After having the idea in my head for a while, I finally went out for a cycle that mostly followed quieter lanes as my itinerary took in Gawsworth, Astbury and Goostrey on the way to Northwich. Many of the roads that I followed were new to me as was the town of Northwich itself. The plan was not to overdo it so I had designs on using trains to get home again. However, a missed train allowed an opportunity to check out the countryside on the north side of the town too. Well, the service is two hourly on Sundays.
When another train did come to the down at heel halt that is Northwich’s train station (the local user’s group have posters up regarding giving the thing a spot of TLC), I was glad to find that there were bicycle spaces available, especially with Northern trumpetting about there only being two per train. Eventually, there were three on the train without any protest from the conductor. Even so, there was no trouble with retrieving my mode of transport in Stockport so the next train serving Macclesfield saw me on board.
That was a Virgin so arrangements were more formal than the “help yourself” regime of Northern or CrossCountry. First, you need to get Virgin staff to unlock the compartment where bikes are kept on the train. On the night, a spot of (illegal) smoking was the cause of setting off a row between passengers so the process of loading involved a little wait. Once that little formality is out of the way, you need to find a member of the train crew to ensure that you get the bicycle off again (there are signs to that effect in case you are unaware or have forgotten), a pressing need when you are getting off at the next stop like I was. Saying that, the procedure worked without a hitch and I wasn’t dumped in Stoke or left bereft of anything. Incidentally, storage space didn’t seem to be a problem either.