78 miles (erroneously recorded on instagram as 73 – it was definitely 78)
Day six of LEJOG was, appropriately, a day of two halves. Appropriate because we were fortunate that Roy’s route took us through some landmark spots relating to the beautiful game. Not just Stoke City Football Club but also Alderley Edge, once home to the Beckhams amongst other big footballing names. Anyway – back to the day of two halves.
It started promisingly. Well-fuelled by Premier Inn (up there with ‘Spoons with rooms) and after bidding farewell to David and Jane we sped off from Stafford and were delighted by the excellent and scenic canal path conditions taking us past Stoke on Trent and, as well as the football club sighting, also spotted the home of Wedgwood. It seemed as though Roy had also tired of canals by this point in his journey as we found ourselves more often in built-up areas – but this didn’t matter when the route also took us on a long descent from Stoke, pretty much all the way to Cheshire and past Manchester.
As we passed Manchester, things began to get a little more frustrating. Roy’s book had fully briefed us so we knew what to expect, but the cycle paths we took resulted in more stop/start than usual and we found ourselves lifting our bicycles over obstacles, dismounting to pass various cycling traffic calming measures and generally not making too much headway. At the start of the day we would have tackled this with smiles, but pretty tired towards the end, we started to struggle.
With around 20 miles to go, we found ourselves practically in a field (although still part of the national cycle network) which would have been fine if it wasn’t for heavy rain. After walking our bikes for half a mile, following which Sally’s cleats were so caked in mud and small stones she couldn’t even clip-in, the decision was taken to reroute to our Wigan accomodation at the hands of Garmin. Garmin fully understood the need for B roads, but didn’t seem to have any control over the weather. Already relatively wet and muddy after a day of intermittent showers, the heavens really let loose for our final ten miles so that each tenth of a mile countdown to our ‘Spoons with rooms for the night felt torturous.
Serendipitously, the Haggans drove into the car park of our destination seconds after us and a quick turnaround ensued to send them off to Kendal with everything we don’t need for day seven, before we meet them there tomorrow night. Abbie was over the moon to have a cuddle with Meg the dog and husband James even got a quick look in. As we are discovering this week, it’s the logistical intricacies which are really the challenge of this trip. We trained for the miles but hadn’t anticipated what it would entail to make sure ourselves, our vehicles and our kit are ready each day to go again on the next. That and deciding what culinary delight to pick from the ‘Spoons menu, anyway.
At the end of day six we met up with Fi’s Dad Clive, his wife Lisa and friend Kev. Clive and Kev will be cycling with us on day seven (with Lisa supporting) and it’ll be great to have some ringers once again. Abbie is relatively entertaining but half-way in it’ll be good to mix it up.
Until next time (when we’ll be over halfway!)
Abs and Sal xxx