I must admit that I had been getting a little worried by the weather forecast for the coming weekend. After several weeks of mostly dry, sunny, if not warm weather, it looked like we were going to get wet; with the possibilities being from slightly damp, to soaked, probably the latter considering the rain we had had on Saturday.
However, the Sunday morning dawned dry, with cloud that cleared as we drove into Warwick for the start at Myton Hospice. Shortly after 10am I set off with my youngest daughter, Zoe, in the trailer towed behind my bike. She didn’t seem too impressed at first, but perked up as soon as we joined the canal towpath – the sight of all that water to play in. It was a good job she was well strapped in.
We followed the towpath out through Leamington; sparks of sunlight, and ducklings bobbing on the water. A promising start to the day.
Then near Offchurch, the cycle path branched off, and we carried on along the towpath. Only now, instead of smooth gravel, we were cycling on rutted grass. Much harder going, especially when there is a trailer behind as well. Zoe put up with it well for the most part, though the worst of the jolts did cause a few protests. We didn’t reach Long Itchington until 11.30am, and it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to make the planned picnic rendezvous with the family at noon. For once I was glad to have the mobile phone with me, and dinner was put off for half an hour.
Leaving the canal near Stockton, the route now took us on the lanes through Broadwell, and Grandborough. Nice level ground to cycle on, but out of the shelter of the canal I had to face that other scourge of the cyclist – the headwind. Fifteen miles gone, and five still to go before lunch, and the morning was becoming a bit of a slog. Then just to finish the morning off I found that my lunch stop in Barby was at the top of a hill!!!
By the time I got into the village, I was really ready for a break, and happily the family (and the picnic) had arrived before me. A short rest, sandwiches, and a cuppa worked wonders and I was soon ready to carry on. For the afternoon, my eldest daughter, Amy, was joining me. Apparently Zoe hadn’t been put off by the morning’s ride; she tried to climb into the trailer too, but she was going home for a nap.
From Barby there was one hill to climb to reach Dunchurch, and then I was heading back towards Warwick. Wonderful!!! From now on it was mostly downhill, and the wind was behind me. Just that little difference makes a big difference. Even though I was pulling a heavier passenger, and I had already covered twenty miles, the return trip was actually easier.
Skirting round Draycote Water, Amy informed me that there were sharks and whales in the sea over there, although I missed seeing them myself.
Leaving Draycote we encountered a small problem. The route was an official cycle route, but the people who had designed it do not consider that cyclists might pull trailers. So when we reached the exit, I found a bend too tight to manoeuvre through with the trailer attached. To get through, Amy had to get out, and walk through. The trailer had to be detached, and the bike and trailer taken through separately, and all put together again on the other side. Just a little irritating!
A quarter mile later and the route is back on to a cycleway. Amy had to get out again while I lifted the trailer over the anti-motorcycle block. A mile later and the cycleway ends….. You guessed it! Another block to get over….. Any more of this and I would’ve been getting rather annoyed, but from there we were on the small lanes from Birdingbury towards Offchurch.
Nearing the end now, and I had covered 35 miles, which we had been told was the distance of the ride, and I wasn’t yet back at the finish! And here was another cycleway, with another gate impossible to get through. Having yet again reassembled everything on the other side, I only had half a mile until there was another chicane to get through. This time I just shuffled and dragged everything round the corners.
At this point I rejoined the canal, and retraced the outward route back through Leamington to Myton Hospice. Not 35 miles, but 40. But the day had stayed dry, and I even had slight sunburn. It had been a good day, even if my legs were now telling me to go and sit down on a comfy chair for a long long time.
Many, many thanks to everyone who sponsored me. At the time of writing I don’t have a final figure for the money raised, but it will certainly be over £200.
Paul A Grant