“Houston we had a problem” Day 9: Warrington to Ironbridge

We stayed at the Paddington House Hotel in Warrington last night. It was a fairly non-descript budget hotel but perfectly serviceable for an overnight stop.

Having extended the ride to the southern outskirts of Warrington near Stratton yesterday, we made our way back there to pick up the start today. Jer was on the road by 7:30. Lucky for him it was raining once again – he can’t get enough of it?!? Within a few short miles, he was in open countryside and heading towards the leafy village of Cuddlington. The villages of Cotebrook and Tiverton followed and we had swopped Lancashire for Cheshire. The road was moderately busy, as expected, but narrowed and became more interesting around Tiverton where it twisted and turned. Much more up Jer’s street for cycling. One of his pet hates is seeing a long road stretch out ahead of him, he much prefers the ‘I wonder what’s round the corner’ style of cycling. I think he’s right. Up until Tiverton you still know that you’re near major towns and cities as the road is punctured by major traffic light controlled crossroads and large roundabouts.

The first stop was at 20 miles in a lay-by (surprise, surprise!) just beyond Tiverton near the wonderfully named, ‘Panama Hattys’ restaurant. Low and behold, the rain had stopped and it was dry here. A mirage, perhaps? No, it was true. Jer made good time in reaching me and only wanted a soup to refuel. Jer soon pressed on and we agreed to meet at the 40 mile point on the other side of Hodnet. For the first time in days, the route would take us on a minor road. By the time I reached Hodnet the sun was pushing through light clouds and with it came some real warmth. I looked at the clock and estimated I had an hour for some writing and tidy the van before Jer arrived.

I’d stopped for no more than 5 minutes when Jer called. He was in a lay-by 10 miles back and he had a problem with the main crank bearings – they were becoming loose. He had no tools with him to tighten it and it was unlikely we had any that fitted it in the van – specialist tools were needed. I drove back to Jer and he tried to tighten it but to no avail. I looked up the nearest cycle shop and found that there was one in Nantwich about 11 miles away. We put the bike in the back and set off. The shop (A F Cycles) was open and they were happy to fix it there and then. In less than 15 minutes and £5 later, we were heading back to the lay-by and after breaking for lunch, Jer wanted to push on with minimal stops for the remaining 28 miles or so. As a precaution, we agreed that I should stop every 5 miles until the end of the leg in case there was a further problem. Jer passed me with thumbs up after the first 5 miles but when I saw him again at 10 miles, there was still a little play in the crank and he was nervous that it might work loose again…and soon. We were now just 12 miles or so from the next major town, Telford, and we decided to find another bike shop to get it fully tightened. We had to by-pass the town anyway so the diversion would be minimal. I phoned ahead and explained the problem and the guy at Perry’s Cycles was happy to help. This time it was tightened hard and Jer managed to pick up a spare set of brake blocks at the same time. We took the opportunity to have some lunch while the bike was being repaired and Jer was pedalling again towards the last 7 miles or so into Ironbridge soon after.

Jer peddled into Ironbridge just before 4pm – not bad given the two un-scheduled repair stops! In total, Jer clocked up 59 miles and despite everything, he enjoyed the day. It was a pleasant change for him to cycle in dry weather and at times even the sun shone making it really quite warm.

We’re staying at the Buckatree Hall Hotel near Wellington tonight, around 10 miles from Ironbridge. After a rest, Jer spent some time cleaning and oiling the bike in the car park and as he was doing so an enquiring lady asked him what he was doing. Jer was pleased to tell her all about the challenge. So impressed, she insisted on sponsoring him and promptly gave him £10! The kindness of some people is astonishing. The least we can do is give you a mention Sue. Thank you.

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