Yesterday was a good day in that we managed to cover 50 miles. The weather was incredibly windy, but largely behind us pushing us forward. We were on minor roads for a good while and then hit the Trent and Mersey canal going into Stoke on Trent. Joy of joys.. the towpath was Tarmac. Still lots and lots of locks to negotiate but much better than locks and no paved towpath. We were in good spirits.
That was the good bit of the day! The bad part stated when I took a tumble... yes...on the canal path.
I cycled over a hosepipe laid across the path, got the angle wrong, skidded, and the bike with me on it, lurched towards the water. I was convinced I was going in. The path was quite narrow at that point.
I fell just a few yards behind the boat you can see there. The boat itself was moored further back down the canal. My chin took the hit right on the edge of the canal and as I looked I could see my reflection staring back at me! My head was over the water. The bike fell on top of me, but luckily the paniers hit the ground, saving both the bike from damage and myself from further damage. I think that it was the weight of the bike and paniers on top of me that stopped me plunging into the water. I still cannot believe my luck at not actually going in the water, nor having any broken bones or teeth knocked out. It could have put an end to our whole trip. My left and my right wrist took the brunt of the damage.
Bob was full of concern for me but also outrage at the hosepipe which he held responsible for my fall! It really was not the hosepipe's fault. Just one of the perils of towpaths of which I should have been aware. (The owner of the hosepipe offered me a drink of water! The very least he could have done was make me a cup of tea.)
I was totally shaken up and a bit weepy. It was fascinating though, that had I had a tumble on any of our cycle routes at home, Bob would have esconced me safely, would have gone and fetched the car and seen me safely home. Here I had no choice but to continue onwards. So that we did, for miles and miles of canal towpaths which led us out of Stoke.
We stopped for a sandwich at a Toby Carvery in Stoke and met a terrific bunch of lads out for a jolly on their electric bikes. (Gavin Yorke -Boomers) They were keen Port Vale Football Club supporters so Bob had a great time bantering with them all. They really cheered us up. They gave us a kind and generous en route donation and took picture for their FB pages.
Everywhere we go people are interested in what we are doing and why. It is really encouraging.
The trail then led onto The Biddulph Valley Cycle Trail. All 9 miles of it to Congleton. The heavens opened at this point and we were soaked. The cycle trail was impacted gravel most of the way alternating with soft mud, made worse by the downpour. Motorcycle calming barriers blocked our way every mile or so.
Yes, you will be getting the picture... we are both totally disenchanted with canal towpaths and cycle trails!!
We eventually arrived in Wilmslow at 6.00pm, almost ten hours after leaving our hotel this morning. Our hotel is bliss. The staff could not be more friendly and accommodating. They let us use a hose to wash off the bikes which were covered in mud, stored the bikes in their garage and greeted us as friends. If any of you need accommodation we cannot praise it too highly. (The Deanwater Hotel)
We had a delicious meal and were getting ready for bed when my fingers started throbbing. Two fingers had swollen up and my rings were cutting into the flesh. We had to go to the local A&E to have the rings cut off. The SNP on duty cut one ring off (my wedding ring!) but thought the middle finger ring was loose enough to be OK. Had fingers Xrayed and thankfully no breaks. It took over three hours, and we eventually got to bed at 1.30am.
We woke up this morning to a horrendous weather forecast, and my fingers so sore and swollen that we decided to rest up today. I cannot bend the fingers to touch the inside of my hands. The second ring (my Eternity ring) had to come off so we went to a local jeweller who cut it off immediately.
We had a lovely message from Shirley and John Madin, offering to come and pick us up and take us home. However, we are not quite ready for that (yet!)
As we have had some down time today we came to a decision that we cannot spend the next four or five days whilst still in England cycling on anymore canal paths or cycle trails, especially in this wet weather. They are both dispiriting, demoralising, unbelievably tiring and incredibly dangerous and have slowed our progress more than we could ever imagined. On these trails you see no countryside views, just trees and hedges all the way. It also means that the days are so long that we have no real relaxation time in the evenings as we are so knacked we are in bed by 8.30-9.00pm at the latest.
We have spent hours therefore, re-routing our way up north. It will mean travelling many miles on A roads, but there is no other alternative. It will be much quicker and far less fatigueing.... (we hope!) Watch this space...
The song in my head all day has been "Slip Sliding Away"
Slip slidin' away Slip slidin' away You know the nearer your destination The more you're slip slidin' away
Annette did not wholly reflect what happened in, and after her fall in the above narrative! She was in shock, was shaking and obviously in pain, so much so that she sat on the towpath for a good 10 minutes after I lifted the bike off her. A passing female dog walker expressed repeated concern for her and this was wonderful to experience - a total stranger expressing severe concern for her well-being. Annette carried on riding for another 35 miles, much over rough terrain, with great difficulty to steer and brake because of the pain and swelling developing in her fingers and wrist.
But, carry on she did and I have nothing but total admiration for her - no moans, no grumbles just an attitude of "We are doing this - this is not going to stop me" Absolutely remarkable.
I am delighted that we are having an extended stay in This lovely hotel as it will give Annette time to relax and recover from yesterday's shock - but typical of her she has already written two blogs and instructed me to get the bikes cleaned! A true fighting spirit!
Day’s Mileage: 49.24m Total mileage to date: 452.27m
Day’s climbing: 1,335ft Total climbing to date 19,907ft