25 June 2008

The Road to Keele

The road is long......

Home to Keele was estimated at 235 miles by Garmin and after a detour to get some cash in Newcastle under Lyme it worked out to be pretty accurate.

Unlike last year the weather was good on the way. Also unlike last year, petrol was almost an arm and a leg per gallon. I decided to keep the speed down to an indicated 75mph which equated to 70mph on the Garmin's speedo. As a result fuel consumption was around 54mpg for the trip. Not bad for a big boxer twin fully loaded with fat rider and stuff for three days, decent stuff for dinner in the evening and working stuff for the days at the Conference.

On the way up time was lost due to a broken down truck on the M25 by Potters Bar; the tail back to before Enfield's A10 junction. Entering the traffic to split the lanes the arrival time at Keele was 1512, as I exited past the truck and into the empty three lanes it had gone up to 1547! How long the cars at the back took to get past the obstruction God alone knows.

After a brief respite it was into the road works on the M1 where they are widening it from the M25 to Luton. Narrow lanes and everyone keeping to 50mph. Once again it was a treat to get up to legal speeds again.

I had a lunch stop at Toddington for 20 minutes sitting in the sun and then set off again. The full tank I had filled at the M20 Services at J11 was about half gone and I cruised as far a Corley before filling up. The mileage for this tank was around 185 miles and there were two bars left on the gauge. I made a note of the mileage so I could work out the mpg later.

We lost a bit of time between the M1 and Corley as there was a big accident on the other side. All I could see as we crawled past was a pretty destructed Mini with it's roof ripped off and a load of ambulances and cop cars. The M6 was tailed back past the junction before and then empty as they had closed it way back towards Coventry.

I had another stop at Stafford to have a pee and a drink of water. It was still warm. I finally arrived in the University at about 1715. All in all it had taken about 6 hours from Hythe.

After the conference I was away just after 2pm, I had reset the Garmin to record the journey. As on the way up I decided to avoid the possible solid traffic through Brum on the elevated M6 and took to the M6 Toll. A bit steep at £2.50 for a bike, but hardly a car or truck to be seen. The Garmin spends the first half of the journey along it telling you to turn round and go back to the M6 itself, but after that it tells you to carry on! It's not as though it doesn't have the Toll road on the maps! It is clearly marked! For the money I hope I saved myself some time! In my experience the M6 past Brum from Fort Dunlop to the RAC at Walsall has always been a shit for years and years.

I planned to stop at Rothersthorpe services on the way back but in the end there were still three bars on the gauge and I carried on to Newport Pagnell. My arse was killing me by then and with another 180 plus miles on the odometer I filled up as well as ate my Capita SIMS Conference packed lunch.

To be brutally honest, apart from a cooked breakfast, the packed lunch was the best meal of the entire conference!!

I arrived home a little after 1830 with 237 on the Garmin and only 27 minutes of stop time in just over 4 hours 15 mins on the road.

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