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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Birmingham-Fazeley Canal

One of my routes in to Aston University takes me along part of this canal system. I mentioned this in a post just after I started at Aston (4 July). Over the last month, there has been some glorious still mornings and I decided to get some photos. This collection takes in the Digbeth branch that goes to the Grand Union canal and the section that runs along the northern side of the city. Both of these sections have plenty of locks with the section along the northern side of the city having at least fifteen. Enjoy the photos.

Birmingham Canals

The trike hasn't been getting much exercise over the last month. A ride to and from work on Friday (30 Sept) was the only time that I have had it out since the last bank holiday (31 Aug). I realised looking back over my blog that I didn't write up that bank holiday ride. On that ride, I decided to try the trike on part of national route 81. The initial goal was to reach the junction or route 5 and route 81 on the canal. However, I chose the wrong roads and found myself on the Old Main Line Birmingham canal.

The initial tow path of the Old Main Line canal was easy riding but once the canal went under and followed the M5 (maybe the M5 is following the line of the canal), the tow path became narrow and difficult to pass on the trike. I had to carry it on on part. Being under the M5 was quite interesting although barren. The Old Main Line crosses the Main Line beside the M5 and then joins a junction were you can go either way to the Main Line canal. I chose to head west past a lake like area in the canal as it dropped down through a couple of locks. Some narrow patches here saw me off the trike to negotiate the grassed edge of the canal. Not really a tow path here.

As I went up a grass bank to cross a bridge on the Main Line canal, I managed to break the chain. I had shortened it in the morning before coming out but this didn't break at the join point. Fortunately, I had the chain tool with me and with the help from a fisherman cyclist, had it repaired and I was soon on my way. However, with it now late afternoon, I headed back in toward Birmingham down the Main Line Canal tow path passing under the M5 and Old Main Line canal bridges. On these flat wider stretches of path, holding 20 km / hr plus wasn't difficult. On one stretch, I reached 28 km / hour on the flat. I haven't done that for a while but then I haven't ridden a race bike for a while. I suspect with fitness, I might be able to hold those 30 km / hr plus on the trike but then I am not looking at speed but enjoyment of the ride and the trike is delivering.

The ride to work on Friday confirmed the cruise ability of the trike. Hill climbs are definitely slower but on the flat, I don't have any problem holding speeds close to those on my commute bike. Navigating obstacles is a difficulty on the trike. Its width means that it needs to be lifted over some barriers such as gates on the canal paths. However, it isn't too heavy to lift on your own unless you have panniers on. The other frustration is being a exhaust fume level in traffic. On a bike the extra height puts your head above the bulk of the fumes. Not so on the trike but cruising on a smooth piece of road is much nicer on smooth flat roads.