BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘commute’

#365daysofbiking Shroom to manoeuvre

Monday, September 28th 2020 – This journal is now so venerable that I feel it has seasonal traditions, and one of the most important to me is it’s devotion to documenting the fungus season with the many photogenic and interesting varieties of toadstool, ball, mould and slime that abound in autumn.

The mycology is tragically overlooked – it’s a huge kingdom completely different to any other, and without it life on earth could not function at all. And when it blooms and fruits, it’s stunning in its otherworldly beauty.

So far this dry autumn, there hasn’t been much fungal action but with showers in recent days hopefully the shrooms will have the trigger they need to emerge.

I’ll kick it all off this year with these humble but beautiful honey fungus, spotted by the canal in Darlaston on my way to work. Hopefully the first of many this year.

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#365daysofbiking Slipping from one thing, into another

Tuesday, September 22nd 2020 – On the way home from work, a journey along the Black Path that runs from the Parkview Centre in Brownhills, up through Holland Park to the Watling Street.

This well known and popular route between areas of the town has existed for many years, and at the turn of the century, was incorporated in the National Cycle Network, whereupon they split it as shared use with one of those daft central kerbs that only serves to wrong-foot pedestrians, annoy joggers and wake up sleepy cyclists, like me.

Here in a quiet, leafy corner of what is after all, central Brownhills, it’s quite clear that with rain earlier and a drop in temperature, we’re slipping solidly into autumn now.

With the pandemic madness aside, it wasn’t a bad summer, meteorologically. I’ll miss it.

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#365daysofbiking Too low for comfort

Monday, September 21st 2020 – The fascination with other people’s bikes continues, as does the bafflement with some modern bike technical fashions.

In a familiar customer bike shed, a new bike I think might be a Marin is locked with a Poundland cheese string bike lock (but thankfully this shed has a very securely locked door). It’s a nice, fairly high-end equipped bike, with SRAM (that’s Sachs for the oldies) gears. It’s what I would class a ‘forest bike’ – it’s not really a full MTB but not a hybrid. It would be at home on Cannock Chase’s midway trails or rough canal towpaths.

The bike has remarkable gearing arrangement, that’s sadly fashionable – a single front ring, which is tiny and an eyewateringly wide rear sprocket range.

I note it’s been left in the lowest of gears.


The gearing is utterly rubbish for road use.

I was talking to a pal about this the other day. I’m tying to build a decent derailleur setup at the moment, but there’s no longer the crossover between road and MTB gear sets where you can get a massive range for excellent touring use by mixing and matching. It’s either this stupidity, which necessitates a huge rear mech just waiting to get smashed off by a stump, or the low range and boredom of road group sets.

I know it’s fashion, like the frankly ludicrous fat bike fad, and we’ll swing back to doubles and triples when the spinning kids want to go a bit faster than15mph downhill. But I wish it would pass.

It comes to something when a basic hub gear offers 25% wider range than most mountain group sets.

Rant over. For now.

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#365daysofbiking Berry colourful

Friday, September 18th 2020 – One of the joys of late summer/autumn fruiting is pyrocanthus, colloquially known as firethorn.

This colourful member of the apple family – it’s fruit are not really berries but pomes, i.e. apples – is insipid to humans with mildly poisonous seeds within, but very valuable for wild birds as a long lasting food source into the cold months.

For bystanders, though, if means beautifully vivid boughs laden with glistening fruit in shades from nearly white to deep, deep read, a real autumn treat.

These bushes near Darlaston entertain me every year.

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#365daysofbiking That’s hall

Thursday, September 17th 2020 – I used to work around Tyseley a lot, and got to know it well – but when the company I work for stopped renting space out there, I rarely had cause to return.

I had business near the Warwick Road so passed through on a sunny day, rekindling memories – one in particular was the remarkable spectacle of Hay Hall, still buried unexpectedly between factories in the middle of an unremarkable industrial estate.

This 15th century, once moated hall is a historic, grade II listed building and in very good condition. Last time I was here around 2015 it was still in use as offices.

You can find out more about it by clicking here.

From signage outside, it seems to be currently vacant, sadly, but this lovely building is one of the reasons I love Brum – you find wonderfully unexpected things in the most mundane of places.

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#365daysofbiking Inhaling green:

Wednesday, September 16th 2020 – While I’ve been away the canals have continued as they ever were, with small changes. They got very busy with pedestrians and cyclists for a while, a product of fair weather and lockdown, so the towpaths were well worn, and the cessation in mowing gave my beloved orchids a sporting chance this year. But the waterfowl, plants and colours were broadly as ever.

Reassuringly, beautifully, peacefully as ever.

The one change that’s been interesting is the azolla bloom that dominated the water surface in 2019 has largely faded, and in its death left sporadic patches of more traditional clumping algae, which must be a pain for waterfowl and boaters alike.

There are still traces of azolla, which was a surface invasive surviving a mild winter, but it was non-stringy and readily parted for birds and watercraft, but it’s mostly gone.

On a dull, grey autumn afternoon, the green and peace here were so welcome, I felt like I was inhaling them.

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#365daysofbiking Maybe it’s the breath of Autumn on my shoulder…

Tuesday, September 15th 2020 – First of all, thanks for all your positive words and encouragement over the last few days. I had no idea so many of you were reading this rambling pile of cobblers. Thanks so much, it has meant a lot.

I’ve started going to Telford again as the pandemic eases, but now, instead of going the longer way around by train, I tend to ride to Wolverhampton and hop on the train there, to minimise my use of public transport. It works better, if I’m honest and the ride to and from Wolverhampton is nicer than I would have expected.

Actually in Telford, the cycleway I love – up from the station to the Priorslee crossing – is showing a beautiful lack of hedge maintenance as my favourite green tunnel starts to turn for autumn.

Boughs brush my head. Squirrels and rabbits dart out of my path. Hips, haws and berries glow colourfully in the dark green.

Not all effects of the pandemic have been bad. I’ll be a bit sad when they get around to trimming this back… And the gentle feeling of autumn is not so grim this year. I’m quite enjoying it.

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#365daysofbiking – It’s easy being green

April 29th – And, despite a downturn in the weather, nature still keeps me going day to day, and it’s particularly splendid right now.

On an afternoon exercise ride, I didn’t stray too far due to stomach cramps, but stood on the Pier Street bridge, one of my favourite views now has a gorgeous bright green jacket on.

The canalside trees, now so tall they can obscure the view to Humphries House are looking bright and fresh, as are the woodlands dotted over Clayhanger Common where the different species, leaf types and shapes make for a wonderful tapestry.

And on the water below? Blossom petals drifting lazily of the water surface.

It might not be much, but after those dark days and wet winter, it looks wonderful to me.

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#365daysofbiking Fine and dandie

April 15th – I’ve noticed over the last few days that one of the least noted wildflowers is so far having a very good year. Yellow, rather beautiful, and dreadfully overlooked, the dandelion is a staple of verges, lawns, hedgerows, edgelands and anywhere there’s a scrinite of nutrition to be extracted from soil.

A lovely tenacious plant, I love to see these fine flowers; yet I feel I’m probably one of the very few to ever appreciate them.

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#365daysofbiking Peared down

April 14th – On the way to work on a sunny morning, I passed the new pond at Clayhanger on the canal. I noticed that the pear tree there is currently in blossom.

Pear blossom is subtly different to apple, which comes a bit later and has pink tinges, and to cherry, which is generally smaller, denser and more uniform.

The white flowers against the blue sky again made for a brilliant contrast, and improved my mood no end.

This journal is moving home. Find out more by clicking here

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