We set off from Blackpool bang on time, being waved off buy the MD Convention on Sunday 23/4 at 10:30 with Google maps saying we had an eight hour journey of around 75 miles to get to our hotel in Newcastle under Lyme. We made good progress to Preston and on to Chorley.
Somehow though, despite following the route we now had a total of 90 miles instead of 75. Nevertheless we must thank all the local councils, the Canal Trust and National Cycle routes for providing so many excellent paths or cycle lanes and Google maps for finding them and, in the main, keeping us off the main roads.
Jaap’s chain came off at least six times and at the 70 mile mark suffered a puncture which he was able to repair. We continued along the worst paths for the last part of the routes which slowed our progress and by 9 PM we had run out of day light and both of us now had front wheel punctures. Fortunately we had found some civilisation and were able to phone a local taxi firm who had a minibus that could accommodate our bikes and get us the last six miles to our hotel.
So in all we cycled 137km or 85 miles managed to get some food, 15 minutes before the kitchen closed! We had to fix two punctures in the morning before cycling the remaining 60 or so miles back to Birmingham.
On Monday 24/4 we started with breakfast then an hour repairing punctures. We set off just after 9 AM and soon got onto the canal towpath where Jaap’s chain promptly came off. Pretty good progress until the towpath turned into a field for ten miles. At some point Jaap’s back tire developed a puncture and we lost another half an hour to fix it.
At one point Google maps took us off the canal onto country roads and then onto a dirt track and then through a wheat field and into the grounds of a country house before returning to the road and then the canal at Fradley where we stopped for lunch. The last 20 miles were tough going in parts with very little visible towpath. The path improved at Tamworth and stayed pretty good until we left the canal for the last three miles. It was around 6 PM when we reached the Welcome to Solihull sign.
Total distance 232km or 146 miles. Time 19 hours. 7500 calories burnt.
1. The idea of cycling from Blackpool to Birmingham seems more attractive than it actually is after three glasses of wine
2. Google maps is very good at finding a route for cycling but does not take account of the paths condition.
3. Thorns are sharp enough to go through Kevlar tyres.
4. Double check the distances for journey legs and allow an extra 33% time above what Google maps says
5. Cycling is fun
6. Old legs can get very tired
Thanks to all our supporters.
We have so far raised about £920 for hearing dogs for the deaf. You can still donate at https://mydonate.bt.com/events/blackpoolbirmingham