Well this afternoon I'd had enough of work and desperately needed to blow out a few cobwebs. So getting off the train a station early, I checked my route on the Sustrans App and started my iPhone cycle computer to check the overall distance ridden.
The first part of the route passed through quiet roads on a couple of housing estates. Out in the lanes near home, I've noticed very clear National Cycle Route signs - proper metal road signs - so I wondered how they would manage this in a more built up area. I needn't have worried though - using large stickers on lamp posts and similar, the route was clearly pointed out negating the need for hasty iPhone map reading!
After a mile or so, the route picked up the tow-path of a canal. Talk about a change of scenery! The path was really well made and fine for bikes. Even given the heavy rain we've had recently there were very few puddles so it was top-gear flat out for the most part. I really enjoyed the varied bankside scenery along this part of the route. From open fields to allotments, a boat repair yard and more built-up areas. I rode the few miles of towpath with a big grin, greeting all and sundry with a smile and even giving the odd shout or whistle under bridges like a ten year-old. Brilliant!
|I've had worse commutes to be honest...|
|...and busier ones too!|
Eventually the signs led from the towpath to what the map shows as a disused railway line. I was expecting wide, well surfaced loveliness but in truth it was narrow and pretty rough in parts. As a walking path it would be great (there are signs for walkers too) and a lot of fun could be had there on a mountain bike. As it was I had to tiptoe through the roughest bits and take care not to lose the bike on the slippier parts.
|There were no mountains to climb but a few "streams" to ford |
(OK puddles) and this bugger was deep!
|This bit was narrower than it looks - really overgrown|
and slippery, but mercifully short.
|Eventually the path widened into this :-)|
However, glad as I was when eventually the path joined the tarmaced lanes again, I enjoyed the whole ride rather a lot. As cobweb blowing activities go, it was a good one! Bizarrely though, I found that my bike felt a bit weird once back on the road. Stopping to check things over revealed that my seat-post had slipped down into the frame an inch or two (making me glad for the umpteenth time that I have a marker pen line showing where it needs to be set.) A quick readjust and tighten of the quick release sorted it and I was on my way.
At this point, my wife sent a text saying she had to pick up our eldest from school. So rather than cycle home I decided to make a detour to go and meet them. It shortened my ride by a mile or two but I was pretty tired and didn't mind too much. I ended up having done 10.7 miles which would probably have been 13 or so if I'd gone all the way home. No big deal really.
So, all in all a lovely ride back. Probably a bit much to do regularly as the rougher, muddier bits slowed me down quite a bit, but as a change from the norm, just what the doctor ordered. :-)