneath a complex sky. Dan and Steve were still on the front despite the previous day’s long ride.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester Rochdale South Pennines - Lincolnshire Water Rail Way

Rob and Jo

Nine miles took us right into Lincoln, which was just as well as it was heaving with traffic and pedestrians which made trying to find the famous Michaelgate climb pointless. It’s a shame Nigel couldn’t come, as he could have regaled us with his battle stories from climbing it multiple times in the 1989 Milk Race, the year he held the yellow jersey, and from the Lincoln GP when he made the podium. Happy days, if a tad painful on the legs.

Nigel Bishop in yellow on the Milk Race, on the big ring. Ouch  – he looks younger now!

At a slightly slower pace than Nigel we headed up a busy road to the cathedral refectory, another nice room, but didn’t stay long enough to do the cathedral justice. Lincoln cathedral was reputedly the tallest building in the world for a couple of hundred years, until the spire on one of it’s towers fell down. It still has a looming presence above the town and at least the planners have prevented any tall developments to compete with it.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club East lancashire Rochdale Manchester South Pennines - Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral refectory

Lincoln Cathedral aloof from the traffic, with the tower now lacking the spire that made it the tallest in the world for a while

We headed north, now with the wind behind us the pace went up, with Steve and Dan still on the front, but a perky Nick joining them and even contesting a few of the sprints to village signs that became the theme of the day. We got back to the welcoming hostel before dark, on small lanes, to complete an interesting ride in a new area. A few cuppas and showers later we headed for a curry in Market Raisen and mighty fine it was: 3 out of 3 good food stops – winner.

In the pub Dan and Steve were ribbing each other about who had won what sprint, with Steve most delighted by Nick beating Dan on one. We managed to wheedle some racing lore out of Steve. In case you don’t know, Steve Whittington was GB schoolboy road champion and heading for professional success when a bad racing crash ended his career. He road in the Junior Tour of Ireland for GB , and at 16 in Carrick on Suir he raced in the 1989 Christmas Hamper Classic road race for amateurs and Irish pros, including local legend Sean Kelley (who had just finished 3rd in the World Championships), along with Martin Earley and Lawrence Roche. Steve told us “I was away with a break near the end, Sean was in it too, and on the last lap I attacked and got away. 800m to go and I looked under my arm and they were a few hundred metres behind, I thought ‘**** I’ve got this!’ 400m to go and I looked under my arm again, then, WHACK, Sean goes past on the right, and I mean, flying, and I’ve got no chance of catching him. I ended up third in the bunch sprint, for fourth place.” Not too shabby for a 16 year-old.

That evening Steve was reluctantly introduced to Sean, one of his heroes, who said “Oh you are that 16-year-old that attacked. I thought you were going to get it there.” He then invited Steve out for a mountain bike ride the next morning, gave him a signed jersey, and couldn’t have been nicer.

Steve Whittington-ABC Centreville Cycling Club

Steve Whittington heading off for 100 miles home – still with a good engine!

Day 3

Steve headed off for a 100 mile route home, while the rest of us opted for a steady 50 miler to the coast and back. We found really nice lanes heading east, until encountering main roads towards Grimsby and Cleethorpes, which are like Salford on Sea. Not the best, but hey, it’s the seaside.

The lads doing a good impression of meerkats on watch. This way boys, the camera is this way!

We negotiated the industrial labyrinth of the dockland to find a view with some actual boats in it. The fish docks are presided over by the Grimsby Dock Tower, a hydraulic accumulator tower built to power the dock gates, cranes and machinery and modeled after an Italian renaissance building. We worked that out just from looking at it, I mean some people of limited experience might have to look that up on t’interenet….not us. A few dead ends and crumbling warehouses later we escaped for the busy road leading to the glories of Cleethorpes.

Dan and Andy by the pier


Why does anyone bother going abroad?

The pier is huge chip shop meets Strictly Come Dancing, all chandeliers and vinegar bottles. “Ooh yes, we get very busy, there is usually a half hour wait for a table.” We elected for a brew and scones in the classy tea room, where the soporific piano music sent us off into a dreamy silence, which with forensic accuracy Nick identified as a Jazz trance:

Don’t fear the Jazz! A spot of rain came to nowt, and we reversed the grim roads to Grimsby. The Wolds seemed all the better after the urban seaside, and very pleasant lanes led us back over them to lunch in Caistor, another nice market town, but somewhat forlorn and decayed compared to Horncastle. The steep straight climb of Nettleton Hill past the site of the ironstone mines took us to the top of the hill above Claxby, with more fine views west. A swooping descent got us back to the hostel for the last time.

It was interesting to ride somewhere completely new. Lincolnshire has it’s own atmosphere – empty, with scattered farms in big open spaces punctuated by cold war communications towers and airfields, intimate folded valleys and straight hedges. Where will our bikes take us next?


Golf ball tower above Claxby

You are very welcome to join Centreville for our trips away (no-one left behind) and much more: get in touch


 November 6, 2018  Posted by at 7:09 pm Club history, Club rides, Road racing, Trips away No Responses »
Nov 062018

From John Drake, ABC Centreville’s club chairman and experienced track racer and coach

ABC Centreville always looks to develop members’ participation and skills wherever possible. This article seeks to provide information on track cycling and the avenues to participation.

