From up north to down south…

So, having a week off last week I decided to do what any sane person with free time would do and cycle from Stoke to Oxford over a few days in order to see more of the British countryside at a slightly slower pace than normal. One hundred & thirty miles in total over two (long) days, with a break in Birmingham ahead of the second day – I’d been talking about doing something like this for a while so it seemed the ideal opportunity to do so.

It was a fun couple of days. I mainly followed National Cycle Route 5 which meant all I needed to do was look for the little bike pictures and the number five in a red square to get where I was going – nothing too difficult (with one exception mentioned below). Was a good test of fitness – I didn’t ache half as much as I expected after I’d finished, although the second day felt much more difficult due to the route to Stratford. I expect I’ll do something similar again but with a few provisos;

–    Probably use a more tour orientated bike. Was fine for the off-road stuff but tens of miles on a road with unnecessary weight gets very tiring.

–    Drag someone else along. With only myself to keep me going some parts seemed a real slog.

–    Split the second half in half. The jaunt from Birmingham to Stratford is a real haul due to the numerous hills and could easily be split over two days for a more comfortable ride, felt a bit like “Beat the Clock” between Stratford & Oxford.

–    Have the bike tuned the week before. I lost the ability to shift into the granny-ring and from mid to high about half way through the second day, which did make like difficult.

I’d like to say a big thank you to all those who fed me, gave me cups of tea & coffee and put up with me falling asleep after this crazyness – all very much appreciated.

I’d like to give no thanks at all to the residents of Redditch who saw fit to complain about the fact that NCR5 would attract unwanted cyclists to the town meaning that you have to navigate north to south of the town blindly, just hoping that you can pick up the route at the other side.

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