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19 February, 2005

Cycling: Hest Bank-Morecambe-Heysham-Sunderland

Last Sunday, I woke early, so went for a two-hour bike ride before the majority of Lancastrians had even woken.  Since this was another sunny morning, I planned to do the same again, but various tasks prevented me leaving until 12:30.

I'm in the slightly awkward position of having already cycled most of the obvious routes in the immediate vicinity – to explore somewhere new, I'd need to repeat 10-15 miles of familiar routes first. I may need to start taking the bike on the train soon; in fact, I planned to do that today, before realising that the current closure of the West Coast main line in the Lancaster area, every weekend Jan-March 2005, affected local services too, and that cycling to and back from the nearest (open) station would add 12 miles to any planned trip. This means I'm tethered for another month.
I finally decided to combine and repeat a couple of earlier rides, but generally in the opposite direction to the previous occasions. I hoped this would provide a different view.

I headed straight out of Lancaster along the main road (A6), towards Hest Bank. On previous occasions, I've followed the canal towpath; pretty in spring/summer, but slow and no doubt muddy in winter. I also wanted to reach my 'starting point', the coast at Hest Bank, as soon as possible. The clear morning sky now had broken cloud, and I hoped to take a few photos of the view before it got too bad. Cycling directly into a fairly strong northeasterly wind wasn't too pleasant, either, not least because I'd misjudged the temperature and chill, and dressed less warmly than I could. I just wanted to get that section of the ride over with, as most of the remainder of the planned route was with the wind and hence less of a struggle.

The rest of the route was more-or-less as straightforward, following the coast road from Hest Bank to Morecambe, along the promenade to the Midland Hotel and Stone Quay, then on via Sandylands Promenade to Heysham. I stopped at Heysham Head for a can of Coke (I wasn't so cold by then!), then followed minor lanes across the headland to Overton, on the River Lune side. I made a slight detour to Sunderland, then back to Overton and on to Lancaster, pausing at Sainsbury's for my weekly shopping. I suppose I could describe this all as a trip to the supermarket – the long way.
Reversed, it's a ride I'd planned to do almost exactly a year ago, but on that occasion, my first ever visit to Sunderland, I was surprised how far it actually is from Lancaster (~10 miles), so I only did the round trip from the city to Sunderland and back.

I covered 27.56 miles (44.35 km) in total, reaching a rather low maximum speed of 24 mph (39 km/h), probably because of the wind and lack of fast downhill sections.

I was out for three hours and twenty minutes, though at least twenty minutes were spent in Sainsburys, and I stopped several times to take photos. The bike was actually moving for 2¼ hours.

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