The Improbable Blog

Day 3: Rowley Regis – Preston

I woke Magnus up on Easter Day with a cup of coffee at 5am and we were on the road 20 minutes later, leaving behind our calling card (A can of Scrumpy Jack cider and some custom ‘Lime’ energy balls) to thank our hosts for a lovely evening.

The finest cider money can buy and energy balls made specially for our trip by a friend of mine.

Magnus raised the point that the canal paths were likely to end either of our chances of having children in the future, so he took a look at the map and steered us out of Birmingham on a lovely, quiet, tarmac road.

We stopped for a McDonalds breakfast as an Easter ‘treat’, before knuckling down. My knee problems had brought us in short of the mark the day before and we were aiming to cover 120 miles to Preston, where we had been offered a 2nd bed for the night (luckily!).

A cute Birmingham bridge, our final bit of canal for the day!

While researching this trip (If you can call a quick glance at Google maps research!) I had thought we could make it our aim to get to Newcastle Under-Lyme, until I said it out loud and hated it. ‘Lyme Regis to Newcastle-Under-Lyme by Lime bike’ – awful name for a challenge.

But seeing as we were travelling that way anyway, we thought we could take Limebike for it’s first (and probably only) journey into Newcastle-Under-Lyme. It’s a fairly built-up place, so getting a photo meant crossing into the middle of a busy junction and climbing on the raised grass bank, it was worth it though:

A true moment in history

As we crossed into Cheshire we came to a sudden halt, not by choice but because whoever designed the gateways to this national cycle route clearly hates cyclists and had created and installed a physical manifestation of this.

These ‘gates’ are designed so that they lean in at the top, creating a kind of A-frame. This means that if by some miracle this doesn’t jam your handle bars on the way through, it still crushes your shoulders and ensures that anyone except small children (I guess the designer isn’t totally void of empathy) gets clothes-lined off their bike:

Complete with little metal, handlebar-height grind plates, to make sure the gate doesn’t get damaged!

Surviving the gateways of Cheshire, we found ourselves on the very outskirts of Manchester where Magnus dropped and shattered his phone on the canal towpath. Annoying, but not a trip ending event so we kept heading for Preston.

A couple of hours, and two service station madeira cakes later, we pulled up at a petrol station in Bolton to stretch our legs and drink caffeine. There was a small crowd assembled around a Lamborghini in the parking area, all taking pictures and nodding their heads in admiration of the Italian engineering and ingenuity that went into creating this incredibly expensive car.

Usually I wouldn’t get involved with this kind of thing, but the number plate was such a garish piece of crap that we couldn’t resist grabbing one quick picture:

Amazingly white, considering

A lady filling up her car spotted what we were up to and came over to laugh with us about the Lamborghini (legend), after a quick chat about our trip she disappeared off to pay for her fuel and came back with Easter eggs for both me and Magnus, before wishing us well and driving off – what a babe.

Those 5am mornings showing under the eyes!

By this point it was clear that we were going to make it to Preston, but I was in a lot of pain. To get my left leg to turn a full revolution, I was having to compensate a lot with my right, and this had the unexpected result of causing something called Ulnar Nerve Compression in my right hand – which caused a constant tingling sensation in my ring and little finger for the next 9 months!

Feeling bad for slowing Magnus down and a little sorry for myself, we pulled up in Preston at about 8pm, washed and ordered pizza before passing out in a ridiculously comfy bed for 5 hours.

Thanks to Sarah and Doreen for saving us and letting us (literally) recharge our batteries – also to Doreen for reassuring me that I didn’t have to explain why I was determined to carry on, despite being in a lot of pain, because it is my leg to do with as I please!


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