The Tandem Goes West
Whilst Chris Froome was powering up the last mountains of the French Alps en route to victory in the Tour de France, we were in the middle of our own epic adventure … 13 miles along the Rochdale canal. Now, let me quickly add, that was the longest trip we’d ever undertaken by tandem!
I was relieved that the temperature dropped for us, as I’d not even been able to leave the house the previous day due to the heat! There was a fresh breeze, perfect for cycling, and we made good progress along the tow path.
We really appreciated the electric motor for all the sudden inclines around each lock (and there were quite a few!) Otherwise, the terrain was varied; occasionally smooth, often bumpy, sometimes bone rattling as we crossed the many overflow chutes that looked very quaint and cobbled but, ouch! They really hurt!
I even managed a summit! I haven’t got to the summit of anything for quite a while, and wasn’t really expecting to do so that day either. Well, we reached and crossed the Highest Broad Lock in England, no less!
The route was peaceful, and the surrounding countryside was wild and empty. The odd barge gently glided by and we passed a few walkers, a couple of fisherman and several other cyclists – even another tandem! It was great to be just another cyclist (obviously much better to be on a tandem though!)
We did encounter a few challenges towards the end of the journey, west of the Highest Broad Lock in England. Suddenly, we were expected to negotiate very narrow “gates” to continue on our way. Other cyclists could either just about wriggle through the tiny gap or hoick their bikes above their heads and walk through. That wasn’t so easy with a tandem, especially one with a weighty battery on the back!
We managed to jiggle and haul the bike through a couple of them. Then we were met by the third: this one had the added twist of being at right angles to the path, which wasn’t very wide. We managed, but it was a struggle. The irony was that there were gates on either side of these narrow gaps … which were securely padlocked! A notice stated that you could unlock them with a RADAR key but who would think to take one there, even if they had one?!
Ah well, with these obstacles safely overcome we were soon at journey’s end: Hollingworth lake – and a cafe! I was then able to hop on a train back to the start, and pick up the car which I’d left at the station. Meanwhile, Pete rode home along the road – he didn’t fancy tackling the squeeze-through gaps on his own … or the long flight of steps we’d had to descend along that section of the route.
The following day, I was distinctly aware of the efforts I’d made as I was aching in quite a few places! But, mainly, I was feeling very pleased with my achievement!