ABC Centreville’s Peter Deary pacing the women’s Keirin at the London Olympics

There are a number of ABC Centreville members who regularly ride the track at Manchester Velodrome, including racing, some with extensive knowledge and riding experience. We also have members who have track coaching experience and officiating qualifications, including Peter Deary who is an international and elite level official in event running, administration, and commissionairing. Pete is also a regular Derny pacer for televised events  including ‘devil take the hindmost’ events.


Track cycling is typically carried out on an indoor track with the track surface being constructed of pine and the distance of one lap being 250 metres. There are some outdoor tracks in the UK like those at Kirby and Halesowen, which are made of other materials.

Figure 1

In the photo above, the riders are just above the black line, which in coaching is cunningly referred to as the ‘black line’, this is the measured line for the track lap distance (Manchester is 250m), and as such it shows the shortest legal lap and thus it should be the quickest line around the track.In addition there are a few other elements of the track to mention which need to be understood as they form a key part of your training and the development of your track skills.

Looking again at figure 1, firstly there is the flat darker blue area inside the track known as the apron: this is the roll round area on which riders set off and end their track actions. It is concrete based with a non-slip paint coating but this must be treated with caution, for whilst it is non-slip for general footwear it is not so if you ride on it, especially through the bends at a pace approximating a fast walking – your wheel(s) will slip away.

Next to the dark blue roll around is the roughly 0.5m section of the wooden track  painted  light blue, which is named the Cote d’Azure this is a roll onto the track section for the full circumference, but it serves two other principle purposes: a) it provides a run off area if you come down the track too fast or are ‘squeezed’ down by other riders in a mass rider event and b) it is the area were the pursuit race track sponges (c 75mm x 75mm x 500mm and covered with yellow PVC in Manchester – pink in fig. 1) are placed for pursuit events so that ‘corners’ cannot be cut short to reduce the lap from 250 metres.

Above the black line by about 750mm is the red line, again in coaching usually referred to as that but it can also be referred to as the sprinters line for whenever there is a sprint event for example during a Keiren and it is the final sprint lap, the rules dictate that the leading rider cannot swing up the track above this line and others cannot overtake the lead rider whilst under the red line, they must go past above the red line, then when safely past they can come down below the red line.

The final line around the track is the blue line, around half-way up the track. This is the pacing / recovery line and will be referred to and utilised quite a number of times during your introduction and training on the track. It is also known as the stayers line, and is used in Madison events, where the non-active partner must stay above it.

The banking can take some getting used to…

Another key factor with the track is that it is banked, meaning that it always has a slope to it and this peaks through the two bends, which at Manchester are at 42.5 degrees.

About track bikes

The bikes are different from road bikes in that they are fixed gear: the chain-wheel and the rear wheel will always rotate together, for the chain and rear sprocket do not have a ratchet / freewheel mechanism; nor does the bike have any brakes. Braking is achieved by two principal methods, firstly by slowing down your pedalling and using your legs to slow the crank / pedals velocity, and secondly by moving up the track banking, so effectively riding uphill which will scrub off some of your pace. So the bike is very simple and consists of the frame & forks, two wheels and tyres, the handlebars, stem, seatpost, chainset , chain, sprocket and pedals.

During your training your gearing should be kept quite low so you are moving easily and have plenty of leg rotational speed, usually therefore 82 or 84 inch gearing is used at first. In the SQT (Specific Quality Sessions) for experienced riders an 88inch gear is used.

The points of contact between you and the track are your tyres or tubs (tubular tyres without innertubes) and herein lies a risk area. If you are using your own bikes, not the track hire bikes, then your tyre selection is to be carefully considered, for some tyres are not suitable, for example some Michelin tyres containing more silicone, and dual-coloured tyres. I used Veloflex Master tyres for 20 years with no problems but after reading good reports I recently purchased Vittoria Pista’s to test – these are a superb tyre and remain on my wheels, so my ‘back-up’ brand new Veloflex Masters are ‘ageing’ on a shelf!

A typical track bike ridden by Centreville member John Taylor

An essential action after fitting new tyres or tubs is that when the tyre or tub is manufactured the mould used has a release oil sprayed into it before the tyre compound is introduced. When the tyre or tub is released from the mould they still have a layer of release oil on the surface. It is then packaged and sold to you – therefore if you go straight onto the track the tyre or tub will have a vastly reduced grip and will slide or loose grip on the bankings.

You need to remove the release oil and to do this, get a lint-free cotton rag and wet it with distilled (white or clear) vinegar then rub all the surface and circumference of the tyre. You will see a discolouring of the rag, so repeat – now the tyre should be oil free. As a precaution, take a rag and small bottle of vinegar with you to your first ride on the tyres in case you get any traction issues so you can wipe the wheel again.


