Yet another reason to love Manchester: you can get out of it easily.
When I lived in London getting out into the countryside was a major expedition; here we can head east and be in the deepest heart of the Peak District within an hour, or go north and scramble around on windswept Lancashire moors all day and be back in town for an early dinner.
And then there’s south to Cheshire.
Footballers’ mansions. Range Rovers and Audis badly parked outside wine bars. Golf clubs. Permatanned lunching ladies. Children with names like Octavia and Felix. Boring and flat.
I found this route online, fired up the GPS and Google maps, stuffed the panniers with cheese sandwiches and bottles of coke (that’s what all top athletes drink, right?) and headed off…
After a bit of evil-but-necessary urban stuff to get out of town, it really was rather pleasant. I pootled past the airport and out into open country, through neat little red-brick villages, had my sandwiches in the company of deer and daytrippers at Tatton Park.
Lots of other cyclists overtook me, I didn’t care. One of them zipped past in full Team Sky kit, I’m not sure whether it was actually Chris Froome or a car salesman from Stockport who spent a lot of money foolishly on replica kit.
Yes, I did see a lot of gated mansions, yes there were a lot of shiny 4x4s on the roads and show ponies in fields but Cheshire and its glorious flatness was a real treat today – reminded me of lots of happy days as a teenager cycling in Sussex with my dad.
I’ll be back for sure. (But perhaps not until I’ve bought a pair of padded shorts… 30 miles proved too much even for my naturally well-upholstered derriere…)