Stoke: Around Nottingham (Audax, DIY, 200km)


Lovely ride if you remove the sections of A-roads and ignore the potholes around Alfreton. Lots of historical information points as you pass through villages on the south side of Nottingham.

A 2am start from Stoke which meant that the roads were empty one car in the first 12 miles. However, the road diversion at on Cubley Lane just after Rocester (JCB) had completely closed the road and left me manhandling my bike over a footpath style which was taller than my bike as I had to lower the bike by the front wheel. I then spent what felt like hours wandering aimlessly through long grass and nettles trying to find the path which would take pass the closure. This is why people with dynamos lights carry a spare light! mine was at the bottom of the bag! It was not long before my feet became very cold, at least the nettle stings were numbed by the cold. Note to self: next time take the diversion!

After this I was able to maintain a good pace over the tops. There is a lovely section which gently climbing a valley between Blackbrook through to Belper Lane End (Dalley Lane) to Ambergate which is worth a visit if you are ever this way. I stopped at the Pub (the Bull’s Head) and took a photo of the sun raise before the general descent to Ambergate.

As I approached Alfreton the roads became more pothole than tarmac with a lot of traffic as it was approaching 6am and rush hour. I bypassed the town centre and cut through the housing estate where I was slapped in the face by the poverty. It reminded me of the old coal mining council estates from the 80’s where I grow up, strangely it felt comfortable and safe. As I climbed out of Alfreton I there was a 24hr Petrol station (with an everyday Morrisons) which was empty, so I took the opportunity to buy a couple of Mars Bars as I only had energy gels.

Castlewood Business Park services, Derby (45miles) were very busy, the Costa had a queue, Greggs was still closed and the sandwiches in the Spar look horrible. So, I opted for a small bottle of milk and pushed on. A short sprint on the Kings Mill Road East A-road which was not too unpleasant, and I turned for Ravenshead (7-11 – Sainsbury’s Local at 51 miles). In hindsight, I should have stopped here for a sandwich. I took Longdale Lane to Calverton where I was hoping to find a café, no such luck. The road to Gunthorpe was fast and I only one near miss with a white van who did not want to wait until the one car on the other side of the road pasted. However, I nearly got wiped out by a Morrison home delivery van in Shelford who thought that he would overtake a parked bus with a blue car waiting behind it for me to come through. He then had shouted out of his window as if it was my fault!  

Gunthorpe also represented the turn west for Donington services and home and the lanes were busy with traffic cutting the corner. Just after Radcliffe on Trent (Grantham Road) there is a historic vantage point which provides vistas across to Nottingham and into Lincolnshire. Before I knew it, I was at Donington services (90miles) and I still had not found a café for a rest and a cup of tea.  90 miles without a proper rest stop is too much for me and is something will not do again. A Greggs egg bap and a large coffee sitting in the rain on the park bench, I don’t understand why more people don’t do Audaxing!

I have completed the 40 miles section form Donington service to Stoke on and home several times, so I just put my head down and turned the crank. In reality, I had no choice as the wind had picked up, making my legs burn from the effort. I hoped that when I turned at Stanton by Bridge the wind would reduce but it did not, I had it all the way back to Stoke. I stopped at Scropton and had a 10minute rest on the roadside bench and watched the world go by.

I had thought that I would stop at Uttoxeter services as the last 10miles are mainly uphill. However, when I arrived it felt like they had closed the A50 and everyone were being diverted off, Uttoxeter town was just as busy so I pushed on. I Turned off the B5027 to Stone at Bramshall and followed the back roads to Church Leigh and Meir Heath, to the finish line. The B5027 is the quickest route but in my opinion, can be unsafe due to the many blind corners.

Bala For Breakfast (Audax, DIY, 300km)


Not Validated Due To Covid 19

A great ride with lots of café stops, big climbs and the odd Welsh vista. Chirk to Cerrigydrudion is best done early morning to avoid the A5 traffic

I had intended to start about 9pm on Saturday evening but we still had thunderstorms in my part of Stoke on Trent, so I went to bed. I got up at 1:30am (Sunday morning) and the sky was clear and full of stars.  I started my Wahoo Bolt (1:46am) and headed off into the darkness trying to avoid the flooded sections of the road. It occurred to me that I live on a hill and I am cycling uphill, but the water is still pooling … it was too early in the morning to consider such gravitational problems!  

