We were packed and on the road at 7:55 AM this morning which is a record. I was totally blown away at how organized we were. I think that none of us were really looking forward to a day in the drizzle which was forecast. It was quite dark and even though only the odd drop was coming down, back home this would have been a major rain storm coming in.
Twenty twenty hindsight I should have looked at the departure route a little closer. It seemed pretty straight forward up the road and take the first right. However once we got out there it wasn’t that simple and we messed around for thirty minutes trying to find the route. There was about 5 or 6 lefts and rights and down unders before we found the path out of Stratford Upon Avon.
Once on the road the odd drop turned into a steady rain so we stopped to put on rain coats. This was a really smart move as almost as soon as we donned rain coats the rain abated. Over the years I have found that this is the very best way to get the rain to quit. Last rain of the day – Yahoo!
The first site was the Warwick castle. It wasn’t open so we took pictures through the fence. However kind of disappointing as the Warwick castle is now a theme park. Warwick castle was originally laid out by William The Conquer in 1068. There was a long way to go so off we went.
The first 27.5 miles (44kms) were generally up hill. There were a lot of ups and downs and twists and turns and even a couple of which “way does the course go?” episodes. However at the end of the 30 miles we were at Coventry. A lot of Coventry was destroyed in WWII by bombing so a large industrial city has grown up. This meant lots of big busy roads and lots of traffic. The route took us through the center of Coventry as it would have been miles to ride around it. This gave us a chance to see the famous Lady Godiva statue which is in the downtown square.
From downtown Coventry we accessed a canal path and followed it for around 15 miles (25 kms). This canal path was not nearly as nice as the one we rode the other day. It had a lot of floating garbage in it, and all the bridge over passes were covered in graffiti. Of the 15 mile probably less than 1 mile was paved and this was only in little segments on either side of harbours. The rest was really rough and narrow. The actual riding surface being at times only a foot or so wide. This really slowed us down as the best we could do was around 6 mph (10 kms/hr).
At one point along the path a family of swans had taken over the path and were not going to let us pass. The big male got his wings up and was threatening us. However we dismounted and keeping the bikes between us and the swans carefully picked our way around them. You can’t blame them as this was their home and they were protecting their family of 4 cygnets.
A little further along the path Jos got a flat which was caused by a thorn. His tires are big thick cyclo cross tires and the thorn went right through. So try as we might we could not get it out. No amount of digging or pulling was going to remove it. So it wound up being broken off and a big heavy boot was placed inside the tire. Ok that cost us close to an hour. I think it fixed it but Jos must have stopped a dozen times on the rest of the ride saying I think my tire is going down. I understand how he felt as I have been in that position many times ridding along on what is not a perfect fix.
The last 33 miles of today’s ride was down a mix of paved and gravel paths, country lanes and busy roads. However they at least were relatively uneventful.
So we arrived in Hilton at 5:30 pm after what has to be one of the hardest, roughest and longest (9 hr 30 minutes) 75 miles (120 kms) I have ever ridden.