Rush hour on the Birmingham & Fazeley

I was going to post this on my 365daysofbiking Tumblr journal, but I posted plenty for yesterday’s Birmingham canal ride already. Way back last August, I posted a video of a journey from Old Turn Junction (by the ICC) to Aston Junction. This time, on a different, springtime day, is the next section of the route. This run is from Aston Junction to Salford Junction, effectively from Birmingham City Centre to Spaghetti Junction. It was a lovely afternoon, and two speedy fellow cyclists set the pace.

It’s a lovely section of canal, and a designated cycleway. Well paved, the only hazards are other towpath users, the odd bimbling drunk, and obligatory aggressive geese. The lads I cycled behind set a cracking speed, and can just be seen entering the junction from the Bordesley side as the film begins. I don’t know who they were, but they were polite, decent chaps who caught me up at Salford Junction, and we more or less rode to Perry Barr together. The unexpected companionship of cycling.

As an experiment, this is unedited and takes place in real time. Normally, I chop the boring bits out, and this one clocks in at a weighty 9 minutes. The journey is about 2 miles, and speeds are generally between 10-20mph. I’d welcome feedback, particularly from the guys who’ve been requesting more ride cams, like Mr. Flodders on Facebook…

I will continue to do these periodically if there’s still an interest.

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19 Responses to Rush hour on the Birmingham & Fazeley

  1. ianrobo says:

    Love these bob and not often you see Brum like this, please continue :-)

  2. Christ on a bike, Bob, stop it at once. I have had to call the Samaritans because I want to buy a bike and that would be too stupid for words. Love the track, by the way.

    • Hey, thanks, Hippo, very kind.

      The music is two tracks – the unlikely named ‘Yodel 1′ and ‘Yodel 2′ by the genius aussie band ‘The Penguin Cafe Orchestra’ – I recommend ‘Broadcasting from home’ as a primer. Sadly, their prime mover, Simon Jeffes, passed away tragically early some years ago, but he left behind a cannon of quirky, witty folk-cum-baroque music with a pop sensibility. He also wrote some brilliant film scores – all with his trademark, slightly odd rhythmic pattern.

      he band still tour and record, but to me, without Jeffes, they’re a tribute, albeit a rather wonderful one. You’d be surprised how much of their music you already know.

      You have to love a band who can call tracks things like ‘Music for a found harmonium’, ‘Telephone and rubber band’, ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ and ‘The sound of someone you love who’s going away and it doesn’t matter anymore’.

      Find out more about them at http://www.penguincafe.com/

      Forgive me, but I want to shout about them from the rooftops. I loved them for over 30 years.

      Best wishes

      Bob

      • Preaching to the converted, there Bob. I too have been a fan for donkey`s years. You`re dead right about the track titles. Just reading “Isle of View (Music for Helicopter Pilots)” on the sleeve tells you it going to be good.

        The story goes that Simon Jeffes was wandering about somewhere in Japan and actually found an abandoned harmonium in a back alley. He played the first thing that came into his head.

        The man was a one-off genius and is sadly missed.

        • Hi Hippo.

          My apologies. Should have known you’d have been into the PCO, you old hippy. It seems we share a similar taste for odd 70′s music.

          I love the concept of a found harmonium. And music for helicopter pilots. Isn’t enough such quirkiness in music these days.

          Cheers

          Bob

  3. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    a super video. Enjoyed every moment of your ride.
    David.

  4. stymaster says:

    It’s a great section of canal, walked it many times. I love Salford Junction, there’s a bizzare other-worldliness under Spaghetti.

  5. Mick_P says:

    Lovely stuff Bob. One of the many things that makes this little film so engaging is having your shadow riding alongside. And aren’t we lucky to have such a canal network? I hope it’s appreciated and that the recent change in its custodians (impending? not sure if it’s happened quite yet) doesn’t signal a downward trend.

    • Thanks, folks. Flattered, as ever.

      I believe the canal network will probably be OK – it’s always been starved of cash, largely due to the corporate ineptitude of British Waterways, so mutualising them may not be a bad thing, and certainly shouldn’t make it worse. Hopefully some of their lousy business decisions will be mitigated by closer scrutiny.

      It’s a lovely run and there’s huge history there. The narrowboat in the brickwork is indeed life-size, and advertises ‘BT Compressor services, welcome to Heartlands.’ most of the paving brickwork in this run in new, not old. Sustrans spent a whole lot of money on this route, it’s splendid.

      Next one will be the Bordesley/Saltley arm I think, if you’re up for it. The Brum canals are so under-appreciated.

      Thanks for your kind words

      Bob

  6. flodda says:

    brilliant Vid as always…………………..

  7. Ian says:

    Enjoyed that a lot, thanks Bob.

  8. Thanks for that Bob. I can remember discovering – pretentious I know – that bit of canal myself a few years ago, and just being left slack jawed by what it does – and what it must have stood for 150 or more years ago. What’s really odd is that although you get the real sense of how much it drops on the way down out of the city, through the series of locks, it’s not really that much hard work on the way back up.

    OK, racking up the pretentiousness a little… I reckon that it takes a sort of ability to see the beauty in stuff like this. Put it differently: “What did you do last night?” “Ah, well, I spent ten minutes of it watching a video of a cycle ride along a canal in urban Birmingham…” I mean, really. But I think that’s the essence; being able to see the beauty in this sort of stuff makes me remember my Blake; To see the world in a grain of sand…

    By the way, lovely to hear the Penguin Cafe Orchestra; doesn’t come up nearly often enough on my mp3 player – perhaps I need to reprogram it.

  9. Clive says:

    Enjoyed the sunshine and the fresh air, need to have a rest now.
    Cheers Bob

  10. pedro says:

    Hi Bob,

    Great video, it brought back many memories for me. I cycled many times back from the city along this way. I remember when, probably in the early 80”s, they resurfaced the towpath around the bridges, at times you had to stop and walk over the workings.

    Incidentally this was the days when the mountain bike emerged; I could never get used to the straight handle bars, and went bake to the old bike.

    I see that on the right there is a narrow grass verge near the start of the ride, and at this time it was planted with shrubs. I admit to half inching a few for my mother’s garden!

    How it has changed since then on the lefthand side! I have a few pictures from them days and will upload and reference later.

    Happy Days Pedro!

  11. kerbsider says:

    Another great video, it always picks me up, that is , sitting here with a broken wrist. Thanks again Bob, by the way , what bike are you riding?
    cheers mate

  12. pedro says:

    Hi Bob

    Here are a few pictures from around 1982 along towpath.

    Looking towards Birmingham from near Dartmouth Street…

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/68534351

    This one is about 3.63 into your ride and looking back…

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/68534360

    This one is around about Rocky Lane where one of the factories put a young lady outside to prop the door open!

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/68534366

    The next one is by the Power Sub-station, and I have added below a more recent one by roger to show the difference…

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/33284530

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/18862128

    All the best Pedro

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