I settled in for my normal route to Chirk (Eccleshall, Wem, Ellesmere) only stopping to take a photo of the amazing clear night sky on my camera phone. Arriving at Chirk was a welcome relief for my knees which were still hurting from my turbo training session yesterday. Sitting on the bench listening to the birds singing whilst eating a Chicken and Sweetcorn sandwich meal-deal, what a brilliant day.

I knew that the road up the A5 was long and best done early to avoid the traffic. I was lucky between Chirk and Llangollen only five cars overtook me and between Llangollen and Corwen it was 22 cars one lorry and a tractor. I had the road to myself. As I cycled through Corwen, I ask the chap who was holding the café sign if he was open, ‘about 10mins’ he replied so I stopped and had a stretch of the leg’s whilst having a chat. The usual Audax conversation, ending with… so I thought I would stop and have a cup of tea and 10mins. A few minutes later he appeared with a large cup of tea. Winner.

Pushing on, I turned off on to the B4501 just before Cerrigydrudion and climbed over the top past the wind turbines, descending toward Tryweryn and Bala. The wind was brutal, but I knew that if I can make it over the top the wind would be much less on the descent. You should never make assumptions, the wind was blowing me to a stop, but it did ease off as I descended toward Tryweryn. This is a long climb over the top, but it is much nicer than dropping down the A494 to Bala.

I stopped at Bala for Breakfast (beans on toast and a cup of tea) and as I sat stuffing my face Brandon a fellow Audaxer from Crewe Clarion Wheelers appeared with Terry. I had half expected to see Brandon as we were both heading for Bala. We shared stories over breakfast and a warm drink before departing. I did not want to linger too much as my knees were feeling like footballs.

My next section was up the B4391 and down into Tanat Valley and onwards to Shrewsbury. The climb was much longer than I remembered but just as steep! I did note that all the cyclists were coming down rather than up! I stopped in the layby at the top and had a snack and took a few pictures. I chatted with a chap from Wrexham who said that they descend to Bala but turn off just before to climb over to Lake Vyrnwy.

I just got up to speed about 30mph and I slammed on my breaks on, what a great photo, looking down the Tanat Valley. The road is wide making it a lovely descent, there is one very sharp corner to slow down for, just avoid the wholes and raised tarmac. The roads through Tanat Valley towards Shrewsbury are fast so I maintained my speed into the small climbs; what a lovely valley. It did occur to me that the last time I cycled along the valley was on John Hamilton’s Wandering Wolves – Lake Vyrnwy (Audax, Perm, 200km).

To be honest by knees were feeling no better, so I cut the route short by jumping on the A5 for a few miles to Montford Bridge and headed for Shrewsbury services for a drink and a bit of food. From here the route felt hard and long, every time I turned the crank.  Let us just say I was glad when the ride ended.

Stoke, Chirk, Chester, Stoke (Audax, DIY, 200km)

Not Validated Due To Covid 19

A great ride but a lot of hard work when windy, nearly finished me off! The route offers lots of café stops.

It was my normal early start (230am) as I wanted to be at Chirk (24hr services @50miles) for breakfast and Chester (Net’s Café @100miles) for lunch. Taking my normal route to the Cheshire plains through Wem and Ellesmere and on to St Martin’s and the A5 petrol station (M&S foods) at Chirk. I love this route; it is quick and gets me to Wales quickly and the best bit, I had the roads to myself.

After finishing my chicken and bacon sandwich meal-deal I washed it down with a small bottle of milk. I then headed back for St Martin’s and turning north for Chester into a soul-destroying headwind which should not be here! This is a new section which offered new roads to me and it was very pleasant, even more so without the wind. I kept my head down and turned out the miles and the familiar roads around Tattenhall (Chester) started to welcome me. I had a little stop in Tattenhall for a photo of Seymour the squirrel and an energy gel has I was starting to feel the effort of fighting the wind.

I knew that the ride along the coastal path was going to be hard due to the wind but boy, it nearly broke me. I had to force myself to keep going on the promise of a lovely lunch at Net’s Café which everyone raves about. Turning off into the industrial estate was such a relief as the wind had all but faded due to the surrounding hard landscape. Instead I had to contend with egocentric SLAG (Socially Lacking Aggressive Group) riders. I nearly got hit twice by on coming SLAG riders who were treating pram’s, very young children, and the OAP’s as obstacles on a velodrome track, and I am hard to miss due to my size and coloured clothing. If this is what it means to be a group rider, I am thankful that I ride alone.

Heading back for Chester, I took the position of not giving way to oncoming egocentric SLAG riders on myside of the tarmac track. This nearly resulted in a head on collision with an egocentric SLAG rider as he was too busy talking with people in the group rather then looking where he was going. I came to an abrupt stop and waited for the crash but at the last minute he saw me and swerved causing his mate behind him to run into his back wheel. Rant over.

