Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Vantage

The dogs chew toy
Ok I lied. It was only about 70miles :tongue:


Having joined the Camping & Caravanning Clubs Association of Lightweight Campers in August, my plan was to meet up with them in October at their Delamere Forest site meet. It would be my first successful mini bike tour. Failure was not an option.
So, on Friday 26 October at 9.30am I hit the road on my fully loaded Spa Touring bike.
I was met with cold, wet weather.
I tend to plan my rides on bikehike but trying out cycle.travel presented me with a route I was happy with although I chose a more direct escape from Bolton along main roads. The first of these being Chorley Old Road where I picked up some speed.
Shimmy. First time I've experienced it on a bike. On a touring bike no less. What's that all about Spa? Tsk Tsk.
I left Bolton via the Roe Green Loopline NCR55 into Trafford then onto the Bridgewater Canal. Here a swan almost killed me. Heading toward Barton Bridge I could see it getting ready to cross the path to join its friends in the water.
'Don't do it! Stay there!' thought I. But nooooooo. The bugger ran straight out in front of me and grabbing the brakes didn't really achieve much. Missed the feathery fecker by mere inches.
"Fu**in bird!" I called out. I doubt it cared.

Something had been rattling on the bike since leaving home and was now getting on my nerves...my bike doesn't rattle...ever, so this needed sorting out. Checking everything I found the cause. I'd mounted the front panniers back to front and the bottom clamps weren't tight enough round the rack tubing. I also discovered that I hadn't tightened the top rail clamps property either. Doh!
After that I stopped for a Costa coffee and sammiches with Pam at Stretford Mall. Mmm. Yuck. It was warm at least and helped with the hypo that was dangling over me.
Back on the trail again and more mile munching in rain and some sunny spells.

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A little past Altrincham I was onto asphalt and going up a few climbs which I didn't really enjoy. They certainly sapped the life from my wussy legs.
An odd challenge was presented to me after passing Dunham Massey Park. The narrowest bridge on the entire planet is there. Getting across the River Bollin I had to reverse the bike by pushing from the front. There was maybe 2-3 inches between the panniers and the fencing. Tight. 2 chunky steps down from it awaited me. That'll be fun on the return trip!
On my first ever attempt at cycle touring I got as far as Great Budworth before technical glitches which in turn caused mental glitches (I just can't do this!) which lead to me bailing out and phoning Pam to come pick me up. Today, I rolled through the picturesque village slower than ever and care free. There was no turning back now.
Having reached Great Budworth in the past, I'd always wanted to push my boundaries and go to Acton Bridge.

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I had this idea that it would be another nice little village. Maybe it was the crash on the motorway that caused it but I soon regretted going there. Motorists were driving around like they were high on speed and short on patience. Maybe it's because I'm getting older but I don't think I've been so scared of traffic as I was there.
Thankfully it ended as I came to a narrow cycle lane a few miles from the site and I settled into a nice low gear.

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On the final stretch of road to the campsite, a very long section was being dug up and when the temporary lights turned green, I raced to keep up with the traffic before rolling to a stop to catch my breath and turning into the site.
It was 4.30pm when I got off the bike and after being shown to my pitch I got the tent up and grabbed fish & chips from the van for dinner.
Friday night was unbelievably cold. Despite 2 T shirts, a fleece top, cycling jacket, long johns, trousers, wooly socks, wooly hat and liner inside my down sleeping bag I couldn't stop shivering all night. The front door on the tent had a fairly thick layer of ice on it at around 3am. Brrrrrrrrr.
Saturday was spent chatting to the other campers in the group, a number of which were also inflicted with the cycling condition. Pam drove down to visit me which was nice. And she brought me a little bottle of chain oil as it had been washed off in Fridays rain. I think it's time to break out the White Lightning Wet Ride oil.
The bummer of the day was politely declining a trip to the pub with some of the others...didnt have enough money on me.

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Saturday night was even colder. I found myself wrapped in just about every item of clothing I had with me and had the sleeping bags drawcords done up so tight that there was a little gap in the hood about the width of a tennis ball to breath out of. I was a sleeping bag ninja. :ph34r: I don't think I slept at all. Not from the cold, but because I couldn't get comfy. I think I need a bigger pillow and a thicker mat.
Up at 7am on Sunday and the whole tent was covered in frost. Scraping my hat covered head against the front door as I unzipped it caused a mountain of ice to fall off it and cover the porch floor. Awesome.

