PROLOGUE: My adventure really began once I had left my front door. However, my CTC adventure did not begin until I had cycled to Birmingham, caught a couple of trains and reached Southport. An old commute seemed the best way to begin. With less than 5k in my legs, my first stumbling block appeared - a fallen tree blocking my path.
Before one could say 'alright our kid', I had reached Birmingham. Strange how Birmingham seemed much nicer now that I didn't work here and visit almost daily anymore. The times they have a-changed.
For whatever reason, Birmingham looked bright this fine day. Maybe my bike lit it up? Maybe it was the bear. What's with these bears?
My completed prologue covered just shy of 30k, as demonstrated by the Strava pic above. All good after 30k, really hoped the next few hundred k would be fine too. The map below is loosely what I planned to cycle.
Whilst thinking so much, I did stop at a garage to collect water and chocolate and gather my thoughts. I stopped again a while later at a Co-Op and purchased the 'cheap' food - peanuts and chicken strips for 50p. It was raining harder now and getting dark. A kid (who looked like Ron Weasley) asked 'are you bike packing?' - yes, yes I was!
Climbed back on the bike and was desperate of find somewhere to pitch camp. And then, psst! Grr, puncture no. 4! Oh no, no spare tubes. Raining. Getting dark. Figured I would just camp now. Clambered into a field and ugh, there were slugs everywhere. Not camping here! I pushed my bike for a while through different fields (and brambles and nettles). Eventually, I found a more desirable field and pitched tent. My legs were covered in scratches, cuts and mosquito bites. So knackered was I, I couldn't be bothered to cook a meal and promptly flaked out. I woke a few times in the night and could see a massive spider walking across my tent roof at one point. Eek!
When morning came, I awoke to find 3 slugs on my tent. Thankfully, the field was not full of them. The above picture was taken and wow, I realised, I had survived my very first ever solo wild camp experience. Woo Hoo! Flies were trying to suck blood from my wounds so I ensured I wore leggings this morning. Pushed my bike a little way (out of the field) and sat down to fix punctures (with patches). Cycled a tad further and stopped at a suitable place for breakfast.
Bright morning followed rainy night. The flies always seemed to like meeting and greeting me in the morning hours. Packed up camp and moved a few feet to nearest bench for breakfast.
The below signs were becoming a regular feature. Helpful, especially due to my history of mis-navigation. My back-up Garmin was working great too, though, it would read 'calculation error' when I typed a search address in. At least the blue and purple lines were where they should have been. On the subject of errors, today was the day that I bashed my handlebars in.
I felt this was a perfect spot. Ready made seating and table. Decided to cook dinner here - a DIY stew. Delicious! No nice cup of tea though - had lost my tea bags! Today was a day of losing things - I had lost my cycling gloves at some point and a tent peg too. Instead of tea, I drank Malteser chocolate drink (nice) and Cadbury Options chocolate drink (filth). All tasted so much better when I had a swig of rum from flask.
Slept well last night, probably my best yet. Rose up and made myself porridge and Cadbury Options (no t-bags). Today was the day that I changed my cycling shorts too. Up and ready, off I cycled.
Awoke after a great nights sleep. Must have been the rum from last night. Oh, my adventure, what a delight!
My C2C TPT route, 605k
Had plenty of time to think today. Was thinking and considering if tent beats a bivvy? There are pro's and con's with both. My tent was a little condensed and I hate putting away a went tent. The weather app suggested it was going to rain tonight which meant a wet tent to put away tomorrow. So much thinking...
To stop thinking so much, took a walk to the seafront. Before I got to the sea, I spotted a leisure centre. Hmm, figured they'd have showers. Without too much thinking, I purchased a pair of trunks and went for a swim! Oh, how great to be clean - had not showered in 5 days! Had no towel to dry but hey, it was warm and sunny and soon sun dried anyhow. (I did have a towel with me, it was attached to my bike, back at the camp site and never used whole trip).
Whilst drying out my stuff, I noticed how many simple repairs I had made using (inner tube) patches. Who'd have thought?! I fixed my shorts, tubes, kit bags x 2, tubes and even used a patch as a tyre boot. Handy little things - definitely on future pack lists!
Awoke feeling quite fresh, the discomfort in my right calf remained but otherwise okay. Started day with another porridge breakfast and delicious jasmine green tea. This was followed by a run to the loo. Whoever though a curry the night before a cycle was a good idea?! AE!
EPILOGUE, PART 1:
Sure enough, my return leg home, well to Scunthorpe, followed some parts of the TPT that I had already cycled plus random bits of route I hadn't. Kinda strange how my route took me right through an allotment.
At Doncaster it was simply a task of swapping trains. The next train took me to Birmingham. I forgot to take further pictures. My bike was held up by front wheel in the rail carriage this time. Bike carriage was not standardised on the rail network. Spent the journey chatting to some old woman knitting an intricate scarf and a Scottish couple heading for a motor show. 90 minutes later was back in Birmingham. Didn't care for the bears this time, just wanted to get home and see the wife and kids.
|Epilogue, part 1, 81.3k|
EPILOGUE PART 2:
A rather un-eventful trip from B'ham City Centre along the canal took me to Kings Norton. From Kings Norton I joined country lanes and cycled to the Arrow Valley Lake in Redditch. I was proper 'Hank Marvin', so I stopped to order a pizza from Mario's. A few moments later, I cycled through my village, collected pizza and returned home to the wife and kids. Another completed adventure.
- Total distance - 745k
- Coasts visited - 2
- Wild camp nights - 2
- Rough sleeps - 1
- 'Traditional' camping nights - 2
- Punctures - 6