Thursday, June 20
On the morning of Day 5 we started by fitting our panniers. I had new panniers (brought from London by FLJ’s brother) to replace the one I’d broken on the first day, and Fearless Leader Joe had a new bike to fit his panniers to.
As we set out, my chain was making squeaking noises. I knew the rear derailleur was somewhat misaligned, and all the mud and rain had apparently washed away most of the chain lube. We stopped at a garage and they kindly let us use some oil. It helped a bit. We set out again with FLJ getting used to his new bicycle with its much more upright and relaxed riding position.
At Worcester our route took us through the town center. We got turned around once or twice and were impatient to be moving, but the views were amazing.
Then at Kidderminster, FLJ had quite a time fitting his wide handlebars through this gate (meant to keep motorscooters off the canal path). We’d been working through various styles of gates the whole time, but this one was the most difficult. (I was able to pass through without any problem.)
Wombourne: Look up!
The GPS guided us under this bridge and then seemed to call for us to continue along the road on top of the bridge. We looked around for a way up. Eventually we found we’d passed by a poorly maintained and unmarked path up to the South Staffordshire Railway Walk, a converted rail right-of-way.
Later in the day as we cycled along the canal, my rear derailleur started misbehaving. It wouldn’t shift off the four lowest cogs. We took a break and I used my water bottle to clear the mud out of the derailleur and I fiddled with the adjustment screws. I got the thing working again but I’d made a bad mistake: I’d backed out the lower limit screw. In the evening as we neared Stafford, I shifted the derailleur off the lowest cog and the chain went into the wheel, breaking two spokes and mangling a few others.
While I got the broken spokes out of the way so Kuroko could limp into the next town, Fearless Leader Joe worked his phone and found a mobile bicycle mechanic. We secured a room at a Travelodge in Stafford, and Ben showed up in his repair truck to replace the broken spokes, straighten the wheel, clean and lube the chain and adjust the rear derailleur! He’s our hero!