Monday 27 January 2014

Lunchtime jaunt - 1

Bollington - Blaze Hill - Macclesfield

One of the advantages of working in the new place, up in Macclesfield, is being able to ride my bike at lunchtime.

It is something that I have been able to do in the past - for instance, the times when I was home based  in London I could easily find quick routes around South London. When I worked in Central London it was even possible to do reps around St James's Park or Hyde Park, while trying not to frighten the tourists crossing the road!

Sadly, when I was in Milan this was a definite no, no. First of all there were no changing/shower facilities after finishing my ride. Secondly, places to ride were quite limited. There was only really a stretch of canal path on the Naviglio Grande. Thirdly, and most importantly there was no secure bike park so there was no way I'd leave a road bike chained up outside the building. It wouldn't have lasted 30 seconds - and I know through bitter experience! So really, if I went to work in the morning with my road bike, by lunchtime I would have had no bike to use for my lunch-time jaunt!

Moving to Macclesfield, situated right on the edge of the Peak District has been the best antidote to 18 months of being in an urban sprawl of Milan with its lack of green spaces. This area of Cheshire offers the best lunchtime cycling that I have ever had so far.

So I make the most of it. There are lots of country lanes near where I work. Quite a few of them go uphill! There are even some steep roads with cobbles for if I wish to practice for the Tour of Flanders, which I have signed up to ride. I will talk about the different routes over time.

The route I will talk about in this post is the standard jaunt that I take at lunchtimes. Even though it's only around 9-miles long it is a good little work-out, since it involves around 250m of climbing. One of the local hills to where I work is Blaze Hill - a climb that lasts less than 2 miles but gives a height gain of around 170m. There are a couple of 15% gradient sections, especially the early part of the climb, coming out of Bollington. Prior to doing Blaze Hill there is also the leg tester on Grimshaw Lane, which I always find a bit of challenge, especially as I tackle it from a low speed after having taken a sharp right from the main road through Bollington. But it's all good fun.

The descent back towards Macclesfield is lovely and sweeping, with a couple of tight bends but great for maintaining your cornering skills. There is also a short spike known as Tower Hill to stop you getting too complacent about freewheeling!

This is a good quick spin that can be done in a lunch hour without being accused of "skiving away from your desk!" When I get back to the office I feel like I deserve my lunch!
I can certainly feel myself getting stronger these days, so the hills must be good for me. I must just try to remember that whenever I heave and wind my way up Smithy Brow!

The route is here

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