A spot of driving

April 5, 2007

I have a new old bike. Got it on eBay for about $100 (£46 roughly) which was a bargain. It’s a mix of components, Campagnolo, Shimano, all the usual suspects, but it’s a handmade Brian Rourke frame from the early to mid 80’s. Rode very nicely in the spin around the block I gave it when we went to pick it up, which brings me to to rest of the story, “Our First Trip North.”


Rental cars in England are another thing that is Very Expensive, which is to say it’s the same as in Australia if you use a 1:1 currency conversion. I found what appeared to be the best of a bad bunch, and we set off for Stone, in Staffordshire, where the bike resided (resode?) with a fine excuse for adventure outside London (before the incipient onset of employment). Google maps in hand we drove away. Google Maps are amazing in this country, if you put in just the postcode it will almost pinpoint your house. Maybe it’s just the postcodes that are amazing. The car was a red Nissan Micra (Spirita), which was about the smallest car we could rent that I figured we could fit a bike in the back of.

English motorways (the ones denominated with a big ‘M’, as opposed to the smaller A’s and B’s) seem to have few, if any, posted speed limits. 80 miles an hour seems to be what people choose to drive at, though many go faster. It can be a little nerve-wracking at first, not knowing what the limits are, and 80mph is a fair clip, but you soon get used to it, and so we drove uneventfully through mostly picturesque swathes of countryside and occasional pockets of familiarly ugly industry. We didn’t really get out of London until after midday, so we wanted to make good time. Therefore we chose the most direct and least scenic road, only turning off when we needed fuel. Fair enough. Getting back onto the Motorway was problematic though, as we turned onto a route (M42, I think) which was signposted as North, which was where we wanted to go. Turns out the road was called ‘North’, and this had no bearing on which direction you wanted to be travelling. Arrghh. Many English roads have multiple names, and not ones that mean anything beyond their own context, necessarily. So first exit off the South-bound ‘North’ road, and onto the North-bound ‘M42’, where we continued uneventfully to Stone.

Had a traditional (that is to say, crap) pub lunch in Stone, at the Crown and Anchor. Lots of nautical themes in and around Stone, despite its being a fair way inland. Don’t know why. We eventually found the owner of the bike, he invited us in for a cup of tea, so we yarned with him and the wife for a while. Turns out a suburb of Brisbane, Hemmant, is named after his great-grandfather. Lovely people, and they gave us detailed instructions for where to find a place to stay – they recommended a place called Paddock Farm, near The Roaches, in Upper Hulme (pronounced more like ‘ooper youlm’) by the local lad we met. That place looked amazing, but sadly didn’t work out, so we drove on through ever more pretty countryside to Buxton, and that’s where we’ll be… next time.

Crown & Anchor



  1. I should have checked the blog before I posted the question of price on Flickr 🙂

    It looks like a nice bike, if a bit battered, but I imagine that the frame is in reasonable enough condition apart from the surface rust. The bike geek in me gets a
    little thrill to see the words “built with reynolds” on the frame.

    I looked at google and my initial impression was that Staffordshire is quite a distance, but then I realised that I was thinking in UK terms. My guess is that you only went a couple of hundred kilometers to get there at most.

  2. You’re right, it was a 3 hour drive (including the getting lost part), so not so far at all. I believe it’s less than half the distance to Newcastle, which itself is not much more than halfway up the island.

    As I said, the bike seems to ride well, and is very light. Good old 531. 531c, at that, which is the competition grade, slightly lighter.

  3. I imagine your jaunt must have been something like this?

  4. Eerie!

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