It was one of those mornings, where the sun was out and you know it’s going to stay out. I think we all lost about an armful of sweat; my bum became a gushing river (which reminded me of the strong laxatives I had to take for my colonoscopy). We all kept it light (our urine that is) by drinking lots of Juice Doctor and we ate plenty of milk chocolate (if it was good enough for Scott of the Antarctic then it is good enough for me…. Uh-oh)
Today was the day of the tail-backs, and we had some longer than Tony Blair’s nose. Kim said we should see the queues of car more like a carnival parade, and this made us all feel much better. But we still decided to get off the main roads and do a bit of windy country lane scenic cycling. I saw a sign for Congleton, it was 5 miles away. Over the next hour I saw another 7 or 8 signs for Congleton, all hovering between the 4 1/2 and 6 mileage – it seemed like we were going round in ever decreasing circles so we got back onto the main drag (but at least we got to go on a footballer’s wife safari).
It was a Spice Girls/Dolly Parton themed ride, which I know Elliot just adored (he really belted out ‘I will always love you ‘). The musical accompaniment was vital to our hill climbing, which was lucky because the hills came thicker and faster than we would have liked, and they even took us through a town called Burnage, which left a bitter taste of irony in our mouths.
At around 3.40pm we entered the seemingly innocent sounding Biddulph, which later became the Biddulph triangle – a scary place where nothing is as it seems. Biddulph is a virus town, which appeared to eat every other populous in it’s path …… ‘Welcome to Biddulph’ …. ‘Welcome to Biddulph’ ….. ‘WELCOME TO BIDDULPH’ ….. you could arrive but never leave.
Eventually however (after 45 minutes) we did leave by following Mick Kent’s driving instructor car …. We even gave him a quick phone call to check it really was Mick, and he gave us a wave.
If we thought Biddulph was bad, it was small-fry compared to Stoke; Stoke is not one place, it is a collection of 6 interconnected towns …. Like the Crystal Maze, but without mumsy. Stoke also appeared to go up and down, both geographically and socially …. We encountered quite the brawl outside a bike shop which elicited a 5 police car response. We kept our heads down and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible, letting out a united chorus of ‘Hey up Duckie’ to appear local.
We decided to beg for lawn space at the Premier Inn behind the Britannia Stadium, and they graciously answered our cries for help. There was something quite soothing about going to sleep to the sound of the rattling Stoke ring road.