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P1020045 - small

Checking the route.

A weekend ride along the beautiful Kennet and Avon canal from Reading to Bath, with the sun shining all the way. This was an 80-mile route, split at the Golden Swan pub in Wilcot just west of Pewsey. The best thing was that I was joined by my 10-year old son on his first cycling expedition. He coped really well, without any specific training - just a couple of practice rides of about an hour or so over the preceeding week plus his general footballing fitness and youthful energy.


For most of the trip we just followed the canal towpath, detouring onto quiet lanes that are part of the Sustrans Route 4 a few times. The surfaces varied from paved sections through towns to good condition towpath and making our own way across fields with cows for company. Although Route 4 does follow the canal for stretches it doesn't mean that the infrastructure is always suitable for cyclists. I was surprised to find the route blocked two or three times towards the eastern end by gates that were a real struggle to negotiate with a loaded bike - if you are coming this way on a tandem I imagine you would have real problems, having to lift your bike physically over the gate. Having a bikepacking set-up would make life easier because of the lack of wide panniers.


It was a really picturesque journey. We were not rushing and had time to enjoy the scenery but in two days there was not really the chance to visit the various points of interest along the way.


I suffered a couple of very dramatic rear-wheel blow-outs. My rear tyre was pretty old and the beading was on the way out - as a result the tyre lifted off the rim and the tube squeezed out like some cartoon swelling, exploding loudly. This happened twice, and I also had a puncture from the wire of the beading itself spiking the tube. Luckily I found the hardware shop / bike shop in Hungerford and was able to buy a new tyre and replenish my supply of tubes. We had no other mechanical problems, and nothing that was caused by the condition of the track.


Looks like my son has caught the cycling bug, so it's time to check through the atlas and sort out the next journey. (Find out what that was here.)

Kennet and Avon Canal

Summer 2017

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