RAF Shawbury (Audax, DIY, 100km)

Not Validated Due To Covid 19

This is a great route, which would make a good training ride as it avoids most of the main roads and it is easy riding, for the most part.

A 9pm start after the heat of the day had dissipated and the Campbell Clan were all settled for the night. After my 100km ride last week (Around Stoke) I reminded myself to take my time at the start so I set back and enjoyed the quiet roads. It was Stone (six miles) town before I saw my first car, which was very unsettling as I was expecting a few near misses and beeps of the horn! The road to Eccleshall was also quiet but I was distracted with the amazing sunset but I never occurred to me too and take a photo, sorry.

Eccleshall was also deserted but I stopped to take a photo of the church (Holy Trinity C of E Church) in the form of a break. I know the next section very well, as I take the road to Stoke on Tern every time I head towards Cheshire City and the Plains. I also stopped Saint Swithun’s church in Cheswardine as the church was illuminated and I could experiment with the night mode on the phone camera.

The section of Cheswardine to Stoke on Tern is generally downhill and offers vista’s of the Werkin during the day. I quickly hit the main road (A53) and pushed on to the turning Hopton which initially was okay but become a pothole infested and lose surface, which is not my thing. Having looked at the map after the ride I think I will change the route to take the right turning in the village of Stoke on Tern which will take me to Peplow and the A53 and through to the Stanton upon Hine Heath and the route.

I did stop at Moreton Corbet Castle in a rather silly attempt at taking a photo but it was so dark I could bearly see the building and the camera keep saying ‘hold still: 205mins.’ Cycling past the RAF Shawbury I could just make out the outline of what looked like a Seaking helicopter but I was very dark. I did consider stopping and asking the guard if I could enter and take a photo but I considering the time of night and the Covid19 threat I don’t think this would go down to well so I pushed on.

I had a quick stop at Shawbury to take a photo of St Mary’s Church which was illuminated and had a food bank in the main doorway so I avoided this area. I took two minutes to sit on the wall have a snack before starting my home run. So far it has been a lovely night except for three reason a) the dynamo light does not illuminate the road signs as I approach junctions due to the horizontal cut off, b) when I and charging the Wahoo Bolt from the D2 the light instantly goes into standby mode when I came to a stop making it hard to see the junction on the other side of the road when there are no streetlights and c) the wind had picked up. So I put my windproof on, switch the D2 off and adjusted the front light but this resulted in a poor light distribution on the road.

The journey back was on new roads as I have normally taken the B5062 which takes you Newport which I bypass and drop out by Chetwynd Park. These country lanes were generally in could repair and for the most part gentle ramps so I will differently opt to use this route again. I settled into the pace and rhythm and Standford Bridge (A41 crossing) quickly arrived. I wish I could say the same for the next ten miles which takes you to Eccleshall. It felt like the A41 was a crossing from the Goodside to the Darkside and after the initial three or four miles I become disheartened and the short climb up to High Offley did not help. The descent to Eccleshall from High Offley was another pothole-ridden road with loose gravel but it did take me directly to Eccleshall.

I opted to take five minutes at Eccleshall to take on some food and water. I chose to sit on the roadside curb rather than the park benches as the local news feed said that Eccleshall was very busy during the day. The only car which came pass was the local police patrol car which I notice as it crossed the roundabout a few hundred yards away. I had a little stretch and restarted my journey and the final ten miles uphill to home.

As I was leaving the Eccleshall village the police car passed me and the office give me a smile and a wave through the window. The climb out of Eccleshall towards Stone was much easier than I remembered but I have started to notice that my legs are getting tired from constantly pushing against the wind which felt like 20mph rather than the 8mph indicated in the weather forecast. I made steady progress all the way to Stone where I was a little surprised by not seeing any moving cars. I slowed down a little to allow my legs to recover a little as I know there was a three-mile climb which is not very steep (avg 3%) but just keeps giving all the way. But I knew once I was at the top, it was a two-mile ramp to the finish line and home. So I just settled into my rhythm and podded my way home.