Canal Paths Three Ways…

Tuesday, 1st October, Day Four, Stafford to Cockerham, 112 m

08:29 Left at about 7:45.  8 miles in now and just hit first canal path.  Weather chilly but dry.

08:57 Voice Mail  On another canal path but this time in good condition and not overtaken by night time slugs.  Suffering a lot with tired legs, that sort of thing but will plod on.

Prettiest bridge on the route?

10:41 Phone call.  Nearly 30 miles in on the Biddulph Valley Way on Route 55, by a sign saying “Welcome to Cheshire”. 

 (see,_culture_and_tourism/ranger_service/countryside_sites/congleton_area/biddulph_valley_way.aspx.  It does look beautiful).

The route so far has been mainly on canal paths and cycle paths so averaging 10 miles per hour.

11:57 Butt ok.  Shoulder a bit achey but ok.  66.6 km.  Not a good omen (excuse pun) better push (or at least cycle) on…

12.24 Was a bad omen – off route.  Had to use footpath and down steep bank to get back.  In Wilmslow – church with genuine gargoyles.

15:26 Second phone call.  Sorry not to text but trying to get miles under my belt.  Keep thinking I’ll just get through this section first, just get through this bit…  On a dodgy off road section now, 4 or 5 miles completely off road.  No suspension, geometry is all wrong for bumps, skid through gravel and mud.  No clearance between wheel and mud.  Needed to stop 3 times already to clear mud from wheel.  Was on 10 miles per hour.  73 miles in out of 110.  If I hit the road, I will make good time. Wind is favouring me.  Currently west of Manchester.  Next major stop Preston.

17:56 About 20 miles to go.  Have phoned bb and they are there until 11.  So barring disaster, I should get there.

19:47 Here safe.    Picked up speed from Preston on A6 but quite safe.  Big cycle lane and big tailwind.  Ave 20 miles per hour even up hills!  Meet my first major climb tomorrow alongside the Lake district on A6.  Going to treat myself to food! I’ll take phone so you can text.

19:59 Landed on my feet here!  Really plush.  (  Have blown the budget on steak and chips with pint of Guinness (medicinal).  They gave me a bit of a discount but still £20.  Business expense.  Still, up til now my total spend has been less than £10 including day zero.

20:08 By the way, saddle is leather and working really well.  If I had my other saddle I hate to think how things would be after the surfaces I’ve been over in the last couple of days! On one of the roughest stretches some bloke with a mountain bike was walking.  He looked askance at me bumping along on a road bike and asked what my butt was made of.  I replied “feels like fire” and rattled on

20:36 (Clearly the Guinness is kicking in with all this chat, or the loneliness is catching up with him.  He’ll be telling me I’m lovely next…) Thinking of writing a scientific paper on various canal towpath surfaces and their destructive effect on bikes and their riders.  Surfaces ranging from tarmac (with and without tree route erupting from surface several cm upward), cinder, gravel (light or deep), mud (dried to furrowed corrugated surface and thickly wet), cobbles, grass or just plain stones.  Or of course there is the straight forward 4 inch wide mud strip worn several inches down into the grass, brambles and stinging nettles either side requiring precision cycling to avoid hitting the edge and being tipped into the murky depths of the canal.

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