Sunday, 10 May 2009

Manchester to Bristol, 7th May to 10th May

Leg distance 183 miles.

First of all, apologies for last blog post... did it using a blogger client on my phone which doesn't allow for the use of paragraph marks. Bloody useless. So I'll probably be blogging in legs, which kind of makes more sense.

First leg was from Manchester to Bristol, and it seemed that there was a constant headwind for pretty much the entire time. It was fairly chunky when I set off on Thursday and didn't die down until just before Bristol yesterday. It knocked a good two or three mph of my average speed and took a lot of the fun out of the cycling. I think it also contributed to my knee developing a nasty twinging pain yesterday. I've adjusted the saddle and am taking a rest day in the hope this will help.

Day 1. Manchester to Stafford. 61 miles
Set off from Manchester around 1pm, having failed to properly organise the house and only getting around 90% of the tasks done. Dropped round to Orca to say goodbye and then swung down to Alderly Edge to say goodbye to Helen and have a quick lunch with her. Then I set out for Stafford. It was around this point that I really started noticing the wind, a south westerly blowing at a good 10 to 15 mph which meant I spent the afternoon hacking into it. Bumped into an old Sony Ericsson colleague, Paul Touey, in Alsager which was somewhat odd. I finally made Stafford around 8:20 that evening, a good hour later than I was hoping for. As I said in the last post, Doc, with whom I was staying, was the consummate host. Shower, food and beer on arrival, some good tips on cycle touring and off out with some other old Staffordian friends for beer.

Day 2. Stafford to Holts Fleet, 55 miles.
Had something of a hangover when I set off, but that soon went as I blatted away into that bloody wind again. Beautiful rolling countryside though. Found a pub for a late lunch around 2ish and nipped in. £10 for the cheapest veggie meal although all mains were on a 2 for 1 offer. Given that it was starting to spit outside I bit the bullet and ordered a nut roast with all the trimmings. And the veggie chili...
Although I'd been thinking of getting to the Malverns that evening by 5 o'clock I'd had enough of the constant wind and decided to call it a day. Checked into a campsite for a reasonable £5 and had a quick shower. The chap in the neighbouring tent, Garry, came over and started chatting. It transpires he was having his "worst birthday ever". He was meant to camping with his kids but his evil ex had changed her mind at the last minute and said he couldn't have them until the next day. His new partner turned up and as she was getting ready for them to go out. Garry and I shared some beers and he railed against the inequities of British custody laws as it applied to non-married fathers. He then got onto the subject of Fathers For Justice. What was a chap to do? Encourage him to dress up as Batman and climb up a crane of course!
Declined offer of going down pub, at which point Garry and his new partner promised to cook me breakfast the next day. Crashed out like a light around 10.

Day 3. Holts Fleet to Bristol. 69 Miles.
First night in the new tent went well. Up and out by 8:30 AM: Garry wasn't up by this time so I passed on the breakfast he'd offered in order to get a few miles in. Rolled through Worcestershire into that bloody wind again, which was beginning to seriously piss me off. Even on some nice downhill stretches I was having to peddle in middling gears just to descend. And this was with a fully loaded bike. It was around the Worcester/ Herefordshire border that my knee began to twinge ever so slightly at times...
Dropped down via Gloucester: not a town that seems set up for cycle tourers, bloody confusing traffic system with bizarre unsignposted cycle paths and way too many dual carriageways. Hated it. Managed to shoot through and get onto the canal towpath for a stretch although this wasn't the best surface and with the wind I was barely making 6mph. It was around 2 PM by then and I decided if I was going to make Brizzle at a reasonable time I was going to have to get onto the A38. Turned out to be a good choice! Got my speed up to 10 MPH (w00t!) although my knee was beginning to continually twinge. Worrying. I got a reasonable climb up a hill about 10 miles from Bristol, with a pub at the top and stopped for a quick pint to recharge the batteries and assess the situation. I could back track a few miles with the wind at my back and get a train the last bit. Could soldier on but that might aggravate matters...
Bloody minded fool that I am I decided to finish the ride. I was already going as gingerly as possible and hoped this, along with some ibuprofen, would do. Then, miracle of miracles, the headwind dropped off! Wonderful! I limped into Bristol with a smile on my face, and enjoying myself for the first time that day.
Jon and Shirley are, like Doc, excellent hosts. We went for a wonderful thali in Montpelier then had a couple of glasses of wine and a comparatively early night, which is fair enough given that they're running a 10k race today!

Day 4. Bristol, rest day.
Got a few things to do today, quite apart from just resting my knee up. I'm currently using the internet whilst Jon and Shirley are out on their run. I've checked the weather forecast for the next few days and it's almost enough to make me cry. I'm looking at setting off again tomorrow and although the weather is fine the wind is swinging round to a 24 MPH East North Easterly. NOOO!!! And then on Tuesday it rains... some mentioned to me about these "aero-plane" things the other day. Apparently they only take a few hours to get to India. Maybe I should explore that option...



Anonymous Steve B said...


6:31 am  

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