I was hoping that Tilly’s Café would be open in Bunbury as I know that they have reopened with restrictions. No, they are closed on Sundays! So, I waited in line (18minutes) to enter the Coop to by some snacks and water for the last 30miles home. As I approached Madeley Heath, the looming dread of climbing Keele Hill, knowing that afterwards I had a five-mile climb to the doorstep made my legs feel like they had cycle 400miles not 140miles. But I pushed as my awesome wife had cooked Chinese for tea.

RAF Cosford (Audax, DIY, 100km)

Not Validated Due To Covid 19

This would make a great training route as it is for the most part flat with long straight sections separated by small villages and towns.

Arriving home at 3pm, the sun was out and there was a gentle breeze, so I opted for a quick spin on the bike. I had initially thought about doing my 20-mile route around the home but by the time I reached the top of the hill, I decided that I fancy a longer stretch the legs. I headed for Stone with no real route in mind accept to head towards Eccleshall. On my way through Cold Norton, I remembered that I plotted a 70-mile ride to RAF Cosford which turned off at Bridgnorth and followed the road down to Codsall before turning for RAF Cosford and then a 90 degree back to Bridgnorth and home.

As I was thinking about which route to do, I had my second monsoon downpour, since I was already wet from the first one I just stood under the tree and waited for the rain to die down. The section from Bridgnorth to Church Eaton was flat but the gentle breeze turned into a robust wind that was being funneled down the road by the hedgerows on either side. The first milestone was St Editha’s Church at Church Eaton which stood at the tip of a triangle, the church was quite quaint for a small village. Overall, the roads in this section are in reasonably good repair but there can be a lot of farmer debris on the road.

From Church Eaton the next section took me to Codsall like the previous section this is mainly flat roads with good roads surfaces, but the wind was making it hard work. I had a quick stop at Saint Mary the Virgin and Saint Chad in Brewood where the locals watched me take photos! From was the long gentle climb up Port Lane which took me into Codsall. I did not stop as I knew I was only a few miles from RAF Cosford. As I cycled along the high street (Albrighton) I came across Saint Mary Magdalene church, so I pulled over for a photo which annoyed the OAP driving at 20mph and who I overtook a few miles back.

Arriving at RAF Cosford museum, the gates were open, but the sign was clear… CLOSED. So, I stopped just inside the gate and took a few photos of the Hawker Hunter F6 XG225, had an energy gel and texted the wife to let her know that I would be late for tea!

The route back is more of the same, except that there are a few short but steep climbs and the long ascent up to Bishop’s Wood. After these climbs, the roads are mainly flat with good tarmac, but there are a few sections which are used by farm equipment or where the water pools and deposits sand and stones. The journey back did not offer as many photo opportunities and I was glad when I arrived a Bridge North as it was 14-miles from home. I was also feeling tired as I had not stopped for a coffee break. Stone town was very quiet, and I had the road to myself all the way through town. I stopped on the outskirts of Stone to text the wife that I was about to start the 5-mile climb home so that she could put the kettle on!

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.

Around Stoke (Audax, DIY, 100km, 1.75AAA)

Not Validated Due To Covid 19

Testing the route, which needs some minor changes between Haslington and Betley. I had forgotten how much I enjoy riding overnight.

The leg from Hilderstone Road (Meir Hay) to Cheadle and Foghall is generally boarding and of little interest. However, there are few churches and cenotaphs which you may want to view as you pass by. The climb from Foghall to Ipstones is more of a kick in the head followed by a ramp that has a small kick in at the end. I often stop at the corner shop on the left turn or you could opt for a quick pint in the pub. A few hundred yards up the road is St Leonard church (Ipstones) which also marks the right turn for Cheddleton. This section to Cheddleton is on narrow roads and there is a lot of loose gravel (in the dark this can catch you out so be careful).

I had forgotten how steep the road is from the Churnet canal (Churnet Valley Railway, which has a cafe) to the main road which passes through Cheddleton (A520). From here it is a quick leg on the A520 before pulling off into the housing estate but be warned this is a very busy (and dangerous) road. The road leading from the housing estate becomes very narrow with blind corners but this is generally a nice road. You very quickly arrive at Deep Hayes Country Park just in time for a very long and steep hill that climbs up to the A53 Leek road, which you crossover and continue to Rudyard lake. This section is very pleasant as the roads are open and you have views of the surrounding countryside.