Two items that should always be used on the track in addition to typical cycling kit for your body’s preservation and damage reduction during any accident or crash. You should always wear the following:

a) Cycling mitts. If you come off your bike whilst on the track, or whenever cycling, your natural instinct is to put your hands down in front / below you to minimise your body impact. On the track your hands will slide along the wooden boards at some speed and you will get more skin burns or loss of skin if you do not wear mitts.

b) Always wear an under-layer with shoulders under your cycling top. If you come off whilst riding you will at some point have shoulder to track impact. Cycling clothing is manufactured from man-made materials like nylon and lycra etc. Without an under-layer if you impact with the track the fabric will slide directly across your skin with a high level of friction, and the heat generated will cause skin burns and potentially the fusing of the manmade materials into your skin. The under-layer provides a ‘slip surface’ for the cycling top, so the majority if not all of the friction and resultant heat is removed. Any heat generated is between material layers, not between material and skin.

That’s the general overview concluded so now onto getting started.


Getting started through to Accreditation

Accreditation refers to a level of riding proficiency and skill you must achieve to be allowed to ride in the public training sessions and to race. Thus it is your track cycling ‘driving licence’. To get Accreditation you have to follow a designated learning and skills process set out by the velodrome which will be described below.

If Centreville members wish to get into the track riding scene I would suggest initially that on the club forum in  the ‘Track riding and racing’ section you ask for assistance and we will help you. Then comes the formal processes at Manchester velodrome.

Preparing for track Accreditation

In practically all cases ABC Centreville riders starting track riding will do so at the Manchester velodrome (The National Cycling Centre) so this article will cover the procedure for this track and for adult riders – see the end of this section for junior / youth riders.

In the first instance you will have to learn how to start, progress and stop on a track bike, how to ride around the track to maintain a smooth velocity and how to ride on the banking, especially the ‘bends’ which are at a 42.5 degree slope.

Having coached learners and juniors for many years (including having to calm down stressed out and worried parents!) one of the most difficult areas to cope with is the psychological one. Firstly the ‘But I have no brakes what do I do if X occurs in front of me?’ and ‘I can never ride that step banking all the way up there!’ This one is the most difficult and I have seen and had to ‘rescue’ parents when they have looked over from the top of the banking and seen how high and impossibly steep it seems and they fainted and collapsed.

To address these two issues, firstly over time to compensate for not having brakes you acquire an anticipationary skill, but you must also develop an ingrained ‘auto pilot,’ in that if you have to avoid somebody in front of you or if there is a fall or crash you manoeuvre upwards on the track without thinking. This is because the laws of gravity and the structure of the track with its banking mean that in 99% of incidents the rider and bike in front which is causing the incident will fall down the track towards the Cote d’Azure and thus by going up you would be steering above them. It isn’t guaranteed that you will avoid the incident, but you will be swinging the safety and avoidance odds in your favour.

ABC Centreville’s Mandy Bishop who set a world record for 5000m on the track as Mandy Jones for West Pennine in 1982

Secondly, regarding the second fear, the banking is at 42.5 degrees and around 7m high. With this combination new riders when they stand at or first approach the bend think ‘I will never be able to ride all the way up there—I will fall down…’ this is a fairly typical psychological reaction. However it is just that – a psychological reaction. The banking of the track is uniform from top to bottom at a given point, so from the ‘black line’ at the bottom, to the top of the track at the hoardings the slope is the same, and 42.5 degrees at the steepest. One of the exercises I used to get learners and junior / youth riders to do was to ride a lap of the track on the ‘black line’ all the way, then repeat this on the ‘red line,’ which would have one or two being slightly nervous. Then I would get them off the track to explain that next we will ride at the top or on the ‘blue line’ – nervousness at having to ride higher up the track would prevail, for it was ‘steeper and we will fall down’. I then presented the facts – when riding the ‘black line’ 100 mm up the track you are already riding the 42.5 degree banking through the bends and if you look at the track the track cross section is constant, so the same angle. Hence if you can ride 100mm up on the ‘black line’ it is the same condition at the ‘blue line’ and higher. Once this is accepted psychologically, riding the track higher and through the bends becomes a lot easier.

You do not need to go very quickly to maintain traction/grip through the bends: maintaining a speed of around 15 to 18 mph for learners is adequate but the fluency of your pedalling is very important. You need to get a fluency, that is a smooth rotational crank/leg action, for if you have an on/off or inconsistent pedalling pressure you may cause the rear wheel to slow or momentarily stop and consequently the wheel may lock or skip, with an increased risk of the rear wheel sliding down the banking and making you fall off.

The accreditation process

This is a formal process for obtaining your track cycling ‘driving licence’, the following is a brief summary of the process:

  1. Taster sessions – these are learner lessons to help you get comfortable riding the track bike and on the track, especially its slopes. You will need to do several of these sessions, after which you will be allowed to move onto ‘Accreditation Stage 1’
  2. Accreditation Stage 1 – develops your riding and certain track skills & safety.
  3. Accreditation Stages 2,3 & 4 – develop you further and at the conclusion of Stage 4 if you are competent you will gain your ‘Accreditation’ or track cycling driving licence

At this stage of development I would advise that you then ride a number of open ‘B’ class rider sessions (‘B’ class being the designation for lesser experienced riders) to gain experience in a less presuured setting then SQT (structured quality sessions). B sessions are formal, structured and coached, for example they might instruct you to “Ride doing through-and-off for 20 laps then the last 5 laps no through-and-off but it will be as if you are in an open race scenario.” Hence you will gain bunch conditions with the jostling for position, being over-taken, you taking over others etc. This will develop you further towards gaining sufficient skills, safety awareness and confidence to move onto SQT (Structure Quality Training ) sessions which are more intense, fast and physically demanding,  potentially leading on into racing.

