Birmingham canals at night

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Sweep
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Sweep » 19 Sep 2018, 8:01am

PH wrote:
Sweep wrote:they will see the proposed route with the canal bits usually highlighted in green for traffic free.

Never ridden the Birmingham canals at night, have ridden through the city centre in the early hours and found the roads pretty quiet.
Two little points - maybe Richard will confirm, but I'm pretty sure the green highlight on Cycletravel means unsurfaced, plenty of surfaced tracks are traffic free and not highlighted.
Second point - the train you're already catching probably doesn't terminate in Birmingham, neither does it carry on along the same trajectory. I made the mistake of watching my train leave the station in Stratford on Avon because the information board said Worcester which I knew wasn't in the same direction.... :oops: You may find that staying on the same train for a stop or two takes you away from the city to somewhere more pleasant to start the ride.
EDIT - Just had a quick look and it seems the Chiltern trains go on to Kidderminster. Cycletravel without any adjustments make that 3 miles longer to Prestwich. Though the default route from either still takes you through the centres of Wolverhampton, Stafford and Stoke. A little manipulation (Dragging slightly west) adds another 4 miles and avoids them, the extra distance Vs the urban navigation probably makes the longer route quicker and there's very little green highlight.
Looks like a good one, fancy some company?


Interesting point about cycling from Kidderminster instead but I seem to remember that there might be a gradient issue. I cycled a while ago from Birmingham to London via Kidderminster and I remember a fair bit of climbing.

Have decided to start from Wolverhampton - will do the cycletravel route from there. I don't mind cycling through Stafford and Stoke at night - it can be interesting cycling through cities and towns at night (as long as not canals or anywhere else there is a chance of being cornered) - gives me a sense of freedom being about while others are trying to grab enough sleep before the next day's drudgery. Sometimes your mind can stray and on seeing someone start musing for a while about what the hell they are up to at that time - just a while until it occurs to you that they could just as easily think/say the same thing about you :)

If you are interested in joining me from Wolverhampton, get in touch via a PM.
Sweep

brynpoeth
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby brynpoeth » 19 Sep 2018, 8:36am

ConRAD has an interesting thread about cycling at night too
Cycling? Of course, but it is far better on a Gillott.. Alternative facts welcome

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Sweep
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Sweep » 19 Sep 2018, 8:56am

brynpoeth wrote:ConRAD has an interesting thread about cycling at night too

Probably more scenic locale than Wolverhampton though :)
Sweep

crazydave789
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby crazydave789 » 2 Oct 2018, 10:09pm

Sweep wrote:
brynpoeth wrote:ConRAD has an interesting thread about cycling at night too

Probably more scenic locale than Wolverhampton though :)


wolverhampton is scenic with its gently rolling hills up to telfordcester. pop up the wreakin for its stunning views

durhambiker
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby durhambiker » 5 Oct 2018, 9:22am

Why at night when you can see nothing? Bizarre

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Sweep
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Sweep » 5 Oct 2018, 9:59am

durhambiker wrote:Why at night when you can see nothing? Bizarre

er, the experience?

I can assure you that you can see a lot at night.

You should maybe try it at least once.

Ride completed - Birmingham canals avoided.

I did amend the route ever so slightly on the fly to miss out a bit of canalside riding right at the beginning just after midnight in Wolverhampton. But mainly for ease of pedalling as I am pretty sure I would have been safe. For an (adopted) Londoner the sheer peace of the centre of Wolverhampton just after midnight was very striking. Pretty much no one around.

I did end up cycling for miles and miles along canals near and through the centre of Stoke - perfectly safe as by then it was around 3am and I always reckon ne-er do wells will be tucked up in bed/zonked out in a drugged state at the foot of their beds by then as it's more early morning than late night.

The other side of stoke I stopped for a canalside double espresso brew on a convenient piece of canalside furniture/industrial heritage.

By the time I reached Manchester's Bridgewater canal it was well into daylight so no issues at all.

edit - thanks again Jacob for the £2.50 add on fare suggestion to Wolverhampton. Brilliant - you are a star. Bought the ticket in advance and collected from a machine at my south London station.

There was a Virgin train due in before the Arriva Wales train I ended up taking which would have been valid for the ticket but when I checked bike availability on that at Marylebone before setting off the nice helpful woman in the ticket office said there was no bike availability. Or was it too close? About 3 hours before? Or maybe Virgin as usual with bikes just couldn't be buttocked?

Chiltern rail from Marylebone to Birmingham was a joy. £5.50 for the advance ticket, just roll up with the bike and plonk it in the nice bike space, no need to book, could sit right next to the bike and use the free wifi, train nicer than I expected - I had expected to be a rattled a bit but was wasn't. For someone with a bike travelling between London and Birmingham I would recommend them every time over Virgin Rail. And Marylebone is such a cute station.

Will be returning with Virgin Rail - I won't bore the forum with the complete and utter usual abomination booking the bike on that service was. Situation only saved by a very nice helpful woman at a south London railway station who achieved the near impossible by getting on the phone to a colleague o/f hers at another south London station to talk her through the quagmire of the Virgin Rail bike booking system.

Dave - on the christmas tree lighting - ended up just being a single rear - the Fibreflare fell off somewhere on a darkened country lane - I'll be starting a new thread on the rear lighting a fully loaded tourer conundrum.
Sweep

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RickH
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby RickH » 5 Oct 2018, 10:50pm

Sweep wrote:There was a Virgin train due in before the Arriva Wales train I ended up taking which would have been valid for the ticket but when I checked bike availability on that at Marylebone before setting off the nice helpful woman in the ticket office said there was no bike availability. Or was it too close? About 3 hours before? Or maybe Virgin as usual with bikes just couldn't be buttocked?