The climb from Rudyard lake to Biddulph Moor is another long climb with a kick at the start and end. However, the descent of the top to Biddulph town is fast and exciting. I believe that Biddulph Grange Gardens has a tea room. I opted to stop on the main road to take a photo of St. Lawrence’s Church which was illuminated by orange lights.

It is a quick sprint along the main road before turning at the Biddulph Arms Hotel make sure you take the correct road, you want the first one which ramps downwards (Mow Lane). This road climbs all the way to the top and the to Mow Cop village. The climb has three sections a) through the trees to the b) ramp (there are some great views along the ramp to keep you going) from the ramp c) up the ridge road to the village. The ridge road has a few layby’s to take photos from and I recommend the first layby as you join the road. You will be going so fast when you descend back down that you will not want to stop.

At the top of the ridge road, you descend down into the main village and turn for the Woodcock Lane which will bring you to Mow Cop Castle, passing the top of Station Road (killer Mile). There is a short steep climb that takes you over the top back onto the ridge road. I recommend tucking in and enjoy the decent but be warned there are a few sharp corners, potholes and loose gravel as you descend. Turn when you see the pub (Horseshoe Inn) … you will have to break!!!

Turning at the Horseshoe Inn will take you through to Smallwood, Winterly and Haslington. This road is fast with an occasional short climb along the way, so power up the hills. Both Winterly and Haslington have roadside shops and cafes if you want to stop. Turning off the main road (Crewe Road) represents a transition as most of the roads through to Madeley are main arteries so watch yourself. You finally turn off the main road (A531) and climb (Bowsey Wood Road) upwards before dropping into Madeley (shops and cafe) and skirting the lake through the village. To be honest the up and down remains a theme and eventually you pop out on the Whitchurch to Newcastle Road (A51) which you follow all the way to Stone. However, this road is fast but a little busy at times. Be careful on the roundabout as the flow of traffic is very fast.

You turn off the A34 after the next roundabout (500 yards-ish) which takes you over the canal which you follow into the back of Stone. Cutting you through the housing estate to bypass the main town leads to the final climb up through Moddershall (Death Valley) which brings you back to the start.

Descent of the Stiperstones (DIY, Audax, 200km) From Tern Hill

A great ride… killer wind, broken cleat, floods, roads full of winter debris.

Starting at Tern Hill (24hr Petrol Station) I headed across the Cheshire Plains to Ellesmere for breakfast, bypassing my favourite café (Midway) and Beans on Toast at Press Heath as it was only a few miles into the ride. The Boathouse at Ellesmere is nice, and the staff are always friendly. But the food and drink are a little expensive for me. I had a couple of heavy downpours of rain with a strong wind during this leg which reduced my motivation. Leaving Ellesmere, I dropped on to the route and headed for Crewgreen and the first big climb. However, the headwind was killing me. On the Dan-O-Meter, I would estimate that it was gusting at 30-40mph as it was pushing me across the road at times. The Cheshire Plains are pretty much the same wherever you go, generally flat roads, hedgerows and pasture or cropland. I had a little diversion just before Melverley, as the floodwater was still high. The locals were out collecting the plastic and other rubbish which had become trapped in the hedgerow. From the waterline, it must had covered the Hawthorne hedgerow. They recommended that I take the high road as it cleared a few days ago. It is interesting that on my original route there were no flood warning signs, but on the high road, all the signs indicate floods and road closed! It must have been bad as the waterline was equally as high along this road too.

Crewgreen and the first climb was a welcome relief as the wind was redirected by the hedgerows and my legs were now climbing. This climb reminded me of the climbs in the Peak District. Don’t forget to look behind you for the vista across the Plains when you turn at the house called ‘new house’ as you will lose this vista. The descent down the other side, Wallaston, is quick but the lane is narrow with blind corners and I had to slow down/ stop a dozen times for oncoming cars. You cross the A road and start the climb up an incline/ ramp which gradually turns into a continuous climb. However, like the first climb, there are places where the gradient reduces, and you can recover. The descent down the other side is very fast and very steep with blind corners but you pop out at a village and start a gentler leg to Montgomery (B4388).

Every time I have passed through Montgomery it has been night-time, so I took the opportunity to look at the church and castle. But to be honest, I was so tired from fighting the headwind for the past 60miles that I could not be bothered to pull off the road to visit the castle. The leg to Newtown has not changed and it was a little descent on to the A road and a headwind battering me until I arrived at McDonald’s. After 7.5hrs of cycling, it felt like I had just ridden 600km.