For further detail on the Manchester process go to

For youth or junior riders

The above process can be followed for age 12 years and above, but the limiting factor may be strength and having sufficient confidence to ride with a group of adult riders.

Junior riders at the Manchester velodrome

Manchester Velodrome does have a resident independent club who run sessions on Monday evening for new or very junior riders, on Saturday mornings for 11 to 16 year-olds and Wednesdays for competent riders of 15 upwards who have passed through the club other sessions and reached a certain level of track skill, strength and safety competence. These clubs (which are under one umbrella organisation) are Eastlands Velo & Sportcity Velo (I was a coach at both of these clubs for around 10 years and coached and developed Jason Kenny, Matt Crampton, Steven Burke, Adam & Simon Yates, Christian Lyte, Chris Lawless, Chris Latham, and Matt Rotherham amongst others) The club has got great skills and expertise in coaching & developing youth and junior riders for it has been operating since the track opened over 20 years ago.

Note:- However after the introduction sessions juniors have to  have your 1st claim club as Eastlands or Sportcity Velo and not ABC Centreville to continue attending the coaching sessions (doesn’t apply to seniors).

John Drake

Any suggestions for improving this article? Get in touch

Why not join Centreville for track riding, road riding or the full range of racing and recreational cycling? Get in touch

 November 6, 2018  Posted by at 2:30 pm Club history, Track races No Responses »
Oct 042018
ABC Centreville Cycling Club Hill Climb 2018

Ben Stead digging deep for the line, 1 second off 3rd place (photo Geoff Read)

Four ABC Centreville Riders rode well at the West Pennine Hill Climb on Blackstonedge on Sunday 3th September 2018, which was blessed with a slight tail wind. Family bragging rights went to Janine McGregor who finished an impressive third in the women’s race, whereas Ben was ‘only’ 4th!  Janine did 11.27, behind winner Sarah Lewthwaite, Team Sportslab who clocked 10.35. What made Janine’s ride particularly noteworthy was that she has mainly run up to now, and had only ridden a bike a handful of times! We look forward to watching her progress over the next year with Centreville.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Hill Climb 2018

Janine McGregor enjoying herself far too much on Blackstonedge (photo Nick Holmes)

In the men’s race Tristan Watson was an early starter and this was also his first ever race on a bike, so he made a good start with a respectable 9.42 for 12th place. Andy McLaughlan pushed hard for 8.45 and 5th place, and Ben Stead was up on the bars sprinting for the last 400m for 8.24 and 4th, with just one tantalsing second separating him from 3rd place. The men’s race was  won by Martyn Stewart of east Lancs Road Club in 7.51

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Hill Climb 2018

Tristan Watson just “Went for it the whole way” in his first competition on the bike (photo Nick Holmes)

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Hill Climb 2018

Andy McLaughlin getting into the hurty part (photo Geoff Read)

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Hill Climb 2018

Ben Stead pushing hard half way up and that’s definitely a grimace not a smile (photo Nick Holmes)

Team honours were taken by Bury Clarion, but I’m pretty sure Centreville ate more sandwiches in the Red Lion afterwards, with Andy Bolton, Rob Taylor and myself peerless in the gluttony competition – it’s a matter of club pride after all.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Littleborough

Ben, Janine, Andy and Tristan: great on a bike, rubbish at eating maximum butties

Janine picking up her prize for 3rd: let’s see if she’s still smiling half way up the Nick o’ Pendle in a couple of weeks!


Why not come and race or just ride with Centreville? Get in touch (there will be sandwiches)

 October 4, 2018  Posted by at 9:31 pm Hill climbs No Responses »
Oct 012018
Charlotte Boothman_TT_ABC Centreville Cycling Club_photo Raymond Bracewell

Charlotte Boothman, ABC Centreville in great form (photo Raymond Bracewell)

If the tarmac wasn’t already in danger of melting in the searing heat of summer 2018, Charlotte Boothman would have blistered it anyway with the impressive TT rides she has laid down this year in her first full season for ABC Centreville. Her year began with a spring that included five wins.

Since then she did the Tour of Cambridge Chrono Time Trial to qualify for the UCI worlds in Italy with second in her age category and 7th overall female.

She was joint winner of the NLTTA (North Lancs Time Trial Association) 25 mile championships with Deborah moss

She was first lady in the NLTTA 50 mile championships

Charlotte rode her first ever 100 mile TT at the NLTTA 100 mile championships which was incorporated in the  national 100 Championship. She was first NLTTA lady and 8th female overall with  4.18.56, a new NLTTA women’s record, and is Ladies Association Champoion (25/50/100 miles) to keep Dan Shackleton company with his NLTTA long distance championship win for 50, 100 and 12hrs.

