“Grinding gears and grinding miles” Day 10: Ironbridge to Stroud

We spent the night at Buckatree Hall Hotel near Wellington, just a few miles from Ironbridge. A budget price (less than a hostel), the accommodation was anything but cheap. The hotel is undergoing major refurbishment work but most of it appears to have been completed with only the occasional smell of fresh paint to remind you that work was ongoing. Our room was ‘brand new’ with a balcony overlooking the hotel pond. The tasteful decor of the lounge bar and a good menu meant that we were quite happy to stay at the hotel. Just as well as we had plenty of planning to do for the day ahead.

Jer spent some time that evening giving the bike the once over and noticed a potentially serious problem. There was a loud grinding noise coming from the back wheel. Jer described it like crunching glass. With all the mileage and bad weather, grit had clearly worked it’s way in to the hub and was grinding on the wheel bearings. Jer was convinced that this would only get worse and potentially scupper the challenge. Either he got a brand new wheel or the the old wheel would need cleaning out and the bearings replaced. One way or another, we had to get it to a cycle shop, and soon! Our destination for today was Stroud(ish) and it was a long ride. We decided to go via Worcester and hope a bike shop there could fix it. We reckoned we could be there by midday. We had a plan….or so we thought.

In order to cover an enormous 70+ miles today and get the bike fixed was a huge ask and we knew that to have any chance of Jer finishing in daylight, we had to start early.

We arrived at Ironbridge before 7am and once I had taken photos and video of Jer in front of the famous bridge, we were off and heading towards Worcester. Although threatening to rain, the weather was dry and apart from the ascent out of Ironbridge, the road looked moderately flat. We adopted a 5 mile stop strategy so that I wasn’t too far away from Jer at any one time. Right from the start, the bike was noisy and getting worse by the first stop. Jer didn’t want to waste any time and set off without hardly pausing. I decided that we might not make Worcester with another 40 miles to go and looked for bike shops closer.

I found one at Kidderminster only 18 miles away but it was too early to give them a call. We decided that we should head there regardless, particularly as it wasn’t going to add any miles to the journey. With 5 miles to go, it was past 9am, and I called the shop. They were happy to help. I stopped on the outskirts of the town and waited for Jer. We put the bike in the back of the van and headed to Smith’s Cycles in the middle of town. I took the opportunity to get more supplies in Tescos opposite and Jer took the bike in.

Turned out that the axle was bent and needed replacing along with a new cog set. The wheel itself was fine. Jer also took the opportunity to have the spare tyre put on the back wheel at the same time. In just over an hour, the bike was repaired. An honourable mention is due to Smith’s Cycles (smithscycles.co.uk) for such efficient and speedy work. As it was for charity, he only wanted £20 too! A big thank you.

With a new cog set and 3 extra gears, we went back to the outskirts of Kidderminster and Jer set off around 11:15am. It was business as usual once more and Jer needed to get nearly 50 more miles under his belt before the day was out. Jer had fun with the all the roundabouts skirting Worcester before he finally joined me back on the A38 on the other side. Jer had cycled 20 miles since Kidderminster and was still getting used the new gears and the new noises it was making. Lunch was taken at around 1:45pm and we worked out that there was still about 30 miles of cycling left and that he probably wouldn’t finish until 5pm. What’s more it was raining again. It was patchy for sure but soaking rain nonetheless when it fell.

We decided to split the remaining miles and make a final stop with just 12 miles to go. This put us on the other side of the pretty town of Tewkesbury. After stopping for a brief cuppa and cutting off a bit of the chain guide that had been gnawed by the chain (that’s got to be it surely!), Jer was off for the final leg. He eventually pulled into the scheduled stop near Stroud at 4:45pm after cycling 72.1 miles in 6 hours and 45 minutes that was strewn with stops. Any further bike problems and it will have a new home in the nearest river!

3 Responses to ““Grinding gears and grinding miles” Day 10: Ironbridge to Stroud”

  1. Wellden family says:

    Hi guys,Dont want to teach granny to suck eggs,you may already be doing this,but,daily squirt of light oil into all bearings(couple of drops of 3in1each side),may keep things running smoothly( you could use spray grease but it can make muck stick),also two adjacent screws on top of front chain guide limit left to right travel and sometimes a tweak here can stop the guide rubbing if travel is insufficient with a wider new reargearset,good luck,ttfn

  2. Regan Family says:

    We are so proud of you Jer – we know you can do it! Hope the bike (and the weather) behave for you today. Lots of love to you and ‘Routemaster Rich’! Sissy, Kev & Marg xxx

  3. The Leylands says:

    You’re doing an amazing job Jer – I hope the bike and the weather behave today! Pete

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