Around Stafford (Audax, DIY, 100km)

I was up and fed the girls (6am) and delivered the wife’s cup of tea, as normal. Wife: are you cycling today. Me: I’ve not spent any time with you guys over the past couple of weeks, so I am spending the day at home. Wife: why don’t you go for a quick spin and we’ll spend the afternoon together… I am already leaving the house before she had finished the sentence!!!

The road was wet, and the wind had a cold bite to it but considering it is winter it was a pleasant morning. The section from Meir Heath to Uttoxeter is a familiar road as it is my route into the Peak District. Crossing over onto Loxley Lane at the back of Uttoxeter I experienced the first of two near misses on this ride. This time it was a mountain biker in his car overtaking me on a single lane bridge, he must have been millimetres from the wall of the bridge as I was riding just off-centre towards the curb. The section from Uttoxeter to Rugeley is very much a cut-through for mountain bikers heading for Cannock Chase so I would imagine that it is a commuter cut-through during the week.

With the sun rising the illusion of warmth was beginning to set in. However, once the sun had risen it quickly vanished behind the clouds and I never saw it again, but I did see the rain. It started to drizzle as I turned to take the back road around Rugeley to Cannock Chase, in a bid to avoid the traffic and built-up areas. The climb was pleasant and listening to the bird’s song made me feel like I was out in the countryside.

The long descent to Penkridge quickly arrived and I needed the first right to visit the commonwealth war graves which I last visited when I was leading mountain bike groups around Cannock Chase back in the early 1990’s. It is interesting how somethings change every couple of years, but others never change.

Arriving in Penkridge left me a little confused regarding the road layout, I could see the faint road markings, but I could not identify what I was meant to be doing…. so I just made it up! I would imagine that crossing at this junction during the working day is very dangerous. I did not stop at Penkridge as I decided to push on to the cafe at the Red Lion Farm, Hughton. I opted for somewhere warm and dry to have a cup of tea rather than standing in the rain trying to eat a sandwich outside Sainsbury’s.

The section from Penkridge to Hughton is mainly very narrow country lanes and the section between Bradley and Hughton has an extremely poor road surface. So much so that there were more potholes than tarmac. I will consider rerouting this small leg if I do this route again.

The section between Haughton and Stone was flat and uneventful and I would suspect that when it is not raining it would be nice. I immediately knew that I had hit the main road at Bridge North as the traffic was almost continuous and has I approach Stone I had a young lady trying to force me off the road as she attempted to squeeze past me on a zebra crossing, accelerating to overtake me and nearly clipping my front wheel with her rear bumper. This upset the traffic behind her as I rode the next couple miles to the main roundabout dominating the lane, stopping other cars from overtaking.

The section along the Trentham to Stafford road was pleasant but a little dangerous as I had to cycle away from the curbside of the inside lane, as the first 1.5 meters was standing water. However, the car drivers did move into the other lane when they overtook which was great.