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Downed a coffee and porridge then changed into my cycling gear in the toilets as it was much warmer there.
Packing everything back into the panniers took forever...twice as long as everyone else. I've concluded I'm just packing too much crap. The tent carpet for example. Brought so the floor wouldn't be as cold. I didn't touch the floor in the tent once...2 person tent. Its not like I could walk around in it. Doh.
Said my goodbyes and rolled off the site taking great care to ride using as little energy as possible to avoid more hypos.
I pootled along the exact same route I used outbound but today's trip was sunnier, warmer...and much quieter. Lovely.

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Within 15 mins I was pulled over by another cyclist wondering about my load. Where I'd been etc. He was surprised to hear I was just a weekender given how heavily laden the bike was. Told him I hadn't quite nailed lightweight camping but was working on it.
My 'touring setup' now weighs about half what it did when I first tried.
I wanted to get a photo of my bike on the narrow bridge on my way to Dunham Massey but it was really busy and I doubt anyone would have appreciated me holding them more than I already was...it took ages to cross coz of the tight clearances. Oh well. Some other day.
Mum who was looking after the kids and from I heard from the kids, re-decorating the house told me to hurry back as she needed to be home soon due to Sunday bus timetables. Time again was my enemy.
As I got onto the Bridgewater Canal I phoned Pam to see if she fancied one of costa's crap coffees as I needed a break. I set the etrex to count down the miles till my turnoff and set off. The bloody thing was routing me off the canal path at every opportunity and shortly before reaching the offramp I wanted, it got its knickers in a twist and froze up. Typical. Removing then reinserting the batteries sorted that and when I reached said offramp at Stretford, the batteries died. I was only a few mins from my slurping stop so didn't bother replacing them.
Noticing how knackered I was and knowing my time constraints, Pam offered to drive me home. I had no problems getting into Bolton as it was mostly flat from here on, but the last few climbs to home I was sure would kill me...or at least cause a hypo. I chickened out and Pam dropped the bike and I off at home about 4.30pm.
Im a little disappointed in myself for wussing out but I think Boltons traffic and those last few climbs would have left a very negative memory on an otherwise nice little tour.
So, touring? Mini touring anyway?
Do it! If I can do it, anyone can. Literally.

View: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/29125460

View: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/29125462
 
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HobbesOnTour

Über Member
Location
The Netherlands
Great write up! Well done!


Im a little disappointed in myself for wussing out but I think Boltons traffic and those last few climbs would have left a very negative memory on an otherwise nice little tour.
For feck's sake! You go off after (your own words!) failed attempts, on the last weekend in October, and you criticise yourself for wussing out???
A bit of persepective is required, methinks.^_^

So, touring? Mini touring anyway?
Do it! If I can do it, anyone can. Literally.
100% agreed!

Bravo,sir!
 

raleighnut

Guru
Location
On 3 Wheels
Don't knock yourself, I think you did brilliantly, as other have said I wouldn't have chosen the last weekend on October, but then again I don't think I would have chosen any weekend, you think anyone can do it I suspect I couldn't, Well Done!
A good point, Cycle Touring is often better in the week as is Backpacking. Campsites/Trails can be heaving at the weekend but empty and tranquil during the week apart from July/August obvs.
 
I've been across that pesky bridge at Dunham Massey twice.

First time I had my 20" wheel compact ebike, but even then I was grateful for the help of my riding companion @nickyboy.

Second time I had my 'full size' 650b ebike - on that occasion I doubt I'd have made it across without the help of @ColinJ or one of the others.

The bridge is obviously a key route in that area, which is why it features on Nick's Manchester Llandudno ride, and why Colin uses it on his annual long Cheshire circuit ride.

Last I heard, the bridge was to be widened.

From memory, the main problem is the handrails, so you could get away with moving one or both of those and leaving the deck as it is.

That would be cheaper than a full rebuild which is really what's required.
 
OP
Vantage

Vantage

The dogs chew toy
Ahhh no. Big bags on the rear and smaller were on the front.
What I meant was, I had the front bags on back to front. The Altura Arran bags have reflective light loops on the rear and because I'd not mounted them right way round there was sloppiness in how tight they clung to the rack. Hope that makes sense...
 
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