The Preston Wheelers Reliability Ride 2024

On Sunday 4 February 2024 Merlin Staff and other local cyclists took on The Annual Preston Wheelers Reliability Ride. Everyone met at 08:50 for a 09:00 start at the Withy Trees in Fulwood. Paul our general manager and Shaun from goods in gave me all the details of the day and here’s the recount of the ride!

(Photos Courtesy of Ellen Isherwood aka LancsRacingScene)

The event had an excellent turn out and cyclists of all different clubs and age groups came together to enjoy the circular route. The 75 mile event has been running for many decades (organised by Preston’s oldest cycling club The Preston Wheelers).

Despite the challenging weather conditions and a demanding course featuring the notorious climbs out of Slaidburn and Bowland Knotts, participants from all over the Northwest gathered for an unforgettable cycling experience.

The ride has featured appearances from many cyclists over the years including Hugh Carthy who currently rides for UCI WorldTeam EF Education-EasyPost.

The morning of the reliability ride greeted cyclists with relentless rain and gusty winds, setting the stage for a true test of endurance. As riders geared up for the event, the sense of camaraderie among the participants was palpable, with the shared excitement and determination to celebrate the club’s long-standing tradition despite the adverse weather conditions.

Traditionally a reliability ride is known as a test of a cyclist’s ‘reliability’ and their bike’s as we come out of the winter period. Reliability Rides were originally used by competitive cyclists for their training ahead of the racing season.

The obligatory coffee/brew stop!

Pictured Left in orange: Matt our warehouse operative and resident TT Racer. (Hang on in there Matt!) Pictured Right: Local legend Shaun from our goods in department who is a vital part of the Lancashire Cycling scene.

Riding through the fog…

The chosen course for this special anniversary ride wasn’t for the faint of heart. The challenging climbs of Slaidburn and Bowland Knotts posed a formidable obstacle for even the most experienced cyclists. The unforgiving terrain, combined with the relentless wind and rain, turned what would have been a demanding course into an epic adventure. The riders faced steep ascents, technical descents, and winding roads, making it a true test of both physical and mental strength.

Despite the arduous conditions, the spirit of celebration prevailed throughout the event. The brilliant atmosphere at the finish reflected the triumph of the ride, as riders exchanged stories and laughter, recounting the struggles and victories of the ride.

The Preston Wheelers Reliability Course Details (Courtesy of The Preston Wheelers and Shaun Pearson):

Start: Withy Trees traffic lights Fulwood.

Head North East along Watling Street Road through 3 sets of Traffic lights to meet Longridge Road keep left on B6243 going towards Longridge, through Grimsargh to Mini RAB at Old Oak PH and left to go through Longridge, across 3 mini RABs one is at Sainsbury’s taking the unclassified road towards Chipping

At Hesketh Lane turn right on to unclassified road towards Clitheroe, after 2miles turn Left towards Trough of Bowland then after 2 miles turn right at the junction and then left 500yds to unclassified road, towards Doeford Bridge, Whitewell and Dunsop Bridge.

Go right at Dunsop Bridge to go towards Newton in Bowland and Slaidburn, at Slaidburn go Right through the village and over the bridge up hill and around hairpin bend and follow the road B6478 North East towards Tosside.

At the first junction approx: 3miles there is an old Telephone Box turn left on unclassified road to go past Stocks Reservoir and eventually climbing over Bowland Knott’s.

At the top there is a rock outcrop and cattle grid and a long downhill towards Clapham at the bottom of the hill and the first crossroads at Keasden, Turn LEFT DO NOT GO TO CLAPHAM VILLAGE.

Continue on unclassified and gated road and straight across the junction at High Bentham after Tractor and farm implement garage to head North West to the end of the road. Turn Right and after100yds turn left to take the road towards Wray (take care down the hill and over bridge).

At Wray Village go left onto the B6480 towards Caton and Lancaster, after one mile turn right towards Hornby, once in the village (1/2mile) look out for the Village Institute on the right just before the bridge. Refreshments are available in the Institute.

Leaving the Institute turn then left on the A683 road towards Lancaster.

At Caton Village straight across the mini round about then the 1st Left to go on unclassified road towards Quernmore going West, at the top of the hill go left along the straight wide road past the church towards Quernmore Crossroads.

Go straight across and continue to Five Lane Ends cross roads straight across and over M6 to go left at the next junction towards Forton, continue on unclassified road for about 2 miles to meet the A6 main road.

Go left onto the A6 towards Garstang and left through Garstang Village to meet the A6 main road at Claughton on Brock, head South on the A6 through Bilsborrow, Broughton and Fulwood and eventually returning to the Withy Trees.

And that rounds up our ride report for this week! Let us know if you took part in the ride in the comments section!


  • Alex Cowie

    Outdoor Leadership and Coaching BA (Hons) Keen cyclist, runner, and outdoor enthusiast. I have been cycling since I was very young and always had a love for the outdoors. I have completed many long distance events including ultra marathons such as the Chester 100, Berkeley Marathons UK and Gravel Century rides.

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