Liverpool to La Salette - sponsored cycle for Uganda: Day 1

It's about time I gave an account of my sponsored cycle, completed 2 weeks ago, so here we go.

As you can see, I tried to keep baggage to a minimum eventhough I was going to be away for 10 days in total (8 days cycling). I'd had a few problems with various bike components coming to the end of their life span over the month or so prior to the ride, in particular the wheel hubs and cones. After discussions with my regular bike shop (Quinn's Cycles on Edge Lane, Liverpool) it was decided that it would be cost-effective and possibly safer to replace the wheels completely rather than recycle the rims and spokes, rebuilding the wheels with new hubs and cones. However, the wheels that were ordered 10 days before I left didn't arrive at the shop as planned. So they ended up providing me with 2 higher spec wheels for the same price. Good form!

But there was a further problem... when I then went for a training ride a few days before leaving to test the bike set up with all the baggage and new wheels, I got mysterious grinding sounds from one of the wheels. So the bike had to go back to the shop again! The noise was found to be coming from the spokes and a general tightening on both wheels seemed to solve the problem. However, all this left me feeling a little unsure at how my bike (and especially the wheels) would cope with the rigours of the 8-day ride. I was particularly apprehensive about downhill riding when the wheels would come under the most strain.

With this in the back of my mind, I set off on Sat. May 24th from Liverpool, heading for Warwick and the Catholic parish church in the town centre.

The weather was reasonable most of the day, though a headwind picked up strength as the day went on and it ended with some occasional showers. The headwind lead me to choosing a few smaller roads on the way to Birmingham to try and get some shelter. This lead me to riding through a lovely little olde English village called Maer.

The sign shows Charles Darwin holding a copy of the Origin of Species. This intrigued me. So when I got back from the ride I did a bit of research. It turns out that Darwin spent a great deal of time in the village (though he was born and brought up in Shrewsbury, a bit to the north) at his uncle, Josiah Wedgewood's house. He ended up marrying Wedgewood's daughter, Emma, in the village church and he remained very fond of his uncle and the village itself.

After 121 miles (no mechanical problems and wheels only creaking slightly), I arrived at the Catholic parish presbytery in Warwick just in time to meet the Parish Priest, Canon Edward Stewart (a lovely man) before getting a quick wash and heading to the church for the Saturday evening Mass.

When I was preparing the ride, I phoned up the parish at Warwick on the off chance that the priest might be able to put me up for the night. It turned out that not only was Canon Edward from St. Austin's Parish, Grassendale, Liverpool, where I worked as Music Minister for the parish youth movement for 5 years, but his father and grandfather were former pupils of our school here in Liverpool, St. Francis Xavier's College, and his recently deceased sister was a pillar of our local parish here in Liverpool, Bishop Eton, where we go to 7.00am Mass every morning. Small world! God is good :-)

We had a long, friendly chat that night about life in Liverpool and all sorts of other things. A new friend.

Canon Edward

More to follow...
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