Day 11 – Preston-Fleetwood-Blackpool-Liverpool
OK, so where do I start. Probably at the beginning is best. I set off from just North of Preston, a place called Garstang to Fleetwood Town Football Club, the only top flight football stadium with the name Highbury since Arsenal went all posh on us, a team managed by everyones favourite footballing panto villain, Joey Barton. The ride was alright, nothing spectacular happened, apart from the weather, which was horrendous. I mean really bad. If you’ve ever cycled in the wind, youll know how impossible it can be at times. It was around 30mph going into Fleetwood. It was To the extent that this man, who I won’t name (not for legal reasons or anything, I just couldn’t catch him to ask what his name was) was ahead of me for at least 3 quarters of a mile.
Getting to Fleetwood, it’s an intriguing stadium. Until Fleetwood built a new stand 9 years ago its capacity was well below the 5,327 it holds today, since then the club has come into its own, even ending the agreement that saw Blackpool reserves playing there until 2014, so proper flexing their muscles as their own entity. Built right in the middle of a housing estate, its a small stadium with big ambitions. The biggest ambition probably being to stay up in the wind.
Moving on from here was a struggle. We are talking the North West Coast.The wind was getting worse and hit 34mph, so travelling to Blackpool was nigh on becoming a near impossible task within my planned time. I couldn’t cycle on the roads which were getting bogged with rain and the mock eiffel tower on the pleasure Beach might as well have been all the way in bloody France for what its worth. Trust me, even if Usain Bolt had run into this wind he would have ended up moonwalking.
So time to take a mini stop and to kill time, compile a list of the top 3 things the North do spectacularly.
1. The hospitality. The people up North are incredible. Bold, brash, loving and always amazingly hospitable. If Brian Blessed and your nan had a baby, that child would be the epitome of a Northern person.
2. Food. I’ve got to keep a good diet with all this riding, but the food up North is brilliant. The most amazing Sunday roast I’ve ever had is up north. They also have their own words for what they fill their lunch boxes with. A roll is a barm, chewing gum is chuddy, sweets are spoggs and mucky dripping is something you don’t mind explaining to the kids. Also, a stotty cake is not actually a cake. Neither is a teacake. That’s a barm as well. So don’t go for tea and cake up North.
3. Cold weather.
Moving on from my little stop, I had to hit Bloomfield Road, home of Blackpool FC. Outside the ground, a beautiful statue of Blackpool and England star Stanley Mortenstow stands proudly. His record is quite incredible, 222 goals in 354 for the Seasiders and 25 goals in 23 for his country. Away from this centrepiece however, the stadium itself doesn’t give much away as a building when imagining whats inside. When in reality it it has absolutely everything you can think of. Beyond these drab walls It houses some offices, a nursery, a college, a gym, an NHS centre, jurassic park and willy wonkas chocolate factory. With its obvious orange and white colour scheme to echo their kit however, It just looks like a big B&Q.
Then It was time to take a trip to the home of the premier league champions and all round vibrant city, Liverpool.
The ride down was tough, but thank god the only wind I experienced was from my dodgy breakfast earlier. My phone died so had to start the video again just outside Liverpool but that wasn’t the only hurdle. A migraine at the start of the day meant my eyes were as focused as if id discovered my parents wine cabinet at the age of 10, 3 punctures, my calf blew up 11 miles from liverpool and I once again ran out of polo mints. But at that point its fight or flight so I arrived in Liverpool ready for tomorrow’s start at Anfield. Its these things you don’t think of as a novice when it comes to long distance cycling. Ive learned that when you plan a day cycling it rarely goes to actual plan. Theres been many times I’ve passed a beautiful country pub in the Yorkshire or Lancashire hillside and would have loved to stop for a traditional countryside pick me up meal in idyllic surroundings. But whats the point when you’ve accidentally consumed 4,000 calories worth of gnats on the way down to it anyway.
So onto my hotel, which was right next to Liverpool Football club. Anfield by the way looks brilliant at sundown.
Arriving in Liverpool over a weekend where both clubs are playing, especially if you can’t get to the games has been a brilliant eye opener. The people of Liverpool are amazing. What Liverpool FC did did during the game yesterday was gate off the entirety of Anfield. Probably in case midfielder Xherdan Shaquiri gets covid and they can’t sell him. The less people in the stadiums means the more in the bars and restaurants and that made for an incredible atmosphere in Liverpool City centre, all socially distanced of course. But I’ve got a long journey tomorrow and as the match finished, the music started and a 60 year old woman dressed as Britney Spears came and sat on my lap during what the dj described as a ‘Belinda Carlisle’ tribute night, its pretty much time to retire to the hotel and call a priest.
So with the calf given a rest its time to get back on track for tomorrow mornings big cycle towards Manchester after you see all the pretty pictures from Anfield, Goodison and everywhere in between!
So tomorrow we go again, keep those donations coming in at justgiving.com/team/mindrush and please keep sharing the page and the websitep and doing all the awesome things you’re doing on the ground towards breaking the stigma of mental health.
To all the people who continue to send their support, thank you ❤
Together we got this