Updated: Jun 15
Author: Morgan Calton
At 5am on Friday September 16, 2016, Lee Adams and Morgan Calton met outside Craven Cottage with their bikes at the ready and a mere 200 miles between them and Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium. The flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder that greeted them soon played a starring role rather than merely providing a dramatic backdrop to the start of the ride to North West. Even before the duo had reached the Fulham Palace Road, the heavens opened and they were treated to what turned out to be one of the heaviest downpours in recent memory as London was drenched in 6 months worth of rain in little over 3 hours. As conditions worsened, with various patches of flash flooding, the only solution was to stop in a roadside McDonald’s, refuel with various McCarbs, ring out the sodden clothes and wait for a break in the storm. 2 hours or so later, and with a quick pitstop to a neighbouring Halfords where a helpful assistant donated a couple of waterproofs, they were back on their way.
The destination for Day 1 was set for Birmingham and thanks to the clearer (yet not quite dry) weather, the going was smooth for the most part, with the exception of Google Maps’ continuing insistence that the Union Canal was the best route for 2 road bikes and an unwanted tour of the endless cycle routes of Milton Keynes, the pair eventually made it to the Midlands at around 10pm, just in time to check into a hotel and get a well-earned and nutritious kebab from one of the less salubrious eateries in the city centre.
Day 2 began a mere few hours later. A quick snack and donning of the ever-fashionable Lycra and it was time for the sprint up to Wigan with the aim of arriving in time for the 3pm kickoff. The sun was still to rise and the only people out on the street appeared to be heading home rather than just setting out - certainly not on bikes heading to a Championship football match.
The chill in the air was a substantial improvement on the conditions 24 hours prior, and thankfully the weather was a vast improvement with blue skies replacing thunderous clouds for the remainder of the journey.
The lads continued north taking in the various sightseeing spots on offer: Newcastle-under-Lyme; a drive in Costa Coffee somewhere near a junction of the M6; footballers mansions in Cheshire; and various small towns and villages that would probably never be visited again. With kick off fast approaching and legs getting tired, the help of a fellow Fulham fan, Dave Allen, in taking backpacks and providing liquid on the go, was priceless. And just as the teams were getting ready to head out onto the pitch, the stadium came into view. With little time to work out where the bikes were going to be parked, a quick discussions with Wigan’s wonderfully friendly, if somewhat surprised, staff and they were left in a room within the stadium’s main reception, giving the two just enough time to buy their tickets (maybe should’ve planned ahead…) and get into the ground where the two teams played out one of the dullest nil-nil draws in living memory. What a great way to end 2 days of solid cycling…thank goodness it was a train journey home!