I cycled on three days this week, though it was a bit of a chore by Friday night. The beauty of the plan is my target is just two days a week and that’s fairly easy to achieve. So I feel really pleased with myself for doing 3 days (a whole 18 miles!) . Actually, in this weather … it’s no hardship, is it?
I wanted to say something about some of the irritations of cycling. As you know, my regular route is more or less off-road. There are places where roads have to be crossed though, and sometimes it seems people have gone out of their way to make it difficult. Take the Netham Park, for example. There are chicanes at either end of the route through the park and they’re just too chicaney to ride through, so you have to get off and walk.
At the end of the Netham that would meet up with the River Avon Trail (if the RAT wasn’t broken) there’s a chicane, then bollards, then a dropped kerb. So they definitely intended people to cross there.
But there’s no pedestrian (or cycle) phase on the traffic lights, no button to push. It’s a tricky junction and you just have to nip across when the lights go red for the cars. Before the cars the other side of the bridge, that you can’t really see too well, start to cross.
Then there’s the second part of the crossing. Same deal but you don’t know which cars will be filtering left across the second bridge until they’ve filtered. By which time it’s too late.
It’s obvious someone meant us to be able to cross here, so why did they build danger in? Would it be so difficult to put a pedestrian phase on the lights? A bit of joined-up thinking needed, doncha think?
No blog postings either. So what have I been up to? Well, we went to the Hay Festival, which is piggy heaven for my demographic. It’s sheer “Radio 4 Goes Camping”.
Here’s the tent we take to Hay. A vintage Raclet. Nice, isn’t it? It’s proper cotton canvas and smells like a tent should. We have a lot of tents, but this is the one we go to Hay with. The first year we went it was new to us and we didn’t know if it leaked. It was the wettest Hay for years, it was Hay does Glastonbury. All I can say is the tent didn’t leak much. The sleeping compartment stayed dry, which is the main thing.
Are you wondering what we saw at Hay? We saw Marcus du Sautoy and Victoria Gould doing Maths through the medium of dance. It was quite good and a bit odd. I was more worried that 2 young ladies we met later had only vaguely heard of “Waiting for Godot”, Marcus du Sautoy certainly had! This is him waiting.
We also saw Susan Calman, a diminutive Scottish comedian you might have heard on the News Quiz. I laughed a lot. She’s very good, you must see her if you get a chance.
We saw loads of other stuff. Simon Singh on “The Maths of the Simpsons”. Simon Armitage and Lily Cole on his new play “The Last Days of Troy”. We saw Horatio Clare talking about travel on container ships. And we went to a reading organised by a small Welsh publishing house where we heard a bunch of young poets and were given a slice of home-made chocolate cake. There are signings in the book shop. We didn’t get any books signed this year but we saw Babette Cole in animated discussion with two little readers. What a nice lady!
Here are more pictures to answer the question ‘What is it like?”.
I only cycled on one day this week, and only worked on three. I did remember to take some pictures of my route though. Want to see?
This is the route home. I live right on the skyline to the right of the photo. This is the River Avon Trail as it passes the blue footbridge by the Co-op.
This is supposed to be the inbound route but this section has been closed for much of the year because the retaining wall is collapsing just where the bend in the river is. It’s a shame because it’s usually teeming with wildlife at this time of year. My new route in is over the blue footbridge and along the bank on the left.
It’s quite a pretty route, as you can see, and almost traffic-free. This section’s traffic free, anyway.
This section’s not so traffic-free and one day this is where I will be found squashed like a hedeghog. I come down the hill just out of sight on the right of the photo and join the road here. I then pedal like hell till I get to the far end of the building with scaffolding and turn left onto the River Avon Trail. There’s a very narrow section of road just out of sight here and there’s often a queue of inbound traffic. If there isn’t a queue they’re putting their foot down to get through while it’s still their turn, hence the hell-pedalling. The outbound traffic (coming towards us) routinely mounts the kerb … even when there is no inbound traffic… even when a biddy on a bike is standing there taking photos & wearing a hi-vis jacket. That’s because it isn’t really BS5, it’s a country lane y’see, or so they think. There have been absolute ructions recently about attempts to introduce traffic calming of sorts along this stretch of road.
Twice, in fact. Monday there and back and then again today. Well, the weather was so good this morning it’d have been rude not to.
It’s a lovely ride in along the riverbank, although I do have to lug the big green bike up the blue footbridge while Bowland Stone, I think it is, faff over repairing their towpath wall. They should get their finger out, that side is a prettier ride by far.
Today’s achievements were making it to the 2nd-highest point (inbound) and the highest point (outbound) without stopping. We’re not talking Mt Ventoux here, just a little variation from ‘flat as a pancake’ where I leave the riverbank and cut inland. You would be amazed how much of Bristol is pretty flat once you get down near the river. Or anywhere that isn’t Park Street or Constitution Hill, really. Look at this nice wide, flat road for example.
Or this one.
I know, I know, I should be posting lovely sunny pics of the towpath in May not pictures of grubby back streets in February. I’ll have to save that for another day.
There is nothing more simple than just getting on a bike and riding the 2.9 miles to work.
That thought occurred to me on Tuesday morning so I slung on some jeans, popped work clothes, mascara & blusher in a bag and set off for work. Nice ride. I had to push the bike over the footbridge and again on a little back road that has got unaccountably steeper since September, but apart from that it was plain sailing there and back.
That was Tuesday. Wednesday was another day. It looked ok first thing. It wasn’t raining when I went out to put something in the car. By the time I was ready to leave it was tipping it down. I left it 5 minutes and it stopped so I set off on my trusty green bike. Halfway through the woods I could hear the rain on the leaves above and thought how cosy it was to be under trees in the rain. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill I had to shelter behind a hoarding and put on my cagoule. I still got wet though! By the time I got to work my jeans (who the heck cycles in jeans?!) were so wet I could see the water oozing out as I pedalled. But water doesn’t hurt and I’ll have better trousers next time, so by the time I’d got dried & changed (and made a pot of strong coffee) I was fine. Right as rain.
Well, after a little too much lunch and somewhat emboldened by a half of bitter and some chocolate eggs, I finally got the bike out. It’s still beautiful and the tyres don’t need pumping. I took it for a spin down the road and back up again. Now I’m pondering how to start riding it to work. How much kit to take in & leave there, how to get there with part of the tow path closed. Do I lug the bike over the pale blue bridge or do I go completely the other way and risk the Bristol to Bath in the rush hour? I think going down Church Road is probably completely out of the question and the Avonvale/ Victoria route is just so depressing.
Mainly, though, I need to just tough it out and ride the beautiful bike to work.
I just remembered I said I’d show you a photo of the bike. This is it. Pretty, isn’t it? As you can see this isn’t going to be a blog about how many km I’ve cycled, how much sweat I’ve sweated …. oh no! That’s not my thing at all.