By the start of their second week the Grand Tours have usually found their way to
the mountains, or at least to larger hills by way of a transition into the really high passes. We’re not blessed with anything that could be considered even half a mountain in the West Midlands, but that’s not to say that we are without hills and testing climbs. So for today’s 8th stage of The People’s Grand Tour I decided to head to Bridgnorth, a town situated on the River Severn in a fairly step side valley when approached from the east or west. Accompanied by a steady mizzle that was barely wetting the roads but which was leaving rain droplets on my showerproof jacket, I pondered how quickly the British spring gives way to Autumn whilst rolling west along lanes and through villages until eventually descending down to the Severn on the southern boundary of Bridgnorth.
My first climb out of the town was on the fairly new (by new I mean built in the last 30 years) bypass which is spanned by a bridge or two and widened by a
crawler line on the uphill carriageway. Two lanes or not there is always at least one car that chooses to buzz me by passing whilst staying entirely in the left lane, and I often wonder whether it’s a cyclist hater driving or just simply an incompetent buffoon with a poor eye for distance - although today there was a third possibility which was a driver distracted by a large bedsheet dangling off a footbridge pleading for common sense in regard to the ridiculous panic buying of fuel. Nobody can argue with the sentiment expressed, but many of those who see it and agree will still keep the tank topped up ……… just in case.
From the top of the bypass I turn right and descend into Bridgnorth Low Town, skirting around the edge of the cliff top (and commercial centre) High Town before crossing the river then climbing out again via the locally renowned Hermitage hill. The Hermitage winds upwards for about a kilometre at an average gradient of around 8% and a maximum slope, according to my Garmin Edge, of about 12%. Like the bypass I’d ridden up a few minutes earlier it’s not the best of road surfaces, a smooth under layer ruined by the crude “pitch and chip” dressing so beloved of cheapskate Highways Departments seeking a quick fix solution to “protecting” roads. Unsurprisingly The Hermitage sapped a bit of energy from my legs, and perhaps the poor sleep on Thursday night came home to roost a little too, so I was glad to roll home more slowly along quiet lanes again, even passing a working, pillar box red telephone box in Chesterton.
Considering this is the 8th day of the Tour, it’s quite surprising to say that for the
first time since the Grand Depart last Saturday morning, my bike needed wiping down when I got home, although only on the underside of the downtube. All things considered we’ve been pretty well blessed weather wise, here’s hoping it continues.