Charlotte was 17th out of 43 women in the national 10 mile TT in Scotland

She rode her first first 21 min 10 mile TT, with 21.31 in the Lancaster CC 10 mile time trial, helping ABC Centreville to 2nd place in the team competition team with Steve Whittington  and Paul Basso

Charlotte in full flight (photo Raymond Bracewell)

She also won the West Pennine 25 mile TT Eva benson trophy again.

Congratulations Charlotte on a great year building on Centreville’s strong tradition of women riders. With new member Janine McGreggor coming 3rd in her first race on a bike this week after only riding a handful of times, things look promising in green for 2019….

Many thanks to Raymond Bracewell for his excellent photographs

Why not join Charlotte to race or just enjoy riding at whatever level with ABC Centreville? Just get in touch

 October 1, 2018  Posted by at 10:45 pm TT, Women cyclists 1 Response »
Sep 012018

At the end of the first day on a great lane near Llantisilio mountain

There’s nothing like a night under canvas (ok nylon), close to nature (but a short walk from the toilets), a gentle breeze playfully tweaking the tent (alright occassionally sounding like an express train) to prepare the body (through aching limbs and lack of sleep) for a long, lumpy, scenic ride….oh wait that last part is bang on. A keen segment of Centreville headed for the cycling heaven that is Llangollen, lush steep sided valleys and heathery hill tops, limestone escarpments and perched castles, the Welsh borders at their best.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club_south Pennines_Calderdale_Lllangollen camping trip

Nigel, Andy, Pauline, Geoff, Mandy, Neil, Adam and Nick about to set off

Nigel had sorted a 70 hilly mile route on his phone and we were good to go, though when you head south from Llangollen the first long and testingly steep climb comes after only 5 minutes of riding, so pips were squeaking and muscles protesting as every turn brought another uphill stretch. The view at the top was worth it though, more or less, I’m almost sure….Still, this was the hardest section and once it was out of the way and the muscles were warmed up the rest seemed easier. Sort of.

ABC Centreville Cycling Club_south Pennines_Calderdale_Lllangollen camping trip

The brakes on that green bike don’t look right to me, good job there aren’t any steep descents….oh, wait a minute

The land opened before us like a well-thumbed copy of Richard’s Bicycle Book, the lane snaking round the contours and across tree-lined streams, until the notoriously steep long descent into Glyn Ceiriog, which appropriately seems to be called Allt Y Badi. It certainly wasn’t goodi for me, as I discovered too late that the feeling I had had last week that my disc brakes weren’t quite right became a very concrete and pressing fact as I realised that no matter how hard I anchored on I would not be stopping this side of doomsday – and we were heading briskly towards a village with junctions and traffic. I started looking for roadside to bail onto, but there was nothing but stones walls and drop-offs. It looked like I would be adding substantially to my experience of road rash and possibly an emergency ward. A childhood memory kicked in, and I swung my left leg over the bike to cross behind my right and scrape on the road as I leaned the bike to the left speedway style, sparks flying and bemused onlookers waiting for disaster. Thank the gods of cycling for MTB shoes is all I can say, as the combination of a rubber sole and what was left of my brakes gradually did the trick and I stumbled off in one piece.

Anyone with a modicum of intelligence or prudence would have sacked the ride. We rode on up the very beautiful Ceirog valley, over multiple smaller climbs and descents on tremendous roads, as I managed the whole brake situation by taking it easy and using Nigel’s advice to use them alternately to avoid heat fade. What could possibly go wrong? After a fine  lunch at Lake Vrynwy we took the beautiful road round the back of the scouse water supply which looks nothing like Liverpool, onto the stunning climb and descent through a pass towards Bala.

ABC centreville Cycling Club-Manchester-Rochdale-South Pennines

Neil and Adam making light work of the climb

ABC centreville Cycling Club-Manchester-Rochdale-South Pennines

The last section of the climb north from Lake Vrynwy

ABC centreville Cycling Club-Manchester-Rochdale-South Pennines

The fantastically enjoyable descent  following the river Hirnant towards Bala

ABC centreville Cycling Club-Manchester-Rochdale-South Pennines

Lower down the Hirnant valley

This one of those descents that makes all the climb worthwhile: long swooping curves, technical twists, snaking slopes through woodland and remote farmland with miles between each house, confirmation that the bicycle is a thing of wonder. We hit the faster rolling roads heading for Corwen, and I made up for my shonky climbing with a bit of overweight rouleuring (they are words if I say so), with calls of ‘Knock one off’ from the back restoring my slightly wilting self-image. I know, I know, most of the group could have dropped me any time, but leave me my illusions, will you?

Corwen offers the unusual pleasure of a cafe in a former workhouse, which makes you feel lucky and guilty at the same time. Mandy took the opportunity to explain her low-carb diet in considerable detail, while Nick tucked into a scone and cream. By contrast, apparently ‘On 25th April, 1842, the Guardians refused to obey a directive from the Poor Law Commissioners that the Workhouse purchase its bread from a particular local baker. A free supply of “heath” collected on the mountainside by the Workhouse children meant that they could bake their own bread more cheaply. Buying-in bread was, they considered, “a waste of this free child labour”.’ Well, efficiency is efficiency.

