Like a silly monkey, I did my last update on 30 Days of Biking with a scant two days of riding to go, so this may be a short update.
The 29th was a public holiday here in the UK, because of the wedding of Prince William, and Kate Middleton. I understand that it was a small affair, but you may have heard about it.
Whilst I don't wish the happy couple ill, I was uninterested in the event, and had resolved to ride in the morning, as the other members of the Monkey household had determined to make the Royal Wedding their focus. (It was still on when I got back - and 20 minutes of Philip Schofield desperately filling while very little happened convinced me I'd made the right decision).
I decided to take the Surly Long Haul Trucker as far as I could go on NCN5, the Cheshire part of which runs from Kidsgrove to Chester (51 miles or so). The Surly was the choice because I didn't know what the terrain would be like, and short of quicksand / lakes of fire, it can handle anything.
Another Bridge, this time in Middlewich
From Crewe, the easiest way to join up with NCN5 is to head for the Wheelock Rail trail (or if you're going by road, Sandbach station - turn right from the station entrance, and then right again at the industrial estate). Signage for this route is lacking at points, and sadly that turn is one of them - I'd strongly suggest printing, and taking along the map.
With that bit of route finding sorted out, it's a very pleasant ride up to Middlewich, on rural roads that are mostly rolling or flat, and there's enough signage for this portion to keep you on the route (I did have the map on my bar bag to be sure though).
At Middlewich, a missing sign meant a mile or so of detour. Once I'd found my way again, there was an odd portion that appeared to direct me down a road, but actually points on to a restricted byway. From the byway, one should join the canal towpath. Unfortunately, that part of the route was blocked, due to some maintenance work being carried out.
I had a quick bimble 'round at the other end of the byway to see whether I could pick up the route again, but had no such luck. Rather than chance the A roads that seemed to link to the next part of the route, I decided to retrace my steps and pick up the eastern end of NCN5 instead.Foden Business Park
Heading back, I noticed this place (Foden Business Park) which, having fallen on hard times, seems to have become a dumping ground. It was a rare intrusion into the predominantly rural atmosphere of this ride.
I only had 10 miles or so to go at this point though
Once through Sandbach and Hassall Green, it's canal towpath that forms the bulk of the Church Lawton - Kidsgrove section of NCN5. It's a nice enough ride, but has to be taken easily because of folk out and about taking the air. The morning was heating up nicely by now too, so it wasn't too much of a hardship to ride at an easy pace.
Another Cobbled Climb at the Locks
There's still the cobbles, of course - and some "interesting" interactions with bridges (very low headroom, narrow paths &c).
In all, I racked up 40 miles at a pottering sort of pace - lovely ride, and I'm already looking for a viable route past that blocked towpath.
Saturday was the last day of the challenge, and I rode errands that day, taking the Brompton to buy paint for our back gate. An ordinary 5 miles or so in lovely weather. The Brompton has been receiving a bit of TLC over the weekend, as this tough little bike has been shamefully neglected in the last couple of years. The winter rides have done it no favours at all, and a new chain and cassette will be needed before next winter. For the time being, touching up the scratches, and replacing the frame protectors (Bromptons have a surprising number of cable rub points) will have to do.
So that's it for another year - we were blessed with some lovely weather this time around, and I was able to tick off some of the routes and "wonder where that goes" roads I'd had in mind for a while. Over the course of the challenge, I missed 3 days of riding - two due to family commitments, and one due to laziness, naughty dogs and the Tour of Flanders. I was determined not to do the "pedal the Brompton around the block" cop out that I occasionally resorted to last year.
As ever, the bulk of my rides were commutes or quotidian trips to the shops, with only a few at the weekend being notable for distance or speed. Whilst it can occasionally require inspiration to ride every single day, commuting and running errands takes none at all - why not give it a try?