Ticket booked, passport packed and off to foreign climes for some quality riding. With the weather promising to be generous, only the prospect of leaving the family behind on Mother’s Day (oops!) was dampening my enthusiasm. Leaving my cosy Lancashire home behind, I headed an hour down the M6 to conquer the long course of the Velo29 Cheshire Cat sportive.

The usual palava of registration delayed the start time but off we went on strange roads and following good signage in otherwise unknown directions. I only really knew at what point the feed stops were coming, not really knowing where any of the bumps in the road were lying in wait. After 23 miles came the major ascent in the form of the Mow Cop Killer Mile, average gradient of 11.7% with max gradient circa 23%. With 2,000 riders starting the event and the climb coming relatively early, all types came to the incline together and the difficulty came not necessarily in the steep slopes but more avoiding the many who had dismounted. With Mow Cop successfully negotiated and the crowds thinned out, the ride panned out into a cracking tour of the Cheshire countryside.

With an emphasis more on enjoyment, good training miles and time in the saddle, the 113 miles and circa 5,500ft of climbing came and went with 7hrs 20 minutes in the saddle and a sun-reddened face (what a novelty!) to show for my efforts.