Friday, 25 May 2012

A grand day out

What a brilliant, brilliant day I've had!

Some time ago my wife organised a girly day away with friends. Consequently today, in my temporary wifeless condition, the school-run and various other childcare duties fell to me. With plenty of holiday left to take at work, I booked the day off.  Not wanting to waste the day on housework, DIY or other such drudgery, I rather fancied I could get a bike ride in between the school drop off and picking my youngest up from pre-school at lunchtime.  So, I packed my Dahon into the car along with the kids and, after the school drop-off, headed out.

I'd decided to go and have a play on the lanes round where we live but wanted to avoid my usual commuting roads where possible. So with only a loose plan, I pedaled and followed my nose...

The weather at the moment is glorious - clear blue skies and high temperatures.  A stiff breeze today took the edge off a little but was welcome additional cooling all the same.  And so miles of sunny lanes, dive bombing finches, swallows doing the most impressive aerobatics and field after field passed with a smile on my face.

The Dahon taking five.
A brief stop for a drink.
The beauty of the Dahon is that because I know it's not as fast as a higher-geared bike, I don't try to ride it like one.  Rather, I relaxed into the ride and just enjoyed the journey. I got passed by a few guys on race bikes but cared not a jot. If speed was measured in smiles per hour, I'd have won by a long way!  Kind of like the difference between driving a Porsche and driving an old (proper) Mini Cooper if you catch my drift.

I passed along some roads that I know, detoured onto others that I didn't and in the process found some lovely new routes and villages I've never before been to. I know I'm blessed to be able to live in a rural village but we aren't really that far off the beaten track. There are so many beautiful places just a short bike ride away from most towns and for all the moaning we sometimes do, we British live on a beautiful island indeed.

Babbling stream photographed by a babbling cyclist.

A lovely thatched cottage - quite a few quid's worth I'd imagine.
Typical English country church - picture postcard stuff (with a better photographer...)
"You'll have a bit of a wait for the express!" said an elderly local when I stopped to take this picture.
Another drink stop (it was hot) next to the canal.
I also tried out one of those bike GPS Apps on my iPhone (Cyclemeter)and while I don't really want to become obsessive over numbers, I did want to know how far I'd ridden. For the princely sum of 69p, I have to say I'm pretty impressed.  It tells me distance ridden, average speed, top speed, calories burned  (by putting in my weight) and a bunch of other stuff.  You can set the distance units to nautical miles too - anchors a-weigh!  It's even smart enough to know when you've stopped riding so that it can deduct that time from your average speed calculation.  If the operator is smart enough to enable that feature of course...

Anyway, long story short I rode a little over 20 miles and even with stopping for drinks and photos, arrived back in plenty of time to collect my youngest offspring from pre-school.  Lovely!

In the afternoon, i had a couple of errands to run and my daughter fancied feeding the ducks by the canal. And so began bike adventure number two. We hooked her little bike to my wife's hybrid with the trail-gator attachment thing and complete with handlebar mounted whicker basket, off we went.

The "errand-mobile" bedecked with whicker basket.

We rode a six or seven mile round trip to the post office a couple of villages away and back via the ducks.  I have to say that towing a chattering four year-old up a short but sharp hill is a serious workout for the legs. Col de Tourmalet? Pah!!

So I've burned thousands of calories and sweated buckets today which all helps to diminish my waistline. Far more than that though, I've had a really fabulous day. The long-promised recreational ride on my Dahon was brilliant and being able to combine cycling with time with my youngest was also a real pleasure.

I'm sitting here, hours later, showered and with a mug of tea, still smiling from ear to ear.  I predict a few more days like this one before the Summer's over.

The open road beckons...


  1. I enjoyed this post. Sums up the joie de vivre associated with cycling. Thank you !

  2. Joie de vivre - I like that! Cheers :-)