10 years ago when we moved into our house we were plagued by weekender bikers, neeeeow neeow, all afternoon, particularly on sunny summer Sundays. They were generally on their way back to the Black Country after spending the day hooning around the Peak District, stopping for ice creams in Matlock Bath, admiring their middle aged crisis purchases, comparing specs and paint jobs. Luckily some strategically applied 50mph speed limits a few years back has meant that they don’t come our way any more. However, we have a new plague on summer Sunday’s now, but they are slower, quieter and I no longer curse every time they zoom past – roadies!
This summer The Tour of Britain came through the Staffordshire villages of Milford and Brocton and so did the following ‘Tour Ride’ a mass participation event that gives amateurs and enthusiasts the chance to ride the Day 5 route of the race. This and the addition of two ‘Strava’ king of the mountains climbs has made the road past my house a bit of a mecca for local road cyclists of all shapes and sizes.
Cannock Chase AONB in the Midlands is a hidden gem; it’s the rolling hills of forest and heath-land with the BT tower on top you can see on the right as you sit on the northbound M6, normally in a traffic jam, just past Birmingham before you hit Stoke on Trent. Of course its main attraction for cyclists in the past has been the excellent mountain biking of the ‘Follow the Dog’ and ‘Monkey’ trails of the Birches Valley forest centre but more and more it is starting to attract roadies, particularly the ones without the thighs needed to get up into the Peak District where the serious climbs are.
The area is also now sprinkled with the high-end bike shops and the cafes that are needed to sustain those taking in the long vistas out towards the Shropshire hills in the West and National Forest in the East. Once struggling countryside cafes are now busy, rows of shiny carbon road bikes leant up outside as their owners munch on cake, drink coffee and admire their steeds, comparing specs and weights. I sometimes wonder if some of them are the same ones who used to frequent Matlock Bath a few years ago!
For more information about Cannock Chase http://www.visitcannockchase.co.uk/
Strava segment http://app.strava.com/segments/891928