...

Will be returning with Virgin Rail - I won't bore the forum with the complete and utter usual abomination booking the bike on that service was. Situation only saved by a very nice helpful woman at a south London railway station who achieved the near impossible by getting on the phone to a colleague o/f hers at another south London station to talk her through the quagmire of the Virgin Rail bike booking system.

Virgin's system will accept bike reservations up to pretty much the time the train is due (it couldn't cope with a train that was late & hadn't arrived but should have already left one time!).

Virgin have had a new computer system at stations which staff have been learning to find their way round. They have likely had some sort of training but I doubt they will have taken in all the finer points until they have dealt with a particular scenario a few times. When I got a Virgin train fairly recently the lady behind the counter was having to think quite hard how to do a bike reservation.

Apart from being strict with bike reservations, & they are more strict than they used to be, I've found Virgin to be fine with bikes. I'm usually going between intermediate stops in the North West & platform staff will ring through to your destination almost without fail (I alway confirm with them which train I'm getting & check which way round it is expected - its a long way though the milling crowds if an 11 coach Pendelino turns up the other way round unexpectedly!) they have usually told the train manager as well but I alway confirm that too once on board (the Voyagers are simpler as you can get your bike on & off without anyone having to open a door). Quite a few of the North West platform staff are cyclists themselves which probably helps.

These days I tend to travel just on Arriva on my regular trips over to Chester as although involves a longer bike ride I don't have to change trains (& it's cheaper). Arriva staff seem pretty laid back as to how many bikes make up the two allowed! :wink:

Glad you had a good ride :D

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Sweep
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Sweep » 9 Oct 2018, 7:51am

Hi Rick

Thanks for the nice long reply and the info on Virgin bike booking.

It is possible that all the bike places were just booked on the train I tried about - it was only two to three hours before the train departure.

The nice woman at Bromley south wasn't a virgin employee (probably South Eastern) but was heroic as it was probably their system she was grappling with. She confided in me that she had had no training at all in using it. Particularly nice of her to make the attempt as not too long before she admitted that she had bungled it and issued to someone a seat reservation which she had thought was a bike reservation. So the person couldn't get on the train. After the phone call and much frantic tapping through what seemed to me from my side of the counter to be a bit of software designed in the stone age, the machine spat out two tickets printed "bike reservation", so I should be OK. Thanks again to her and to her colleague down the phone line. She went beyond the call of duty to help me.

To clarify, I have no problem with Virgin staff - it's their bosses I would happily tie to the West Coast tracks. For of course although many of their cheapest fares are only available on line, and they are so enamoured of tech (and doubtless big data) these days that they would rather issue an eticket to flash on a smartphone, they will not let you book the bike online. Which causes obvious (to anyone but them) problems - I had to cycle six miles to Bromley south, research the ticket on my Chromebook courtesy of spoons wifi, across the road to find that (unlike last time) it appeared that the office at the station couldn't book the bike, nice woman and an awful process to get the bike reservation, back over the road to book the ticket online for me - a fare only available online.

So, yes no problem with the staff - I seem to remember a particularly helpful train despatcher/customer service person at Preston a couple of times who is actually a cyclist. Colin? Been a great help to me at least twice.

Am fine with Virgin being strict with the reservations tickets- all good - if they weren't there would undoubtedly be cases of folk with tickets having their trips screwed because the bike places were all filled.

Yes the trip was great - confident that now I actually (after mega faff) got the bike reserved the trip back down the western main line will be nice - definitely a nice experience to cycle to the station through country lanes, plonk loaded bike on an express train, zap across half the country, then ride home.
Sweep

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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby PH » 9 Oct 2018, 3:29pm

Sweep wrote:Chiltern rail from Marylebone to Birmingham was a joy. £5.50 for the advance ticket, just roll up with the bike and plonk it in the nice bike space, no need to book, could sit right next to the bike and use the free wifi, train nicer than I expected - I had expected to be a rattled a bit but was wasn't. For someone with a bike travelling between London and Birmingham I would recommend them every time over Virgin Rail. And Marylebone is such a cute station.

Glad the ride went well. Yes that train journey is a good one for the reasons you give and a real bargain.

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Si
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Si » 9 Oct 2018, 3:59pm

Note...... if travelling from SW to NE brum, or viseversa, by train the dreaded LEAF FALL TIME TABLE is about to kick in.....abandon hope all ye who enter here.

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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby al_yrpal » 9 Oct 2018, 5:55pm

Sweep thanks for this. A most unusual tour. How do you think them up. Looking forward to your next adventure…

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. CTC gone but not forgotten!

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Sweep
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Sweep » 9 Oct 2018, 7:25pm

al_yrpal wrote:Sweep thanks for this. A most unusual tour. How do you think them up. Looking forward to your next adventure…

Al


How do I think them up? This one was a combination of

sheer meanness
being p'ed off with the total mind rotting fag of booking a bike on either west or east coast lines these days and thinking, sod it, I'll pedal
slightly last minute plan to head north which would cause inevitable Virgin issues.
thinking "what a perverse/daft thing to do" - better do it.
Not quite a tour
The ride was a bit over 12 hours riding for the near 220km according to the Garmin but it took over 16 hours - still not sure where all the stopping time went - pretty sure I couldn't have spent it ALL in that spoons - more on that in the other ongoing thread.
Sweep

brynpoeth
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby brynpoeth » 9 Oct 2018, 7:33pm

Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons? +1!
Cycling? Of course, but it is far better on a Gillott.. Alternative facts welcome