The last few weeks have seen snow on a few days, and where the weekends were dry, there was a biting cold wind. Neither weather condition made me feel inclined to get my bike out of the shed.
This weekend was a little different though, yesterday was forecast to be dry, no wind and temperatures above freezing. As today was due to be raining all day, I had one window of opportunity... and I took it.
Kitted up with my big, padded jacket, scarf, gloves and cycle helmet and with my mobile phone safely zipped into the pocket in my basket, I set off. About 100m down the road, I hit a slight downward slope and changed gear... and the chain jumped off and suddenly the pedals wouldn't turn. Fortunately, I wasn't going too fast and I braked and jumped off.
Now, I can honestly say I have never dealt with a bike chain coming off it's gears and as I was so close to home, I decided the easiest thing was to walk back and let Neil have a look.
10 minutes later, I was all sorted and back on the road. My last trip out was a couple of laps of the estate which lasted about 10 minutes. Today I wanted to try a proper bike ride. My bike is a hybrid, made for both road and off-road cycling. My route would take me on both. I headed for the entrance to the estate where a brief spell along a very quite pavement (I'm not ready to tackle major roads with lots of traffic just yet) and I was at the local road to the farm at the back of where we live. A little further and the road crosses the stream, which is now a raging river after the recent snow & rainfalls, and becomes a dirt track which goes between the woods, the farmer's fields and the location nature reserve. The track was quite muddy in parts and full of pot holes so I was glad there was no-one about as I zig-zagged around the holes and kept my speed quite slow. Suddenly I was riding uphill and I just couldn't manage it, it was steeper than it seemed when we walked the dogs and I decided to push the bike to the top of the hill. The track passed the last house and narrowed to a single track, past the fields with the 2 enormous
bulls and into the next village by the blacksmiths. Riding down this area is like going back in time 50 years. A short spell on a quiet road and I was at the canal bank. I decided to walk the first part as it passed under the road as the bridge seemed a little close to my head and even with my helmet on, I wasn't keen to risk it.
After that, it was quite a simple route along the canal side. There were no water birds out and the banks were without any flowers, spring hasn't reached this area yet. There weren't even any canal boats moored up by the local pub where we normally stop for a drink when we do this route with the dogs. Today, not a single person was sitting outside enjoying the cold, crisp weather. It was like I had the world to myself.
10 minutes later I was back in civilisation as I passed the local rugby club where there was a match taking place,
and I listened to the shouts fade into the distance as I continued down the road.
As I met the main road I dismounted again, and walked across the pedestrian crossing until I met up with my estate road again. A couple minutes more pedaling and I was home again.
I reckon the route would be about 4 miles, but it has given me the next on my list of purchases for my cycling trips, a trip computer. It sounds grander than it is but it will tell me how far I have ridden and what my speed is.
Now I feel like I've done a proper bike ride... and I wasn't as wobbly as before.