ABC centreville Cycling Club-Manchester-Rochdale-South Pennines

Two words for you Adam: Club. Strip. Guess which one is Adam? Centreville outside Corwen Workhouse

Perhaps the shade of Owain Glyndŵr, the last native Prince of Wales who led the last war of rebellion against English rule in 1400, declaring it from his gaff near Corwen, watched us leave and wished well rid of us too. Ok, ok, we’re leaving, if it’s any consolation Owain, devolution has led to many a social initiative that many an English person might be jealous of…why only this week the Welsh assembly announced free hospital parking, for example. We don’t get that at Rochdale infirmary.

Another hour or so and undulating valley lanes got us back to Llangollen , to make 70 miles and 7,000 feet of climb, all of it on especially good roads. some hit the supermarket, others Witherspoons, while on the last hill back up to the campsite Nigel, still recovering from broken ribs muttered to Mandy’s disappearing silhouette, “It’s coming to it when she beats me up the last hill….”

Back on the campsite some proper cycling had been going on from our younger members. We didn’t let him come with us though- make us look bad, him getting to the top first, can’t risk it.

The evening was spent in a circle of wind-breaks with a wider circle of purple hills beyond and the castle like a ruined crow above. Food was eaten. Beverages were glugged, the breeze was shot, while the kids did more climbing running to the top of the sloping site and riding down it than we had done all day. The next morning dawned fairer than the forecast. Pauline had been cozy in her dinosaur pyjamas and newly re-sprayed VW camper, but Andy in the back of his white builder’s van said he’d have been more comfortable if his matress hadn’t deflated in the night. What a let down.  He was still able to cook me the biggest birthday omlette I have ever seen in my life – thanks mate!

Having lost Pauline, Neil and Adam but gained Katherine We headed off for a leg-loosener down the canal to the Chirk aqueduct….nay, wait a minute I hear you say, it’s actually called the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the Chirk aqueduct is the smaller one tucked behind the railway viaduct down the valley. Ok I say, tell me how to pronounce Pontcysyllte and I’ll say it. It was built in 1805, designed by Telford and Jessop and with the canal it is deservedly a World Heritage Site. It is also somewhat terrifying to those of a nervous disposition due to it’s height. Nigel isn’t of a nervous disposition.

Nigel riding past some rather nervous canoists on the Pontcysyllte aqueduct. What’s the fuss?

A few miles on undulating roads got us to The Fat Rabbit vegan caff in Oswestry. I tucked into some delicious Japanese dumplings on rice noodles, whilst Andy lead the charge for, you guessed it, full English. Deary me, way to be adventurous, clubmates! it’s only a vegan caff, not Martian food. Now there’s a thought – can we include a Martian caff in a ride? I’m sure they do full English.

Katherine (r) was able to ride with us, as it was Neil’s turn to look after the kids

More nice lanes took us back towards Chirk, and we re-joined the canal for a traffic-free return and another go over that aqueduct that I still can’t pronounce, now busy with tourists. Meanwhile all morning and all day, Centreville’s Dan Shackleton was upholding another club tradition: racing, with his attack on the BBAR. Today was his 12 hour TT not far away near Wrexham, and he rode a stormer. Well done Dan!

Esteemed club Sec Nick exits the canal tunnel, in which you could see absolutely nothing without a light

Many thanks to everyone who came, and Nigel for sorting two fine routes out. Our next club trip away will be on 2nd-4th November 2018 to a hostel in the Lincolnshire Wolds. It’ll be a cracker, I’ll have my brakes fixed and everything. There will be caffs. And beds. There will definitely be beds. Why not join us?


To ride or race with Centreville, just get in touch. We’ll make you very welcome (and a teeny bit tired)

 September 1, 2018  Posted by at 9:58 pm socials, Trips away No Responses »
May 012018
ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester lancashire South Pennines TT racing Charlotte Boothman

Centreville’s Charlotte Boothman winning in style at the D10/1 Leigh Premier TT (photo credit Ellen Isherwood)

Centreville’s Charlotte Boothman has had a storming start to her spring TT campaign, with 5 wins out of 9 outings to date.

Charlotte  delivered Centreville’s first win of 2018 in her first race for the club, clocking a speedy 17.46 for first woman on a shortened 7.5 mile course at the NLTTA 10 on Saturday 10th of March.

On the 17th of March she clocked 35:13 for 4th female at the West Penine SPOCO on L142, which was won by pro Amy Gornall (Secret Training CC) .

At the Border City Wheelers SPOCO 20 mile TT on L202 on the 25th March Charlotte rode to second female with 56:57 to winner Claire Swoboda’s 55.58 .

ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester Rochdale Heywood Littleborough TT women racer

Charlotte winning at the Kent Valley Wild Boar Fell SPOCO (photo: Raymond Bracewell)

Charlotte was again second woman on the 31st of March at the  North Lancashire Road Club 10 mile TT on L101, with 25:23 behind winner Rebecca Rimmington (Team Merlin)

She returned to winning on the 7th April at the Beacon Wheelers 15 miles SPOCO on L155, this time geting the better of Amy Gornall (Secret Training) by one second, in the course of which she came an impressive 13th overall with 40:53 to Gornall’s 40.54

On the 8th April Nelson Wheelers’ 50 mile SPOCO on L503 saw Charlotte ride to 2:32:02 and 2nd female. Winner was again Rebecca Rimmington (Team Merlin).

