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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Birmingham to Redditch and back

Having documented the Birmingham canals ride, it is time to report on my final ride for the year. With a crisp clear day on Sunday, 27 December, I decided it was a good opportunity to get out on the trike. There had been a frost overnight so I was expecting some ice on the roads.

My target was to travel down the National Cycle Network route 5 to at least Redditch. If I made good time, I might push on to Stratford-upon-Avon. This is a route that I completed on my Avanti Montari at the beginning of 2011. It is my first cycling blog entry. At that stage we were living in Kings Norton so the start and finish location is different. Unfortunately, the iPhone died on this journey so the route map is what I could create using MapMyRide. It isn't accurate through some portions as it doesn't see all the paths that are available.

Leaving home, I headed down past Leyhill Park. These down hills are exhilarating all though a bit chilly in the crisp air. I wound my way through the suburbs to find route 5 in Rubery. I had planned to join it on Tessall Lane but heading in the wrong direction at Egg Hill Lane, I finally reached route 5 at the junction of New Inns Lane and Rubery Lane. Some sections of this had heavy frost on the ground but none of this part of the ride was very slippery. The houses vary significantly through this area. Our house was built in the 1950s. Opposite Ley Hill Park is a new subdivision but those closer to Northfield are early 1900s while around Rubery, the houses vary in age, style, and quality.

Route 5 heads down Waseley Road to head along the south of the Waseley Hills. Holywell Lane and Redhill Lane are like heading out into the country and to some extent it is. Water was running across the road and there were signs of ice but most of this was turning to slush so there was no problem with grip. This changed as I climbed up Manor Lane to Birmingham Road. The frost surface meant that I had to choose my path carefully to retain grip. After stopping by a mile marker, I did discover that the park break was partially on reducing my free rolling speed. Testing that the break still worked along Birmingham Road had the back wheel locking up on the frost so care was needed when breaking. This wasn't a problem because of the limited traffic.

Route 5 heads into Catshill along Woodrow Lane avoiding the A38. After weaving through Catshill, the route takes a path under the M42 to the outskirts of Bromsgrove. Again, it takes a detour to avoid the main roads into the centre of Bromsgrove. However, the run through Broomsgrove is fairly straight although there is a bridge over the A38 to navigate. Each of these towns are close together but it feels more like a country ride interrupted by small towns. Navigating through central Bromsgrove is frustrating especially with the town bypass to cross. At least this time,I roughly knew where I was going. In the attempt to keep you off what might be busy roads, there is a climb out of the centre of Bromsgrove before you take to suburban streets to leave by the Bromsgrove Railway Station.

Leaving Bromsgrove, I came across my first ford close to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. It was possibly more surface water across the road. I stopped on the bridge over the canal. The next few hill climbs were quite icy and on one I had to back up to find a path with some grip. At least on three wheels, you slide sideways rather than fall off. The patches of the road that still had signs of white frost tended to provide better grip than those that appeared clear. Some roads where quite wet with signs of having been iced. Careful navigation was required.

I stopped in Redditch for lunch before heading out to the junction with route 55. This was further east than I intended to go and I didn't want to go through Kings Norton which is where route 55 goes. My aim was to head back through Elvechurch and Brant Green. The road that route 55 goes up is quite a narrow track and is fairly constant climbing, Before getting to the M42, I turned left at Storrage Lane which was signposted for Alvechurch. There was more of a climb that I expected on this lane but at one point I had a view back over Rowney Green. At Redditch Road, I turned north toward Alvechurch. In Alvechurch, Tanyard Lane was sign posted for Brant Green so I turned left and this took me up the Coopers Hill climb and over the M42. From Brant Green, I followed the B4120 to Longbridge and Bristol Road South (A38).