Here’s a ride you might like to try for something different, if you’re in Brum and have a spare afternoon to get back to Sheffield – why not pop over to Leicester and get the train from there?
Update June 2013 – I’ve added a link from Birmingham International/NEC to this route. Did you know you can get in and out of the NEC without going on a major trunk road? Neither did I, but incredibly , you can! It’s a 10 minute train ride from New St, so if you don’t fancy schlepping it all the way out of the built-up area this could be a good place to start.
As well as the Google map above there is a Mapometer Route map here. (From New St only) Distance just under 50 miles. Flattish.
It’s a great ride, improving once you get out of Birmingham. Start at the FOE cafe on Allinson Rd in Digbeth – one of their great veggie lunchies will provide you with enough base calories for the ride. There isn’t a signed bike route all the way out of Birmingham to the East, although there is one from Digbeth signposted for Small Heath for a shortish way, so follow that and then take to the suburban back streets before crossing over several motorways and finally seeing some countryside. Alternatively if you’d like to get straight out to the countryside, take the train to Coleshill Parkway.
From Birmingham International/NEC: Go round the lake then take East Way out of the complex. Cross the bridge over the M42, under the next bridge dismount at the next right turning and walk up the ramp (This is a one-way slip road from the A45 so be careful!) At the top you are on Middle Bickenhill Lane – head north on this until you come to the junction with the A452. Dismount again and walk about 100 yards – once again you are going the wrong way on a slip road, so take care! At the end of this you go under the dual carriageway and you are on Peckington Lane, with a clear run up to Coleshill. Join the B4117 through Coleshill – can be busy – and turn right at the traffic light halfway down the hill to rejoin the main route.
This is more straightforward in the reverse direction – coming into the NEC – as you are with the flow of traffic at all times.
Coleshill is the first stop with a convenient co-op supermarket to get stocked up with food & drink, then a steady climb & descent (watch out for bluebell woods on Coleshill road as you come into Atherstone) takes you to Atherstone with it’s canal and station on the London Midland Line. After that you’re in the flatlands heading towards Market Bosworth which is on a bit of a rise and has a pretty market place, steam railway, country park, water park and canal and of course is the site of the Battle of Bosworth (which was won by the Lancastrians) where Richard III, whose body was found under a carpark in Leicester and has recently been re-buried there, so is worth a stop, then on into Leicester – there’s a diversion bit of a bike route to get you across the M1 at Leicester Forest East (beware glass under the bridge – report it at One Clean Leicester) you can continue on the signed route into town, which is the route marked on our map but it as it takes you out of your way up to County Hall, then on a dodgy shared use pavement along the A50, before turning off onto a shared use path through a park which is fine, you may prefer Glenfield Rd, the trick being to turn right off Park Drive to Dominion Rd up the hill and across the roundabout, some of which has a shared use path that is also fine – whichever way you go getting across the ring road into the city centre is a bit of a pain , but as a progressive city Leicester does allow cycling in the pedestrianised shopping area so getting to the station isn’t too much of a problem.
There are some restaurants and pubs on London Rd and around the Station – New Walk, a historic street is nearby and we had a well-earned curry in Rise of the Raj on Evington Rd off London Rd, and were then too full to fit in a pint, so got the train home.