On the 14th April  a third win for Charlotte came at the Leigh Premier 10 mile TT on D10/1, with a 23:14 ride, while her fourth win came the next day on the 15th at the Kent Valley Road Club SPOCO on L307 (shortened to 22m) with 56:17 with Debbie (Moss Team Merlin) in second.

Charlotte’s astonishing fifth win of spring 2018 came at the  Wigan wheelers 10 on 28th April, with another 2nd the following day at the Wigan Wheelers 3o, just 12 seconds behind a very strong Steph Mottram.

Our congratulations to Charlotte on a fantastic start to racing in 2018, we look forward to seeing how the rest of the year unfolds.


Would you like to come and race with Charlotte or just enjoy riding at whatever level? We’d love to see you, why not get in touch?



 May 1, 2018  Posted by at 8:00 pm TT, Women cyclists No Responses »
Mar 272018

“No, they can’t have, surely not? Yes….yes, they’ve definitely left me behind.” That’s me in disbelief at the first checkpoint at the Pinfold café near Nantwich, 55km into the Chirk 200. They would be waiting at the first junction, surely? No, nor the next. Should I chase on, assuming they had gone ahead, or did I just miss them back there somehow?

Dan, Robert, Jon, Hayley, Norman, Andy and me at Pinfold café

The Chirk 200km audax is a popular early season run out, enabling you to get some miles in or tick off your first 200km without much climbing, described by Darryl Nolan, the helpful organiser as “Almost entirely flat across Cheshire Plain to Wales and back, via Nantwich, Chirk, Beeston.” It didn’t feel that flat when Dan Shackleton, not content with riding a good 10 the day before, and riding 19 miles to the start, still had itchy pedals. Within the first kilometer he was complaining “We can’t ride at this pace all day, shall we press on?” behind a couple of hapless audaxers; and once the first lumps arrived (the ‘almost’ before entirely flat should be kept firmly in mind) I was at my limit and Andy and Norman were past theirs and wondering what kind of a hellish pain-fest was ahead. I could see Dan in aero tuck speeding off the front on a long downhill, so I caught him up to review his well-meaning plan to ride as a bunch to Chirk. “I didn’t pedal you know” he claimed in impish mitigation. The road to hell is paved with good intentions however, and it was clearly going to be particularly Hades-like trying to hang on to Dan, best if he, Jon Dance and Hayley (a 2.40 marathon runner and strong on a bike), pressed on ahead.

Robert could probably have lived with them, but he was stuck with us as we were his lift, and we settled in to a nice medium pace as the sun gradually burned off the freezing mist, the silhouettes of farms turned into glows of crumbling orange, and the rolling fields and woodland emerged around us. Ah, Cheshire! At home riding from Littleborough we are hard pressed to find an easy ride, and it was lovely coasting along the complex lanes, with main roads only featuring as crossings on this well-planned route throught the best of Cheshire.

The route of the Chirk 200km audax Centreville Cycling Club Manchester and Soth Pennines

The route of the Chirk 200km audax

It would have been even more relaxing if my (insert preferred expletive here) new GPS unit was working. I’d invested in this for just such days after the comic navigational capers of the Centreville YHA weekend to Wilderhope, but I hadn’t got to grips with it fully….ok, at all, and it wasn’t tracking my position, just sitting on the start. Fortunately I had the turn by turns elastic banded to my arm (and the route on my smartphone, and a paper map), so along with the help of other audaxers we rode with, we got to the Pinfold Café. It was here, after catching up with Dan, Jon and Hayley who were just leaving after a frappa-cappa-chinos with organic wild almond faux-milk, that I was doing a bit of faffing, all innocent-like, with the GPS. After pressing a few buttons and talking to it nicely it leapt into life, and I looked up in triumph to find….no-one.

Just to be clear, I was the navigator: Robert, Andy and Norman did not have an instruction, a map, or a GPS between them, and they leaped off to follow Dan and co, with whom they couldn’t keep up anyway. Perhaps not the brightest move ever. Hmmm, better phone them. No answer. Grrrrr. I eventually got a sheepish call from Andy. “Where are you?” “Well where are you?” “What can you see, are there riders coming past you?” and so on, until we agreed to meet back at the caff. They’d gone off course. “Just remind me Andy, exactly what the ethos of the Sunday club rides you’ve come on for the entire last year is, again?” “Erm, no one left behind.” ” Exactly Andy.” “Sorry dad…” Kids, I don’t know, you have to wonder sometimes, and Norman a retired head teacher and all: “I’m not angry Norman, I’m just disappointed.”

Chirk 200km audax Centreville Cycling Club Manchester and South Pennines

Robert on steel, Norman on carbon, and Andy on aluminium eating by one of the pretty meres along the route. “Yeah dad, wot, you’re not the boss of me!”

