As you might very well be aware by now, I love spending my time on the canals. So when the opportunity came up to ride a waterbike along the Bridgewater Canal, I was on it! Literally!
The Waterbike Collective
It is not every day that you get to ride a Schiller waterbike. I found out about the idea from the Outdoor Bloggers Twitter chat when one of my blogger friends announced that he had been riding along the canal. Within mere seconds, I had the application form in front of me being filled in my eager fingers. I kind of forgot about it with being so busy then all of a sudden it was my leg on the route. Well, to be honest, there was a bit of hiccup in that Jit had been called to London meaning I was unsure that I could do my designated leg. Luckily, the leg before (my preferred leg) was still available. It is great how things work out in the end!
After tanking up on a nice big breakfast we were on our way in the taxi to Worsley. I felt a mixture of excitement and curiosity as we made our way there. Even when we couldn’t quite find the marina, I was still eager to get going. And our taxi driver was adamant that we found our destination, which was really nice.
Within moments of arriving, the waterbike was in sight. However, there was a little bit of a challenge with getting it as the man we were to meet was in hospital! His friend, who incidentally had also recently come from hospital gave us a hand and supported us with the many questions from a rather aggressive boater in the marina. All that overcome, I was on the bike and pedalling furiously to get through the weeds and lilly pads binding to my propeller. After a good final push, the lady and Jit getting me through the gate. The final challenge was ferrying Jit to the other side of the canal to the towpath. If you are wondering, we did it successfully with him holding on at the back of me.
Barton Swing Aquaduct
To be totally honest, I did no preparation for the day – I didn’t even really check the route as I have walked the majority of it and just assumed that it would be plain
sailing pedalling. A short distance after setting off, I realised that I would be cycling over an industrial engineering icon. The Barton Swing Aquaduct was in sight and I was about to ride over the Manchester Ship Canal. As a canal geek with a penchant for engineering, this was going to be a very exciting part of my trip.
No bins, but little litter
It was surprising for the first part of the ride that even though there were no bins, there was very little litter. It was rather disconcerting, though, that we had a passing boater asking where he could get rid of his litter as he hadn’t seen a bin for miles. And we wonder why there is a problem… Luckily we were able to direct the boater to the marina where he could bin his rubbish.
It wasn’t long until we started chatting to the few people passing by with curious delight. We shared the story of the Waterbike Collective as well as my mission to bring Refill to the city. Everyone we spoke with had a story to share about the local littler too, and respect to the collective for picking up so much. By this part of the canal, we were starting to fill up our first bag as the area is definitely more used.
Hot, hot, hot!!
Having set off early, I hand’t anticipated quite how quickly the temperature would rise. As such I started to aim for the shade of the bridges for some much needed respite. As we neared the more populate areas of the canal in Stretford, the little was in higher supply. The main sources were lager cans and ice pop wrappers – so a bit of a range of litter bugs.
There is certainly very little shade when riding along the canal, so my tomato face was gleaming in the sunshine! Each stop offered the opportunity to slap on some deliciously cold sun cream, so it all worked out. I had forgotten how much heat the reflection from the water plays a part in the heat as well.
Two bags and counting
Considering the leg that we were doing, we had only filled two bin bags by the time we pulled into Sale. Not bad for having reached the 6 mile mark.
My legs were certainly starting to feel the miles, but my face was still grinning from ear to ear. I think my enjoyment was apparent and encouraged people of all ages to throw me a wave, give me a shout of encouragement or come over for a chat. It was interesting to hear what people though of the project and the bike!
The final countdown
Before we knew it, we were in the final miles of the leg of our Waterbike Collective journey. By this point we had three packed bags and I had overcome the tired legs to have a second wind. It was a good job as we had a little further to go than expected. We were now on a mission to find a kind boater to look after the bike for us.
After a bit of a hair-raising negotiations, we were able to tie up the bike in Sale Cruising Club. The members pulled out all the stops, which we were extremely grateful for! We all secured the bike to the marina, gave it a bit of a clean down and the members even took our litter for us. (there is definitely something amazing about the people of Manchester!) We even got the offer of a brew from the guys on the kayaks!
Bike securely moored and the grumbling in our tummies getting louder, it was time to say goodbye and finish our Waterbike Collective adventure. I have to say that even in the intense heat, it was a fantastic day and an even better experience.
The idea was created by Dave Cornthwaite and part of the Say Yes More tribe. I joined the tribe as part of the adventure and have seen so much enthusiasm and planning. If you need that little boost to say ‘yes’ to something you might otherwise not, then join the group!
To share more of my experience of the day, I made a vlog – check it out and remember to subscribe for more of my videos.
On a final note, I have treated Jit and I to some litter pickers so that we can do that little bit more along our canals. Every little bit helps and it goes towards the million pieces of litter that is the aim of the Waterbike collective ride. So if you want to say ‘yes’ to something today, say it to doing a two minute clean wherever you may be!
Now tell me, what will you say ‘yes’ to this month? Share it in the comments so that you have to stick to it!!