I stopped for about 15minutes, just long enough to buy 3 cheeseburgers and a large fizzy drink. I knew the Kerry road out of Newtown was long and steep, so I had one cheeseburger and save the other two for my ride back. Partway up the climb to Kerry, I sheered the plastic lip off the front of my left cleat. This had the unfortunate result of the foot popping off the pedal when I applied pressure e.g. trying to go faster. Every time the foot slipped off the pedal the ankle took a knock… this became rather tedious and painful! It also slowed my progression down especially when I was trying to maintain speed into the short climbs. On the positive, the wind had all but gone and I was making good time on the flats.

I stopped at Churchstoke (Patrol station/ Café/ Coop) to have my second cheeseburger and avoid the rain shower which was passing over. Back on the bike and it was only a mile or so to the left turn and the climb over to Ford. Don’t let the incline fool you!!! Eventually, you hit the real climb which is continuous and steep. This is definitely a climbers’ climb. I did not last long as my foot popped off the pedal and I did not have the strength to get going again. I think part of this was the slipperiness of the road. The descent off the top is excellent but be aware of oncoming cars and people in the road. I opted not to stop at Ford and Dinkys Dinahs. Instead, I pushed on for the car at Tern Hill. The last leg was more Cheshire Plains riding and constant ankle banging as my foot popped off the pedal.

Around Burton Upon Trent (DIY, Audax, 100km)

A great ride, full of stone artefacts (churches and archways) and photo opportunities

Arriving home from work the sun was out and the temperature was just warm! I thought a quick 100km spin from home would be a great way to spend the afternoon, I was right! Taking the usual road to Uttoxeter, I stopped at Hilderstone to have a quick look at the church. It occurred to me that I had never taken a photograph of the church. As I headed through Uttoxeter I waved at the Bull as I went around the roundabout. This marks a change in the roads, as they are much quieter except when you pass Sudbury Hall. St Pauls at Scropton was another landmark that I pass but never stop to look at, I did this time.

The roads are fast and the going was good, although a little cold. Turning at Willington for Repton was like joining a slow-moving A’road. The Church at Repton was very impressive alongside the adjoining Abbey, although it looks like a school or offices now. A few miles up the road is Stapenhill Cemetery Archway which is also very impressive. This section of the road was much quieter except when you go through the built-up areas.

The road continues past the power station and to Walton-on-Trent where you cross the river Trent using a single lane bridge, but there is a walkway/ path on one side. A few minutes later you are in Barton-under-Needwood which has an impressive church set back from the main road. Looking at Google images I should have taken the time to cycle to the other side of the Church as it looks much more impressive. I had intended to have a cafe stop here but it was so busy with parents and students leaving school that I just kept going.

The roads become very quiet as you undulate through the countryside. I was taken back when the Church of The Holy Angels at Hoar Cross appeared from behind the trees. I can only describe it as a mini-cathedral. It would be interesting to have a look inside, but it was starting to go dark and I did not have a front light, so I pushed on.

Rather than taking the main road back to Meir Heath (the road I came out on) I opted for the small back roads which I have never used before. I would definitely use these roads again as the climbs are less server and there were very few cars.

Rather than taking the main road back to Meir Heath (the road I came out on) I opted for the small back roads which I have never used before. I would definitely use these roads again as the climbs are less steep and there were very few cars.

What a great ride, I would definitely do this route again but stopping to look at these landmarks in more detail.

Rather than taking the main road back to Meir Heath (the road I came out on) I opted for the small back roads which I have never used before. I would definitely use these roads again as the climbs are less server and there were very few cars.

What a great ride, I would definitely do this route again but stopping to look at these landmarks in more detail.

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.

The 1942 Battle of Midway (Audax, DIY, 100km)

Now that I had left the harbour the mission was revealed. A stealthy approach going wide and attacking from the rear was the principal attack pattern. Midway was sighted through the clouds and targets were plotted. After several attacking waves, the beans on toast was finally devoured and two cups of tea were drunk to toast my victory.

Now that my presence was revealed I tried to hide in the rain to make my escape back via a cheeky shortcut through the strait only to find that the enemy had mined it. A strategic withdraw was ordered and a route around the peninsular was taken.

I had fighter cover for a while from a couple of spitfires but they had to leave. A welcome shoreline was spotted and the usual navigation hazards were encountered to reach my mooring and safety. Final duty before disembarking is to honour the fallen.

Disclaimer: All events and people identified in this mission log are fictitious and in no way represent real-life events and people!