Monday, 19 September 2011

Coventry: A survival guide

Over the weekend I set myself the challenge of cycling to Cambridge and back from my home town (210 mile round trip), mainly just to see if I could. This of course is completely retarded as once you've started a 100miles-in-one-direction ride you kind of have to finish or you'll be stranded somewhere. So in reality this was a "I wonder how much it'll hurt to cycle 100 miles without stopping?" sort of exercise. AWESOME FUN.

Well it turns out that I can do 75-80miles OK continuously but then cycle into a wall and have what I call "major sense of fucking humour failure". This mainly involves losing the will to live and swearing at everything.

However, there is a certain miracle substance called Frijj milkshake which is made of awesome. Actual awesome is contained in those lovely 500ml bottles of joy. It simply has to contain something more than milk and chocolate flavour to have such miraculous healing properties. Maybe banned substances? I don't know. But it's awesome.

Cycle 75 miles. DRINK MILKSHAKE. Cycle another 30miles REALLY FAST :D :D
But anyway, I this Frijj worship is a digression from my real topic, namely HOW MUCH I FUCKING HATE COVENTRY.

Now for some reason I chose my route to go right though the centre of Coventry (so I could pick up the A428 that would take me all the way to Bedford...). This was a bad plan, even if it did mean that I only had to cycle on 3 roads for the entire way there. It was a bad plan because Coventry is SHIT.

But why I hear you cry?

Well if you have to ask, you've clearly never been. Its roads are off-the-scale awful.

Firstly, it fits into the (annoyingly large) set of cities that announce your arrival into its glorious self with a cheerful sign, only to be directly followed by a second sign telling you how far you have to go to reach it really. Because it was just fucking with you with the first sign and you have another 5 miles to cycle. Arsehole.

(My own home town of Solihull is worst at this - I've clocked it at 15 miles from one "Welcome to Solihull!! :D" sign to the actual town proper. Now that is mean.
Better suggestions for road signs into Coventry:

I'm on a roll!

OK, so you have unfortunately seen the Coventry sign and will soon enter its cyclist-eating depths. How will you survive? Well, luckily for you I have created this handy checklist.

1) Make a ritual sacrifice

Not strictly necessary but advisable. You've got to keep that road god happy!

2) Know your escape route

 Now this is only of limited use as the probability of escaping from inside the ring road once you're in there is negligible. However, you may find that repeating it to yourself as a sort of mantra will give you some glimmer of hope in these dark times.

Now relying on road signs isn't a great plan as most of them look like this with abbreviations a plenty:

You'll also find that maps are useless too as there are so many 1 way streets and random bus lanes and traffic lights. Sat Navs too. (While driving in Coventry with my mother her Sat Nav got lost and gave up. True story.)

You are quite literally on your own. I ended up using the knowledge that I wanted to go west and using the fucking sun ffs. The best plan of attack is just to keep moving and not show the city any sign of weakness. This is the fifth time you've seen Ikea? JUST KEEP MOVING IT CAN SENSE YOUR FEAR.

3) Bus lanes are fun

 There are a fair amount of nice green friendly looking bus lanes in the city. However, these mean that there are twice the amount of traffic lights (which you of course cannot activate because you don't have the necessary amount of metal that a 3 tonne bus does meaning you are in essence forced to jump lights - nice). They also appear and disappear seemingly at random meaning lots of horribly dangerous merging with traffic. Woo!

4) No one indicates in Coventry

This is because no one knows where the fuck they're going either. Develop Mark Cavendish levels of speed for sprinting out of trouble when cars inevitably try to merge into you.

5) If you go on the ring road you will die

Pure and simple!

6) There is broken glass everywhere

I have honestly never seen so much broken glass at the side of the road. It's like God surreptitiously emptied the stuff all over the city shortly after creation.

This makes cycling even more fun!

7) The Coventry Business Park: a.k.a. The Boss Fight at the end

Eight lanes of traffic + bus lanes all going in different directions? OH YES THAT'S GOOD FUN. The good news is that if you get out of that, you win at life and get to escape for good! Hurrah!

The short version of this blog post:
  • Don't plan a cycle route through Coventry
  • Frijj milkshake is great
  • Yay!
Night! :D

P.S. Drawing competition post to follow....


  1. I too have had the misfortune to have journeyed via Coventry and have 3 tips to help.
    1. Remember that Cambridge is East, not West, of Coventry (that or proof-read your typing).
    2. Take a bloke with you to read the map as they generally read maps better than girls (doesn't always work that one though).
    3. Find a Monopoly set and remove a "get out of jail free" card. Scribble out the word "jail" and replace it with "Coventry". That's probably the best bet.
    I also find it helpful to have a male rather than female voice on a sat nav because I spend enough time with women telling me what to do in the car and believe a chap more. My record of getting lost using a sat nav is very good though so I should maybe think that one through.
    Thanks for cheering up my afternoon with your very entertaining post

  2. There is a reason bad people get sent to Coventry . . . I think you found it.