Still, no harm, no foul, and they made ample amends when I stupidly bonked on the approach to Chirk and circled back for me while the gels were kicking in. The organiser Darryl appeared to have playfully moved the Chirk café without mentioning it, but the upgrade from greasy spoon to paninis was good. Still feeling bobbins I was severely tempted (to keep up the satanic metaphor) to make use of Robert’s fiendish information that there was a railway station near his dad’s nearby house with direct trains to Wilmslow. Get thee behind me Robert. As soon as we set off I was fine, and we loved the prettiest section of the route through Pont-Y-Blew with a stiff little wooded climb following Morlas Brook marking the England-Wales border. Now a rural backwater, Pont-y-Blew is the site of one of Wales’ first iron forges, which produced from 1630 to 1870. Fittingly Robert rode up this on his 531 bike, with a guy from Bury CTC riding his father’s 1970 Mercian, still going strong.

A crisp afternoon of blue skies and fluffy clouds unfolded, heavenly cycling weather, especially after we have paid our dues riding through sleet, snow and icy blasts over the winter. The GPS’s batteries were still pretty full and all was well with the world. The ice cream farm checkpoint was achieved, with it’s motorway service station ambience it at least has it’s route-side location to commend it. Beeston Castle perched on it’s crag is another high point of the route, aesthetically and literally. Built in the 1220s it was last used in the Civil War and is, as Marie LLoyd sang, “One of the ruins Cromwell knocked about a bit.”* It’s reputed to contain a secret hoard of Richard II’s treasure, but more to the point, do they sell flapjack there?

Beeston Castle Chirk 200km audax ABC Centreville Cycling Club Manchester and south pennines

Beeston Castle

The 60km back to the finish felt more like 100 to our tired legs as we chased our shadows up the road and gradually put back on the layers we had peeled off, lane after lane unfolding and Andy and Norman looking like they were going to finish their first 200km rides in fine style. Planes roaring up from Manchester airport away to our left showed we were nearly there with our somewhat lower carbon footprint. The last 20km felt like 40 and I tried to remember to look at the GPS, even though Robert was chatting to me; we had noticed that riding with Robert has the effect of making you forget to look where you are going: he’s just too damn interesting and he caught a few riders  out that way over the course of the day – we should use him for black ops to send other clubs the wrong way!

A club from Sheffield whose kit broke several barriers of taste and decency (but who would definitely be noticed by drivers even though they might wish they hadn’t) came up to us, and I rode on the front with a woman who was rightly very chipper and enthused to be finishing her first 200km, and fellow first-timer Andy surged up to the front in the last kilometre having hidden all day like a seasoned pro. We turned into the darkened car park, and one of the Sheffield lads quipped “Where is everyone?” Like Dan, Jon and Hayley, they had all ridden faster than us and gone home mate, all gone home.

Thanks to Robert, Andy, Norman, Dan, Jon and Hayley for the company, kudos to Dan for his big ride, and many thanks to Darryl and team for organising a great audax: highly recommended.


*Spookily, Marie Lloyd was born in 1870 the year Pont-Y-Blew forge closed. Beeston Castle was put back into use in 1643, 13 years after Pont-Y-Blew forge opened: 13, no ordinary number. Coincidence? I don’t think so. What other DaVinci Code-like conspiracies are hidden in this accursed audax? Better ride it again to find out….

Why not come and ride with Centreville? Get in touch



 March 27, 2018  Posted by at 3:29 pm Audax 2 Responses »
Mar 262018
ABC Cenreville Cycling Club Manchester and South pennines

Jon digging in at the crest of Mow Cop (photo Velo 29 Primal Cycling Events)

A good day indeed for best bikes

Jon Taylor reports on his day out:

‘Remember Its not a race and abide by rules of the highways at all times’ the Tannoy announcer declared as at 8am on a sunny Sunday morning in excess of 2500 riders left Queens Park in Crewe for the start of the 110mile/1700m of climb annual Cheshire Cat Sportive.

Myself and cohort for the day Ed Munro began to ride through the groups like domestiques on bottle duty in a grand tour, often using cars to ‘get back in’ as we headed out to the first challenge of the day – the well named ‘killer mile climb’ one Mow Cop with a 25% gradient finish. We were held up at the rail crossing at the bottom, which helped us to assess the competition and their steeds for the climb ahead. Grimacing and gurning over the top………. don’t forget to smile for the waiting camera!

As the early morning mist burnt off and the roads dried, the decision not to go for full winter gear was rewarded and with gloves in the back pocket we pressed on through the first feed station after 37 miles and over Biddulph Moor, Rudyard and Gun Hill through feed station 2 for a quick comfort break, refueling and pressing on through the rolling Cheshire countryside with lead-out trains forming and with the Centrville colours pulling hard and on the rivet, fuelled by illusions of grandeur and Cherry Bakewell gels

Quickly refuelling at FS3 after 78miles, the run for home began through flatter sections and with tired legs smaller groups formed at a steady pace, with the occasional ‘lump’ sending riders backwards as the legs were beginning so say ‘enough is enough son;’ after 5hrs plus of riding…….

Rolling back into Crewe and retracing our steps into Queens Park the legs gave a little extra to finish with a kind of sprint for the awaiting and adoring crowds……….

Medal round neck and as the vision came back, I was thanked by 2 other unknown riders for my work on the front; indeed it was a good day for best bikes……… especially in the green of Centerville.


Route of the Cheshire Cat Sportive

Event website

 March 26, 2018  Posted by at 10:05 pm Sportives 1 Response »